Friday, 14 October 2016

Wadi Hanifah October 1st and another first.

Decided to do an early trip back to Wadi Hanifah to see what is about now the temperatures have dropped a little around the city.  It looked like a perfect day for the job, I had Akram drop me off at the Diplomatic Quarter, the plan being to walk down as far as the flyover or maybe a bit further and see what I could find.  There was evidence of quite a number of BBQs in the area over the previous few days with lots of rubbish lying about the place.  It was just after dawn and the first thing I noticed was a very large number of birds flying over heading west.  Large numbers of Sparrows, Laughing Dove, Ring Necked Parakeets and Myna flew over, I assume heading off from their roosting spot.

I walked around the area a bit but it soon became clear that I had made a fundamental error of photography, I was walking into the rising sun.  I tried to tough it out for a bit but decided it was hopeless as I was only getting silhouettes so I got Akram to drop me at the other end of the road and I walked back up.  Rookie error I know but hey, live and learn!

In every bush were flocks of House Sparrow all chirping merrily away and chasing each other around the sky.
Also scratching around in the rubbish of the BBQs were a fair number of Collared Dove,
along with their cousins the Laughing Dove and a good number of Rock / Feral Pigeons.  The Laughing Dove or Palm dove only appeared in Riyadh in the early 1980's (Stagg) but is now the most common Dove in the city by far.  When I first arrived I had one nest on the ledge of my hotel room and on looking out further I spotted two other nests on the air con coolers on the building opposite.
Mingling among these were a good number of Common Myna, a bird you really cannot ignore as they scream at you.
There were a few Indian Silverbills to be seen by the waterside but I did not see as many as I did last time I visited.
As I assed under a bridge I noticed a strange flash entering a bush and hung around for a bit to see if I could work out what it was.  I was rewarded by a wonderful view of a Masked Shrike, always a lovely sight at this time of the year.
Then I noticed this odd looking crested bird digging vigorously at the base of one of the trees,  Looked like a Bulbul but no white ears?  Yep my first Red Vented Bulbul in Saudi Arabia.  I had seen these once before in Dubai but not here before.

Seeing as I was there, I got a couple of shots that were printable, though I have to say he did not stay still for long.
Another delight for the day was the Black Scrub Robin, which was also not feeling much like being photographed but I managed to get this shot despite his best efforts to avoid it :)
Last but by no means least is our old friend the Little Green Bee-eater which was feeling a little more generous with his time.  In addition to these there was a single Grey Heron which flew over in the distance and a lot of White Cheeked Bulbul.  Near the roundabout I also spotted what I think were a pair of Pale Crag Martins but could not get close enough to be positive. 
Despite the early hour the road along the Wadi was very busy and there were a lot of people about walking and having breakfast.  It is still a nice morning walk for the birder and well worth repeating as I have only been here twice and have had firsts on both occasions.

© Bernard Bracken

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