As it turned out this visit was to reinforce my belief that with birding, especially in Saudi Arabia, you should stick to your plan and not give up. Doing this brought me back to a spot I had been hours earlier and where I got a lifer;
A small group of 4 White Tailed Lapwing flew over my head as I walked back to the car and landed about 50 meters away. A bit difficult to photograph among the bushes, but they let me get a bit closer to improve things a bit. A lovely bird and even more impressive to look at in flight, with strongly contrasting white and black patches on their wings. These birds are seen during migration but usually a bit further north around Tabuk. A delight to watch.
Many of the other birds seen today were pretty run of the mill but you can never discount birds here for spectacular looks. This Blue Cheeked Bee-eater is a beautiful addition to any birders day and this one spent quite some time poised on this stick watching me. There were perhaps two dozen of these around the swamp area.
I only got some distant views of this Kestrel and this shot high up on the pylon was as close as I got. That said I am now pretty sure it is a Lesser Kestrel as its toe nails are light coloured rather than dark (thanks Rob for the second opinion there). Earlier in the day there were two Marsh Harriers coasting along over the reeds but they never came close enough for photos.
As always the Crested Lark were out in force with about 10 to 12 seen on the day. I am not sure if they are engaging in territorial battles at the moment but there seems to be quite a lot of arguments going on between these guys at the moment.
A good number of House Sparrows were to be seen in the area and some Spanish Sparrow, although not nearly as many.
I spotted a single Common Sandpiper on my walk today, a little unusual as you normally see a few together but who knows.
There were several Turkestan Shrike around the place all of whom seemed happy to pose for photographs.
The White Eared Bulbul were about in large numbers all over the area. If my memory serves these were nowhere near as common the last time we visited this area a few years back. They have been expanding their range in Saudi Arabia at an increasing rate over the past few years.
In all I spotter about a dozen White Wagtails feeding in the mud at the side of the river. I have not seen many of these at all this year around Riyadh, perhaps they find the more northerly route more to their liking.
Our old friend the Little Green Bee Eater was present along the side of the river although only in small numbers, its cousin the Blue Cheeked Bee Eater was far more numerous on the day, I thin I only saw 3 of these and mostly on the western side of the main highway.
There was a small flock of Cattle and Little Egret on site and I had some nice views of them from a distance as I walked east along the river. Unfortunately as I got closer there was some clown with a gun randomly taking pot shots which scared them off. I saw the guy walking away a bit later with his shotgun, it appears he made a lot of noise but did not manage to hit anything!!
There were about 8 to 10 Stonechat along the stretch of river I walked today, they were not very keen to have photos taken so I only got some bad pics.
As always there were quite a selection of Pigeons about and a few Collared Dove. The Namaqua dove were a little more scarce. I think in all I spotted maybe 4 whereas Pigeons numbered maybe 60+.
This is one of those shots I took thinking it was another picture of a bird I had photographed several times before during the day, but in truth it was not, a nice Spotted Flycatcher, I believe.
I moved to the opposite side of the Highway for an hour or so to see if I could see anything else and almost immediately spotted this lone Spur Winged Lapwing and a Collared Dove close by. The area behind some factories was very overgrown and hard to navigate but had a lot of White Eared Bulbul, Spanish Sparrow and a few more Little Green Bee Eater. I disturbed a Hoopoe and a small flock of Cattle Egret.
We returned to Riyadh at about 2pm. I very enjoyable day and a lifer to boot, hard to get better than that :)
© Bernard Bracken