Thursday, 12 January 2017

Salbuk 7/1/17

Decided this weekend to head north of Riyadh to Salbuk which has an area of wetland which is fed by a large cement factory.  I have not visited here for over a year so was interested to see what had changed.  Well the answer is quite a lot.  The water feed from the factory has not been in use for a while and the water lorries continue to take the water so the water levels have shrunk considerably since I was here last.  Large sections of the reeds have dies off and there is evidence of a fire burning all the bushes sometime in the not too distant past.  In any event I took a walk along the side of the area to see if I could spot much.  Almost immediately I spotted three Marsh Harriers sailing off into the distance.  It was still too dark to get photos and I did not see them again.

Speaking of pictures, the first few are a bit washed out because there was not enough light when I first arrived but right by where the car was parked I spotted a couple of Spectacled Bulbul.  Also spotted a pair of these in Al Hayer last week.  Not sure if they are moving about a bit but not really seen that many of these around here before.  Oddly I did not see any White Eared Bulbul here at all today.

An early visitor to he area is this Stonechat.  It was deep in the stubble of the old reed beds so focus was difficult.

There were a small number of Squacco Heron at the site today but there were also a smaller number of locals with shotguns so the birds were very wary.  I did manage to get a photo of them as they flew off as proof :)

I saw about a dozen Common Moorhen on my walk but there were certainly many times more on site as you could hear them in the reeds.  I see these birds on virtually every birding trip I go on, including my recent visit to Cuba but they never fail to impress.

There was a small flock of Little Stint on site, though with the exception of this guy I could not get near enough to get any sort of photo at all.  As I mentioned above there are a lot of shooters in this area so I guess the birds react to that to survive.  They don't know its a camera!

I am going with green sandpiper for this one but will look again in a bit, never been particularly comfortable telling the different sandpipers apart.

The White Wagtails were out in good numbers today with quite a few around the exposed pools and even more spotted flying overhead.

I spotted about a dozen or so Crested Lark around the area they seem to like the areas of wetland bordered by desert.

A pair of Little Egrets flew overhead heading south.  They did not stop in the area.

There were a couple of Daurian Shrike around today but I did not get close views of any of them

Another fleeting view of a bird was this Tree Pipit.  I think there were a few of them about but again I did not get close enough to get any decent views.

The Black Winged Stilt by contrast were not too bothered by me at all.  There was a small flock of 8 or 9 of these about on site.

I was not expecting these Rock Martins (or Pale Crag Martins) today and indeed almost missed seeing them altogether as they were swooping in to an area of sand hills which I would normally not spend much time looking at.  A nice bird to see though a bugger to photograph as the lag on the camera usually means you get a screen full of blue sky!!

I was glad I came to Salbuk today but was sad to see yet another of the small wetland areas going the same way as the cricket club on the other side of Riyadh.  I am not sure why the factory has stopped feeding the site with water but if it is not restarted then this area will return to desert in the not too distant future.

© Bernard Bracken

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