16 Oct 2021

Pivot Fields – Ushaiqer

On the way from Ushaiqer to Az Zulfi we stopped at a set of pivot irrigation fields where we have a seen a few good birds on previous visits. We have been allowed access to these pivot fileds previously and agin this time the owner very kindly allowed us to drive around the edges of two large pivot fields. One field had newly sown crops and the second had been cut the previous day and was in the process of being bailed. This cut field had hundreds of migrants associated with it. There was a flock of 500+ Greater Short-toed Larks, one Whinchat, 5 Ortolan Bunting, 5 Yellow Wagtail, several Northern Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear and flying over the field were a single Lesser Kestrel, one Common Kestrel with several hundred Sand Martin and Barn Swallows. The fence posts and wires had a single European Bee-eater, a juvenile Masked Shrike and a Great Grey Shrike. Other birds seen included Black Scrub Robin and White-eared Bulbul in the shrubs surrounding the house and a Long-legged Buzzard and male Montagu’s Harrier over the newly planted field. 

European Bee-eater


 

 

14 Oct 2021

Purple Darter – Deffi Park

Whilst birding Deffi Park I saw a number of Purple Darter dragonflies flying about in one particular wet area along the small watercourse. They are a dark purplish-black colour and quite small and regularly perched on floating leaves or the bankside. This darter has an iridescent dark-purplish sheen which gives rise to its name the Purple Darter. It is also known as the black percher, due to the male being almost entirely black, and to the species’ habit of regularly perching on grasses and other vegetation. In contrast to the male, the female is a vibrant yellowish-green, with small black stripes across the thorax. The wings of the purple darter are very clear, although they turn slightly amber towards the base of the hind-wing. This amber patch is bigger and darker in females. Both the male and female have a greyish-brown cell, known as the pterostigma, near the tip of the wing and it has a widespread distribution, primarily occurring in Africa, outside of forested areas but can also be found on several islands in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as across the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula, and through Arabia to the Indian subcontinent. 




12 Oct 2021

Slow migration but a good bird - Jubail

Birding Jubail on 1 October proved quite slow with very few migrants seen in the first hour of light. Things picked up slightly, later, with a few good birds seen by the end of the day. The best bird was a Eurasian Hobby perched on a small shrub for a while before departing and not being relocated, which was my first sighting of the species at this location. More common migrants seen were a few Yellow Wagtails, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters and a Eurasian Wryneck. Herons were around in very large numbers with 500+ Little Egrets, 200+ Squacco Heron, 150+ Grey Heron, four Purple Heron, two Great Egret and a Eurasian Spoonbill. Interesting waders were Marsh Sandpiper and two Pied Avocet with 300+ Caspian Tern and 30+ Gull-billed Tern. Numbers of Purple Swamphen are on the increase with 50+ seen for the first time in many months. Three Ferruginous Duck were a nice record of this uncommon species in Saudi Arabia.

Eurasian Hobby

   Eurasian Wryneck
                                                                     

10 Oct 2021

Al-Kalada Ancient Village – Bani Saad

The village of Al-Kalada, the biggest of Bani Saad villages and is situated south of Ta'if city. It is said that its name is derived from the name of the tribe of Kaldah who inhabited this village, others argue that its name is derived from the tiger animals that lived in the area. The village sits on top of a mountain in As-Siayeel valley. The buildings of the village feature a unique stone architecture. It features two defensive fortresses, ancient houses, a mosque, and a meeting room. There were two main entrances in this ancient village, one was called the upper passage, and the other was called  the lower passage. Both of these two passages lead to the houses of the village. The history of the village dates back to the era of the beginning of Islam as some antiquities show. 
















 

8 Oct 2021

Amazing migration – Az Zulfi

From September 23 – 25, we had an amazing number of migrants in and around some parks in Az Zulfi. Phil Roberts and I spent three days in Zulfi over the Saudi National Day weekend with Graham Gordon. It was amazing birding with hundreds of migrants in the parks and gardens. I have not seen numbers like this ever before and certainly not in Saudi Arabia. These numbers have not been recorded in Az Zulfi either as far as I am aware. In one park alone we saw 75+ Common Whitethroat, 20 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Barred Warbler, 5 Great Reed Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 2 Garden Warbler, 5 Wryneck, 3 Masked Shrike, 3 Rufous Scrub Robin, 3 Black Scrub Robin, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, Spotted Crake, Black Redstart and Eastern Orphean all jumping about on the grass lawns or in the trees, but mainly on the lawns. In a nearby park were smaller numbers of Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Menetries’s Warbler, Blue-rock Thrush, Red-backed Shrike, Great Grey Shrike, 40 European Bee-eaters and six Spur-winged Lapwing. On 25 September about 50% of the birds had moved on but still tens of birds were present, with numbers of Lesser Whitethroat increasing despite most species departing overnight. It was incredible birding and will be back in the spring to see what other migrants could be seen. The parks were well watered and relatively quiet first thing in the morning, allowing birds to feed freely under the tress and in the grass. 

Spotted Crake

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat