01 December 2013

A late Blue-cheeked Bee-eater – Dhahran Hills

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is a common passage migrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia but the majority of autumn birds have passed through by late October. Rarely they stay into November and once I saw one at Sablhat Al Fasl in December. Whilst looking at the wet drainage ditch to see if any waders were present I found a single Blue-cheeked Bee-eater sitting in a tree which was a little bit of a surprise as I have not seen any definite migrants for a week or so. Another possible migrant, although some do winter (mainly males) was a female Pallid Harrier over the spray fields but too far away for photography.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Crested Lark

Other birds I saw were winter visitors including two Eurasian Skylarks allowing a couple of moderate photos to be taken, but still the best I have managed since I have been in Saudi Arabia. Desert Wheatear is another winter visitor and I saw one in the scrubby desert area, which is the first one for the winter on the patch. A Daurian Shrike in the spray fields and a male Northern Caspian Taxon (NCT) Caspian Stonechat was also showing well in the spray fields. The fields also had a few Meadow Pipits, three Tawny Pipits and several Crested Larks keeping the Eurasian Skylarks company.
Eurasian Skylark
Desert Wheatear
Northern Caspian Taxon - Caspian Stonechat
Northern Caspian Taxon - Caspian Stonechat