21 January 2023

Desert Finch – Al Jouf

Whilst birding the Al Jouf area at the end of December I saw a few Desert Finch, which are mainly resident in Saudi Arabia. It is now regarded as a common breeding resident but was previously thought to be a scarce visitor to the northwest of Saudi Arabia until 1975. Since then the range has expanded dramatically due to increased agriculture and several areas have been colonized, including Riyadh, Hail, al-Jawf and Tabuk. Despite its name it is not a truly desert species and prefers cultivated areas with trees and bushes, especially orchards, as well as gardens and plantations, and can often be seen near the large pivot irrigation fields of the region where it occurs in the weedy edges of pivot-irrigated fields and dry scrub adjacent to farms. We saw a single bird, perched on some overhead power lines at one location and a male and female in some small vegetation just outside the bund of a large pivot irrigation field. This last bird finally gave me the opportunity to photograph the species in a more natural habitat that a razor-wire fence or over-head power line.