Today’s blog looks further at Mansur al Fahad’s visit to Zulfi last week. He tells me the birding is always good there and I can’t dispute that. As well as the pharaoh eagle owl and several steppe eagle featured in the last blog, there is much more to report on.
For starters, Mansur managed to capture three members of the finch/sparrow family in one photograph. A flock of desert finch were caught drinking alongside a Spanish sparrow and a house sparrow. Desert finch are now a relatively common sight in the Riyadh and Kharj areas although I am told that they have only made their way down from Zulfi and further north in the past few years.
Two of the larger desert birds were seen by Mansur. These were cream coloured courser and sand partridge. Both birds prefer to walk or run to flying off and its surprising how sand partridge in particular can run away so quickly especially up hill sides.
There is little doubt that the areas north of Riyadh are better for larks than to the south.
Mansur captured a lovely photograph of a hoopoe lark in flight.
Bar tailed lark was seen in its usual flat habitat. Crested lark was also present around Zulfi. I had expected Mansur to have seen desert wheatear but I am a little bit surprised that any Isabelline wheatear winter so far north. White crowned wheatear were seen in the drier places.
Eastern mourning wheatear clearly in Zulfi just like they do in the Riyadh area. The wintering birds are apparently those from Iraq and Iran. The Eastern mourning wheatear from further west such as in north west Saudi Arabia are resident and don’t come down.
It is no surprise that Mansur found Asian desert wheatear which is another winter visitor. I have only seen three black redstart in Riyadh in 15 months birding here. Mansur spotted one near Zulfi. All in all though the species distribution doesn’t look that different to the farming areas around Riyadh. All pictures and information are courtesy of Mansur al Fahad.