Those who follow my blog will know that hooded wheatearhas been mynemesis bird. Along with two owls,Dunn’s larkand a very small number of others it has been one of a dwindling group of confirmed residents in Riyadh province which I hadn’t seen.
male hooded wheatear
I have spent many hours looking for it either as the sole purpose of birding or as part of a birding session.
So on Friday morning when Lou Regensmorter said he wanted to spend the morning revisiting the griffon vulture site to get better looks at them, I asked if I could join him to search for hooded wheatear which like similar terrain to where we saw the vultures two weeks ago.
area for hooded wheatear
This time we stayed on top of the escarpment in the same area. In a desolate area with hardly another bird around almost incredibly we spotted a pair of wheatears – a black and white male and a grey female. They had perched on new protected fencing put up in large sections of the escarpment to stop erosion through human use and to prevent human injury.
The birds were very easy to see on the fence although they flew off as we got in close.
second photo of hooded wheatear
I refused to call their identification with absolute certainty without a very close look and photographs so as Lou went off in search of griffon vulture I returned to the wheatear zone.
This was a magic five minutes. Lou phoned me to say he had great views of four griffon vulture while I had just caught up with the male wheatear.As he continued viewing griffon vulture a mile away I confirmed that these birds were indeed hooded wheatear.
first view of griffon vulture
After 15 minutes or so Lou returned to my area to get good views of the wheatear.
Then just to add to the wonder of the morning, the four griffon vulture reappeared this time overhead.
one of four griffon vulture soaring
They were soaring along with four steppe eagle which quite frankly they dwarfed. Rarely can steppe eagle have looked so small.As the vultures saw us they soared higher and higher. Remember we were already on a plateau.
griffon vulture flying very high
One of the griffon vulture had lost some feathers. Since this may have been a shot wound we will not be telling people the exact location of these sightings.
another griffon vulture
Griffon vulture is clearlysurviving if not breeding and thriving near Riyadh and lets hope it stays that way.
The list of birds seen in this location has again been compiled by Lou and it is necessarily small:
Eurasian Griffon Vulture
Pale crag martin
Blue rock thrush