Bahrain's national bird - White Cheeked Bulbul

I was hoping that I'd be able to get one of these little fellows for the BlipBigYear List while I was here and was delighted to see a pair of them on the roof the other day. This morning as I sat outside (having woken up, once again, at 5.30am) they were flitting around the garden together and I followed them round to the front of the house where I managed to get a few shots of them. Ideally, it would have been nice to get a blip on a tree, but I was fairly pleased with this image as it shows the bird's markings quite clearly, including the yellow vent.

They are very endearing, inquisitive birds with a melodious, trilling call, which you can listen to here. I'm pretty sure that this Youtube clip was made in Bahrain, both because of the uploader's name and because the other bird calls that you can hear in the background are very common in this area - those of collared doves and Indian house crows. Along with ring-necked parakeets, Mynah birds and house sparrows, these are the common bird calls heard in our garden.

The White Cheeked Bulbul (Pycnonotus Leucogenys) is found in India, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain, where it breeds in the plantations, gardens and date farms, feeding on fruit, seeds and invertebrates. Apparently they are often captured and their nests raided by young boys who sell them in the markets becuase they are popular as pets both as songbirds because they are easy to tame. However, I think that this particular piece of information - taken from An Introduction to the Wildlife of Bahrain by Dr Mike Hill and Paul Webb, 1984 - may be a little outdated as young boys in Bahrain nowadays have other pursuits to occupy them. I'm sure that numbers of Bulbuls in the wild around Budaiya have started to improve in the time that we have lived here.

If I hadn't had the good fortune to capture this today I might well have blipped the photoshoot this afternoon at a local studio when Immy, dressed in the Georgian costume created by Christina, had to be photographed for the portfolio. I had thought that the photographer would have decent studio lighting; however, she shot the whole lot hand-held with a fairly strong built-in flash so the shots are not quite what Christina wanted. I took a few pics with long exposures but they weren't brilliant. Anyway, an alternative shoot has been organised for Tuesday so hopefully that will yield better results. And I was thrilled to find that Bahrain's national bird does not seem to be on The List yet!

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