1 Nov 2014

Birds of the Buraidah area – Bird records by Ragu Shanbhogue

Ragu Shanbhogue is a birdwatcher from Buraidah in northern Saudi Arabia has sent me a few photos of birds seen in his area over the last two weeks. There are a few migrants moving through this area with Blackcap being a species I have not seen in the Eastern Province this autumn. Ragu has kindly allowed me to use his photographs on my website.
Red-backed Shrike
Eurasian Blackcap
Spotted Flycatcher
White-eared Bulbul

31 Oct 2014

First returning Water Pipits – Dhahran Hills

Migration has been very slow throughout the Eastern Province this autumn with very few species and few birds seen. Last weekend at Sabkhat Al Fasl, whilst ringing, I flushed a few Water Pipits from some wet vegetation that were the first birds of this species I have seen this autumn. Water Pipit is a regular common wintering species in the area and occurs widely throughout the country. Even though I saw birds at Sabkhat Al Fasl it was five more days before I saw any on the ‘patch’ when five birds were found feeding around a flooded area of scrubby desert. The race of Water Pipit we get is coutelli. Otherwise birds seen in the last few days on the camp include several Daurian Shrikes, a single showy Great Reed Warbler in the scrub by the pond and plenty of duck still present. Highest counts were 21 Ferruginous Ducks, ten Common Pochard, six Eurasian Teal and 25 Northern Shoveller. Otherwise migrants were few and far between with 20+ Barn Swallows and seven Sand Martins over the pond and a Common Snipe and six Black-winged Stilts on the settling pond.
Water Pipit
Daurian Shrike
Ferruginous Ducks
Indian Myna & Common Snipe

30 Oct 2014

Black-crowned Night Heron near Tabuk – Bird records by Viv Wilson

Viv has taken some photographs of Black-crowned Night Heron from the main wetland near Tabuk that he has sent to me and kindly allowed me to use. Black-crowned Night Heron is an uncommon migrant to most areas of Saudi Arabia but in the Riyadh area is a common spring and autumn passage migrant passing early February to early June and again from late July to early November and rarely as late as December with birds now regularly breeding in the area. In the Eastern Province they are an uncommon migrant noted more often in autumn than spring. Juveniles occur from September through November and sometimes into February. Spring occurrences are irregular from April to May. They are uncommon in the Tabuk area in the northwest of the country with the bird photographed by Viv being an immature.

29 Oct 2014

Birds of Dhahran – Bird records by Harald Ris

Harald Ris the son of Mats is visiting Dhahran again and really enjoying the birding in the autumn with different species than when he last visited in spring. Harald shared his latest records and has allowed me to use them and a few of his photos. On October 24 there were quite a few Eurasian Sparrowhawks, Common Snipe, Little Stint, two Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, immature Marsh Harrier, at least 30 White Wagtails, Sand Martins and White-winged terns. On October 25 Harald had very close and nice views of a juvenile Greater Spotted eagle plus a Red-backed Shrike and a Gull-billed Tern over the pond. On October 26 he walked around the ditch and saw some waders including Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpiper as well as a Grey Wagtail. On October 27 he saw an Asian Desert Warbler stalking a Desert Wheatear at the golf course. This is a habit that often occurs when the two species are seen together in Arabia. Also a Masked Shrike by the golf course. Mats found a juvenile Crested Honey Buzzard coming back at lunchtime over the golf course. Also a number of Pied Wheatears. On October 28 he got a quick view of the Crested Honey Buzzard again at sunrise. At the ditch he saw two Red-vented Bulbuls and a Greater Short-toed Lark. 28 Ferruginous Ducks, 14 Northen Shoveler, one Grey Heron, one Little Egret and about 5 Little Stints were at the percolation pond. Around the small settling pond were 5 Pallid Swifts, about 30 Barn Swallows and Sand Martins. Three Daurain Shrikes in total and one Marsh Sandpiper, seven Little Stints, three Temmnick's Stints as well as one Dunlin.
Pied Wheatear
Masked Shrik
Red-vented Bulbul

28 Oct 2014

White-throated Kingfisher in Buraidah – Bird records by Ragu Shanbhogue

Ragu, who is a doctor living and working in Buraidah north of Riyadh went out birdwatching to his local park on 25 October and found a White-breasted Kingfisher sitting in a tree near a small pond in the park. Ragu sent me a photograph of the bird and has kindly allowed me to use it on my website. White-throated Kingfisher is a scarce bird in Saudi Arabia but has become more common over the last decade or so and now breeds in Riyadh. Records are much less common away from Riyadh and are rare from the north but this may be due to lack of birdwatchers living there rather than anything else. This is a good record from Buraidah and shows continuing going out to your local ‘patch’ birdwatching often pays off.