21 Jan 2018

First ringing trip of 2018 – Sabkhat Al Fasl

We went ringing on 12 January and caught 29 birds of 10 species including Common Kingfisher, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Little Bittern, Graceful Prinia, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Moustached Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, White-eared Bulbul, Water Pipit and Daurian Shrike. White-eared Bulbul was a new species for us at our ringing site, although birds are common in the region they are scarce at the site itself with birds only being seen in the last year suggesting they may be colonising the area. We set nets in the same locations each tip with some over water and other over land in rides between reed beds. We set and additional three nets along the edge of a reed bed as well as the normal ten nets we set every trip (11 x 18 metre and 2 x 15 metre). As normal, we arrived well before first light and set the nets during the hours of darkness. The best time for catching birds for us are the first couple of hours of day and this was the case this trip. We retrapped 11 birds including five Clamorous Reed Warbler, two Red-spotted Bluethroat, a Graceful Prinia and a Little Bittern. The Clamorous Reed Warblers were from as early as 23 September 2016 with the Bluethroats only trapped this winter. The Graceful Prinia was trapped in November 2017 and the Little Bitter in March 2017. The number of birds was less than normal as it was the middle of winter and the weather was very cold with temperatures in the morning only reaching 5 degrees Celsius. Normally we have to take care of birds overheating but it was the opposite this time with care needed to ensure the birds did not become too cold.
Common Chiffchaff
Common Chiffchaff
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Water Pipit
Water Pipit
Little Bittern
Little Bittern

19 Jan 2018

Baltic Gulls – Jizan Corniche

Whilst in Jizan this winter I saw a number of Lesser Black-backed Gull (Baltic Gull) Larus fuscus fuscus. This species winters in the southwest coast around Jizan with a number of ringing recoveries of birds ringed in Sweden and Finland from this area as well as a satellite tracked bird that spent the winter there.  Laura was ringed in Umea, Sweden at her breeding habitat, an archipelago with brackish water outside the Ume River Delta "Holmsunds skärgård". She was fitted with a satellite transmitter to record her movements and named Laura. The route Laura has used is shown on the map below and until now she has visited (or passed) the following countries outside Sweden: Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia (Kaliningrad), Poland, Estonia, (Belarus), (Ukraine), (Moldovia), Turkey, (Cyprus), Israel and Saudi Arabia. She passed the Turkish mountains at 1590 metres above sea level and her highest speed has been 94 kilometres per hour. She passed through Europe in two days with only one stop over at the Black Sea coast of Turkey. Laura took just a short rest after reaching the Red Sea coast and continued her flight along the western coast of Saudi Arabia passing Jeddah before heading on to Jizan. Laura arrived in Jizan Province (Al Sehi) on 21 September and has remained in the same location since indicating this may be her wintering ground? This bird, the ringing recoveries and out field observations show that plenty of Baltic Gulls winter in the extreme southwest of the Kingdom. Unfortunately despite active searching we could nt find any birds with Darvi rings this trip.
Baltic Gull

Baltic Gull

Baltic Gull

Baltic Gull

Baltic Gull

17 Jan 2018

Golden Pansy – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching the bottom valley of the Raydah Escarpment in the Asir Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, I came across and photographed a Golden Pansy Junonia chorimene. The Golden Pansy, is a butterfly in the Nymphalidae family and are commonly known as buckeyes, pansies or commodores. This genus flies on every continent except Antarctica and Golden Pansy is found in Senegal, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, northern and western Kenya, northern Tanzania, south-western Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The habitat consists of riverine vegetation and the specimen I found was in a dry wadi at the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment.
Golden Pansy

15 Jan 2018

Arabian Wheatear – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birding the Raydah Escarpment area recently I saw a couple of Arabian Wheatears Oenanthe lugentoides, mainly in the lower reaches of the escarpment. The Arabian Wheatear is a rather scarce resident of the south-west highlands, but is also found in Oman and Yemen, mainly in rocky, bushy sites but is widespread on the Jebal Souda plateau, Wadi Tale’a, Pipeline Road, near Farshah, Gara’a, Tanoumah, Raghadan Forest and the upper parts of the Golden Tulip valley in Baha as well as Taif. In 1987 it was recorded more frequently than present so the species may have declined slightly, with disturbance not thought likely to be the reason as it is often associated with gardens and regularly breeds near human sites. They nest in holes in terrace walls and feed largely on insects.
Arabian Wheatear

13 Jan 2018

Arabian Mistletoe White – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching the bottom valley of the Raydah Escarpment in the Asir Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, I came across and photographed an Arabian Mistletoe White Mylothris arabicus. It is a butterfly in the Pieridae family and belongs to an African genus which is more or less specialised for life in the rain forests where there are many species. One African Mistletoe White Mylotheris chloris is adapted to savanna conditions and the Arabian species evolved from this African relative. They are found in the southern Asir Mountains of Saudi Arabia and in Yemen making them endemic to Arabia. Larsen says the Mistletoe White is one of the most unexpected African species found in Arabia. Some people class the Arabian Mistletoe White as a subspecies of African Mistletoe White.
Arabian Mistletoe White

Arabian Mistletoe White

Arabian Mistletoe White

Arabian Mistletoe White