20 Sep 2017

First autumn Ringing tip of year? – Sabkaht Al Fasl

We went ringing for the first time this autumn on 15 September. This is early for us as the temperatures are very high still at this time of year. We caught 39 birds of 11 species including White-throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Eurasian (Caspian) Reed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Savi’s Warbler, Little Bittern, Common Redshank, Graceful Prinia and House Sparrow. Common Redshanks was a new species for us at our ringing site as was White-throated Kingfisher making it a very good ringing trip. It was a very hot and humid day and taking down the nets at the end of the session was far from pleasant but the day was still very enjoyable. We set nets in the same locations each tip with some over water (catching both new ringing species) and other over land in rides between reed beds. We set nine nets this trip (7 x 18 metre and 2 x 15 metre).
Common Redshank
Common Redshank
Little Bittern - male
Little Bittern - male
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

19 Sep 2017

Thrush Nightingale at Sharma – Bird record by Euan Ferguson

Euan Ferguson sent me a photograph of Thrush Nightingale that he saw recently at Sharma, and that he has kindly given me permission to use on my website. The Thrush Nightingale is an uncommon passage migrant in the Eastern Province mainly seen from late April to May and from late August to September. I have only seen a few birds on my local ‘patch’ in Dhahran with all records being in April. I also have not managed to photograph the species yet. The species status elsewhere is in Saudi Arabia is similar to that in the Eastern Province with small numbers of records from the entire country. Earliest records are from mid-March and latest records from early-October.
Thrush Nightingale

18 Sep 2017

Ringing White-throated Kingfisher – Sabkaht Al Fasl

Whilst ringing on 15 September we trapped and ringed a White-throated Kingfisher. This is a scarce visitor to the Eastern Province although they may have bred in Jubail this year. Since 2012 birds have been seen regularly mainly in the Jubail to Dhahran areas. Sabkhat Al Fasl has had quite a few records recently with three birds wintering at the site in winter 2014-2015. Up until the end of last century it was regarded as a vagrant but its status has changed with more records since 2000. It was a big surprise to see the bird fly into the net whilst we were checking the final nets set over a small area of water. I had seen White-throated Kingfisher in a number of areas around this site over the years but never in this particular spot. This was a first ringing record for us and almost certainly for Saudi Arabia as well. The bird was in wing moult as can be seen from the bottom photo.
White-throated Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher

17 Sep 2017

Red-necked Phalarope – Jubail

Phil Roberts and I found a winter plumaged Red-necked Phalaropes on some flooded Sabkha in Jubail in early September. Unfortunately, photos were not easy and I only managed to get a single flight shot that turned into a bit of a mystery photo as its head and most of its bill are hidden. This is the fifth year in a row that we have seen the species in Jubail with recent sightings in February, May, June, August, September and October. This area is undoubtedly the best location for seeing the species in the Eastern Province of the country.
Red-necked Phalarope

16 Sep 2017

African Olive Pigeon at the Raydah Escarpment – Bird record by Arnold Uy

Arnold Uy recently went to the Raydah Escarpment near Abha and found a relatively tame African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix. This is a scarce to uncommon species although it is a local breeder in the southwest highlands. It is not entirely clear if birds are resident although HBW states it is, as there is only one record from the months of December to February. It is a large pigeon, about the size of a European Woodpigeon and is predominantly dark grey with obvious white speckles on breast and wing-coverts. The females are a bit duller than the males. The iris is pale yellow to light brown, the bare skin around the eye, cere, bill and legs are bright yellow, which is conspicuous and diagnostic even in flight. They feed on fruits of various trees, including Podocarpus, Prunus and Ficus species and are patchily from Eritrea south through eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to southern South Africa. There are other populations in southwest Saudi Arabia and nearby northern Yemen and west Angola.The species was discovered as a new species for Saudi Arabia in the mid 1980’s. JENNINGS, M. C. 1986. The Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix on Jebel Suda, Asir Province: a new bird species for Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. J. Saudi Arab. Nat. Hist. Soc. (2)6:35-36. Arnold did very well to get such a good photo of the bird as they are difficult to see at the best of times. Arnolds photo is shown below and he has kindly given me permission to use it.
African Olive Pigeon