8 Dec 2016

Black-necked Grebes back for winter - Jubail

Whilst birding at Jubail on 2 December Phil Roberts and I found two Black-necked Grebes. Both were in winter plumage as would be expected at this time of year. The Black-necked Grebe is an uncommon but regular visitor to the Eastern Province from late August through March but becomes scarce in April and May and rare in the summer. It is usually local in coastal waters but counts of over 40 are not unusual in Half Moon Bay. Small numbers occur inland and elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, away from the Eastern Province, birds have occurred in Riyadh, Tabuk and the Red Sea, as well as in the Jizan region. The Jubail area appears to be a regular wintering site for the species with birds seen almost every year.
Black-necked Grebe

7 Dec 2016

Plain Tiger in Dammam – record by Paul Kairouh

Paul Kairouh found and photographed a Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus in Dammam recently and kindly sent me his photos and allowed me to use them on my website. Paul mentioned the photo was taken with his 600mm lens and is a very good photo of the species. The Plain Tiger is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 7–8 centimetres. The body is black with many white spots and the wings are tawny, the upper side brighter and richer than the underside. Background color and extent of white on the forewings varies somewhat across the wide range. They occur from Africa and southern Europe, eastwards via Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar to China, Java and Sulawesi. The butterfly is distasteful to predators and therefore flies slowly and leisurely, generally close to the ground and in a straight line giving a would-be predator ample time to recognise and avoid attacking it. They can be seen throughout Saudi Arabia but appear more common in the southwest than the Eastern Province.
Plain Tiger

6 Dec 2016

Water Rail trapped and ringed - Jubail

The Water Rail is an uncommon winter visitor to the Gulf and Red Sea areas as well as Tabuk. In the Eastern Province it is a scarce breeding resident in small numbers in the Gulf Wetlands but a more common winter visitor. At Jubail birds can be heard calling in the early morning and when we last went ringing I mentioned to Nicole it would be great tp catch one as I had heard a few in different areas including birds calling near to a set of our nets. I was more than surprised when I found one in a net that was set on dry land between two reed beds. This was a new ringing species for me and the site and turned out to be an adult female bird. Although birds are regularly heard calling in Jubail they are difficult to see and even more difficult to photograph so trapping one allowed good photos to be taken as well.
Water Rail

Water Rail

Water Rail

Water Rail

5 Dec 2016

Temminck’s Lark and more near Zulfi – Records by Mansul Al Fahad

Temminck’s Lark Eremophila bilopha is a scarce and erratic winter visitor to most northern areas of the Kingdom. It is also a breeding resident, locally common in Central Deserts. I have looked for this species quite a few times in various areas but have so far not managed to see any. I obviously need to visit the north again this year and hope to better than previously. Mansur managed to see some birds near Zulfi in late November and sent me one of his great photos of it along with a couple of other photos of Steppe Eagle and Common Quail taken in the same area at the same time. I thank Mansur for kindly allowing me to use his photos on my website which are shown below.
Temminck's Lark
Temminck's Lark 
Steppe Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Common Quail
Common Quail

4 Dec 2016

Winter ringing - Jubail

Whilst ringing at Jubail recently we have started to catch typical winter species. These include Common Kingfisher, Water Pipit and Bluethroats. Water Pipits are not easy to catch as they normally see the nets and skillfully avoid them but occasionally we get lucky. The subspecies seen in Saudi Arabia is coutelli. Bluethroat numbers are steadily increasing with them making up the majority of birds caught and involving adults and juveniles as well as males and females. Common Kingfishers are always great to catch as they are beautiful birds and are very gentle when in the hand. A more unusual bird for late November was a Great Reed Warbler that is late for the species. They normally move through in September and October with late birds seen in early November. Other species trapped and ringed were resident ones such as House Sparrow, Graceful Prinia and Indian Reed Warbler.
Water Pipit
Water Pipit
Water Pipit
Water Pipit
Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
House Sparrow
House Sparrow
Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia
Indian Reed Warbler
Indian Reed Warbler