28 Aug 2015

Trying to trap Egyptian Nightjars – Sabkhat Al Fasl

As Phil and I found the highest number of Egyptian Nightjars ever seen in Saudi Arabia very close to my ringing site I thought we could have a chance of catching one or two. Unfortunately we failed to catch any birds even though they were close to the nets at times but always flew along the nets or flew around them as it was obvious they could see the nets without problem. We did not keep the nets up for long as we did not want to disturb the birds as they use the ringing area at present for roosting so caught very little except a juvenile Indian (Clamorous) Reed Warbler that was growing new feathers and looked a little bit worst for wear. We also caught two Graceful Prinias but nothing else.
Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia


27 Aug 2015

Streaked Weaver in Bahrain – Records by Jehad Alammadi

Jehad Alammadi sent me a photo of a Streaked Weaver that he took at Hamala. Jehad said he thought the bird had escaped but had seen lots of them, so presumably they have a self-sustaining population there now? This species is not seen in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where I birdwatch although birds are recorded in the Riyadh area in central Saudi Arabia. Jehad has very kindly allowed me to use his photograph on my website but the copyright of it remains with Jehad.

26 Aug 2015

Moulting adult Pacific Golden Plover – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding Sabkhat Al Fasl on 21 August I found a moulting adult Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva. It was on the edge of a wet area and appeared quite timid. This is my first record of this species for the site, although Phil has seen one previously in full summer plumage. The species is an uncommon migrant and winter visitor to the Eastern Province that is seen in very small numbers. The species was regularly observed at the former Dammam Marsh lagoons with at least four wintering there in 1980-81. Up until the mid-1980’s adults in summer plumage were seen in May & June with a maximum count of up to 30 birds in April, September and October. Most of the records away from Dammam were in the coastal zone from March to April and from September to October with inland records at Abqaiq in September. The species appears to have become scarcer with the only recent records being one seen at Zur Bay on 18 November 1991, one individual seen outside Dammam 6th April 1999, one at Sabkhat Al Fasl 31 October 2008, one at Ash Shargiyah Development Company farm 12th October 2012, one Dhahran Hills 2 November 2013 and one Dhahran Hills 23 August 2014. Records have also occurred on the Red Sea coast as well as inland at Malaki Dam Lake near Jizan and regular sightings have occurred recently in the Riyadh area.
Pacific Golden Plover

Pacific Golden Plover

25 Aug 2015

Migrants in the Tabuk area – bird records by Viv Wilson

Viv was out in last weekend in the Tabuk area and managed to see and photograph a number of migrants that have just started passing. Viv mentioned he went birding for a while one morning before it got too hot as he has no a/c in his car. This summer has been very hot in Saudi Arabia with temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius on occasions. During Viv’s trip he saw three different European Rollers at the wetlands and one up at the farm area. The morning was overcast so the light was not all that good but Viv took a few decent photos of a few good migrant birds including Montagu’s Harrier, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Red-backed Shrike. Plenty of residents were also on view including Namaqua Dove, Graceful Prinia and Black-Bush Robin. He has kindly allowed me to use them on my website and some are reproduced below.
Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier 
Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
European Roller
European Roller
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Black Scrub Robin
Black Bush Robin
Graceful Prinia
Graceful Prinia
Namaqua Dove
Namaqua Dove

24 Aug 2015

A summer White-throated Kingfisher – Sabkaht Al Fasl

White-throated Kingfisher has recently been classed as a vagrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Bundy et al 1989) with two records one at Dhahran 4-5 October 1984 and one overwintering at the Dhahran Hills percolation pond early November 1985 until March 1986. Since then there have two records at Sabkhat Al Fasl, one in November 2006 and one 21 August, 4 September & 18 September 2009. At Sabkhat Al Fasl the species was seen at each visit in August 2006 with probably 10-15 birds present with breeding thought likely to be confirmed at the site in due course (Jennings 2010). One was in Dhahran in December 2008 with other records from Dhahran Hills Park. After this date records the species become rare in the Eastern Province but since 2012 birds have again 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 but finding a bird in the summer is much more unusual. I found a single bird on 14 August along the reed fringed edge of the site but it did not stay long before flying off calling. It is possible that this bird may have been one of the wintering birds from last winter but may have been a new bird also. It would be great to think birds are now staying here all year around and may soon start to breed as they do in the Riaydh area, but we will have to wait and see.
White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher