23 Sep 2017

Brown Booby at Sharma – Record by Euan Fergusson

Whilst staying at Sharma, on the Red Sea coast of northwest Saudi Arabia, Euan Fergusson saw Brown Booby. Brown Booby is an uncommon resident of the Red Sea, where it mainly occurs offshore. They breed on the Farasan Islands as well as other islands in the Red Sea and wander north to the Gulf of Akaba in winter. S. l. plotus is the subspecies we get in Saudi Arabia and it occurs from the Red Sea and tropical Indian Ocean east to northern Australia and the central Pacific Ocean. The race plotus is the largest and has a blackish head and neck almost concolorous with rest of upperpart. Its iris is grey to yellowish grey with narrower pale yellow outer ring. The bill is yellowish horn to pale horn with bluish or greyish cast, facial skin and gular pouch bluish grey to blue, legs pale greenish yellow. The female has an ivory or pale horn coloured bill, slightly tinged either yellowish or pale greenish. The facial and gular skin are pale greenish yellow, with the legs coloured like the facial skin or slightly more greenish. Birds are strictly marine, feeding mostly in inshore waters. They breed mainly on bare, rocky islands or coral atolls.
Brown Booby

22 Sep 2017

Mediterranean Chameleon near Abha – Record by Arnold Uy

Arnold Uy was birding the Abha area recently and found a Mediterranean Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon. They occur in Saudi Arabia, mainly down the western side of the country where it can be found from sea level to 1850 metres above sea level in the mountains. The Mediterranean Chameleon, also known as the Common Chameleon, is a diurnal species that usually varies in colour from green to dull brown, tan or grey. It has a remarkable ability to change colour which is done for camouflage, to signal to other chameleons and to regulate its temperature. Whatever its background colour, the Mediterranean chameleon generally has two light stripes along each side of its body, with the stripes often being broken into a series of dashes or spots. They are an arboreal species that have strong, grasping feet with four toes, two on each side for grasping branches and a prehensile tail, used to maintain balance and stability, making it well adapted to living in bushes and trees. It uses its long, sticky tongue to capture passing prey, that when extended, can be twice the length of the body. They have very sharp eyesight and each eyeball is able to move independently of the other and a light crest of scales along its throat, and a crest of small, serrated scales along its back and can measure up to 20 - 40 cm long. They are active during the day and its diet consists mainly of arthropods including grasshoppers, flies, bees, wasps, and ants. Like other chameleons, the Mediterranean Chameleon is slow-moving, often with a slight swaying motion to avoid detection by predators, and is a ‘sit-and-wait’ predator that captures prey with its long, sticky tongue when prey comes within reach. Their range is the broadest of all chameleon species, extending from northern Africa, Arabia to southwest Asia and southern Europe. In North Africa and the Middle East it occurs in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria Iraq and Iran. They are found in a variety of habitats including open pine woodland, shrubland, plantations, gardens and orchards and spends the majority of its time in trees or bushes, preferring dense cover for camouflage. However, this habit changes during the mating season when males move to the ground to find a mate and females descend to a lower level of vegetation.
Mediterranean Chameleon

21 Sep 2017

White-eyed Gull at Sharma – Record by Euan Fergusson

Whilst staying at Sharma, on the Red Sea coast of northwest Saudi Arabia, Euan Fergusson saw White-eyed Gull. This species is almost entirely restricted to the Red Sea with most birds seen in the Jizan area although they are also common in Jeddah. The White-eyed Gull is mostly sedentary although it disperses from its breeding sites in the Red Sea to occur throughout the Red Sea during the non-breeding season. There may also be some southward and eastward movement during this time, when it is reported to become scarce in the northern part of its range. Breeding takes place during the months of June – September where it breeds in loose colonies, on inshore islands, where it occupies bare rock and sand flats, and usually consists of fewer than 25 pairs. During the non-breeding season it is usually found in small groups, but sometimes forms flocks of hundreds or even thousands to forage and often occurs further out to sea at this time. They eat mainly fish, but also crustaceans, molluscs, annelids and offal.
White-eyed Gull

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