26 May 2018

Spring birding - Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm, Fadhili

A spring trip in early May to Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm, Fadhili failed to produce much of interest. The best birds seen included Spur-winged Lapwing and Ruddy Turnstone. Spur-winged Lapwing may well be breeding at the site now as birds have been around all winter and most of last year. It was the first time I had seen Ruddy Turnstone at the location as it is more than 30 kilometres from the sea. There were good numbers of migrant Red-backed Shrikes and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters present, with a few Willow Warblers and a single male Whinchat but very little else of interest. The location is normally excellent so it was a bit of a disappointing visit.
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Whinchat
Whinchat

24 May 2018

Sand Swimmer – Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm (Fadhili)

Whilst birding the Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm (Fadhili) with Phil Roberts we found a large number of Sand Swimmer Zophosis complanate. Sand Swimmer is a darkling beetle that is normally found in sand dunes. They prefer soil with some clay in them and the ones we found were near a wet sabkha area and reeds with the sand having at least some clay content. Their exterior is smooth allowing them to swim through sand often just below the surface. The beetles we saw were being predated by a Sacred Scarab Scarabaeus sacer which I do not know if it common or not but the Sand Swimmers did not appear concerned about the Scarab Beetle at all.
Sand Swimmer

22 May 2018

Native Honeybee – Abha area

I saw a single honeybee Apis sppwhen in Abha recently but am not sure what Honey Bee it is but Apis mellifera jemeniticahas been used in apiculture throughout the Arabian Peninsula since at least 2000 BC. Existing literature demonstrates that these populations are well adapted for the harsh extremes of the region with populations of A. m. jemenitica native to Saudi Arabia far more heat tolerant than the standard races from Europe. The indigenous race of Saudi Arabia differs from other subspecies in the region in some morphological, biological, and behavioural characteristics. Further taxonomic investigation, as well as molecular studies, is needed in order to confirm whether the Saudi indigenous bee populations represent a race distinct from A. m. jemenitica, or merely an ecotype of this subspecies.
honeybee

20 May 2018

Red-backed Shrikes – Jubail

Early May is always a good time to see Red-backed Shrike in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom and this year is no exception. A trip to the coastal areas of Jubail produced more than 30 birds in a single morning with five Turkestan Shrikes and a single adult male Daurian Shrike. Other migrants seen included plenty of Willow Warblers, Whinchat, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and several Yellow Wagtails. Waders included Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper. All the Western Marsh Harriers and Greater Spotted Eagles appear to have left for the summer now as none where seen. At least two Spotted Crakes were located and many Grey-headed Swamphens including young were present. 
Red-backed Shrike

18 May 2018

White-tailed Lapwing - Jubail

Whilst birdwatching the Jubail area 4 May, Phil Roberts and I came across a White-tailed Lapwing. This is a scarce bird in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with a status as a scarce migrant and rare winter visitor. Further north and west in Tabuk records are more regular with birds wintering in good numbers. I have seen birds this winter in Jubail but not for a couple of months so assume this bird was a passage migrant rather than the bird that winter being seen again. This bird allowed close approach, indicating it may have been tiered, something that they seldom do. It was located on an area of wet puddles formed by the recent rain we have had in the area and did not fly at all just walked away when we got too close. We left the bird in peace after taking a few photographs to avoid disturbance.
White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing