15 Dec 2017

Grey-headed Swamphen & Water Rail at Dhahran golf course – bird records by Mats Ris

Mats Ris sent me an email and photos of a Grey-headed Swamphen and Water Rail he had seen at a small pond on the Dhahran golf course. Grey-headed Swamphen has only been recorded a couple of times in Dhahran so this is a very good record. The Grey-headed Swamphen is a common resident breeder at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail and has recently (August 2011) expanded its breeding range to Khafrah Marsh a wetland site 30 kilometres south-west of Sabkhat where six adults and a young bird were found. The species favoured habitat is large Phragmites australis reed-beds with associated water which is available at all the sites the species has been seen at in Saudi Arabia. The range expansion appears to be quite quick as the first record for Saudi Arabia was on 8th August 2003 at Sabkhat Al Fasl core area 2 with breeding confirmed in 2007 and numbers increasing each year since this date. Other signs of the species expanding its range include a record from Dhahran percolation pond, 130 kilometres to the south of Sabkhat Al Fasl in October 2009 with two birds there in December 2014 and a sighting of one and possibly two birds at a farm well inland from jubail. The most recent records are three adult birds at the same site 4 September 2015 showing a very high likelihood of breeding here as well. It appears that the rapid population increase observed at Sabkhat al Fasl over the past five years has created pressures on territories and prompted some birds to move to alternative suitable habitats within the Eastern Province and thereby expand its range. This expansion now appears to have taken in Dammam as birds are regularly seen in the wetlands around the industrial city. I thank Mats for allowing me to use his photos on my website which are shown below.
Grey-headed Swamphen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Water Rail
Water Rail



13 Dec 2017

Some interesting birds from Riyadh – Bird records by Liam Brickwood

Liam sent me a number of his photos that he kindly said I could add to my website of birds seen by him at Salwa Garden Village, Bae Compound, Riyadh over the last month or so. He photographed Eurasian Hoopoe, Common Chiffchaff, Grey Hypocolius and Lesser Whitethroat. Grey Hypocolius are seen regularly in the Riyadh area but are not easy to see anywhere else in the Kingdom and have just started retuning for the winter. The other species may also be ready to winter here but could also be late passage migrants.
Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat
Common Chiffchaff
Common Chiffchaff
Hypocolius
Hypocolius

11 Dec 2017

A good autumn ringing trip - Jubail

We went ringing on 17 November and caught 53 birds of 11 species including Common Kingfisher, Eurasian (Caspian) Reed Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Little Bittern, Graceful Prinia, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Moustached Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Common Moorhen and House Sparrow. Common Moorhen was a new species for us at our ringing site, although birds are common in the area. We set nets in the same locations each tip with some over water and other over land in rides between reed beds. We set ten nets this trip (8 x 18 metre and 2 x 15 metre). As normal, we arrived well before first light and set the nets during the hours of dark. The best time for catching birds for us are the first couple of hours of day and this was the case this trip. We retrapped 11 birds including nine Clamorous Reed Warbler and two Red-spotted Bluethroat. The Clamorous Reed Warblers were from as early as 9 October 2015 with the Bluethroats only trapped the previous ringing trip to the site on 3 November.
Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Common Moorhen
Common Moorhen
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat

9 Dec 2017

Birding Jubail

A day out in the Jubail area produced a few interesting birds. As mentioned in a previous post whilst birding the Jubail area on 11 December I saw four Black-necked Grebes. A single bird was seen initially followed by two together and then a partially summer plumage bird made it four. I went back to the same location two weeks later and the numbers of Black-necked Grebes had increased to 21 birds. This is the largest count of the species seen in the Eastern Province for many years and as it is the start of winter numbers may continue building. The Black-necked Grebe is an uncommon but regular visitor to the Eastern Province from late August (normally November) through March but becomes scarce in April and May and rare in the summer. A few harriers including a male Pallid Harrier and several Western Marsh Harriers including a male were good to see as were tens of Common Kestrels. A Steppe Buzzard and an adult Greater Spotted Eagle completed the raptors. A few pipits including plenty of Water Pipits, several Tawny Pipits and a few Meadow Pipits were in and around any grass area found and several Eurasian Skylarks were also present. A single White-winged Tern was seen flying around a large lake and an Arabian Grey Shrike on a fence.
Arabian Grey Shrike
Arabian Grey Shrike
Western Marsh Harrier - male
Western Marsh Harrier - male
White-winged Tern
White-winged Tern

7 Dec 2017

Some winter birds – Bird records by Munzir Khan

Munzir photographed a few winter visitors recently including Northern Lapwing, Jack Snipe, Common Redshank and RAed-spotted Bluethroat at a marsh about 20 kilometres before Khafra Marsh. Both these species are winter visitors to the Kingdom. Northern Lapwing is a very difficult species to get close to in Saudi Arabia and Munzir has done very well to get such a good photo of the species. It is certainly better than any photograph I have of this species in the Kingdom. I thank Munzir for sending me the photos and allowing me to use them on my website. Northern Lapwing is an uncommon winter visitor to the Eastern Province occurring in varying numbers. This year appears to be a good year for the species however. Jack Snipe is an uncommon winter visitor to the Eastern Province, with Red-spotted Bluethroat being a common winter visitor. It is very difficult to get a photo of the quality of Munzir’s of the species, however.
Jack Snipe
Jack Snipe
Northern Lapwing
Northern Lapwing
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Common Redshank
Common Redshank