20 Oct 2017

Looking for Chukar Partridge – Jebal Lawz

On 7 October Phil Roberts and I went to Jebal Lawz, about 200 kilometres outside Tabuk, to look for Chukar Partridge. We git there before first light and waiting to try to hear any birds calling. The site is very remote and as a result is very quiet so hearing calling birds should have been easy. In reality it was very difficult, made more so by the closed and locked gate across the road preventing access to the top of the mountain where birds had been seen before. We did eventually hear birds calling lower down the road, but they were high up on a rocky mountain. I eventually saw two birds calling from this high cliff face but the distance from the birds was huge and the views poor. We stayed around for almost ten hours trying to hear or see the birds again but without luck. Bird life was very limited in the area and we only saw a few species including White-crowned Wheatear, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Kestrel, Rock Dove, Desert Lark, Tristram’s Starling, Lesser Grey Shrike, Pale Crag Martin, Scrub Warbler and Sinai Rosefinch.
White-crowned Wheatear
White-crowned Wheatear
White-crowned Wheatear
White-crowned Wheatear 
Streaked Scrub Warbler
Streaked Scrub Warbler
Streaked Scrub Warbler
Streaked Scrub Warbler
Pale Crag Martin
Pale Crag Martin

18 Oct 2017

Jabal al-Lawz

In early October Phil Roberts and I went to Tabuk for the weekend to look at Jabal al-Lawz. This is a mountain located in northwest Saudi Arabia, near the Jordan border, above the Gulf of Aqaba at 2580 metres above sea level. It is Saudi Arabia’s second highest mountain after Jebal Soudah near Abha in the southwest of the Kingdom. Its name means the mountain of almonds, but I certainly did not see any almonds or virtually any other vegetation excepting a few Juniper trees. Geologically it is a light-colored, calc-alkaline granite that is intruded by rhyolite and andesite dikes, which generally trend eastward. Claims have been made by some writers such as Bob Cornuke, Ron Wyatt and Lennart Moller that this is the real biblical Mount Sinai, but these have subsequently been questioned by others. The mountain is very beautiful, but it is not possible to get to the top as a closed security gate prevents access. When we arrived, before first light, signs said not to enter past the gate. We waited until security came and asked permission to enter but were refused, so had to stay on the lower slopes.





16 Oct 2017

Caspian Terns fishing - Jubail

Caspian Tern is a common sighting in Jubail where they can be seen in almost any wetland area from the coast inland to flooded sabkhat areas like Sabkhat Al Fasl and Khafra Marsh. Although common, numbers seen rarely exceed ten although late in the summer, around September, numbers can exceed 150 birds mainly out on flooded sabkha. The last trip to Jubail was good for Caspian Terns with up to one hundred sitting around and more birds flying up and down a flooded area by the side of the road. These birds put on quite a nice display flying past the car on a number of occasions and doubling back past the car again. There was a small shoal of tiny fish near the shore and the terns were occasional dropping into the water to catch them. This allowed a few attempts at inflight photography as well as some attempts to get birds in the water. Some of the results are shown below.




14 Oct 2017

White-tailed Lapwing – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area on 29 September Phil and I came across a White-tailed Lapwing. This is a scarce passage migrant that has sometimes wintered. The Jubail area and Dhahran are the two best areas for locating the species in the Eastern Province, but having said that I have only seen White-tailed Lapwing once in the Jubail area. White-tailed Lapwing records scattered throughout the Kingdom but the Tabuk area having the majority of recent records. Records from the Eastern Province are very scarce with less than annual sightings in recent years although this may partly be due to lack of observers. They are great waders with very district pattern in flight. Birds are normally not easy to get close too and this one was no exception.


12 Oct 2017

A few water birds – Jubail

Jubail, as it is close to the Arabian Gulf is a good place to see water birds. Terns are always present and this time of year they are mainly Caspian Terns, Gull-billed Terns and migrant White-winged Terns. Duck can sometimes be seen if the disturbance levels are low including Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal and Garganey. Other birds that are common are herons with Little Egret and Indian Reef Heron being the most common at this time of year. Three of the more unusual Glossy Ibis were also seen recently. Large numbers of gulls use the area in winter but at present Slender-billed Gulls are the only gulls seen in any numbers.
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern 
Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler
Slender-billed Gull
Slender-billed Gull