On Monday 29th August I went to the 'patch' as always and had a bit of colour overdose. There were three European Roller in the trees surrounding the percolation pond and a European Bee-eater was also in the same vicinity catching bees. This is the first European Bee-eater I have seen this autumn and was a welcome sight. The spray fields held a single Steppe Grey Shrike and three Isabelline Wheatear and the percolation pond had two Terek Sandpiper, six Green Sandpiper, nine Ruff, ten Black-winged Stilt, 13 Wood Sandpiper, 22 Little Stint. Best of all was a flock of nine Purple Heron flying over and landing in the reeds at the edge of the pond.
Although the Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost South is a great place for seeing waders, in particular Crab Plover, it is also good for other species. Here are a few shots of non waders taken at the site over the last few days. The Saunder's Tern allowed good views of the rump in flight just after this shot was taken including some poor photographs allowing for identification as they are not easy in non breeding plumage.
Yesterday afternoon I went to the Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost South as the high tide was right to push the waders up close to the coast. The tide was so high by the time I got to the roost all the waders had been pushed off and only a few small waders and some larger waders were present on the built up reclaimed area behind the coast. Thirteen Crab Plover, all adults, were roosting on the reclaimed land along with Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel and Eurasian Curlew. Unfortunately the birds were very flighty and would not allow close approach at all. There were also a few very worn terns flying about and resting on the edge of the reclaimed land and I managed to get a few good shots of them.
On Friday 26th August 2011 I went ringing again at Alba Marshes – Bahrain with Nicole and Brendan. We saw a few Isabelline Wheatear on the way to the ringing site and a couple of Black-crowned Night Heron flying over the marshes as it got dark. There were also a few waders present in the form of three Little Stint, three Common Greenshank, two Common Redshank, one Whimbrel, one Little Ringed Plover and two Common Ringed Plover. Other birds present included a Squacco Heron five ‘Flava’ Wagtail and calling Water Rail.
We set up the nets a bit earlier this time than last week as the temperature was a bit cooler (only 36 °C) and Nicole was tasked with extracting the birds from the nets whilst I ringed and processed them with Brendan keeping an eye on me. We caught eight birds including six juvenile (Caspian) Reed Warbler, one House Sparrow and one Graceful Prinia. One of the (Caspian) Reed Warbler was a re-trap from last week and had increased its weight very slightly from 10.5 grams to 10.75 grams. The top photograph is of one (Caspian) Reed Warbler and the bottom photographs of a second bird.
Ringing totals today: (Caspian) Reed Warbler - 6 (one re-tap from 18th August 2011) House Sparrow - 1 Graceful Prinia - 1
The 'patch' was good again today for migrants with two Purple Heron, one Upcher's Warbler and a Collared Pratincole all new species for the autumn for Dhahran Camp. Two Yellow Wagtail, a Little Egret, an Indian Reef Heron and a Gull-billed Tern (ten were also seen in a single flock flying over). Waders included two Terek Sandpiper, ten Ruff, one Common Redshank, five Marsh Sandpiper, approximately 20 Little Stint, 30 Kentish Plover and 10 Little Ringed Plover. Birds are starting to pass through now and things should get even better in September, hopefully.
Yesterday on the 'patch' I saw three different species of Shrike in the spray fields. There were singles of Lesser Grey Shrike, Steppe Grey Shrike and Durian Shrike. Other birds of interest in this area where European Turtle Dove, two Barn Swallow and a single fly over 'flava' wagtail. The percolation pond is now almost full with water and the wader numbers were back to normal from their very high numbers of last week. Birds present included 1 Common Greenshank, 2 Common Redshank, five Little Ringed Plover, 23 Kentish Plover and 13 Little Stint. The best wader was a Greater Sand Plover, a new species for me on the 'patch' but one that has been recorded here before. The only other birds of note on the pond were 2 Indian Reef Egret, one grey phase and one white phase.
Bob Roberts went birding to Dammam Airport Pools on Friday 26th August and saw some very good birds including a Lesser Grey Shrike, 13 Glossy Ibis, 2 Collared Pratincole, Isabelline Wheatear, Caspian Reed Warbler and a Juvenile Little Bittern. This site is now a regular place to see Cream-coloured Courser with Bob seeing up to 19 together on the left side of the reedbeds if looking from the road. Thanks very much to Bob for allowing me to put his photographs on m website. On the 27th August there were 13 Glossy Ibis, one Lesser Grey Shrike and a single Cream-coloured Courser.
At Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) yesterday we saw three Lesser Short-toed Lark which is only the second time I have seen the species at this site. They were feeding in some short growth by the edge of one of the main reed beds. This is not a common bird in the areas of the Eastern Province that I bird although is a resident breeder and winters in certain areas in large numbers (>5000 birds). Luckily today we were able to get a number of good photographs of the birds and I have included a photograph of a Greater Short-toed Lark taken at Dhahran Hills in March 2011 so you can see how different the two species look.
I was not able to do the 'patch' today due to wrk commitments so here is something from the morning of 20th August when I went to Bahrain to go birding and ringing with Brendan. We went birding in the morning as the tide was good for looking for shorebirds, Terns and Gulls. Unfortunately I arrived about thirty minutes late as the Saudi Arabia side of the Saudi Arabia / Bahrain Border was not working as the computer system had crashed. As a result I was stuck there for almost an hour and arrived a little late although as the tide was a very high one, the conditions were still good for birding. We saw plenty of the waders I have been seeing recently in Saudi Arabia but the number of Ruddy Turnstone where huge compared to Saudi Arabia and the number of Lesser Sand Plover seen was also much higher. After checking the main coastal sites around Tubli Bay we took a quick look at Alba Marshes where we were going ringing that evening and saw a Garganey which I have not seen in Saudi Arabia yet. After lunch and before ringing we went to some spray fields and other sites and saw quite a number of Grey Francolin another bird I have not seen in Saudi Arabia yet. Some waders seen in Saudi Arabia were not present in Bahrain such as Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Crab Plover and others were in reduced numbers such as Broad-billed Sandpiper and Terek Sandpiper but both countries have their pluses and minuses regarding bird species and numbers.
The 'patch' was still really good for waders today, although there has been quite a change over in birds. Today there were ten Green Sandpiper, eleven Ruff, seven Marsh Sandpiper, one Terek Sandpiper, one Ruddy Turnstone, one Common Sandpiper, one Common Greenshank, four Common Redshank, one Common Ringed Plover and a scattering of Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover. The best bird was a partial summer plumaged Lesser Sand Plover which was a new 'patch' species for me and an unusual bird inland in Saudi Arabia. The photograph attached here is not the bird I saw but one taken on the shoreline at Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost a few days ago but is in similar plumage to the one I saw today. There were approximately five hundred waders on the pond today which is a really high count for a small inland pond. Other good birds today included two Northern Shoveller (the same tow as yesterday), one Little Egret a juvenile white morph Indian Reef Heron and five Cattle Egrett which are the first returning birds for the winter.