7 Jan 2012

A review of my 2011 birding year in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Part 2)

The second half of the year produced the following:-
An adult Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia with two other Eurasian Spoonbill was at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 21st July and a single Juvenile was at the same location on 28th July. Three were at the same site on 4th August. An adult male Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus was seen perched and in flight over Dhahran on 30th July which is a very unusual summer record. This is probably the first summer record for the Arabian Peninsula? An immature was present in the trees surrounding the percolation pond at Dhahran Hills on 27th - 28th September. Two juvenile Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus were seen perched together on a sand mound, as well as seen in flight over Dhahran on 22nd October. A second calendar year Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga was at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 21st July, with the same bird seen at the same site on 18th August. This record indicates that some birds may spend the summer in Saudi Arabia. An immature bird was seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 15th & 29th September and 6th October. Three birds including a single adult were at the same site on 27th October with nine, five adults and four juveniles (1st cy) on 13th November and four juveniles (1st cy) on 24th November. Seven birds including four juveniles (1st cy) and three adults were again at the same site on 1st December with nine there (four adults and five 1sy cy) on 8th December. A juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquilla heliaca was seen perched on a telegraph pole, as well as seen in flight over Dhahran on 22nd October. A juvenile (1st cy) bird was seen on the ground as well as in flight at Sabkhat Al Fasl on 27th October with the same or another at the same site on 12th December. Four birds (one juvenile and three sub adults) were seen near Jabal Nayriyyah on 10th November and one adult at Jabal Nayriyyah on the same day.
Eastern Imperial Eagle

An immature Little Crake Porzana parva was seen in the reeds at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 24th November. Two Crab Plover Dromas ardeola were seen together at the Dammam – Al Khobar Wader Roost South in Tarut Bay on 22nd July and a single bird in the same location on July 28th. Birds were seen here at every high tide birdwatchers visited until at least 20th October with a maximum of twenty together. Two adults and a juvenile (seen begging for food) where at the site from 10th – 15th August. A winter plumaged White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus was seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 29th September with presumably the same bird seen again at the same site on 6th October. An adult summer plumaged Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria was seen at Saihat Mangrove high tide wader roost in Tarut Bay on 29th July. A winter plumaged adult was at Sabkhat Al Fasl on 24th November. Two Pin-tailed Snipe Gallinago stenura were seen feeding in the damp vegetation at the edge of the main lagoon at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 15th September. Two further birds were seen on 19th September in the vegetation at the edge of the percolation pond at Dhahran Camp, Dhahran. A Great Snipe Gallinago media was seen well on the muddy edge in the vegetation at the edge of the percolation pond in Dhahran on 22nd October. This species is a vagrant to Saudi Arabia. A Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta was seen well at the edge of the percolation pond in Dhahran on 4th October. This species is a vagrant to Saudi Arabia. 150 Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus were seen together at the Dammam – Al Khobar Wader Roost in Tarut Bay on 29th July with 125 seen on 4th August. Nine Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor were seen together at the edge of Dammam Airport Pools on 8th July. A moulting adult Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus was seen on an inland pool in Dammam on 4th August. Sightings of birds are much scarcer in the autumn than the spring. 173 Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia was seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 29th September which is an exceptionally high count for a single site. Two Pharaoh Eagle Owl Bubo ascalaphus were seen at day break at Jabal Nayriyyah on 10th November. Two Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius were seen roosting during the day on a bank at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) on 21st July. This is an early record for the species returning to Saudi Arabia where they are normally seen at the same site in August. A single bird seen at the same site as above on 11th August was the six year in succession that birds have been seen in the same location during this month with another single on 18th August and two on 25th August. One bird was seen in flight at Dhahran Hills on 10th November.
Egyptian Nightjar

A single Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis was present at Sabkhat Al Fasl on 6th November. (Record from Sander Willems). Presumably the same bird was seen again at the same site by myself on 1st December (as this is a scarce bird in Saudi Arabia). Three different first year Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola were seen feeding on insects at the edge of the percolation pond in Dhahran on 5th September, 13th September & 19th September. An adult was seen at Sabkhat l Fasl on 24th November with probably the same bird at the same site on 12th December.

When I started birding the ‘patch’ I said to myself that I would be happy to record 150 species of bird by the end of 2011 – well I recorded 170 species which shows how good the local area is for birds. I am hoping one day to reach 200 species for the camp but this may be difficult? Finding a good bird on my ‘patch’ plus identification challenges, is what birding is all about for me.


Now we can look forward to spring arriving and the large numbers of migrants that this period brings with it and the departure of the few winter species that occur. I wish all the readers of my blog a prosperous and bird filled 2012 and hope we all have a successful and happy year. Hopefully July 2012 will allow me to buy much better camera equipment to allow me to take better photographs of the birds I see and allow you the chance to see better quality images.

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