15 May 2015

A late Greater Spotted Eagle – Bird records by Mats Ris

Mats was birding the golf course area of Dhahran when he came across a late Greater Spotted Eagle siting on the fence next to the small pond. Greater Spotted Eagle is seen uncommonly in the camp but is a regular winter visitor to Sabkhat Al Fasl, 125 kilometres north of Dhahran. Most birds have moved off by late March or early April so early May is quite a late date for the species in the Eastern Province. The same bird was seen on 11 May sitting on top of a street light in the same area. I have seen two summer birds in June and July but these are extremely rare although apparently becoming more usual than previously. In the Eastern Province it is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor; rare summer visitor. Birds occur in the region on passage from late September until November and from late February until late April with the birds seen in late April almost always young birds that often linger on their wintering grounds in spring, unlike adults. Winter records from December to February are generally on the littoral with birds seen mainly around lowland man-made lakes and sewage farms as well as central pivot irrigation fields. Prime locations for seeing the species are Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail green belt zone, Khafrah Marsh, Jubail sanitary landfill site, Qatif sanitary landfill site and Dhahran Saudi Aramco compound where the wintering population has been increasing in recent years with the Middle East still appearing to be a main wintering area for the species. Winter numbers in the coastal littoral have been documented as a minimum of 6 – 8 birds in the mid 2000’s but by 2011 this number had increased to 15 – 20 with a ratio of adults to young birds of about 40% Adults to 60% youngsters and the maximum number of birds seen in a single day being thirteen on 9th February 2012. In the past, the species frequented the formerly extensive mangroves and Phragmites reed beds lining many large coastal bays, with a maximum count of eight around Tarout Bay 12th December 1991, but due to destruction of this habitat they are now seldom seen in these areas. The pale form fulvescens is rarely recorded.
Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

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