9 Jul 2015

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse – Sabya Waste Water Lagoons

Whilst birding the Sabya Waste Water Lagoons 29 – 30 June 2015 I saw several flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus. The largest flock was 15 birds with several flocks of ten or more. At one point I saw four birds on the ground and eventually managed to get reasonably close to them on foot and took the best photogerpahs I have taken so far of the species. This was at about 16:00 hours three hours before dark and the birds even though they knew of my presence remained still on the ground depending on their excellent camouflage to hide. The species is a common breeding resident on the Tihama and southern Red Sea coastlands, less common in the Northern Hejaz north to Rabigh with all records below 1000 metres. They are a relatively small species, with elongated central tail feathers, dark underwing, blackish belly and unmarked head. The male has a narrow pectoral band and chestnut brown belly darkening towards rear, whereas the female is more mottled above and shows a tricoloured ventral pattern. Races differ mainly in tone of upperpart coloration with the Arabian population P. e. erlangeri sandy coloured. They typically inhabit bare semi-desert, often with scattered thorny scrubs or trees including Acacia. They feed during the cooler hours of morning and afternoon and drink 2–3 hours after sunrise, while in very hot weather some individuals drink again before sunset.
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

2 comments:

  1. thanks Jem those are great photos ..

    BR
    Abdulaziz

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    1. Abdulaziz

      Thnaks for the comments. The photos were taken on foot, rather than from the car so I was even more surprised by the results

      Jem

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