24 Jul 2015

Plain Nightjar an addition to my Saudi Arabian list - Taif

Whilst birding in Taif for the weekend of 3-4 July 2015, Phil and I were sitting in the car eating Iftar when a Nightjar flew across in front of the car and appear to land on some stony ground nearby. We did not want to disturb the bird so waited for it to get completely dark and went looking for the bird by torchlight to see if we could see its eye shine. Unfortunately we could not locate the bird so decided to try a short blast of Plain Nightjar call. Immediately two birds responded and flew around our heads for a minute or so giving amazing views in the torchlight indicating they were Plain Nightjars and this combined with plumage details confirmed the identification. They then flew off and landed out of sight. There was no possibility of photographing the birds as despite an hour or searching we could not see the birds on the ground although did see them on three more occasions in flight. The photograph below was taken in Saudi Arabia by Ali Al Qarni who has kindly allowed me to use it on my website. This is an under recorded species in Saudi Arabia, and an addition to my Saudi Arabian list and is probably a breeding summer visitor to the southwest from Taif south to the Yemen border. The Plain Nightjar occurs from southern Mauritania and northern Senegal east to Eritrea, northwest Somalia and northwest Kenya, and southwest Saudi Arabia south into Yemen. They Winter from Senegal and Liberia across to southwest South Sudan and possibly southwest Ethiopia and Tanzania. The male has white spot on four outermost primaries and broad white tips to two outermost tail feathers whilst the female has tawny wing spots and lacks white in tail. Their preferred habitat is mainly barren lowlands inland of Asir Mountains, but also rocky terrain at higher altitudes where they have been recorded from sea-level to 1800 metres.

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