15 Aug 2015

Puprle Swamphens - Sabkhat Al Fasl


The Purple Swamphen is a locally common resident breeder at Sabkhat Al Fasl with a few pairs maximum breeding at nearby Khafrah Marsh. The first record for Saudi Arabia was at Sabkhat Al Fasl core area on 8 August 2003 but numbers have expanded rapidly with 73 birds seen in May 2015. The species favoured habitat is large Phragmites australis reed-beds with associated water which is available at all the sites the species has been seen at in Saudi Arabia. Breeding was confirmed at Sabkhat Al Fasl in 2007 with numbers increasing each year since this date. A new breeding site for the species was found in August 2011 at Khafrah Marsh where six adults and a juvenile were seen. This site is located 30 kilometres southwest of Sabkhat Al Fasl. Other signs of the species expanding its range include a record from Dhahran percolation pond, 130 kilometres to the south of Sabkhat Al Fasl in October 2009 a recent sighting of one and possible two birds at Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm, Fadhili 31st January 2013 and two further birds at Dhahran percolation pond in winter 2015. The Purple Swamphen that occurs in Saudi Arabia is of one of the grey headed eastern / Asian subspecies from the Porphyrio porphyrio poliocephalus group which are either Porphyrio porphyrio caspius or Porphyrio porphyrio seistanicus. P. p. poliocephalus is found from India and Sri Lanka to south China and north Thailand. It has cerulean blue scapulars, face throat and breast. P. p. caspius is from the Caspian Sea area, and is like P. p. poliocephalus, but is larger whereas P. p. seistanicus occurs from Iraq to Pakistan, and is like P. p. poliocephalus, but larger although smaller than P.p caspius. As mentioned previously DNA evidence from two Saudi Arabian birds I trapped and ringed indicate they are Grey-headed Swamphens P. p. poliocephalus and further samples have just been sent from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for DNA analysis that may throw some more light on the situation here.
Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

Purple Swamphen

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