24 Jan 2016

Rare and unusual birds seen in Saudi Arabia in second half of 2015

Two new species for Saudi Arabia Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor & Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica were found together on Malaki Dam Lake 3 September. Eight Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei were in a large field near Jizan 30 June including at least two males, a species that has not been recorded in Saudi Arabia for many years. Two Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus were well inland at a wetland near Tabuk 25 September and an immature Black Stork Ciconia nigra was present at the same place 16 October. 26 Abdim’s Storks Ciconia abdimii were at Sabya Waste Water Lagoons near Jizan 29-30 June. Three Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia were at Sabkhat Al Fasl 21 August and a Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala was at Sabya Waste Water Lagoons near Jizan 3 September a species now becoming a regular at the location. A flock of a minimum of 250 Western Great Egrets Ardea alba were at Sabkhat Al Fasl 27 November, the highest ever count of this species in the Kingdom. 
Abdim's Stork
Abdim's Stork
A juvenile Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus was at KAUST 25-27 November. A flock of at 46 Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious were near Tabuk 20 - 27 November the largest flock recorded in the Kingdom in recent years, with another two satellite tagged birds wintering near the Jordon boarder. A moulting adult Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva at Sabkhat Al Fasl 21 August and two juvenile Caspian Plovers Charadrius asiaticus were there 28 August. A male Greater Painted Snipe Rostratula benghalensis was at Sabya Waste Water Lagoons near Jizan 30 June one of only two know sites for the species in the Kingdom.
Caspian Plover
Caspian Plover
Greater Painted Snipe
Greater Painted Snipe
Three Grey-headed Swamphen Porphyrio poliocephalus were at Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm, Fadhili, near Jubail 4 September, proving the species still occurs at this new site with others at Dammam second industrial city in Oct indicating the species is extending its range from its core area of Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail. A Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus caeruleus was present at Malaki Dam Lake 3 September the first confirmed record of this African subspecies for the Kingdom, although all previous SW records were assumed to have been this race. Another, of the Asian subspecies Elanus caeruleus vociferous was present at Ash Shargiyah Development Company Farm, Fadhili, near Jubail 4 September only the third record for the Eastern Province all of which have been this subspecies. The first records for the Riyadh region were at Al Hayer early Oct until 18 October at least. A Cinereous Vulture Aegypius manatees was at Rabigh Dam 11 December. At least 17 Greater Spotted Eagles Clanga clanga were at Sabkhat Al Fasl 20 November the highest single day count for the site. A fresh juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 10 December a vagrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. A male Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius was at Al Atta, near Bani Saad 3 July and was 450 kilometres north of its previous most northerly Saudi Arabian location, extending its breeding range considerably. The highest single count of Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius recorded in Saudi Arabia was 15 at Sabkhat Al Fasl 14 - 28 August in the same place where 13 were seen in August – September 2014. A pair of Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus were near Taif in the evening of 4 July a rarely recorded summer breeding species, although records have also occurred this summer from Najran northwards to Taif, so appears to be much commoner than previously realised. A White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 14 August to 27 November at least, an unusual date but possibly one of the birds that wintered into 2015 remaining through the summer and another was at Rabigh Dam 11 Dec. Nine Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris were trapped and ringed in a small area of Al Qahma Mangroves 29 Jun showing the species is locally common within its restricted range and habitat choice. A female Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 23 October with numbers increasing to twelve by 5 December, the largest gathering of the species ever recorded in the Kingdom with at least four staying until the year end and with another female near Dhahran 12 December.
Collared Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Four Blanford’s Short-toed Lark Calandrella blanfordi were at Sallal Al Dahna near Tanoumah 1 September. Two ‘mangrove’ white-eye sp Zosterops (abyssinicus?) sp, an as yet unidentified White-eye, were at Either Mangroves, Jizan Province 26 June, one of which was trapped and ringed with two further birds at Al Qahma Mangroves 28 June. A European Robin Erithacus rubecula was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 1-31 December at least with a second bird there 9 December. A Thrush Nightingale Luscinia luscinia was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 2 October with up to five White-throated Robin Irania gutturalis at KAUST in late August an unusual record from this locality. A Collared Flycatcher Ficedula albicollis was at Al Mefah Park, Tanoumah 1 September a species still regarded as a vagrant to the Kingdom. A number of sightings of the Arabian endemic subspecies of African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus eximius in the Al Mefah Park, Tanoumah area during June to September are the first Saudi Arabian confirmed records since 1990 of this little known subspecies. Three Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali, two adults and a juvenile, were seen near Bani Saad 3 July until late July with five birds seen at another location close by in late July. A Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
was at Sabkhat Al Fasl 19 December only the second record for the country.

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