7 Feb 2016

A very cold winter day – Jubail

I went birding on 29 January to Jubail on a very cold and windy day. The temperature was 5 degrees Celsius, the coldest temperature I have seen in Saudi Arabia since I have been here. Temperatures in Hail in the northwest of the Kingdom reached minus 3 degrees Celsius some of the coldest weather in the country for more than fifty years. The temperature felt even colder as a strong wind was also blowing and as a result the birds were hiding from the wind and not really showing well. One example of this was the 100+ Greater Flamingo’s. They are normally spread out over the sabkhat in loose flocks but this time every bird was huddled together in a tightly packed group to keep warm and out of the wind. The adults were in the middle and the less knowledgeable juveniles on the outside. Other birds hiding from the wind included 18 Western Cattle Egrets, and I suppose many other species as well as our total for the day was well down on normal. We only really saw the winter visitors in any numbers with large numbers of White Wagtails and Water Pipits and smaller groups of both Spanish Sparrows and Common Starlings. Wader numbers were well down on normal as combined with the cold weather and strong winds was high water so there was not many places for waders to use. We did see a few Black-winged Stilts, Common Redshaks and Common Greenshanks but very little else. The only other birds seen in any numbers were Squacco Herons, Gulls of various species and terns including four Whiskered Terns. A few early migrants were located including Barn Swallows, Common House Martins and Common Swifts.
Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt 
Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank
Common Starling
Common Starling
Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret
Spanish Sparrow - male
Spanish Sparrow - male
Spanish Sparrow - male
Spanish Sparrow - male
White Wagtail
White Wagtail
White-winged Tern
Whiskered Tern

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