27 Feb 2016

Second Saudi Arabian record of Dead Sea Sparrow - Jubail

Phil Roberts and I were birding the Jubail area on 26 February when I came across a small flock of sparrows along some reed bed edges. They flew a short distance and kept in a tight flock so I assumed they would be Spanish Sparrows that occur in winter in the area and do a similar thing. I looked at one of the birds and was more than surprised to see it was a male Dead Sea Sparrow as species neither Phil nor I had seen before. I alerted Phil and we saw a couple of females and then saw more males and females together and counted at least eleven birds in total and were of the nominate subspecies Passer moabiticus moabiticus as they showed grey instead of yellowish underparts. The flock was very mobile and did not allow any reasonable views or photos to be taken but it was clear they were Dead Sea Sparrows a species only recorded once before in the country. We followed the flock up and down the reed edge and eventually managed to get a few reasonable photos. The previous record of Dead Sea Sparrow was also in the same area when a flock of 60 – 70 birds were seen at Jubail Golf Course on 13 November 1991. These birds were assigned to the nominate subspecies Passer moabiticus moabiticus which breeds in southern Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, western Jordan, northern Syria and central Iraq eastwards to south-west Iran. The second subspecies yatii occurs in the Seistan region, on the borders of eastern Iran and south-western Afghanistan. The species is partially migratory, leaving its breeding areas in autumn. They appear to move south in Israel with vagrants seen in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (two records), Bahrain (one record) and the United Arab Emirates (two records) with no records from Qatar or Oman.
Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow

Dead Sea Sparrow



No comments:

Post a Comment