18 Jul 2016

Egyptian Nightjars in good numbers - Jubail

The Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius is an uncommon bird in Arabia, with The birds of the western Palearctic (Cramp 1985) mentioning they winter in north-east Africa and migrate on a broad front across Arabia from September to early November & March to mid-May. Although this information is borne out by the data from Arabian countries there is little published information of summer or winter records from the region, and the recently published Birds of the Middle East (Porter et al 2010) has no mention of summer records and only a comment saying birds winter in southern Arabia, although the map depicted only shows passage birds marked. The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia by Mike Jennings (2010) mentions the Egyptian Nightjar is a scarce migrant and winter visitor but numbers are increasing, notably in the northern Arabian Gulf region, with birds present in summer since the beginning of the 21st Century in areas where freshwater can be found. He mentions over-summering has been noted in Kuwait & the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and mentions the species is thought likely to breed. Records of the species in summer are now occurring in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain & Qatar with summer records occurring in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia since 2004 when a pair was discovered at Khafrah Marsh 24th June 2004 where the possibility of this nightjar being overlooked as a breeding species was briefly discussed. Since 2006 additional birds have been located in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) in August with the highest count being ten birds together on 22 August 2008. Birds have been seen every year in August at this site since 2006 with birds also seen in July from 2011 to date and the earliest record is on the 27 June 2014. On 1 July 2016, in the desert near Jubail, Phil Roberts and I found 14 birds in two groups at different sites. Six were at the first site and eight at the second. This is the second highest count of the species for the country as 15 were seen in August 2015. The birds are normally seen sitting in the shade under small bushes but some of the ones we saw were alongside a track and out in the open.
Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

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