19 Nov 2017

Ringing in Jubail


Nicole and I went ringing in November and caught 44 birds of seven species including Common Kingfisher, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Graceful Prinia and House Sparrow. We set nine nets (7 x 18 metre and 2 x 15 metre) as normal in the same locations each tip with some over water and others over land in rides between reed beds. The birds were mainly caught just after first light although birds continued to be trapped until around ten o’clock when the temperature became too high and we closed the nets. We had nine retraps this ringing session a higher number than before with most being retrapped Clamorous Reed Warblers with three from 2015 and one from 2014. This is a resident species.
Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler
Little Bittern
Little Bittern
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher

17 Nov 2017

Birding the pivot irrigation fields - Haradh

Phil Roberts and I set off early to reach Haradh pivot irrigation fields by first light. This meant leaving Dhahran by 03:00 hrs but getting there at first light is normally a good idea as most of the birds of prey are active just as it becomes light and the light for photography is also good. We normally see a good number of birds here and many that are not common in the areas we normally birdwatch with desert species such as Desert Wheatear, Greater Hoopoe-Lark and Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark seen around the edges of the fields. Crested Larks and Tawny Pipits are seen in the fields themselves with both Yellow and White Wagtails present. Pallid, Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers are regular over the fields hunting insects and small mammals and Daurian, Steppe Grey, Red-backed Shrikes are seen along the scrub surrounding the fields. A few Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were seen on the pivot irrigation equipment along with House and Spanish Sparrows. Four Spur-winged Lapwing were present showing they have almost certainly colonised the area now but there was no sign of any Sociable Lapwings although it is still a little early for this species.
Greater Hoopoe-Lark
Greater Hoopoe-Lark
Daurian Shrike
Daurian Shrike
Desert Wheatear - male
Desert Wheatear - male
Desert Wheatear - male
Desert Wheatear - male
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Pallid Harrier - male
Pallid Harrier - male
Pallid Harrier - male
Pallid Harrier - male
Pallid Harrier - male
Pallid Harrier - male

15 Nov 2017

Yellow-browed Warbler – Tabuk

Whilst birding the pivot irrigation fields of Tabuk on 8 October Phil Roberts and I found a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus. This is a vagrant to Saudi Arabia with only five previous records. Two Jubail - birds stayed three and six weeks February to April. One 60 kilometres south of Haql 17 October 2013 and One Yanbu Dump 25 October 2013. The identification as aYellow-browed Warbler rather than a Hume’s Warbler were as follows:
There was an obvious long and strong supercilium.
Supercillium was whitish with obvious yellow in it.
The eyestripe was obvious across the lores.
Mottled ear-coverts.
The throat is also creamy white and contrasts with the rest of the sullied white underparts.
Two obvious pale yellowish wing-bars with obvious white tips to tertials giving a strong pattern to the wing.
A slight paler area on the top of the crown forming a very indistinct stripe.
Overall, the bird was greenish brown coloured, lacking the grey associated with Hume’s Warbler.
The bird did, however, have dark legs and a black bill, features of Hume’s Warbler.

The bird was actively feeding along a row of small plants and shrubs along the edge of a large pivot irrigation field and continually returned to the same small area to feed. It was very active but was not heard to call in the over one hour of viewing. Initially it was seen in flight when a small dark warbler flew out of the scrub in front of us. I mentioned it could be a Yellow-browed Warbler and when it reappeared and we got good views this is what it turned out to be. This is the first time either of us had recorded the species in Saudi Arabia.The similar looking Hume's Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus humei has only a single record in Saudi Arabia in November, south of Salwa but no details can be found.
Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

13 Nov 2017

Wintering Greater Spotted Eagles – near Jubail

At least twelve Greater Spotted Eagles Clanga clanga were recorded at a wetland site near Jubail in late-October. Birds winter at a number of sites in Saudi Arabia with the Jubail area the best for the species in the Eastern province. In winter birds are almost always near wetland areas with large areas where they can hunt undisturbed. They occupy a fragmented range, breeding mainly in Estonia, Poland, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, mainland China and Mongolia. Passage or wintering birds occur in small numbers over a vast area, including central and eastern Europe, North Africa, East Africa, the Middle East, the Arabian peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent, south Asia and South-East Asia. The Greater Spotted Eagle is suspected to have undergone at least a moderately rapid decline over the last three generations as a result of habitat loss and degradation throughout its breeding and wintering ranges, together with the effects of disturbance, persecution and competition with other predators. The species is listed on the Red Data list as Vulnerable as the species is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future.
Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle