22 Jun 2017

Egyptian Nightjar – Jubail

The Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius is an uncommon bird in Arabia although since 2006 birds have been located in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia near Jubail, every year in August with the highest count being fifteen birds together in August 2015 & September 2017. Birds have been seen every year since 2006 in Jubail with the earliest record on the 27 June 2014 until this year when Phi Roberts and I found a bird sitting on the main track under a bush on 16 June. There have been a number of early records this year including in Dhahran in March and at Khafrah Marsh in April. Hopefully, birds will be seen in larger numbers again through August and September as has occurred in previous years.
Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

Egyptian Nightjar

20 Jun 2017

Collared Pratincoles – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area, I found and photographed three Collared Pratincoles Glareola pratincola along the edge of a flooded area of Sabkha on 2 June 2017. This is quite a late date for the species to be recorded in the Eastern Province of the country. The Collared Pratincole is an uncommon passage migrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with a similar status in the Riyadh area where they occur from late March to May and in August and September. During the remaining summer months and in October it tends to be scarce and irregular. Records are more common in the autumn than spring in Riyadh with autumn movement from late July to late October, peaking late August to early September, when flocks of 40 plus (mainly juveniles) are regularly encountered. In the southwest, west and northwest of the country records are more common mainly at freshwater inland areas where flocks of over 100 have been recorded at Tabuk.
Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole

18 Jun 2017

Breeding Striated Heron in Bahrain – Bird record by Jehad Alammadi

Jehad Alammadi found the first record of breeding Striated Heron for Bahrain when travelling offshore. The bird was nesting between some poles in the seabed. Birds are uncommon in Bahrain a vagrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Eastern Province records include one remarkable inland record of a bird at Sabkha 40 on 30 May 2010 in the huge desert of the Empty Quarter. This is a species usually associated with the coast of Arabia and had never been recorded this far inland before and was the first record for eastern Saudi Arabia. It would have had to be a migrant, but its position at Shaybah raises the interesting possibility that it had travelled across eastern Arabia from the Arabian Sea en-route to the Arabian Gulf. The only other Eastern Province records, were one in Al Fanateer marina, Jubail on 15 February 2014 and one on 7 June 2015 at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail. The increase in records in recent years may mean that birds are spreading northwards and the breeding record in Bahrain strongly supports this theory.
breeding Striated Heron

breeding Striated Heron

breeding Striated Heron

16 Jun 2017

Little Terns – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area I came across a few Little Terns some of which had well grown young to feed. Some were resting on the muddy edge of some sabkha and other flying around. I took the opportunity to try to get a few flight shots of the birds as they flew about with the best photos shown below. In the Eastern Province the Little Tern is a common passage migrant and summer visitor that is scarce in the winter. Care must be taken not to confuse it with the very similar Saunder’s Tern that also occurs in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in the summer and breeds on offshore islands. It has bred in freshwater and brackish areas of eastern Saudi Arabia and possibly the Red Sea also. Birds are scarce inland but have been recorded in all areas including Riyadh.
Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

14 Jun 2017

European Roller – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area in late May I came across two European Rollers of which one I was able to photograph and is shown below. Saudi Arabia has three species of roller on the country list. These are Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis a vagrant, Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus a breeding resident of the southwest region of the Kingdom and European Roller Coracias garrulus a common passage migrant from March to May and again from mid-July to late September when juveniles are also seen along with adults. Birds are regularly seen in the Eastern Province in all areas but are not particularly common in the Jubail area. They are seen almost every year in both spring and autumn in very small numbers at this location but they are always good to see.
European Roller

European Roller

12 Jun 2017

Some late migrants– Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area in early June there were still a few migrants around including over 30 Red-backed Shrikes, five Spotted Flycatchers and a single late Pied Wheatear. Red-backed Shrike and Spotted Flycatcher are typical late migrants with many records in June but Pied Wheatear have normally passes by the end of May. I also saw a single Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin a summer breeder, but a species rarely seen by me in Jubail. Wader numbers have decreased markedly but a couple of Wood Sandpipers were still about among the breeding Black-winged Stilts, Kentish Plovers and Little Ringed Plovers.
Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Spotted Flycatcher

Pied Wheatear

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Wood Sandpiper


10 Jun 2017

White-cheeked Tern breeding in Bahrain – Bird record by Jehad Alammadi

Jehad Alammadi found a number of nests of White-cheeked Terns on the coast of Bahrain recently and managed to take a few photos of the birds mating and sitting on the nest as well as of the eggs. White-cheeked Terns breed in good numbers on offshore islands in the Gulf but are less common breeding on the mainland. The island here we ring terns has only five breeding pairs of White-cheeked Terns but 400-500 pairs of Bridled Terns and 5000-6000 pairs of Lesser Crested Terns.





8 Jun 2017

Yellow-spotted Agama – Record by Saud Randhava

Saud Randhava kindly sent me a photo of a Yellow-spotted Agama Trapelus flavimaculatus he took recently and has kindly allowed me to use on my website and is shown below. Copyright remains with Saus. Yellow-spotted Agama are a medium sized lizard about 30 centimetres in length and are also known as Blue-headed Agama for obvious reasons. Their tails are very long and thin and make up over half their body length and they move extremely fast over the ground. The Yellow-spotted Agama is a common species of lizard found in arid regions of the Middle East from Egypt: North of the Eastern Desert & Northern Sinai to the Arabian Peninsula including Saudi Arabia. They are readily distinguished from the Sinai agama Pseudotrapelus sinaitus by their heavier build, rougher scales and the presence of a gular sac that is darkened and inflated as a threat display. The ear opening is smaller and its dorsal margin is partially covered by pointed scales. In the summer these lizards often sit atop Acacia trees or prominent rocks as a territorial display and to regulate their temperature. They are quite aggressive with a mainly carnivorous diet of small insects. Their skin colour varies from reddish-brown to olivegreen, and is covered in a pattern of heavy yellowish-white spots. Their tails are normally pale yellow; however, male Yellow-spotted Agamas have the ability to go from this drab coloration to something much more vivid and spectacular. The dull reddish-brownish-green skin turns vivid blue, and the pale yellow tail glows brilliant flaming orange. Sometimes a male Agama will only change partially turning just the underside of his head blue, for instance. The colour change happens in seconds and fades just as quickly.

6 Jun 2017

Rose-coloured Starling on Taif to Riyadh road – Record by Saud Randhawa

Saud Randhava a local birdwatcher from Taif recorded an adult Rose-coloured Starling Pastor roseus whilst driving along the Taif to Riyadh road on 22 April approximately 500 kilometres from Riyadh. Rose-coloured Starling is a rare winter visitor to the northern deserts and the Gulf region. It has been seen in the Harrat al Harrah Reserve in May as well as in the North-west where one was seen at Yanbu wastewater oasis 18 August 2000. Birds of Thumamah 1988-1994 state it is a scarce early autumn migrant. Two juveniles in alfalfa fields 13 August 1989. Juvenile 11-14 September 1989. Two juveniles on dairy farm 20-22 August 1990. Six juveniles in alfalfa fields 19-21 August 1993. The Birds of the Riyadh Region (Stagg 1994) state is was a vagrant. 5 records only. 2 on 21 May and another on 28 May 1982 at Mansouriyah. 40 at the same location on 26 January 1990 (DM). One was at Kharj fish and turf farm, Riyadh. In the Eastern Province it is a rare migrant with less than twenty records. It has been seen from August to October with a well marked peak in the second half of August almost all being juveniles and single birds. There has only been on spring record at Abqaiq 1 May 1981. Records from the Eastern Province have been from Abqaiq, Dhahran, Dammam and Haradh. I thank Saud for allowing me to use his details and photos my website.
Rose-coloured Starling

4 Jun 2017

Breeding Little Terns in Bahrain – Bird record by Jehad Alammadi

Jehad was looking for chicks or eggs for the Little Tern close to the area where the White Cheeked Tern gathers in Bahrain at the start of the breeding season. He found them in the beginning of the mating season when they were laying their eggs. Despite extensive searching he only found one pair of Little Tern with their nest. He kept well awat from the nest but was surprised that the bird leaves the nest well before anyone approaches. The birds remained away for a relatively long time and then returned close to the nest as many as ten times without sitting on the eggs. Finally they returned to the eggs in the nest, which consists of a small hole with two large eggs relative to the bird's small size. Little Tern does breed along the coast and inland but I have never seen a nest of one, although I do not search for them as hard as other people. I thank Jehad for sending me the details and allowing me to use his photos on my website.
Little Tern

Little Tern Eggs

2 Jun 2017

A pretty good morning at Jubail – Bird records by Phil Roberts

Phil Roberts went to Jubail in May and had a pretty good day there. He mentioned that Red-backed shrikes were out in force and he saw a total of 22 birds. In addition he had four Lesser Grey Shrikes, five Turkestan Shrikes and a Daurian Shrike.  Other migrants included Willow Warblers, a female Blackcap, three Whinchat, four Common Redstart (all female), 10 Spotted Flycatchers, five Common Whitethroat, one Upcher's Warbler, one Collared Pratincole, a solitary Yellow Wagtail (flava), 20 European Bee-eaters and a Red-throated Pipit.  Other interesting birds included a solitary Marsh Harrier, two Eurasian Spoonbill, seven Little Bittern, one Rufous Scrub Robin, a flock of 21 Common Greenshank and the first returning White-cheeked Terns (approximately 10). 
Whinchat
Whinchat
White-eared Bulbul
White-eared Bulbul
Turkestan Shrike
Turkestan Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike
Common Whitethroat
Common Whitethroat
Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank
Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher

31 May 2017

Some great migrants on Taif to Riyadh road – Records by Saud Randhawa

Saud Randhava a local birdwatcher from Taif recorded a good fall of migrants whilst driving along the Taif to Riyadh road on 22 April. He said there is a wildlife reserve either side of the road before Zulfi town (approximately 500 kilometres from Riyadh) that is prohibited for hunting. Saud stopped his car at a petrol station and noticed lots of birds sitting on road side and some of them on walls. He managed to photograph a number of interesting species and has sent me the details and allowed me to use them on my website for which I am very grateful.
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Red-throated Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Collared Pratincole
Collared Pratincole
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail

29 May 2017

Alfalfa - Haradh

Whilst birding the Haradh area of Saudi Arabia I came across the below plant. Unsurprisingly this appears to be Medicago sativa or Alfalfa This is one of the main crops grown in the large pivot irrigation fields where we were birding. This is an important forage crop and is a legume. As a result it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and is thus high in protein. The plants were originally thought to have occurred in Iran but has been used as a fodder crop since Roman times. It is a perennial herb living for several years. It has an erect stem up to 60 centimetres high with many branches. The leaflets are 5-20 centimetres long and toothed at the apex and sometimes base. The flowers are purple to lavender in colour.
Alfalfa

Alfalfa

27 May 2017

Yemen Rock Agama at Al Mehfar Park - Thanoumah

Whilst birdwatching the Al Mehfar Park area of Tanoumah I came across a few Yemen Rock Agama Acanthocercus yemensis. The Yemen Rock Agama occurs in northern Yemen and adjacent Saudi Arabia, but the limits of its distribution in Saudi Arabia are currently not well known, although I have seen it as far north as Bani Saad. It occurs from around 2,000 to 3,000 metres above sea level mainly in rocky habitats. They occur both on the ground and climbing rocky surfaces, including stone-walls and human habitations.
Yemen Rock Agama

Yemen Rock Agama