30 Apr 2018

Scarlet Tip – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching the bottom valley of the Raydah Escarpment in the Asir Mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia, I came across and photographed a Scarlet Tip Colotis danae. The white, base of wings generally speckled to a varying extent, with black scales. This speckling can be absent in many specimens. Forewing: with or without a minute black spot. The apex is broadly carmine, edged internally and externally with black, this black border varies in width. The hindwing is uniform, except for a series of black terminal spots, which in some specimens are comparatively large and connected together by an anticiliary slender black line, in others minute, more or less obsolescent, unconnected dots.
Scarlet Tip

28 Apr 2018

Red-wattled Lapwingat Jubail – Bird record by Phil Roberts

Whilst birding Sabkhat Al Fasl on 13 April Phil Roberts found an adult Red-wattled Lapwing. The species is scarce in Saudi Arabia with records from Riyadh, the Empty Quarter and the Eastern Province. This species is a resident breeder at wetlands in eastern Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, and is gradually colonizing westwards. It would be great to think that the birds breeding to the north and south of us are trying to join up their breeding ranges, but so far it has not yet been recorded to breed in Saudi Arabia. In the Eastern province it is regarded as a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor although records are becoming more common with over twenty birds seen together at Shaybah in recent years. There have been a number of suspected breeding birds seen but no actual confirmation of the species breeding in the Kingdom. Phil kindly sent me his records and a photo of the bird that he has allowed me to use on my website and is shown below.
Red-wattled Lapwing

26 Apr 2018

Yellow Pansy – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching the bottom valley of the Raydah Escarpment in December I came across a number of Yellow Pansy Butterfly Junonia hierta. Some were in poor condition but one was a better specimen shown below. The Yellow Pansy Junonia hierta is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in the Paleotropics including Saudi Arabia where the subspecies Junonia hierta cebrene can be found in the drier parts of Africa and Arabia where it is usually seen in open scrub and grassland habitats. The male upperside is bright yellow. The costa of the forewing has a broad triangular jet-black projection downwards at the discocellulars, and the dorsum has a triangular projection upwards near the tornus; this black margin narrows near the middle of the termen and bears on the apex two short transverse preapical white streaks crossed by the black veins. The anterior half and the terminal margin of the hind wing is black, and the dorsum is broadly shaded with brown while the anterior black area has a large brilliant blue spot. The cilia of both fore and hind wings are white alternated with brown. The underside of the forewing is pale yellow. The cellis is crossed by three laterally black-margined orange-yellow bars, beyond that is a short, broad, irregular jet-black oblique band from costa to base of vein 4. The hind wing is greyish yellow, and in the dry-season its form is strongly irrorated with dusky scales. With a prominent transverse brown discal fascia, its margins are highly sinuous. There is a brownish broad shade on the middle of the termen and some obscure lunular marks on the basal area. The antennae is pale, and the head, thorax and abdomen are dark brownish black; beneath that is a dull ochraceous white. The female is similar, although the colours are duller. The cell of the upperside fore wing has a more or less complete transverse black fascia and another at the discocellulars. A blue-centred well-marked ocelli is in interspaces 2 and 5 on the disc of the fore wing, and smaller ocelli in interspaces 2 and 5 on the disc of the hind wing. The fore and hind wings have a fairly well-defined pale subterminal line, though the blue spot on the anterior black area on the hind wing is small and ill-defined; the rest is as the male. The underside is also as the male, but generally has heavier and more clearly defined markings.
Yellow Pansy

Yellow Pansy

Yellow Pansy


24 Apr 2018

Beema Yellow Wagtail - Deffi Park

The Yellow Wagtail is a common passage migrant through the whole of Arabia with many thousands passing through the Eastern Province alone. A number of different subspecies occur, often together with Jubail being a particularly good area for seeing large groups. The first subspecies to occur are Black-headed Wagtails feldegg and these are then followed normally by beema. This year has been no different with the first Black-headed Wagtails occurring in February and the first beema in March. Numbers should now increase through April with more and more birds and subspecies occurring. Yellow Wagtails are quite confiding but trying to get really good photos is challenging as they are fast moving and you have to get the light in the correct position as well as try to get some catch-light in their eyes otherwise their dark eyes look ‘dead’. If you can manage this, then they make great subjects as they are very beautifully plumaged birds.
beema Yellow Wagtail

beema Yellow Wagtail

beema Yellow Wagtail

beema Yellow Wagtail

beema Yellow Wagtail

beema Yellow Wagtail


22 Apr 2018

Arta – Jubail


Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I came across an Arta Calligonum comosum. Thius plant is a virtually leafless perennial shrub up to 2.5m tall, stem much branched from thick woody rootstock. Main stems dark and rough often with peeling bark, older branches white with swollen nodes, less rough but angular and fragile and often dropping. Twigs slender, dark green looks from a distance like long trailing hairs. Leaves if present are minute, 3-5mm long, falling off quickly. Flowers are many, five white sepals with greenish central stripe, no petals, with bright red anthers, on short stalks from leaf nodes, sometimes clustered. Flowers from December to April. Fruit is showy, bristly nut covered with rusty red or white furry hairs, becoming dirty yellow in maturity. It prefers sand plains, dunes and roadsides where it is common and widespread. This species is an excellent desert sand binder, cultivated and used for windbreaks around desert plantations; used as firewood, as it burns smokelessly; dried leaves and stems are chewed to treat toothache, young shoots collected as salad greens or powdered to add to milk as a tonic or flavouring, fruits are edible.
Arta

Arta

Arta

Arta

Arta



20 Apr 2018

Wheatears and late winter visitors - Jubail


Birding the Jubail area continued turning up migrants and winter visitors with plenty of Great Cormorants staying in the area later this year than previously. They used to be seen rarely in the area but have now started winter in large numbers. Wheatears have been common with Pied Wheatears the commonest although a few Eastern Black-eared Wheatears of both forms seen. Waders are passing through with good numbers of both Little Ringed and Common Ringed Plovers, as well as the occasional Temminck’s Stint and Greater Sand Plover. Small numbers of both Common Swift and Pallid Swift have been passing through along with Barn Swallow and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. Many full breeding plumage Squacco Herons are around and several small flocks of various subspecies of Yellow Wagtails have been located with one supercilliaris amongst them.
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Hoopoe
Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Pallid Swift
Pallid Swift
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Squacco Heron
Squacco Heron
Temminck's Stint
Temminck's Stint 
Yellow Wagtail - supercilliaris
Yellow Wagtail - supercilliaris
  

18 Apr 2018

Red-veined Dropwing – Raydah Escarpment

One of Africa’s most common and widely distributed dragonflies, the male red-veined dropwing Trithemis arteriosa has a slender red abdomen and is named after the bright red veins running across its wings. It can also be found and across southern Europe and parts of the Middle East  including Saudi Arabia. The female and immature red-veined dropwing, have a yellowish-russet abdomen with a pale streak between the wings. As with other dropwing species, the wings are held downwards and forwards when at rest. Both the male and female red-veined dropwing have orange flecks at the base of the wings and large crimson eyes. The distinctive lower mouthparts are yellow with a central bronze stripe. Black splashes run along the sides of the abdomen, increasing in size up to the tip, which is entirely black. The flight period for adult red-veined dropwings is throughout the year, although they are more commonly seen during the summer months. Perching is thought to help the red-veined dropwing locate and catch prey and allows the male red-veined dropwing to lookout for female mates and intruders.
Red-veined Dropwing