17 Jan 2019

Mallard - Jubail

Whilst birding at Jubail 11 January and I found a group of eight Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, three males and five females in an area of flooded sabkha. In the Eastern Province they are an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor that generally occurs from late August until May, with peak numbers from September to March. It occurs mainly in the coastal zone where they often frequent coastal areas and inland pools. The only regular sites are the Dammam area where birds are often seen in Tarout Bay and the Jubail area that regularly has small flocks of up to 35 birds in the winter. Inland records have come from Dhahran Saudi Aramco camp percolation pond and Abqaiq lagoons where birds are seen each winter in numbers up to 15 birds. The species is extremely weary in the Kingdom and getting close to birds is extremely difficult. The group of eight birds I saw were hidden behind a group of trees and the only half decent photo, shown below, was through the trees, As soon as I moved, the birds sensed my presence and flew off.
Mallard

15 Jan 2019

Devils Thumb – Judah

This rock formation is about 160 kilometres from Dhahran near the town of Judah also spelt Goodah. It is just off the main Riyadh highway and is easy to reach. The rock formation can be reached relatively easily by car once in the village of Goodah, as although it is off-road the tracks are firm and can be easily driven as much of it is on gravel like terrain, especially near the rock formation itself. The below photographs were taken in the late evening with good light from the sun at a low position in the sky.




13 Jan 2019

Hammerkop – Talea Valley

Whilst birding the Talea Valley near Abha I came across a Hammerkop on two separate days at a small pool of water. The bird was shy and would not allow any sort of approach and flew almost immediately it saw me. I did manage a poor photo on the ground as well as a few flight shots as it flew off and circled around before disappearing from sight. The Hammerkop occurs mainly in Africa south of the Sahara & Madagascar but also occurs in south-west Arabia from the lowlands to the top of Mount Soudah at almost 3000 metres above sea level. In Saudi Arabia they occur in wetland habitats including irrigated land, lakes and wadies are of the sub-species Scopus unbretta umbretta. It is a locally common breeding resident in Saudi Arabia at all permanent watercourses of the Tihamah, Asir and Hejaz, in the south-west, with one record as far north as Rabigh.
Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop


Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

Hammerkop

11 Jan 2019

Pied Kingfishers - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I came across four female Pied Kingfisher. This species is now becoming an uncommon winter visitor to the Jubail area with birds seen every winter for the last five years. The weather was very poor with overcast conditions so the photo is not the best but they are always lovely birds to see and often allow close approach. The same day there were also four birds seen at nearby Khafrah Marsh indicating they are becoming commoner each year. Common Kingfishers are also back for the winter in good numbers.










9 Jan 2019

Jack Snipe - Jubail

Whilst birding in the Jubail area in November I found a Jack Snipe along the edge of a wet dyke. It was not easy to see but remained in place thinking its camouflage was good enough. The Jack Snipe is an uncommon winter visitor to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia where it is normally found in marshy areas away from the coast from early September to early April. In the rest of Saudi Arabia it has been recorded most frequently in the Riyadh and Tabuk area and rarely in the Tihamah in the southwest and is a difficult species to see away from the three main areas. Due to the birds location it was difficult to get clear photographs of the whole bird but my photos did not turn out too badly.







7 Jan 2019

Darian Shrike with Dark Tail - Jubai

Whilst birding in the Jubail area I came across a slightly odd looking shrike. The bird appeared to be similar to a Daurian Shrike but lacked the red tail normally associated with this species. The light was not great but the sun came oout briefly and still no red or rufous could be seen in the field. On looking at my photos a hint of rufous may be present at the side of the tail making me think the bird is a very dark Daurian Shrike. Daurian Shrike is a passage migrant and winter visitor. In autumn the first birds are seen in September and remain until March. In late February and early March a good number of passage birds joint the smaller number of wintering birds making sightings common in parks, and wetland areas with reed beds.






5 Jan 2019

Lesser Short-toed Lark - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I came across a small flock of unusual looking larks. One getting closer it became apparent they were Lesser Short-toed Lark which is only the third time I have seen the species in this area. They were feeding in some short growth by the edge of large flooded sabkha area but always remained on the dry ground. This is not a common bird in the areas of the Eastern Province that I bird although is a resident breeder and winters in certain areas in large numbers (>5000 birds). Luckily, I was able to get a number of reasonable photographs of the birds which are shown below. The light was not so good the day I saw the birds but the photos did not turn out too badly.















3 Jan 2019

Greater Flamingo - Jubail

Whilst at Jubail this winter I have seen good numbers of Greater Flamingo with numbers exceeding two-thousand birds. Occasionally the birds were close to the shore, whch is unusual at this location, allowing good views. I spent quite some time looking to see if I could locate any birds with plastic Darvic rings on them as they have been seen in previous years but without luck. A bird with a large white plastic ring, originally ringed in Turkey also spent one winter in the Al Khobar area recently. The Greater Flamingos included both adults in bright pink plumage and juveniles in their more drab greyish pink plumage. The species is a common winter visitor to the entire length of the Arabian Gulf in the Eastern Province.









1 Jan 2019

Migrants - Jubail

A few interesting igrants have passed through Jubial recently including Citrine Wagtail, Pied Wheatear, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Squacco Heron, Great Egret and Little Egret. Birds were thin on the ground this autumn but most species we normally see were seen in low numbers.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Citrine Wagtail
Great Egret
Great Egret
Little Egret
Pied Wheatear