7 Feb 2019

Fourteen Wintering Sociable Lapwing - Haradh

On 25 January 2019, Phil Roberts and I set out from Dhahran at 3:00am to drive the 300km south to Haradh for a day’s bird watching with our primary objective to see if we could once again find any Sociable Lapwings. In addition to desert, Haradh has large areas of modified habitat created by pivot irrigation fields, growing primarily fodder crops.  In the winters of 2016, 2017 & 2018 Phil and I found wintering Sociable Lapwings in this area an amazing discovery as previous to us finding the birds in 2016 there had only been a single record of a single bird in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom. That bird was also at Haradh. On previous visits we have driven straight to a set of large pivot fields along the road to Al Kharj and birded these on foot for a number of hours, but this time we went straight to the area where have seen Sociable Lapwings in previous winters. We could not enter the normal location where we had seen birds before in the early morning as the gates were locked, but after looking at some nearby pivot irrigation fields and seeing some good birds, we returned to the best area and found the gate open. We know that recently ploughed fields hold a great attraction to the Sociable Lapwings, but checked the grassy fields as well. We soon located a few Northern Lapwings, several Spur-winged Lapwings and then a single Sociable Lapwing. Moving on towards some ploughed fields nearby, we located a flock of ten Sociable Lapwings blending in extremely well with the soil and keeping partially hidden down the furrows. After a while, the birds flew off towards some more ploughed and grassy fields and we went to look for them again. Whilst searching we came across four more birds in a field with Northern Lapwing, a field situated well before the area where the ten had flown to making a total of 14 birds. As the birds were very flighty and not allowing close approach, we left them in peace. We managed to get a few photos of the birds on the ground and in flight but the light, heat haze and distance caused problems with getting good photos. My best ones are shown below. This is now the fourth successive year that we have found Sociable Lapwings in this location, showing Haradh has become an established new wintering location for this Critically Endangered species.
Sociable Lapwing

Sociable Lapwing

Sociable Lapwing


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