11 Mar 2019

Flock of 30 Bimaculated Larks - Jebal Hamrah

Whilst birding the Jebal Hamrah pivot irrigation fields recently with Phil Roberts, we came across a flock of up to thirty Bimaculated Larks Melanocorypha bimaculate on the stony area around the pivot field. The birds were on the edge of the field in with a group of Greater Short-toed Larks and Eurasian Skylarks. We had planned our trip to get to the location at first light to get good light for photographing any larks we could find as the light deteriorates very quickly as the sun rises. We looked carefully at all the Bimaculated Larks we could see in the hope that a Calandra Lark may be amongst them but failed to turn up anything looking good for that species. Our photos of birds on the ground and in flight showed some of the Bimaculated Larks had what appeared to be pale training edges to the wing, but lacked the black underwing. The pale edges to the flight feathers were caused by the strong light. The species apparently breeds in the Harrat al Harrah Reserve and is otherwise a scarce or uncommon passage migrant mainly in March and April as well as October and November throughout the Kingdom. Most records are from the Riyadh area with very few from the Eastern Province although Phil and I saw a flock of 40 in a pivot irrigation field near Nayriyyah 14 March 2013, eight birds in a nearby pivot field 9 March 2018 and a single bird at the same location 30 November 2018. Interestingly a few of the birds were singing from exposed rocks and also song flighting which we have not recorded before when seeing the species in Saudi Arabia. The species is not known to winter in Eastern Saudi Arabia but the fact we saw birds in the same fields at end of November and early February of the same winter suggest they may well winter here. 
Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate

Bimaculated Lark Melanocorypha bimaculate


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