20 Oct 2021

Sociable Lapwing – Al Sikak Farms

I went birding to the Salwa area 9 October in the hope of finding a few migrants. I set off at 2:30 am and arrived just as the sun was rising at 05:15 hrs. I went to the farms at Al Sikak and spent over six hours walking the paths and field edges. It was hard work as the temperatures were high at 39 Celsius, as was the humidity. Bird numbers were not high, however, but there were a few migrants and it felt as if there could be a good bird lurking somewhere. My efforts were rewarded with a few migrants including a nice Jack Snipe in a wet area in an irrigated allotment as well as a few Ortolan Bunting, Lesser Whitethroat, Eurasian Hoopoe, Turkestan Shrike, Daurian Shrike, Great Grey Shrike (Arabian), Sand Martin, one Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Willow Warbler, one Barred Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Spotted Flycatcher, Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, one Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Western Yellow Wagtail and one Corn Bunting. The best bird however was a Sociable Lapwing in a small set of allotments. Initially it was hiding in the crops and all I could see was it head, where it gave the impression, on a very quick view, that it may be a Eurasian Dotterel. I moved closer and the bird came out of the crops and turned out to be a Sociable Lapwing. This is the earliest autumn date for Sociable Lapwing in Saudi Arabia with the previous earliest one being the 16 October 2020. It appeared very tired as I was able to move quite close, hidden by the trees along the allotment edge. A farmer was working in the fields and the bird remained feeding for over 15 minutes, relatively close to where he was working. Eventually the farm worker moved too close, and the bird flew a short distance, circled around, and tried to come back and land in the field. Unfortunately, the farm worker again unsettled it before it landed and it flew a short distance and landed in the desert, where a small pool had formed due to a water pipe discharging water. It remained here until I left 30 minutes later. Sociable Lapwing had only a single record in the Eastern Province prior to a few years ago when Phil Roberts and I found wintering birds at Haradh that have wintered every year since. We have also seen them in pivot fields near Jebal Nariyah. The species is normally wary and keeps well away from people, normally in ploughed fields but this bird allowed relatively close approach and thus I managed to get the best photos I have taken of Sociable Lapwing in Saudi Arabia, so was very happy with my long trip.





 

18 Oct 2021

Slender Skimmer or Oasis Skimmer – Deffi Park

Whilst birding Deffi Park I found a couple of Slender Skimmer Orthetrum sabina along a small watercourse. They are a common dragonfly in Saudi Arabia, that is a very active hunter, found mainly in oasis and overgrown riverbanks and wetland areas. It is a medium-sized dragonfly with a wingspan of 60-85mm with adults being grayish to greenish yellow with black and pale markings and green eyes. Its abdomen is greenish-yellow, marked with black. Females are similar to males in shape, colour and size. It is widespread, being found from south-eastern Europe and North Africa to Japan and south to Australia and Micronesia.



16 Oct 2021

Pivot Fields – Ushaiqer

On the way from Ushaiqer to Az Zulfi we stopped at a set of pivot irrigation fields where we have a seen a few good birds on previous visits. We have been allowed access to these pivot fileds previously and agin this time the owner very kindly allowed us to drive around the edges of two large pivot fields. One field had newly sown crops and the second had been cut the previous day and was in the process of being bailed. This cut field had hundreds of migrants associated with it. There was a flock of 500+ Greater Short-toed Larks, one Whinchat, 5 Ortolan Bunting, 5 Yellow Wagtail, several Northern Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear and flying over the field were a single Lesser Kestrel, one Common Kestrel with several hundred Sand Martin and Barn Swallows. The fence posts and wires had a single European Bee-eater, a juvenile Masked Shrike and a Great Grey Shrike. Other birds seen included Black Scrub Robin and White-eared Bulbul in the shrubs surrounding the house and a Long-legged Buzzard and male Montagu’s Harrier over the newly planted field. 

European Bee-eater


 

 

14 Oct 2021

Purple Darter – Deffi Park

Whilst birding Deffi Park I saw a number of Purple Darter dragonflies flying about in one particular wet area along the small watercourse. They are a dark purplish-black colour and quite small and regularly perched on floating leaves or the bankside. This darter has an iridescent dark-purplish sheen which gives rise to its name the Purple Darter. It is also known as the black percher, due to the male being almost entirely black, and to the species’ habit of regularly perching on grasses and other vegetation. In contrast to the male, the female is a vibrant yellowish-green, with small black stripes across the thorax. The wings of the purple darter are very clear, although they turn slightly amber towards the base of the hind-wing. This amber patch is bigger and darker in females. Both the male and female have a greyish-brown cell, known as the pterostigma, near the tip of the wing and it has a widespread distribution, primarily occurring in Africa, outside of forested areas but can also be found on several islands in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as across the southern half of the Iberian Peninsula, and through Arabia to the Indian subcontinent. 




12 Oct 2021

Slow migration but a good bird - Jubail

Birding Jubail on 1 October proved quite slow with very few migrants seen in the first hour of light. Things picked up slightly, later, with a few good birds seen by the end of the day. The best bird was a Eurasian Hobby perched on a small shrub for a while before departing and not being relocated, which was my first sighting of the species at this location. More common migrants seen were a few Yellow Wagtails, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters and a Eurasian Wryneck. Herons were around in very large numbers with 500+ Little Egrets, 200+ Squacco Heron, 150+ Grey Heron, four Purple Heron, two Great Egret and a Eurasian Spoonbill. Interesting waders were Marsh Sandpiper and two Pied Avocet with 300+ Caspian Tern and 30+ Gull-billed Tern. Numbers of Purple Swamphen are on the increase with 50+ seen for the first time in many months. Three Ferruginous Duck were a nice record of this uncommon species in Saudi Arabia.

Eurasian Hobby

   Eurasian Wryneck