14 June 2024

Red-wattled Lapwing – Khafra Marsh

Whilst birding Khafra Marsh last weekend we found a pair of Red-wattled Lapwing in the same place where they have bred for the last three years at least. One bird was flying around calling with the second calling from the ground in a small farm with allotments. At one point both birds were seen flying at the same time. The species is scarce in Saudi Arabia with records from Riyadh, the Empty Quarter and the Eastern Province. They are resident breeders at wetlands in United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, and are gradually colonizing westwards. It was first recording breeding in Saudi Arabia by Phil Roberts at Sabkhat Al Fasl, a few years ago, a location quite close to Khafra Marsh. Birds have bred at Khafra Marsh, Jubail for the last three years. In the Eastern province it is regarded as a scarce passage migrant, rare breeder and scarce winter visitor although records are becoming more common.







12 June 2024

Crimson-speckled Footman – Dhahran Waste Water Lake

Whilst birdwatching Dhahran Waste Water Lake recently I came across a Crimson-speckled Footman Utetheisa pulchella. The Crimson-speckled Footman is a small, day flying moth measuring approximately 30-40mm in length. They are mostly white, speckled with black and crimson and have characteristic black eyes. The legs are white in colour and the antennae are black. The moth is found from Africa to southern Europe, throughout the Middle East, central & southern Asia and Australia. They are migratory moths but I have seen them a few times during the winter here so am not sure if they are residents? They are not very easy to see until you flush one from its resting place and it flies to its new location. They very rarely, if ever, land with their wings spread and almost always end up in a position similar to that in the photograph below.



10 June 2024

Some good breeding birds – Khafra Marsh

My last visit to Khafra Marsh produced a few signs of breeding species some of which are not so easy to locate in the area in the summer. Spur-winged Lapwing is an uncommon species in the Eastern Province but spreading and increasing un numbers. They have bred here for the last two to three years. Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark is an unusual species and one I see rarely in this area, but birds are hanging about the same area for a few weeks and appear to be breeding nearby. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater is another rare breeder in the area but one that bred last year and again this year in the same place. The other species that is breeding that is not so common, but commoner than the preceding species is Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin with a few birds seen and at least a one definite pair located. Grey-headed Swamphen is another species that has recently colonized the marsh from nearby Sabkhat Al Fasl and birds are now seen on every visit and in many different locations suggesting the species is doing well.

Spur-winged Lapwing

Spur-winged Lapwing

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark


08 June 2024

Carmine Darter – Dhahran Waste Water Lake

Hundreds of Carmine Darter are still around in the vegetation next to the Dhahran Waste Water Lake. Below is a photograph of a different coloured one from the males and females I normally see and am not sure if it is an immature male or a female. I spent some time trying to get photos of them in flight but it proved much too hard a task with a big and heavy 600mm prime lens and I failed entirely in the exercise. 



06 June 2024

Very little – Dhahran Waste Water Lake

My Saturday early morning trip to the Dhahran Waste Water Lake turned up very few birds. As it’s getting very hot, I arrived at 05:30 and spent an hour and a half looking around. I had very few birds for my efforts with only two Grey Herons and two Great Egrets plus a few Great Cormorant on the waters edge. A couple of Little Bittern (male and female) were about the best birds seen. Lots of Clamorous Reed Warblers and Graceful Prinia were seen and heard. Pallid Swift and Little Tern were seen flying around but not much else. Hopefully next weekend will be better.

 


 

04 June 2024

Collared Pratincoles – Al Asfar Lake

As it is getting very hot now and walking around is unpleasant after about 07:00 hrs we decided to go to Al Asfar Lake, Hufuf where we could spend more time in the air-conditioned car. We have not been here before at this time of year and saw a few interesting birds. A Black-crowned Night Heron was located by Phil at the edge of the reeds but unfortunately, I only saw it in flight. A Collared Pratincole was standing on the main track and after a while flew off into the wet area where it was joined by two more birds, although one of my photographs shows there were actually four bird present and not the three that we noted. Another good bird seen was a single Pied Avocet. Egrets and herons were plentiful with lots of Squacco Herons and Little Egrets and a few Little Bittern. Little Terns and Kentish Plovers were also numerous with Kentish Plover chicks seen on a number of occasions. This is now getting to the slowest part of the year bird wise so we were quite happy with our records.

Squacco Heron

Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole


02 June 2024

Not much visible – Khafra Marsh

Whilst birding Khafra Marsh the last couple of weekends I have not really seen very much at all. The temperature is now very high, and birds are few and far between at most sites. I did see a few migrants in the form of Wood Sandpiper at a small pool formed by all the recent rain and a Red-backed Shrike and Common Whitethroat in the scrubby areas. A Blue-cheeked Bee-eater was present on the same place es the breeding birds from last hear so looks like it may well be breeding again. Eurasian Collared Dove and Graceful Prinia are resident breeders that were the only birds seen in good numbers.

Common Whitethroat

Eurasian Collared Dove

Graceful Prinia

Red-backed Shrike

Wood Sandpiper


31 May 2024

A few migrants – Al Uqair

Whilst birding Al Uqair last visit the number of migrants had decreased significantly although there were still a few birds about. Red-backed Shrikes were the commonest bird seen with tens of individuals scattered around. Several Spotted Flycatchers were also seen along with a single Whinchat. Other interesting birds included several Common Redstart, Daurian Shrike, Masked Shrike and Spanish Sparrow. The nearby coast had very few birds bit a single Greater Sand Plover and several Kentish Plover were seen on the tideline.

Common Redstart

Daurian Shrike

Greater Sand Plover

Kentish Plover

Masked Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Spanish Sparrow

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Whinchat


29 May 2024

Hundreds of Carmine Darter – Dhahran Waste Water Lake

Whilst birding the Dhahran Waste Water Lake in late May I saw hundreds of Carmine Darter Crocothemis erythraea. They are common in this area but I have never seen large numbers like this. The Carmine Darter is a common dragonfly throughout the Middle East, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman. The male is carmine red, while the female is a significantly drabber yellow-buff colour with two paler marks on top of the thorax. It is a medium-sized dragonfly approximately 52mm in length. The abdomen is wider than other members of the family, flattened and tapering to the end. It is widespread in the Arabian Peninsula where it prefers a habitat of rocky areas and dry watercourses as well as shallow, still, eutrophic waters such as small ponds, paddy fields, and desert pools, but it avoids oases. Adults only live for up to two months. Adults spend much of their time perched on vegetation although they have a fast, darting flight and hover frequently.





27 May 2024

Collared Pratincoles – Dhahran Cricket Field

Whilst birding the Dhahran Cricket Field, I saw and photographed an adult Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincole. The bird was in the middle of the grass area meaning I had to walk out to get near to it, but luckily it was tolerant to people and allowed close approach. It was disturbed a few times by people exercising their dogs but on the first two occasions returning to the same area of the cricket field. On the last occasion, however, it flew off towards the percolation pond and I could not re-find it. The Collared Pratincole is an uncommon passage migrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, with a similar status in the Riyadh area where they occur from late March to May and in August and September. During the remaining summer months and in October it tends to be scarce and irregular. Records are more common in the autumn than spring in Riyadh with autumn movement from late July to late October, peaking late August to early September, when flocks of 40 plus (mainly juveniles) are regularly encountered. In the southwest, west and northwest of the country records are more common mainly at freshwater inland areas where flocks of over 100 have been recorded at Tabuk.