2 Apr 2020

Azure Skimmer - Kahfah

Whilst birding Kahfah village I found a couple of dragonflies around a leaking water pipe that had caused a small wet area to form. They turned out to bee Azure Skimmer Orthetrum theniolatum a medium sized dragonfly that frequents narrow water channels with barren steep banks, concrete water tanks and other areas of water where it patrols the water surface. Adult males develop a blue-grey bloom a few days after emergence.
Azure Skimmer

Azure Skimmer

31 Mar 2020

Blue Rock-Thrush - Jubail

Whilst looking for owls in the desert areas near Jubail in March I came across a single male Blue Rock Thrush located in a small valley at the side of a road. This species is an uncommon passage migrant to the Eastern Province but a widespread passage migrant through Saudi Arabia mainly between March and May and again September to October. It is also a widespread but scarce winter visitor between October and March occurring throughout the kingdom except the sand seas and northern plains although it is generally not seen on the coast, with most birds moving well inland before settling as this bird did. 
Blue-rock Thrush

29 Mar 2020

Brown-necked Raven – Judah

Whilst birding the Judah area recently I saw a couple of Brown-necked Ravens carrying nesting material. I was keen to try to photograph them, as I do not have many good photos of this species in Saudi Arabia even though they are common. The birds were mainly seen flying but at one point a single bird landed, some distance away, on the escarpment edge and I got a single photo before it flew off, shown below. Brown-necked Raven is a common and widespread breeding resident across the Kingdom even occurring in the Rub’ al-Khali.
 Brown-necked Raven

28 Mar 2020

Latest issue of Sandgrouse: free to download

Latest issue of Sandgrouse: free to download

OSME have asked us to share the below with our readers.

Given the current extraordinary circumstances which have seen millions of people around the world confined to their homes, OSME has decided to make a pdf version of the Spring 2020 issue of Sandgrouse free for anyone to view, in the hope that it offers some respite to the many birdwatchers and ornithologists who are interested in the region’s birds but are currently unable to go and see them.
We’ve made the file size as small as possible and it can be downloaded as a pdf:
OSME Council hope that you enjoy reading the diverse contents which include articles on species such as Dalmatian Pelican, Steppe Eagle and Black-throated Thrush, and from a broad range of countries across the OSME region.
OSME members can also access a high quality, fully functional digital version of the latest issue by emailing Sandgrousedigital@osme.org
Enjoy Sandgrouse, and above all, stay safe
Please click the below link to get to download page of OSME website or click the 7mb or 15mb link above to get to copy of magazine

27 Mar 2020

Desert Hyacinth - Hubail Lake

Whilst birdwatching at Hubail Lake, near Hofuf, I saw a small number of new Desert Hyacinth Cistanche tubulosa. The Desert Hyacinth is a widely distributed annual that produces a dense pyramid spike of bright yellow flowers topped by maroon-tinted buds. The yellow flowers do not smell very nice and flies are attracted to the smell and carry the pollen on their legs from plant to plant helping with pollination. They are parasitic, one of several such plants in Arabia, and live off other plants to gain their nutritional needs, as they have no green parts or leaves to synthesize chlorophyll directly. The many tiny seeds may remain dormant for years until the roots of the host plant are close enough to trigger germination. It is one of the showiest plants of Eastern Arabia with bright yellow, dense column of flowers sometimes approaching one metre in height. It has varying flower colour with the flowers either tightly packed in the spike or loose. They are widespread on sandy or sandy-silty ground and can tolerate saline environments as well as disturbed conditions, so are often seen growing near roads or tracks in the desert or along the shores of the Arabian Gulf.
Desert Hyacinth

Desert Hyacinth

Desert Hyacinth