21 September 2011

Steppe Gull - Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost

Yesterday in Dhahran I was not able to go to the 'patch' but birding near the house produced the first returning Masked Shrike of the year. As a result I am posting details from last weekend at the Dammam – Al Khobar Wader Roost where I arrived at the wrong state of tide as this was the only time I could get there. There were very few waders as the tide was far out but there were two large gulls. The adult appeared to be a Steppe Gull Larus barabensis to me but as Yoav Perlman mentioned to me pers comm separating this from Armenian Gull Larus armenicus is not easy. Yoav has been exteremely helpful to me in my steep learning curve on birds of the region since I have been here and he mentioned the bill proportions and shape appeared to fit Steppe Gull better, with the bird having a long, strong bill with prominent gonys, and the head appeared too elongated for Armenian Gull which should also have more black on the primaries and a smaller mirror on P10. The second bird was a first calendar year (1 cy) bird, which are very difficult to identify but this is probably also a barabensis, based mainly on bill proportions. Yoav has complied two excellent large gull identification guides which can be located by clicking on these links Large Gull Identification Guide 1 ; Large Gull Identification Guide 2