18 November 2011

Hypocolius - Jasra Bahrain

Brendan showed me the main site in Bahrain for Hypocolius, usually treated as a monotypic family, Hypocolidae at Jasra near the Saudi Arabian Causeway entrance and said it held 200+ birds. The birds are present from late October to late January each year and numbers are increasing at this location as other locations are destroyed. These birds are arriving from their breeding grounds in Iraq and Iran with many of them heading onwards to Saudi Arabia to spend the winter. We saw at least 20 birds in the hour we were at the site and although they were very flighty we managed to see a couple of birds perched although at some distance. If we had stayed longer we would have seen the main flock of birds come to the site just prior to moving onto their roost site but we had to leave. They favour dense cover to rest in with nearby Palm thickets where they feed. Hypocolius has a very restricted range and Bahrain is one of the best places in the world to see the species. Birds should occur in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia but the limited access to suitable areas means they are seldom recorded by birdwatchers.