24 December 2011

Greater Spotted Eagle - Sabkhat Al Fasl

This is an interesting record of a summering Greater Spotted Eagle in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia - a more detail note on its occurrence will probably be issued in Sandgrouse (if accepted for publication).

Whilst bird-watching in the early morning of 21st July 2011 at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail), Eastern Province Saudi Arabia, we saw a second calendar year Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga). This is a very early record for the species and will almost certainly relate to a bird that has spent the summer here. The same bird was seen again by us at the same site on 18th August 2011. Greater Spotted Eagle winter in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in small numbers, but there is only one documented case, of three birds, summering in this area (May to August). Greater Spotted Eagle is a regular passage migrant and winter visitor to the Arabian Peninsula, with most records coming from the better recorded countries of the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The number of sightings of the species in the United Arab Emirates has increased in recent years, which is also the case in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, suggesting the wintering population in the Arabian Peninsula Is increasing.  Birds winter in all Arabian Peninsula countries and are generally present from late September until late April or early May. There is only one partly documented case of a bird or birds summering in Saudi Arabia previoulsy and this was at Qatif in May and June 1982. 
Qatar – Scarce winter visitor the vast majority being juveniles with a date range from late September to early May.
Kuwait – Uncommon passage migrant and common winter visitor.
United Arab Emirates – Common migrant and winter visitor, late September to late April (Pederson & Aspinall 2011). The earliest returning bird recorded on the United Arab Emirates database is 29th September 2006 and the latest spring record 27th April 2010.
Bahrain – Passage migrant and winter visitor.
Saudi Arabia - Uncommon winter visitor to central Arabia and the coastal areas of the Persian Gulf in variable numbers, arriving in early October and departing in mid-March to early April (Stagg 1991). It is now a regular but rare winter visitor to the littoral zone of eastern Saudi Arabia, occurring mostly around man-made lakes, sewage farms, and irrigated areas (Lobley 2007).
Yemen - Probably a winter visitor in very small numbers, but not recorded on the 1993 OSME survey of the birds of southern Yemen (Porter et al. 1996). There are five records all occurring in November and December. See also satellite tracked adult bird below.
Oman – An abundant passage migrant and winter visitor that occurs from early October to late April. Usually they occur singly or in small numbers with most records being of immature birds.

A young bird caught in the winter in the Arabian Peninsula and fitted with a satellite tracking device shows its migration patch and this bird started moving from its summering areas only in late September. A link to the article is here http://www.epaa-shj.gov.ae/posters/Tracking%20of%20a%20Greater%20spotted%20eagle.pdf