03 December 2011

Pied Kingfisher - Sabkhat Al Fasl

On Thursday 1st December I went to Sabkhat Al Fasl as normal and arrived just as first light was breaking. The temperature is very cool first thing now and was 7 degrees Celsius when I arrived and this combined with a complete day of rain on Tuesday meant the area was very wet and muddy. I went a slightly different route than usual this time and went all the way to the end of the wetland and back along the edge of the reeds for a greater distance than normal. As I was driving very slowly along the edge of the reeds, just where a stream had been created by all the rain we have had in the last few days I saw a Pied Kingfisher sitting ontop of one of the reeds. This was a new bird for me in Saudi Arabia and a very nice way to start the mornings birding. The bird was later seen in the main area of the site where I normally bird, but who knows if I would have seen it if I had not taken the different route to normal. Pied Kingfisher is not a common bird in Saudi Arabia with Birds of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Bundy, Connor, & Harrison 1989) saying "Very scarce and local but possibly an annual visitor between November and March in a few coastal localities, notably the tidal creeks near Qatif. One at Abaqaiq on 4-5th November 1983 is the only inland record". The bird I saw may well have been the same bird that Sander Willems saw on 6th November at the same site, although it was the other end of the site than the area where Sander saw it. Sabkhat Al Fasl is an inland site, but only about five kilometres from the coast and I know of at least one other Pied Kingfisher, not including the bird Sander saw, that has been seen at this site previously