16 December 2011

Sabkhat Al Fasl - Location Details

Sabkhat Al Fasl is probably the premier birdwatching site in the Eastern provice of Saudi Arabia. Sabkhat Al Fasl is situated right off the main inland road to Jubail and onwards to Kuwait from Dammam. You have to take the right turn to the Royal Commission about 125 kms north of Dhahran. Then drive down this road until you go under the main coastal road to Jubail and then do a ‘U’ Turn at the traffic light (you will have to turn right and then do a ‘U’ Turn at the next traffic lights and come back to the original set of lights and turn left here). Drive back the way you came for about 100 metres until the small trees on the right hand side of the road end and turn off the road onto the sand. The site is in front of you. The site is basically a large area of reed beds and free standing water which is a magnet for attracting birds. This is undoubtedly the best birding site in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and is worth visiting at any time of year.

Located on the southwest edge of Jubail Industrial City, Eastern Province it has an approximate area of 500 ha and is about two metres above sea level. These are man-made, evaporation lagoons, using organic waste water supplied from Jubail Industrial City. The site was a key foraging and roosting site for waterbirds & shorebirds. The site is situated in a sabkha area that has been shaped by landfill, with
banks to divide up the area. The water supply comes from excess treated sewage waste and is only 0-30 cm on average, is very shallow and is thus very susceptible to movement by wind, with a resultant tidal effect whenever the wind changes direction. The majority of waste water is supplied to the site from October to May and so some of the wet areas dry up during the summer months, unless there has been some rainfall. Rainwater increases the volume of water, sometimes dramatically, and the surface can increase greatly, up to a maximum recorded of c.2,500 ha. In addition to these lagoons, three large (c.100 ha) concrete reservoirs are included in the site.The treated organic water results in the production of a huge biomass of microflora and of microfauna, which in turn provide the basis of the food chain for enormous flocks of feeding birds. The concrete reservoirs and some areas of the lagoon edges are fringed with Phragmites reeds and Tamarix scrub.

Coordinates: 27.066387N, 49.512205E

Specialties seen at the site include:-
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Lesser Sand Plover
Broad-billed Sandpiper
Common Greenshank
Slender-billed Gull
Indian (Western) Reef Heron
Common Redshank
Terek Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
White-tailed Lapwing
Pin-tailed Snipe
Gull-billed Tern
Little Tern
White-winged Tern
Whiskered Tern
White-cheeked Tern
Caspian Tern
Purple Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Squacco Heron
Western Osprey
Western Marsh Harrier
Pallid Harrier
Greater Spotted Eagle
Steepe Buzzard
Great Reed Warbler
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Daurian Shrike
Isabelline Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Egyptian Nightjar
Greater Short-toed Lark
Lesser Short-toed Lark
Common Kingfisher
Purple Swamphen