31 January 2012

Yellow-legged Gulls & Armenian Gull Near Yanbu - Bird Records by AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan

AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan, who is a very experienced birdwatcher from Kuwait, who also has an excellent website Birds of Kuwait where he often displays some of his top quality bird photographs paid two visits recently to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One was to the Tabuk area and the other to Madina and the surroundings. AbdulRahman found Sardinian Warblers common around Tabuk and thinks they are probably wintering birds and took the below photographs on 31st December 2011 & 1st January 2012.
 Sardinian Warbler
 Sardinian Warbler

On the coast, 2.7 kilometres north-west of Ash Sharma near Tabuk, Latitude/Longitude 28.044510/35.223024 (see map below) he saw a flock of immature gulls on the 1st January 2012 and soon realized they were different from the gulls he normally sees in Kuwait. The birds showed all the characteristics of Yellow-legged Gull a species AbdulRahman is familiar having seen them recently in Turkey. Yellow-legged Gull has not been properly recorded in Saudi Arabia until now, as far as I am aware, although the location and timing is ideal for the species as they winter in good numbers in both Israel and Egypt, both of which are not too far from this site.
Yellow-legged Gull (2nd calendar year)

On his trip to the Madina area he also looked closely at the gulls and found both Adult Armenian Gull and adult Yellow-legged Gull on the coast 14.1 kilometres north-west of Yanbu Loatitude/Longitude 24.150549/37.941604 (see map below). He photographed both these birds on 23rd January 2012.
Armenian Gull (adult)
Yellow-legged Gull (adult)

I would like to thank AbdulRahman very much for allowing me to publish this data and for allowing me to use his excellent photogrpahs.

30 January 2012

Shedgum Escarpment - Location Details

The Shedgum Escarpment is a flat topped limestone hill area between Abqaiq and Udhailiyah. It is located on the right hand side of the road thirty one kilometres after Abqaiq travelling from Dhahran and is 100 kilometres from Dhahran. It is easy to find as it is on the main Dhahran to Riyadh road. Once you see the escarpment on the right and a large cement factory on the left then take a road off to the right. Follow the road keeping right and after a sharp right bend continue for about three hundred metres take a left turn and followed by a right turn after a couple of kilometres and drive to the top of the escarpment parking and walking around any suitable habitat. There are two lay-byes one on each side of the road and both of these are worth stopping andt amd loking around. There are also a number of wadi type run-off areas that have green vegetation at the bottom that are good for birds, although bear in mind this is a desert habitat and birds are thin on the ground.

Specialities seen at the site include:-
Desert Wheatear
White-crowned Black Wheatear
Red-tailed Wheatear (winter)
Trumpeter Finch
Eastern Mourning Wheatear
Desert Warbler
Pale Crag Martin
Rock Dove
Brown-necked Ravern

Desert Wheatear - Shedgum Escarpment

A family trip to Shedgum escarpment to take in the views allowed me to have a quick look for birds. Unfortunately the Shamal wind was blowing very strongly from the north and conditions were not conducive for birds and this combined with the fact that birds are thin on the ground in this area anyway left me with very little of note during the day. When the wind blows strongly it blows large amounts of sand and dust about making visibility poor and looking for birds difficult. As a result the only birds of any real interest were a Pale Rock Martin in the Shedgum valley along with three Rock Doves and a Brown Necked Ravern and a male Desert Wheatear trying to shelter from the wind on the lea-ward side of bushes and rocks.
 Desert Wheatear (male)

Shedgum Valley

Quite a few camels were about some with their Bedouin keepers and this combined with the change of colour of the sand dunes in this area from white to orange made for some beautiful views. The desert is becoming greener with quite a few plants now showing signs of life including large numbers of Bitter Apple. Many of these plants are good eating for the camels so they are now out in the desert looking for food rather than being kept penned in and being feed fodder. As a result there are many more sightings of camel in the true desert than normal.
Camels - Shedgum

29 January 2012

Pallid Swifts - Dhahran Hills

Birding the 'patch yesterday produced few birds, but a large flock of over two hundred Pallid Swift hunting insects in a tight group was a spectacular sight. One Barn Swallow and two Common House Martins were also in the group but I could not find anything else amongst them despite extensive searching.
 Pallid Swift
Pallid Swift

The percolation pond is now so full of water it is spilling out onto the surrounding ground and a couple of very large pools have formed that hopefully will attract something as the migration season arrives. This means that water is again being sprayed onto the spray fields and I was not able to serch this are today due to the amount of water. The pond held four Eurasian Coots, which was double the number of last week, one Common Moorhen and the two Great Crested Grebes were back again. At least a thousand Great Cormorant came in to roost in the surrounding trees where a minimum of ten Common Chiffchaffs were calling loudly. A large number of gulls were also present with 200+ Common Black-headed Gulls, 55 Steppe Gulls and six Heuglin's Gulls also present.
 Steppe Gull
Eurasian Coot

28 January 2012

Arabian Red Fox - Dhahran Hills

Yesterday at the edge of the spray fields I saw an Arabian Red Fox. I have seen this fox a number of times in the same area so I assume it has a set somewhere nearby. The fox gave good views considering I was walking around the spray fields and not in the car but it was late in the evening and hence the photo is not quite as good as it could have been.
Arabian Red Fox

There were quite a few birds in the spray fields including at least 11 Eurasian Skylark. An unusual pipit with pale legs turned out after lots of searching to be a Tree Pipit, and at least 15 Water Pipit were also present. Whilst walking through the fields I flushed a Quail which is early for the species, but is presumably an early migrant and six Song Thrushes. Two Siberian Stonechats were present as always and three Tawny Pipit were also hiding in the long grass. A male Desert Wheatear and an Isabelline Wheatear were at the edge of the fields and are probably the same birds as seen earlier in the week. The pond held 1000+ Great Cormorant, three Eurasian Coot and six Little Grebe and five Common House Martin and at least 100 Pallid Swift were in a tight flock as it was getting dark. A look around the scrubby desert area produced few birds but a nice female Desert Wheatear and a couple of Tawny Pipits were nice to see.

27 January 2012

Ringing at Alba Marshes – Bahrain

On Friday early morning Brendan and I went ringing again at Alba Marshes. The site still looks like pollution is entering it but let’s hope the Bahrain authorities act to stop this. The weather was a bit damp with spots of rain when we arrived but we put up seven nets to see what we could catch. Whilst erecting the nets it was apparent that there were not as many birds about as a couple of weeks ago although both Clamorous Reed Warbler and Water Rail were happily calling. As normal at the site the most common bird seen was Water Pipit of which we caught five birds. Having said that the first pipit we caught was not a Water Pipit but a Buff-bellied Pipit and was a new ringing species for me (see ysterdays post) and a new species for Bahrain if accepted by the Bahrain Rare Birds Committee. The next most numerous bird seen was Bluethroat of which we caught three birds two of which were re-traps ringed at the same site in November. Graceful Prinia is another common bird here and we caught four birds including two in a new ride we cut at the back of the marsh.

Bluethroat - female

The other birds caught were a Common Snipe (see previous post), White Wagtail and Chiffchaff. The Common Chiffchaff is the first warbler trapped this year and is, hopefully, a sign of things to come as migration is picking up now. We saw Common House Martin, Barn Swallow and Chiffchaff, all of which were probably migrants as well as Jack Snipe and Marsh Harrier.

Common Chiffchaff
Common Chiffchaff
 White Wagtail
 White Wagtail
White Wagtail

26 January 2012

First for Bahrain, Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens japonicas) – Alba Marsh Bahrain

Whilst ringing at Alba Marsh on Friday 20th January with Brendan Kavenagh, we caught six pipits, all being coutelli race Water Pipits with the exception of one bird. This bird superficially looked like a Water Pipit but had a very heavily streaked malar, breast and flanks and was much whiter on the under-parts than the coutelli Water Pipits. Brendan checked the measurements and they did not fit for Meadow Pipit or Tree Pipit and the bird did not look like a Tree Pipit either and did not show the highly curved rear toe of this species. After checking Pipits & Wagtails of Europe, Asia and North America thoughts then turned to Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens) and I posted a question on Surfbirds to see what other people with more experience of pipits thought. The first reply from Marc Giroud was that he thought it was a Buff-bellied Pipit of the sub-species A. r. japonicas and Yoav Perlman who has seen the japonicas sub-species in the hand as well as the field in Israel, also confirmed its identification as a Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit. I would like to thank Marc & Yoav for sharing their knowledge and thoughts on this bird. In the interviening time I looked on the internet for pictures of Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit and compared my photographs to them and the bird looked very similar in many ways. The Siberian Pipit (Anthus (rubescens) japonicas) is sometimes treated as a separate species from American Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens rubescens), as it breeds in eastern Asia and is significantly different in terms of plumage characteristics from the latter which breed entirely within North America and western Greenland.
Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit

The Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit (A. r. japonicas), breeds in central & western Siberia from Tunguska to Kamchatka and south to northern Sakhalin & the Kurile Islands. They winter in eastern & southern China, Honk Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, northern India, northern Myanmar & northern Vietnam with birds being recorded regularly in Israel. Vagrant birds have been seen in Italy and regularly in the Middle East (mainly Israel) during migration and winter. The species status in the Middle East is listed here:-
Oman:  Vagrant - 6 records (7th record if accepted 26th December 2011)
UAE:  Vagrant (perhaps rare winter visitor) – 19 records (20th record if accepted 10th December 2011)
Qatar:  Not recorded
Saudi Arabia:  Not recorded
Bahrain:  Not recorded
Kuwait:  Rare – 15 records (16-19th records if accepted in January 2012)
Israel:  May overwinter. Arrive during late October (earliest 22nd) and depart in March or early April (latest 10th) (Shirahai 1996 – Birds of Israel)

Siberian Pipit differs from American Pipit by having a more dark olive brown upper-parts and whiter under-parts. The sides of the chest may occasionally be washed buff, but typically the throat, center of breast and belly are white, creating a very white look to the under-parts. Siberian Pipit is heavily streaked below with long, thick streaks which are brown in colour although look black from a distance and the streaks contrast strongly with the white under-parts and are considerably darker than the upper-parts. These streaks extend down the flanks in a pattern similar to Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) and sometimes give a stripped appearance. The median coverts are nearly always white-tipped (buff-tipped in American Pipit) and stand out as white upper wing-bars. The greater coverts vary between whitish and buffy and are not so diagnostic. The eye-ring of Siberian Pipit stands out well, due to the darker upper-parts. The malar stripe of Siberian Pipit tends to be thick and dark, contrasting with the white under-parts and greyish upper-parts and bulges at the posterior end, which is solidly coloured, often flaring onto the side of the neck. The leg colour of Siberian Pipit is pink to pale brown and never black, whereas American Pipit generally has dark grey to black legs although they can occasionally show pale brown legs (Chin-Ty Lee – Siberian versus American Pipit in Alternate Plumage).
 Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit
 Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit
 Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit
 Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit
 Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit
Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit

A few features that help identify the species are the large white eye-ring, bold supercillium, bold breast streaking, strong wing-bars and plain mantle. All of these features can be seen on the photographs of the bird caught in Bahrain and shown above. Separation of Siberian Pipit from American Pipit should be possible using a combination of field arks such as wing-bar colour, overall colour, amount of streaking, thickness of the malar stripe, boldness of the eye-ring and leg colour.

This is the first record of Siberian Buff-bellied Pipit for Bahrain, as far as I am aware, and would not have been seen except for the fact it was caught. The area where is was trapped is not an area where you can get views of the birds as they sit on the ground out of sight in the Tamersik and reeds and only fly when disturbed. Some birds use the site to roost and others winter there, so it is difficult to know which of the two options the bird was using. If we re-trap the bird later we will know. This record has still to be accepted by the Bahrain Rare Birds Committee.

25 January 2012

Cold Weather – Dhahran Hills

It has been very cold in Saudi Arabia during the last week with nighttime temperatures reaching 3 degrees Celsius and daytime temperature struggling to get over 15 degrees Celsius. The cold weather has brought a few new birds to the ‘patch’ and there is still time for something really good to show up as the weather is due to stay cold for the next few days. Birds seen during the week include one Common Snipe, four Black-winged Stilt, four Green Sandpipers and six Rock Doves on the settling pond.

Rock Dove

One Common Kestrel, two Siberian Stonechats, three Eurasian Skylarks, five Song Thrushes and twenty Water Pipits were in the spray fields. The scrubby desert near the spray fields held one Isabelline Wheatear, one male Desert Wheatear, three Tawny Pipits, six Water Pipits and 33 White Wagtails. The percolation pond had one Common Sandpiper, one Grey Heron, two Eurasian Wigeon, two Eurasian Coot, three Black-winged Stilts, five Common Moorhen and 1000+ Great Cormorant. Nine Common House Martins and 11 Pallid Swifts where see flying over the percolation pond and spray field area. This is the first time this year I have seen Common House Martin, Common Kestrel, Isabelline Wheater, Desert Wheatear, Eurasin Wigeon and Common Sandpiper on the ‘patch’. A few migrant are struggling through at the moment and in a few weeks-time things should really start to pick up.

24 January 2012

Common Snipe (New Ringing Tick) - Bahrain Alba Marshes

Whilst ringing at Alba Marshes in Bahrain last weekend we caught a Common Snipe which is a new ringing species for me. It was caught in a single panel net that was set in between some small pools and low vegetation. We have caught Jack Snipe in a similar location in Alba Marsh before but I have not seen Common Snipe in the hand and it was a beautiful bird. They are not very good models though and do not really like their pictures being taken even though I let the bird know it was going to be on the internet later. Brendan mentioned that he liked ringing Common Snipe as there was a better than normal recovery rate of ringed Snipe as they are a popular bird to hunt over much of their range. I would rather the bird live a long and happy life than be shot, but it would be very interesting to see where these birds spend the summer months.

23 January 2012

Marsh Terns - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Another early morning visit to Sabkhat Al Fasl produced the normal sighting of Greater Spotted Eagle as the first bird of the day. As mentioned in the post on the injured Greater Spotted Eagle, I saw nine different birds during the day, which is the highest number I have seen at the site in a day. Western Marsh Harriers were flying about in good numbers with at least ten birds seen plus three birds resting in the scrubby area at first light.
Western Marsh Harrier

The temperature was cold being only eight degrees Celsius but there was no wind so it was not too bad. It did keep the passerine numbers down though with only two Siberian Stonechat, six Graceful Prinias, 50 White Wagtails and 60+ Water Pipits.
Siberian Stonechat (female)

A lot more waders were about today today with three Wood Sandpipers, three Green Sandpipers, three Spotted Redshank, three Common Greenshank, seven Marsh Sandpiper, 70+ Common Redshank, 200+ Little Stint and 500+ Pied Avocet.
 Wood Sandpiper

Spotted Redshank

There were more duck about that I have seen at the site before with 89 Common Shelduck, 39 Northern Pintail, eight Eurasian Teal and one Eurasian Wigeon. The most amazing sight of the day though was the number of marsh terns present. At first light I went to a new area of the site I had not visited before and saw at least 22 Whiskered Terns. This was only the second time I had seen the species at the site and I was very happy to see them and also get good views. The light was too poor for photography and I left them thinking I would come back later to try to get some photographs of them before I left to travel back to Dhahran. As it turned out I did not have to go back to this location as I saw many more later on in good light and managed to take a number of reasonable photographs of them. This second flock of marsh terns included White-winged Terns as well as Whiskered Terns and they gave heart views in excellent light.
 White-winged Tern

 Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

22 January 2012

Injured Greater Spotted Eagle - Sabkhat Al Fasl

A trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl at the weekend produced nine Greater Spotted Eagles which is equal to the highest count I have had at the site. Six birds were 2nd calendar year birds and the other three sub-adults. I found one bird on the ground and very unusually I was able to get quite close to it. On looking at the bird through binoculars it was clear the bird was not in good condition. This coupled with the fact that I was able to get close the bird made me worry about the health of the bird. I stayed some distance away from the bird but when a security car drove close by it, it became apparent that all was not well as the bird tried to fly but only managed to flap about. I then got out of the car as the bird had managed to struggle into some water and looked like it was going to drown. I caught the bird by hand and put it on the dry ground near to the edge of the reeds and took a couple of photographs of it. Although it was sick in some way there was no obvious sign of anything wrong. I assumed the bird had been shot when I first saw it in poor health as there were quite a few hunters around that day although I could not find any blood or marks suggesting this might have happened.

When I picked the bird up I was very surprised how light it felt, although I have never had a Greater Spotted Eagle in the hand before to judge this by, so maybe it was sick due to lack of food? There are no bird hospitals in Saudi Arabia to take sick and injured birds to so I left the poor thing by the reeds in the sun to dry out and hopefully get better. After birding the site for a couple of hours I returned to the place where I had left the bird to see how it was and although it was still in the same place it was now dry and looking a lot better. I suppose it was not going to be a happy ending for the eagle but let's hope.

21 January 2012

My Local Patch - Dhahran Camp

This post will give you all a flavor of my local ‘patch’ as I have not really covered this before, except at the tab at the top of the page. My local ‘patch’ is in Dhahran which is situated in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, between the cities of Dammam and Al-Khobar, and is the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, the state owned national oil company of Saudi Arabia. Dhahran is about 10 kilometres from the western shore of the Arabian Gulf and fifty kilometres via the causeway to Bahrain, and rises progressively from sea level to a maximum altitude of approximately 150 metres. The geology consists of sedimentary marine deposits of the Arabian Shelf, laid down during the late Tertiary, when the area was subject to intermittent submergence and deposition of sediments. The Eastern Province is classified as Persian Gulf Desert and Semi-Desert and is a flat desert plain with a width of 80 km and a length of 1200km, spreading over an area of 778,500 square kilometers and making up 36% of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The climate is classed as ‘arid’ and is characterized by hot, often humid, rainless summers and cool winters. In summer the daytime temperatures from April to October regularly rise above 40 °C and occasionally exceed 50 °C although in winter (December and January) temperatures drop to around 18 °C during the day and 10 °C at night with occasionally nighttime lows of 2 °C recorded. Average Rainfall is 75 millimetres with most occurring between November and January. The Shamal winds usually blow across Dhahran in the early months of the summer, bringing dust storms that can reduce visibility to a few meters.

Middle East

Dhahran Camp, Saudi Aramco's compound, is a man-made environment, where a remarkable greening of the environment has occurred, which now helps support a varied range of flora and fauna, including a variety of birdlife. This greening has been made possible by the use of reclaimed and treated water for irrigation and the planting of many thousands of exotic trees and shrubs, which has dramatically enhanced the area's potential for migrant, wintering and breeding birds. Water, needless to say, is a precious commodity in Saudi Arabia and “Raw” water used for landscaping, is chlorinated brackish well water with a high level of total dissolved solids and makes up roughly 70 percent of all the water used in the community. Reclaimed water from the Dhahran Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWTP), which treats 10 million gallons a day, is treated to make it suitable for unrestricted irrigation. The biggest use of reclaimed water in the Dhahran community is for landscaping in common areas, public parks, playgrounds, gold course and athletic fields, all of which are attractive to birds. Spray fields, a percolation pond (formerly called Lake Lanhardt) and waste treatment ponds are also part of the waste water treatment system. Ponds and areas like this are very scarce in Saudi Arabia and as a result are very attractive to wildlife and birds in particulalr. The percolation pond is fringed by quite extensive reed beds, although as I write these have been grubbed up - although they are regrowing after only one month, and is surrounded by tamarisk trees and behind this by stony scrub desert made up of limestone, sand and gravel. Vegetation is characterized by a thin sprinkling of small shrubs, grass tussocks and occasionally large shrubby growth such as tamarisk. Variety is limited, with a small number of plants dominating the land. The presence of numerous small pools, landscaped areas of grass and trees, and the grounds of the golf course, all add to the attraction of Dhahran Camp for migrating birds.
Daily Bird-watching Route

There are a number of excellent habitats present in Dhahran camp as mentioned above with the single best site being the percolation pond, which is a large 4 hectare (10 acre) sewage effluent pond that is surrounded by Phragmites reeds (Phragmites australis). The pond, previously called Lake Lanhardt, is an oasis on the edge of the desert, as water areas like this are very scarce. It is a magnet for migrating and wintering birds with Tamarix (Tamarix aphylla) trees screening part of the perimeter and Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) and Tamarix (Tamarix Arabica) all growing nearby. The pond is part of a complex system of water treatment and water re-use that is used in Dhahran camp and is fresh-water. Previously fish were present in the pond but recent draining and removal of Phragmites reed beds in both 2009 and November 2011 have probably removed them. Some Phragmites reeds still grow in low lying, wet areas, outside the perimeter fence of the pond, which are often inundated with water during the winter period. Water leves at the pond are controlled by large inlet and outlet valves and are generally high in the winter months dropping significantly in the summer. This is because water demand can be four times higher in summer compared to winter and a balance of supply has to be made between the sod farm, percolation pond, grass golf course and public areas. In winter many duck species use the ponds and there is a night-time roost of 2500 Great Cormorants that make a fantastic visual sight as they all come to roost in the late evening. Herons of various species and waders also find the muddy edges of the pond to their liking and migrant water birds or passerines can be found in the area. The next best habitat is the spray fields, and the watering of these fields is linked with the percolation pond, often with water being sprayed onto the fields when the pond is full. These fields have rotational spray heads that are excellent perches for birds, especially shrikes, and distribute the water over large areas making the habitat green and attractive to birds especially migrants. The area is green for much of the year and has numerous grasses with plenty of seed suitable for a number of species of bird. Free-standing areas of water are also present if the spraying has been going on for some time although this water soon drains away. This free-standing water is attractive to passing waders and the fields are good for hunting harriers in the main migration periods. One edge of the spray fields has a raised embankment with Tamarisk trees which is excellent for migrant warblers in the spring.
Percolation Pond - Dhahran Hills

Other good habitat especially for true desert species on the camp are the jebals (mountain in Arabic), which are limestone escarpments up to 50 metres higher than the surrounding area. These are good for wheatears, rock-thrushes and larks as well as other birds and have many nooks and crannies in them that have in the past attracted Pharaoh Eagle Owl and Little Owl. Nearby to one of the main jebals are the scrubby desert and tussock grass areas. These areas are good for pipits and buntings. The scrubby desert area is mainly hard packed sand with a silty crust interspersed with small clumps of vegetation, mainly grasses. This is the area where the majority of Arabian Spiny-tailed Lizards (Uromastyx aegyptia microlepis) live. As it is a flat wide expanse of land it is also good for looking for birds of prey, flying over or resting on the ground. The tussock grass area flourishes after rain and attracts a lot of insects and butterflies as well as birds such as wheatears. The last really good areas are the main recreational areas such as the 18 hole grass golf course, football fields and parks, as they have mature trees and shrubs. The golf course cannot really be birded as for some reason people want to play golf on it rather than bird-watch, although I am sure it turns up many good birds. The edges can be looked at and hold plenty of migrant passerines at the right time of year.
Jebals - Dhahran Hills

There are a number of reasons why Dhahran is so attractive to birds with the amount of water available in a water scarce region being one. The fact the location is on or near major migratory flyways is a major advantage with it being right in the middle of the East Asian / East African flyway, and is also encompassed by the Central Asian flyway as well as being just outside the Black Sea / Mediterranean flyway. Other advantages for the location are that the major development of Dammam, Al Khobar and Dhahran over the last twenty years has caused significant loss of habitat outside the camp. This has led to landfilling, dredging and coastal development as well as solid and liquid waste disposal causing major reduction in safe havens for birds. Associated with this is the loss of 46% of the mangroves (287 hectares) in the region since 1973. As a result Dharan camp is one of the last remaining safe haverns for many species of birds in the region. Not all is doom and gloom on the mangrove front at least, with Saudi Aramco having planted or planning to plant one million mangroves by 2014. This combined with projects to help remediate the Gulf oil spill of 1991, which was one of the largest oil spills in history, are significantly improving the environment in some strategic areas. Over 200 species of bird have been recorded in the camp, which is approximately 75% of all the species recorded in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in less than one year birding I have personally seen 170 species of bird. I recorded 19 species of bird breeding in the camp in 2011, which is 51% of all birds breeding in the 50 x 50 kilometre square in which the site is located. Peak migration times are March to May and August to November with the spring migration period being the best for both number of birds and number of species. The first spring migrants are already starting to turn up with Barn Swallow & Pallid Swift arriving in small numbers. Soon the real migration period will start and I am really looking forward to it.