14 January 2012

Great Black-headed Gulls - Dammam / Al Khobar Wader Roost

I went to the Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost South first thing in the morning as the tide was going to be high. Unfortunately when I got there all the viewing areas had been dug up and made ready for building on and no viewing access is available now. I will have to have a look later to see if it is possible to view this area from elsewhere as it was the best site for seeing Crab Plover in the area. As a result I moved onto the nearby Dammam - Al Khobar Wader Roost but the tide was already extremely high and most of the birds had been driven off. Only a few waders were present with one Terek Sandpiper, one Eurasian Curlew and one Ringed Plover, 17 Ruddy Turnstone and 50+ Little Stint being all that was left. A few gulls were present some way offshore with most being Slender-Billed Gulls but there were also six Great Black-headed Gulls in partial summer plumage which are the first birds I have seen this winter. The light was poor as it was early in the morning and the weather was cloudy. This combined to the distance of the birds made photography difficult and the pictures are not the best but you can see what the birds are at least.

The species is a fairly regular visitor to coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf usually returning in December or January and staying until March or April. There are very few inland records of the species although I was lucky enough to see and adult, summer plumaged bird on my local 'patch' at the percolation pond of Dhahran in March last year.