22 February 2012

Getting the Tide Wrong - Dammam – Al Khobar Wader Roost

A quick trip to the Dammam – Al Khobar Wader Roost proved to be not as successful as planned as I timed the tide slightly wrong. It is very difficult to get the tide right in Tarut Bay as the mud has a very gentle slope and the wind and tide height vary each day. As the substrate has such a gentle slope a small change in height of the tide can cause areas to become inundated with water or conversely keep the tide a long distance from the shore. For whatever reason on this day the tide was well in even an hour and a half before high tide.  I am assuming this was because a strong wind was blowing from the north and had pushed the water up quicker than expected. As a result most of the mud flats were completely covered with water and only a few waders were still about including two Grey Plovers, one Eurasian Curlew, three Kentish Plovers including a male in full breeding plumage and seven Ruddy Turnstones.
 Grey Plover
Eurasian Curlew

Other birds of interest were three white phase Indian Reef Herons fishing at the top of the creek and seven Slender-billed Gulls on the water. Two Gull-billed Terns were flying about in the strong wind but very little else was seen. Further out there is a small manmade island that also attracts waders at high tide but it is distant and a telescope is required to view the birds. This roost had many more birds including 56 Eurasian Curlews, 16 Bar-tailed Godwits, 29 Common Redshanks and seven Common Greenshanks. The best birds here, however, were six Mallard (4 females and 2 males), which looked a little out of place sitting on the sea. They are more often found on freshwater in the Eastern Province as well as elsewhere.
 Slender-billed Gull (adult)
Kentish Plover (adult male)