09 February 2012

Steppe Gulls - Dammam Airport Pools

A trip to the Dammam Airport Pools was a cool and windy experience, and as a result the number of birds seen where limited. Whilst drilling around we saw a nice Daurian Shrike that had caught a small bird and was devouring it with relish. Quite a number of waders were present on the edge of the flooded Sabkha area, all of which was dry when I last visited this site in the summer of last year. The waders were mainly Little Stint and Kentish Plover, although 17 Black-winged Stilt were also present all huddled in a tight group behind a small stand of Phragmites reeds trying to keep out of the wind. The only other birds using the water were a group of 15 adult and immature Steep Gulls.
 Steppe Gull
Steppe Gull

Other birds seen included two White Wagtails, three Water Pipits, 25 Pallid Swifts and six Crested Larks that appeared to be paired up and ready to start breeding. Two Western Marsh Harriers were hunting over the reeds but finding it a bit difficult in the strong wind with all other birds were keeping a low profile.
Crested Lark

We saw a rather nice monument on the way to the pools in the centre of the verge between the roads just after the airport and before the sharp left hand 'U' turn that is needed to get to the pool themselves. The monument is depicting pearls which was a big industry in the Arabian Gulf a few decades ago. As you can see from the date palms the strong wind was blowing the leaves about as well as me when I was trying to get the photograph.