25 March 2012

Heavy Rain - Sabkaht Al Fasl

I went birding on Saturday as it was a long weekend at Saudi Aramco. As a result I managed to persuade my wife and children a trip to Sabkhat to look at a few colourful birds, Yellow Wagtails of various Subspecies, Shrikes and Greater Flamingos was a good idea. As I was travelling with the family we left later than I normally do and although it was overcast at Dhahran the weather looked like it might be brightening up. This proved wrong because almost as soon as we arrived at Sabkhat Al Fasl it started raining and quite hard at that. This meant our picnic had to be done in the boot of the Landcruiser which was great for the girls but a not so good for Lidia or me. The poor weather meant we had to stay in the car most of the time but there were good birds about including a very confiding dark-throated Eastern Black-eared Wheatear which was catching insects right next to the car. The following photographs are a bit unusual for Saudi Arabia as all the birds are wet, something they and I do not expect.
 Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (2nd calendar year male)
  Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (2nd calendar year male)
  Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (2nd calendar year male)

Yellow Wagtails, mainly Black-headed (feldegg) and Sykes's (beema) were about and caused a lot of nice comments from the car. Several Shrikes of four species were seen including Turkestan, Durian, Mauryan Grey Shrike (palidirostris) and Woodchat many allowing quite close views. The rain caused photography to be difficult and te fact that my two young girls cannot keep quite also made things tricky but some birds still behaved nicely and allowed photographs.
Turkestan Shrike (adult male)

The only species I saw today that I had not seen on my previous visit was Collared Pratincole of which I saw a flock of 21 birds flying about in a flock and also gathered together on the ground. They were one species that did not like the loud noises coming from the car so the photos are not as good as they may have been but they were great to see and this is the largest flock I have seen in Saudi Arabia so far.
 Collared Pratincoles
Collared Pratincole