09 March 2012

More Crakes - Dhahran Hills

As mentioned in a previous post there are a lot of crakes around the percolation pond this week. Numbers have built up over the week with an absolute minimum of three Spotted Crakes and five Little Crakes. There are probably many more than this as birds have been seen in many different places over the week. One Spotted Crake was even seen feeding and hiding under a throne tree some 20 metres away from the nearest wet area. Spotted Crake has been seen in Dhahran Camp regularly over the years but Little Crake is a rare visitor, although I saw two birds last year in the spring on 29th March and 29th April. I suspect the birds are uncommon but regular migrants through the area but due to their secretive nature they are not recorded as frequently as they may be? Previous status for the species has been recorded as a rare migrant to all areas of Saudi Arabia.

 Spotted Crake
 Spotted Crake

Whilst hiding in the reeds to try to get good views of some of the crakes, a Grey Wagtail flew in and landed right in-front of me. Grey Wagtail is an uncommon bird in the camp and they are normally only seen in early spring. Other birds seen on the small wet pool whilst waiting for the crakes to come out in the open included Green Sandpiper, three Bluethroats including one White-spotted Male and two Common Moorhen. A single Little Ringed Plover flew over calling and was quickly followed by one Common Redshank and a Common Greenshank.
Grey Wagtail

A walk around the pond produced three Namaqua Doves, 50+ Common Chiffchaffs, 25+ Red-Rumped Swallows and 25+ Pallid Swifts and a single Squacco Heron. A Daurian Shrike caught and killed a Common Chiffchaff as I was watching and two more Green Sandpipers were on the edge of the pond. Large White-headed Gull numbers seem to have dropped significantly in the last few days but there was still 11 Steppe Gulls and a single Heuglin’s Gull present.