19 July 2012

Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Sabkhat Al Fasl is probably the best birding site in the Eastern Province and it is good at attracting shrikes of various species. The commonest shrikes here through the year are Daurian Shrike, but Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike Lanius m pallidirostris also occurs in small numbers. This year it is the first returning shrike with one at Dhahran Camp during the week and another at Sabkhat. This bird was seen very early in the morning and was very obliging which is unusual for this species. One interesting thing about this shrike is the amount of black extending over the bill area with this meant to be a feature of Southern Gry Shrike. The shrikes out here in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia are very complex and need further study as much is not known about them. The pale bill and large primary patch is typical of Steppe Grey Shrike and the wing and tail pattern of the bird in flight was also typical. Most drawings of the species show young birds with pale lores, bit many birds out here are adults with dark lores. The bills on some adults can also be black, although this is rare, resembling Southern Grey shrike even more.