29 July 2012

Two Egyptian Nightjars - Sabkhat Al Fasl

The Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius is an uncommon bird in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, but it is clear that the status of the species has changed in the region in the 21st Century. It was previously regarded as a vagrant (Bundy et al Birds of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia 1989) but is now known as a scarce passage migrant, summer and winter visitor. The majority of birds are no longer seen during the migration periods of early November & March to mid-May, but are now more often seen in the summer months of June, July & August and the winter period of December to March. Summer records have been recorded since 2004 when a pair was discovered at Khafrah Marsh 24th June 2004 where the possibility of this nightjar being overlooked as a breeding species was briefly discussed (Meadows 2005). Since 2006 additional birds have been located in the region at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) in August with the highest count being ten birds together on 22 August 2008. Birds have been seen every year in August at this site since 2006 with birds also seen in July in 2011 & 2012 and the earliest record 5 July 2012.

The photographs shown here are of two different birds seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl 26th July 2012. The first bird was seen in the normal area resting in the shade under a bush as they like to do. This area is a man made bank close to the water edge with small clumps of vegetation. The second bird was flushed from the edge of the main sabkha area where it was seen out in the open. The bird was in fairly tatty condition and eventually flew off and landed in the extensive reed beds that are next to this location. The last photograph was taken by Bob Roberts and is used with his permission.

Photograph kind permission of Bob Roberts