22 August 2012

European Turtle Doves – Dhahran Hills

The very hot temperatures do not seem to be disturbing the breeding European Turtle Doves who are showing well in the tall trees and shrubs around the percolation pond. The birds are very beautifully marked with the birds we get in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia being the more eastern sub-speces arenicola rather than turtur which occurs in the United Kingdom. The main differences are that arenicola has a pale brown mantle rather than the olive-grey of turtur, and the central rectrices are not blackish as in turtur with arenicola also having very broad and rather pale fringes to scapulars and coverts. There is something very special about seeing European Turtle Doves for me and every time I see one I am very happy. The species is not too common in Saudi Arabia with Rob Tovey, active birder in the Riyadh area, failing to find any this year despite extensive searching. He has come to the conclusion they may not breed in that area anymore, although they still breed in reasonable numbers in the Eastern Province as well as in Bahrain.