26 September 2012

Basra Reed Warbler - Dhahran Hills

The first day back on the ‘patch’, after my three day trip to Baha in the south-west of Saudi Arabia, proved to be very successful. Basra Reed Warbler has been described as being regular in September in Dhahran with up to four being seen, mainly in Phragmites reeds and around small ponds. I have failed to see the species so far anywhere in Saudi Arabia and was expecting to locate it in both Dhahran and Sabkhat Al Fasl. On Monday evening I found one in a small clump of Phagmites in one corner of the spray fields which gave very good views allowing me to positively identify the species. Luckily for me a Great Reed Warbler was also very close by in the spray fields itself and allowed a comparison. Basra Reed Warbler certainly looks fairly distinct from both Clamorous and Great Reed Warbler as well as Reed Warbler and I do not think I have overlooked it, although it is of course a possibility, suggesting the species is not common in our area. The area near the spray fields also had three Greater Short-toed Larks feeding along the stony edge but they never really allowed close approach. They are the first birds I have seen in the area since March and are also the first autumn records of the species I have recorded in Dhahran so were a nice find.

Greater Short-toed Lark

 The percolation pond had four species of heron, one adult Purple Heron hiding in the reeds, one Grey Heron on the floating pontoon, five Western Cattle Egrets around the edge of the pond and three Black-crowned Night Herons in a tree at the edge of the pond, including two juveniles and an adult. This is the first time I have seen Black-crowned Night Heron at the pond since September and October last year. Otherwise the pond was fairly quiet with the exception of a couple of Clamorous Reed Warblers and a Spotted Flycatcher in the reeds around the pond.

Black-crowned Night Heron - juvenile

The scrubby desert area had a single Steppe Grey Shrike and not much else as far as I could see. The drainage ditch still had a few waders but the numbers have dropped considerably with only two Temminck’s Stints and two Green Sandpipers present. A juvenile Citrine Wagtail was also present in the ditch giving very good views.

Citrine Wagtail - first year

Temmink's Stint - juvenile

Green Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper