04 September 2012

Influx of European Rollers - Dhahran Hills

There has been an influx of European Rollers into Dhahran over the last week with three seen on 28th August 2012 and six seen on 1st September 2012. This is the highest count I know for the site with the previous record count being five on 10th August 1999 by Dr Graham Lobley who was resident in the area for many years. European Roller occurs singly or in small groups of up to four in the spring, mainly in April, but is uncommon. They are more common in the autumn, mainly in August and September, being seen on many more days and in slightly higher numbers but are still uncommon. This year has seen good numbers in the autumn with most birds being seen in the trees surrounding the percolation pond and in the scrub between the pond and the spray fields which is often the preferred area for them on migration at this site.
European Roller

European Bee-eaters are still about in small numbers of less than ten birds and four Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are also present. The percolation pond still has the two Glossy Ibis present and a Grey Heron returned for the first time in a month and was seen feeding in association with a Squacco Heron, a species that also has net been seen since the spring. No Purple Herons were located despite the very large numbers seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl over the weekend but Western Cattle Egret numbers have increased from two to seven. Another good returning bird seen on the pond was an adult Great Crested Grebe and Barn Swallows and Sand Martins were present catching insects over the water in good numbers.

European Bee-eater

Other interesting birds seen included three Spotted Flycatchers with one taking shelter under a tree out of the heat which allowed close approach and good photographic opportunities. The area where the spotted flycatcher was present also has a small drainage stream and associated wet flash that is currently attracting a few waders. Birds present included two Little Stints, five Green Sandpipers, one Little Ringed Plover as well as a first year Eastern Yellow Wagtail type.

Spotted Flycatcher

Green Sandpiper

The spray fields remain very quiet with the only birds of note being two Namaqua Doves and a single Islabelline Wheatear. Migration is slowly picking up with this being the best day so far of the autumn so, hopefully, something exciting will turn up over the next few days?