16 September 2012

Large Tern flocks - Abu Ali Island

I went to Abu Ali Island see here for details to look for Sandwich Terns which are meant to spend time moulting on the island in their thousands. I had not see the species in Saudi Arabia and as September is the prime month for terns on the island I thought it was worth a try. As it turned out there were hundreds of Sandwich Terns with many hundreds more Lesser Crested Terns and Little/Saunder's Terns making three thousand birds at least. All of them were at a fair distance and a telescope was required to identify them but it was a good excercise in identifying young and winter plumaged birds. All the terns were on Abu Al Island with most on the large pool at the far end of the island. Other birds were thin on the ground with only a few waders including Lesser Sand Plover and Greater Sand Plover side by side on a small pool allowing good comparison of both species. Bar-tailed Godwit and Dunlin were feeding on the exposed mudflats and a few Eurasian Curlews were with them along with 22 Greater Flamingoes and about the same number of Western Reef Herons. Migrants are meant to occur on the island in good numbers during passage periods but the only migrant I saw apart from Barn Swallow was a single Isabelline Wheatear.

Bar-tailed Godwit
Isabelline Wheatear