23 September 2012

Western Marsh Harriers – Dhahran Hills

Western Marsh Harrier is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to the coastal zone from late August through to May. It is almost always seen where Phragmites reed-beds are plentiful although is often seen over mangroves in Taraut Bay as well. Winter birds have been seen inland at Abqaiq, Hofuf and Al Asfar Lake near Al Hasa with passage birds seen at Haradh and Jawb an isolated camp on the edge of the Rub’ al-Khali desert (Empty Quarter). The premier site for the species is Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail, where up to twenty birds can be seen on a single visit in the winter. Two birds were over the percolation pond yesterday quartering the Phragmites reed beds for about ten minutes before flying off. These birds are almost certainly newly arrived migrants as the weather was conducive for migrants to arrive with strong winds and quite a lot of dust in the air. Western Marsh Harrier is an uncommon visitor to Dhahran Saudi Aramco camp with records only during peak migration periods of late February to April and mid-September to October. Birds sometimes stay for a few days and roost in the reed-beds or the spray fields.