16 January 2013

Increasing numbers of Large White-headed Gulls – Abqaiq Landfill

An early morning trip to Abqaiq Landfill resulted in very large numbers of Large White-headed Gulls (LWHG) as well as Common Black-headed Gulls. The recent cold weather may have brought new birds to the area as numbers were at least twice as high as the last time I visited a month ago. Many of the birds are now immature birds whereas previously they had mainly been adults. The mix of birds remains similar with approximately 80% Steppe Gulls, 20% Heuglin’s Gulls, three Caspian Gulls and one Armenian Gull with 2000+ LWHG and 3000+ Common Black-headed Gulls. Despite extensive searching I failed to locate any Baltic Gulls and no other birds of interest were seen. I did manage to find an area where the birds were resting allowing good views through the scope, and my knowledge of the site has improved, hopefully, making it easier to view the birds on my next trip there. Other landfill sites in the area have held both Greater Spotted Eagles and Eastern Imperial Eagles in the past but I have not seen either of these species on my trips to this site. It may be too far inland? Or possibly is not conveniently positioned next to a wetland ara where the birds like to spend the winter? The only other birds of note I saw on the Landfill were a Common Kestrel, two Desert Wheatears and several Crested Larks. As last time numerous Rock Doves and Feral Pigeons were also present.
Steppe Gull - adult winter
Steppe Gull - 2nd Calendar Year
Heuglin's Gull - adult winter
Heuglin's Gull - sub-adult winter
Common Black-headed Gull - adult winter
Common Black-headed Gull - 2nd Calendar Year