25 January 2013

Tufted Ducks a new Patch Tick – Dhahran Hills

Birding on 22nd January at the Patch was very rewarding with a group of 13 Tufted Ducks seen on the percolation pond. As I was arriving I saw a group of nine Tufted Duck fly in and land and when I got around to an area I could view there were 13 birds including three males. I had not seen Tufted Duck on the patch before so I was very happy, in fact it was a new bird for Saudi Arabia for me as well. They are scarce visitors to the region in the winter and Phil saw a couple last winter on the pond but I did not see them. Whilst looking at the Tufted Ducks through the telescope I also saw a male and a female Garganey  which is an unusual date to see them. They are very scarce in the winter in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Other duck included a female Eurasian Wigeon and seven Gadwalls. A small flock of 20+ Pallid Swift were over the pond in the late evening and a white morph Indian Reef Heron was a new bird for the year and the first one I have seen for some months on the pond. An adult Caspian Gull and four Adult Steppe Gulls flew over the pond. The settling pools had ten Black-winged Stilts, two Green Sandpipers, one Common Snipe and one Common Redshank.
Tufted Ducks
Steppe Gull - adult winter
Whilst walking around the Golf Course in Dhahran on Friday 18th January, I saw four Crested Honey Buzzards in the air together. One was a male, one female and two juveniles and at least one appeared to go to roost in the trees in the center of the Golf Course as it got dark. I have seen quite a few Crested Honey Buzzards in Dhahran since I have been here but never four together, so this was quite a sight a see. As I was out with the family I did not have my camera with me so was unable to get any photographs, but hopefully, the birds will stay about and allow photographs to be taken at a later date.