27 February 2013

Peregrine Falcon – Dhahran Main Camp

Whilst driving along the main road from Dhahran Hills into Dhahran Main Camp, I saw a group of very fast flying and agitated Rose-ringed Parakeets. The birds were not flying in their normal manner, following each other in a small group, but were rather going in all directions making a lot of noise. It was then I saw an adult Peregrine Falcon flash through the group, but luckily for the Rose-ringed Parakeets without success. Fortunately, as I carry my binoculars with me in the car at all times, I was able to get some good views of the bird before it departed. This is the first time I have seen the species in Saudi Arabia and better still for me the first time I have seen one on the ‘patch’. A ‘patch’ to birders is an area that is close to home, where one goes bird-watching as much as possible, in my case almost every day. Peregrine Falcon is a widespread but uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia which is more likely to be seen near the coast than inland. The sub-species we are likely to get on passage in Eastern Saudi Arabia is Falco peregrinus calidus (Latham 1790), which was formerly called leucogenys and includes caeruleiceps. It breeds in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia and is completely migratory travelling south in winter as far as southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It is paler than peregrinus, especially on the crown and is a large sub-species.