03 March 2013

3rd Calendar Year Heuglin’s Gull – Al-Khobar Corniche

The site for Large White-headed Gulls (LWG) along Al-Khobar Corniche has been destroyed and is now a car park. The new lighting that has been erected for the area has proved to be a good area for the gulls to sit on. The bigger and more aggressive birds have taken the prime sites with most birds being adults Heuglin’s Gulls. A couple of 3rd Calendar Year Heuglin’s Gulls have also been present and I have been trying to get a few photographs of the birds as this is not an age that is commonly seen, let alone been photographed here in Saudi Arabia. The best shots I have managed so far are presented below with a poor photo of a bird in flight showing the dark tail band and lack of primary mirrors on P10 & P9. Other features showing the age of the bird are the dark tipped bill, mantle colour and the head spotting. The makeup of the LWG flock has changed over the winter with the majority of birds now being Caspian Gulls (40%) and Steppe Gulls (40%) with Heuglin’s Gulls making up the remainder (20%). These LWG will be returning to their breeding areas soon and will not return until August – September.