10 March 2013

A scattering of migrants – Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early morning trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl proved that spring has arrived in Eastern Saudi Arabia even if the weather was cold and windy. There were quite a few migrants about all-be-it not in large numbers. As is often the case at the site the first bird I saw was a Greater Spotted Eagle, and I saw more birds during this visit than at any time during the winter. This suggests that possibly some migrants are passing through and have stopped off at the site for a short break? The total numbers of Greater Spotted Eagles seen were ten with an Eastern Imperial Eagle also present. Other birds of prey seen included a Western Osprey and five Western Marsh Harriers. A look at the gull flock in the concrete bunded area turned up a new bird for the site for me in the shape of six Great Black-headed Gulls but little else was present apart from the normal Steppe, Caspian, Hueglin’s and Black-headed Gulls. A few summer plumage Caspian Gulls were also present in the flock. There were a good number of shrikes at the site with eight Turkestan Shrikes, six Daurian Shrikes, one Woodchat Shrike and one Mauryan (Steppe) Grey Shrike. Other migrants included hundreds of White Wagtails and scattered amongst them four Black-headed Wagtails, 10+ Common Chiffchaffs, five Isabeline Wheatears, one Northern Wheatear, one Pied Wheatear, six Swallows and two Little Ringed Plovers. Wood Sandpiper and Green Sandpipers were seen in small numbers and a group of 15 Common Redshank, three Common Greenshak and a Ruff were also seen. Possible migrants but birds that may have spent the winter also were three Red-spotted Bluethroats, two (North) Caspian Stonechats and a Siberian Stonechat. Three Common Kingfishers were still about from the winter and the resident Puprle Swamphens started showing again with eight birds seen including a well grown juvenile.
Greater Spotted Eagle
Daurian Shrike
Black-headed Wagtail - feldegg
Black-headed Wagtail - feldegg
Common Chiffchaff
Little Ringed Plover
Green Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Common Kingfisher
Purple Swamphen - juvenile
Purple Swamphen - adult