29 April 2013

Purple Herons – Dhahran Hills

This spring has been very poor for Purple Herons in the Eastern Province with my only sighting a single adult in the spray fields a few days ago. On Saturday there were three Purple Herons in the same field with two adults and a second calendar year bird. Their normal favourite haunt in the camp is the percolation pond but this has not had a single bird that I have seen this spring. The flooded area of the fields had a few waders but the Black-winged Pratincoles had moved off. There were five Little Stints, three Little Ringed Plovers, two Wood Sandpipers and two Black-winged Stilts and a few Yellow Wagtails and Red-throated Pipits. Numbers of most birds had dropped significantly from the previous few days but there was still plenty to see including a Barred Warbler, ten Red-backed Shrikes, two Lesser Grey Shrikes, two adult male Woodchat Shrikes, thee Whinchats and plenty of European and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters.
Purple Heron - adult
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
The settling pond had a few birds including the unusual sight of two Terek Sandpipers. This is only the third time I have seen the species in the camp. Several Yellow Wagtails were present and a single Common Sandpiper. A number of Sand Martins and several Barn Swallows were resting on the sandy surround to the settling pond and appeared to be very tiered as they allowed very close approach. The percolation pond had two Garganey that have been present for a month, two Squacco Herons and a single adult Little Tern, which is the first for the year for me at the site.
Terek Sandpiper
Sand Martin
The wet ditch and scrubby desert have been very quiet recently with only a few Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters to be seen. Today I saw a Great Reed Warbler sitting on the edge of a thorny bush which was a pleasant surprise and was the first one I have seen on the ‘patch’ this spring.
Great Reed Warbler