11 June 2013

A good summers day birding – Sabkhat Al Fasl

An early morning trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl was conducted with not too much hope of seeing anything good as the birds had almost completely dried up in Dhahran. I was to be pleasantly surprised by the birds I saw at Sabkhat. Nothing was seen on the way into the site and not much around the concrete bunded area with the exception of a few Little Terns and White-cheeked Terns. At the far end of the site there was a nice gathering of Barn Swallows and Sand Martins but little else. A very scruffy Turkestan Shrike was seen on the way back to the main reed bed showing that at least some migrants were still about. A very late Western Marsh Harrier was over the reed beds, this being my latest record for the species at the site. The wet scrape had a number of Little Terns including adults feeding juveniles on freshly caught fish and an adult male Little Bittern flew across and landed in the reeds on the far side.
Little Tern - adult
Little Tern - juvenile
Little Tern - adult & juvenile
Little Bittern - adult male
The wet area by the water pumping station had a beautiful adult female Red-necked Phalarope along with 50+ Black-winged Stilts. A few Purple Swamphens were walking about as if they owned the place, which they possibly do as they are the largest birds there. Clamorous Reed Warblers and European Reed Warblers were singing from the reed beds with the Clamorous in the newly growing reeds and the European Reed Warblers in the more established reed beds. Nearby a few Squacco Herons in full breeding plumage were seen feeding and flying about in the very strong wind.
Purple Swamphen
Squacco Heron - adult summer
Squacco Heron - adult summer
The flooded Sabkha area has dried out a little but still has plenty of water and several hundred Greater Flamingos are still present although spending the entire time right in the middle of the water well away from the shore. Only a few waders were seen but one surprise was a Greater Sand Plover feeding with a group of Kentish Plovers and a single Little Stint. Indian Reef Herons of both colour morphs were plentiful although white birds outnumbered black ones by ten to one. Caspian Terns, Little Terns and White-cheeked Terns were plentiful here and I also found one adult summer plumaged White-winged Tern.
Greater Sand Plover
Little Stint
White-winged Tern - adult summer
White-winged Tern - adult summer
White-winged Tern - adult summer
Indian Reef Heron