06 June 2013

Breeding Little Terns – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Little Terns have been showing quite well at Sabkhat Al Fasl this summer with numerous adults seen. Last weekend I saw quite a few more adults included pairs of birds and a single juvenile with two adults, showing breeding has either occurred at this site or somewhere nearby. From 1975 it became apparent the Little Tern was breeding in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia using the newly created freshwater marshes and other wetland habitats but it was not until the 1980’s it was confirmed. It is now a breeding summer visitor to the Eastern Province north of Hufuf arriving late February or March and has the possibility of expanding it’s breeding range as more wetland areas are established. Elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula breeding has been suspected in Kuwait where the species is a common passage migrant and summer visitor that is rare in winter. It may possibly breed in Kuwait’s part of the Mesopotamian Delta. In Bahrain it was proved breeding for the first time in 2007.

The Little Tern is very similar to Saunder’s Tern but habitat preferences for breeding are different with Little Tern choosing freshwater or brackish water habitats and Saunder’s Tern marine habitats.