23 June 2013

Summer Greater Sand Plovers – Sabkhat Al Fasl

The Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultia is a common passage migrant and winter visitor to the coast of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia very few of which some over-summer. The sub-species that occur in the Eastern Province are C. l. crassirostris although C. l. columbinus occurs in the northern Arabian Gulf to Tarut Bay. The peak winter count is from Tarut Bay and concerned 900 birds in 1991 – 1992 with the highest count from Sabkhat being 430 birds seen in the winter. Returning birds generally arrive in early July but this year there have been quite a few birds in June, which is quite early, although they may be over-summering birds? The highest number seen in summer was seen on Thursday when seven birds were located, including one in summer plumage, at Sabkhat Al Fasl along the edge of the flooded Sabkha. Three of these birds are shown below. This area is now looking more attractive to waders as it has dried out considerably and large expanses of mud are available for birds to feed on. When seen side by side with Kentish Plovers, the large size and bull-headed nature of the Greater Sand Plover can easily be seen.