16 July 2013

First signs of autumn? – Sabkhat Al Fasl

The new Saudi Arabia weekend of Friday and Saturday, rather than Thursday and Friday saw Phil and I off to Sabkhat Al Fasl on a new day of Saturday. We got to the site just after first light and it was immediately obvious there were few birds about. Even though few birds were seen we had a couple of interesting records including the first returning Yellow Wagtail of the autumn showing that the first signs of autumn and arriving? Another interesting record was a Western Marsh Harrier seen flushing all the egrets and herons form the scrape and perching on a fence post. The bird later flew a few times and disappeared over the reeds. Summer records of the species are rare and it is the first time I have seen the species in the summer in Saudi Arabia. There were plenty of Squacco Herons and Indian Reef Herons on the scrape as well as a Common Sandpiper.
Yellow Wagtail
Common Sandpiper
Other returning waders included a Terek Sandpiper, 10+ Dunlin, several Greater Sand Plovers and 50+ Black-winged Stilts. Hundreds of Kentish Plover were present with the many breeding birds now supplemented by passage migrants. Little Ringed Plover numbers were also high with a lot of juveniles seen amongst a few adults indicating a good breeding season for the species.
Little Ringed Plover - juvenile
Black-winged Stilt
Other interesting sightings included a juvenile Little Bittern showing the species has bred again this year in the reed-beds and still a good number of Little Grebes on the water. Tern numbers were high with 500+ Little Terns the largest gathering I have seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl, 50+ White-cheeked Terns, one Gull-billed Tern and one White-winged Tern. Three Eurasian Reed Warblers were feeding along one reedy area and several Clamorous Reed Warblers were also present some still singing.
Little Grebe