10 August 2013

Jizan Corniche

This site (16 55.10N, 43 32.70E) is one of the main birding locations in the region and has good wader habitat from Jizan south to the Yemen border approximately 45 kilometres away. Densities of birds are on average much higher in Jizan than at neighbouring sites, due to the sewage outfalls that enter the sea from Jizan city. As a result the area holds the highest concentration of shorebirds along the Saudi Red Sea coast. The main site is a four kilometre long by 500 metre wide stretch of muddy and mud-sand intertidal flats, stretching from Jizan Port to the northern edge of the city. The flats, enriched by sewage outfall from Jizan city, where in the past fringed by mangroves, but all these areas have now been destroyed by land reclamation projects. The site is easily viewed from the cornice road and in the early morning the sun is behind the observer allowing good viewing conditions. As a result of this we went to the location at first light on 1 July, the first morning of our trip, and although we did not arrive at the hotel until after midnight we were up before first light to check the site out. We went again on the afternoon of 6 July on the way to the airport when the tide was out and more waders could be seen.
Pink-backed Pelican
Caspian Tern
Crab Plover
Greater Flamingos

The site held small numbers of waders, due to the mid-summer time of year, with a good location being a large stream just north of the Jazan Inn Hotel where waders are pushed up when the tide was high. Here we saw six Eurasian Spoonbill, three Terek Sandpipers, 200+ Crab Plovers, three Bar-tailed Godwits, 100 Common Redshanks, three Spotted Redshanks, four Marsh Sandpipers, four Common Greenshanks, 20 Lesser Sand Plovers, 50+ Greater Sand Plovers of both sub-species, five Kentish Plovers, three Eurasian Curlews, two Whimbrels, three Eurasian Oystercatchers, three Grey Plovers and four Ruddy Turnstones. Other birds that were seen here included, Caspian Tern and my first new species in Saudi Arabia of the trip Pink-backed Pelican of which we saw over 200 birds. Two Black-crowned Sparrow Larks and a small party of six African Silverbills were also seen here along with Common Myna and House Sparrow. 
Eurasian Spoonbills
Eurasian Spoonbill
Greater Sand Plover

The seaward side of the Corniche had Western Osprey perched on a lamppost, with tens of Pink-backed Pelicans on the same posts, five Lesser Crested Terns, six Swift Terns, three Indian Reef Heron, 20+ Greater Flamingoes and several Sooty Gulls. Travelling further down towards the port we found a small fishing boat harbor near to the fish market that was full of gulls. Sooty Gull was common here with over one hundred birds seen, 10+ White-eyed Gulls, nine Baltic Gulls, three Caspian Gulls, 75+ Slender-billed Gulls and a Brown Booby flew overhead and landed on a nearby fishing boat. A few Lesser Crested Terns, Swift Terns and Greater Flamingoes were also present. Further south past the port we saw our only three White-cheeked Terns of the trip.
Western Osprey
Brown Booby
Sooty Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Baltic Gull
Lesser Crested Tern
Swift Tern
When the tide goes out some areas of exposed mudflats are attractive to the waders and extremely good views of the Crab Plovers can be had. Here we also saw Eurasian Spoonbill, 200+ Crab Plovers, Common Redshanks, Common Greenshanks, Lesser Sand Plovers, Greater Sand Plovers, Eurasian Curlews, Whimbrels, Eurasian Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers. Thirty House Crows and a Brown-necked Raven were seen along the Corniche scavenging for food.
Crab Plover