21 November 2013

Black-necked Grebe new ‘patch’ species – Dhahran Hills

The weather has been very rough the last few days with heavy rain, flooding, thunderstorms and strong wind. Not good conditions for birding but good ones for bringing in new birds. I went to the patch on a day when it was relatively dry and calm (still raining and windy) to see if anything new had come in. I went to the usual places with little luck until I got to the settling pond. Here there were plenty of birds with a good selection of waders and a few birds floating on the water. Most were Little Grebes but a striking black and white grebe with a blood red eye was obviously a Black-necked Grebe, the first time I have seen the species on the ‘patch’ and a very welcome addition. They have been seen quite regularly in the past but this is the first one in the last three years. I had been expecting to see one on the percolation pond rather than the settling pond, but as the percolation pond is still dry the bird had little choice as to where it could go.

The Black-necked Grebe is a regular visitor to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia from late August until March but is generally scarce in April and May and rare in the summer. It is usually local in coastal waters but counts of over 40 are not unusual in Half Moon Bay. Small numbers occur inland on freshwater habitats. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia it is an irregular winter visitor to Riyadh, Tabuk and the Red Sea.