01 November 2013

Eurasian Bittern at Tabuk Wetlands - Bird records by Viv Wilson

Viv Wilson saw a Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris at Tabuk Wetlands on 25 October. This is a scarce passage migrant and rare winter visitor to Saudi Arabia with very few records although Rob Tovey has seen two in the last couple of years including one near Riyadh in the unusual location of a pivot irrigation field and one in the southwest of the country where there have also been at least two previous records. It has been regarded as a reasonably common in suitable habitats in the southwest, but its secretive nature making it difficult to locate. Both records are from reed-fringed watercourses in Wadi Alahssahbah 8 March 1989 and 6 January 1992. In the Eastern Province it is regarded as a vagrant with records from Hofuf Lakes 21 May 1976, Dhahran 24 November 1978, Jawb on the northern edge of the Rub’ al-Khali 25 September 1980, Abqaiq 11-17 Devember 1982, three Abqaiq 19-20 October 1983 and one 14-21 December 1984. As can be seen it is not commonly seen and Viv’s sighting is a good one, particularly as he managed to get some good photographs of it which he has kindly allowed me to use. The copyright of these photos remain with Viv.