19 November 2013

Scarce birds in the Al Hassa area (part 2) – Bird records by Shaheen

Continuing on from the last post are some more photos from a local photographer Shaheen who apparently took all the photographs in the area of Al Hassa. I am documenting them here as they are very important ornithologically, and will post further details if they become available. All the photographs below were taken by Shaheen who has given permission for me to use them on my website.

Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus is an uncommon but regular passage migrant in the Eastern Province in small numbers during March and April and again from late July until early September. The peak passage of adults is during March and again from August when juveniles are also frequently seen. A flock of 500 was seen in late March 1982 on the northern steppes with other good numbers from the same area including 45 on the Dibdibah 14 April 1983, 30 there 4 November 1983 and 100 in the same area 28 March 1985. Most sightings occur away from the coast but they are often near inland waters. The photograph below was taken near Lake Al Asfar, Al Hassa in 2013?
Kentish Plover
Caspian Plover
Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus is an uncommon but regular winter visitor to the Eastern Province from November to April. It is unobtrusive and easily overlooked, frequenting thick palm scrub in oasis and cultivated areas often near settlements. It has been noted at widely scattered locations from Hanidh in the north to Haradh in the south with the highest count being 85-120 at Salasil in December 1983. Migrants have been seen in November and April, with odd males at Haradh and Al Kharj away from the normal palms suggesting migration during those months. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia it is an uncommon, but may be locally common, winter visitor to Central Arabia, Northen Hejaz, Hejaz and Northern Red Sea. Some large winter roosts have been recorded in Riyadh.
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus  is a common and widespread breeding resident on the Tihamah and southern Red Sea coastlands, less common in the Northern Hejaz north to Rabigh with all records below 1000 metres. Most records come from the Tihamah with small flocks of 10-50 birds regularly seen. The species is rare in Central Saudi Arabia and has not been recorded in the Eastern Province. The photograph below is thus very interesting as it shows a number of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (unfortunately) shot apparently near Al Hassa in 2013? If this can be confirmed this would be the first record of the species for the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia as far as I know.
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse