02 December 2013

Three Crested Honey-Buzzards together - Dhahran Hills

The Crested Honey-Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus is a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor that is rare in summer. Most records from the west coast of Saudi Arabia are in autumn and winter and those from the Eastern Province in winter and spring. Data on Crested Honey-Buzzard is scarce from Saudi Arabia with Porter & Aspinall (2010), the latest field guide to the region, stating it is a vagrant to the country which is now know to be inaccurate. The first records for Saudi Arabia were a second calendar year bird at the Raydah Escarpment in the Asir mountains near Abha (18.20N, 42.22E) 11 October 1994, with a second, second calendar year bird seen 5-10 kilometres south at Wadi Maraba on the same day. Both of these birds were in an extremely exhausted state with one being taken into care and subsequently released. Brian Meadows pers comm recorded a number of Honey Buzzard sp between 25 May 1988 and 21 January 2004 with birds seen on 6 January 1999 & 25 February 1999 seen well enough to be confident that they were Crested Honey-Buzzards. These birds were seen in landscaped areas within the city of Jubail, in the Eastern Province. Since this time records have become more frequent although there are only two documented summer records from the country of an adult male at Dhahran, Eastern Province, 30 July 2011and a second calendar year female Crested Honey Buzzard at Tanumah Park (18.9330N, 42.1535E), being mobbed by a Fan-tailed Raven 5 July 2013. Almost all records are single birds although four (male, female, two immatures) were seen in Dhahran at the Dhahran Hills Golf Club 18 January 2013. On 30 November three birds, probably and adult female (top bird) and two immatures were seen in the trees and flying over the Percolation pond and Spray fields.  I think the top bird is an adult female as it has well marked tail bands, not multiple thin ones as in juveniles and a very obvious pale eye (see in another photo of the same bird perched) rather than palish yellow in immature female birds. Phil Roberts managed to get a few excellent photographs of two birds overhead and I photographed, rather more poorly another individual at a greater distance. In the Eastern Province, Crested Honey-Buzzard is seen much more regularly than European Honey-Buzzard. Phil has very generously allowed me to use his excellent photos of two of the Crested Honey-Buzzards below (top three photos). Please note that these photos should not be used elsewhere without the permission of Phil who retains the copyright.