23 January 2014

Red-tailed Wheatear – Dhahran Hills

Last night whilst birding the ‘patch’ I saw the Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe chrysopygia again on the rocky outcrop where it has spent the winter. The bird is in exactly the same place as a bird last year and thus may be the same returning individual. As it is winter and it gets dark early the bird is not easy to see and photograph but I went straight to the area after work and saw the bird straight away allowing me the chance to photograph the bird. Birds are scarce winter visitors to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia with birds occurring from late September until early April, especially in the vicinity of jebals, other rocky outcrops, dry scrub areas and semi-desert. It breeds in an area from north-east Turkey through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and western Pakistan while it winters to the south from southern Iraq, across the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India. Although they breed from 1200 – 4000 metres above sea level they winter down to sea level. Birds have even been seen in the Empty Quarter in winter. In Saudi Arabia the status is an uncommon winter visitor and can be seen in all areas but is rare or absent from the Asir mountains, the Tihamah and the Southern Red Sea coast.