15 February 2014

Moustached Warbler – Sabkhat Al Fasl

While ringing last Friday we trapped and ringed a Moustached Warbler. This is a local breeder in the Central region and Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia that is only a scarce migrant and winter visitor in the north of the country. The Moustached Warbler is now quite widespread in the Eastern Province, with the first record at Sabkhat al Fasl seen in 1990 but there are no breeding records from the site as yet.  There are breeding records from nearby where Brian Meadows found them at a small wetland in Jubail as well as at nearby Khafra Marsh about 30 kilometers south. Pairs have been seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl in April and May indicating a strong likelihood of breeding.  They tend to be resident on their breeding grounds but there is evidence for an influx of birds in winter to the area. It was a surprise find as we have not ringed the species before in Bahrain and it is mentioned as a vagrant there with less than 12 records. As Nicole had ringed them before in Turkey I ringed the bird and added it to my birds ringed list. Not bad for the first ringing expedition in Saudi Arabia for us. The first breeding site in Saudi Arabia was located at Hufuf in the Eastern Province. Breeding numbers are small and it will be interesting to see if we catch more of this species as the year progresses.