03 February 2014

Spanish Sparrows – Jubail area

The Spanish Sparrow is a difficult bird to pin down in the Eastern Province. You will occasionally come across one in an unusual place only for them to disappear again and not be seen for some time. I found one on the ‘patch’ in 2010 and not since and again found a few at Sabkhat Al Fasl in winter 2011, where they stayed for a few weeks, but were not seen again until winter 2013/14 when a few have reappeared in almost the exact same spot as 2011. Some areas like Haradh have large numbers but I do not bird this site so locating single birds at Ash Shagiryah Development Farm the last two visits has been encouraging. Last week we again saw a single male in amongst a very large flock of House Sparrows but Phil located a small flock of ten birds on a waste mud mound near a reed bed on the way out of the site, that included both male and female birds. Hopefully this means they will stay in the area and breed, as it is always good to see this species whilst out birding in my area of Saudi Arabia. The status is Saudi Arabia was as a winter visitor rarely in the Eastern Province more regular in Tabuk and the northern Hijaz (western Saudi Arabia), but they now breed in the several scattered areas.