13 March 2014

Crested Honey Buzzard – Dhahran Hills

On 11 March as I was coming back home for lunch I saw a bird of prey flying quite high in the sky. As I was driving and it was unsafe to stop I continued until I got home and stopped and re-found the bird. It looked interesting and was obviously a buzzard of some sort but was very distant. Luckily if started thermally towards me so I went in and got my camera. It never really got very close but I grabbed a couple of photos before it flew back off in to the area where I had originally seen it. From the photos and views I got it was apparent it was a Crested Honey Buzzard and is possibly one of the three birds that has wintered at the Golf Course. Mats a local birder saw the three birds there on 8 March so it could well be one of these although March is a good month for passing birds as well. In Saudi Arabia they are scarce passage migrants and winter visitors that are rare in summer. Most records from the west coast 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. This is inaccurate and it is in fact a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor, rare in summer. 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. There are only two summer records from the country of an adult male at Dhahran, Eastern Province, 30 July 2011 and a second calendar year female at Tanumah Park, Asir Mountains (18.9330N, 42.1535E).