08 April 2014

Eastern Cinereous Bunting a new ‘patch’ species – Dhahran Hills

Whilst birding the ‘patch’ last night I found a female Eastern Cinereous Bunting in the same small area as where I found a Black-headed Bunting a couple of years before. This is only the second Eastern Cinereous Bunting I have seen in Saudi Arabia with the first a bird I found in Duffi Park Jubail in late March 2013. This is the second record I know of for Dhahran camp with an earlier bird, a male, seen 14 April 2008 near the spray fields by the cricket field. Unfortunately the light was poor and the bird flighty so the below photo is the best I could manage. I hope the bird stays around so I can get a few decent photos. The species is a scarce passage migrant to the Eastern Province as well as elsewhere in the Kingdom and has been noted in winter in the southwest of the country.
Eastern Cinereous bunting - female
Plenty of other migrants were also seen including both species of Bee-eaters. Ten European Bee-eaters were hunting from the telegraph wires along the perimeter fence and three Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were doing the same but from the trees around the pond. One caught a large dragonfly and spent a while getting it in a good position to swallow. Other migrants seen included a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, a Nightingale sp that was seen briefly and not identified to species, seven Common Redstarts, both Willow Warbler and Common Chiffchaff, Common Swifts, six Squacco Herons, one Grey Heron, 10+ Tree Pipits, three Northern Wheatears, three Yellow Wagtails, Ruff, two Common Greenshanks, three Kentish Plovers, Siberian Stonechat, three Woodchat Shrikes and a Turkestan Shrike. All in all a very good evenings birding, but as I have been away from the ‘patch’ for three days I am not sure when all the migrants arrived.
European Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Woodchat Shrike
Northern Wheatear - male