14 May 2014

Corncrakes – Bird records by Dave Kilmister

I received an e-mail from Dave Kilmister on 10 May saying “We had what was to me a surprising arrival on-site this week – at least six Corncrakes who have been feeding on the lawns in front of our main administration building all week. This is adjacent to our main entrance gate so the area sees a lot of vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The birds are nicely accustomed to cars, so it is possible to drive up next to them and get the bird filling the whole frame. But, because they are so tame, it is difficult to get them in the typical alert, upright pose. The gardens are thriving with Red-backed Shrikes, Rufous-tailed Scrub-robins, Lesser Grey Shrikes, and Tree Pipits also. I saw my first Golden Oriole today – it was at our water treatment ponds; a magnificent bird”. Dave also sent me a couple of great photographs of the Corncrakes he took and has kindly allowed me to use them on my website. Copyright of these photos remains with Dave. Dave’s camp is on the Gulf coast north of Jubail towards the Kuwait boarder.

The Corncrake is regarded as a scarce spring and autumn passage migrant, possibly largely overlooked due to its secretive behaviour. They normally pass between April and May and again in September and October with the majority of records from the Eastern Province in recent years being from the month of May like Dave’s birds. An indication that they pass regularly and are not seen is a paper on birds killed by overhead power lines in western Saudi Arabia where the most birds picked up dead under the power lines were Corncrakes with hundreds of birds found.