07 May 2014

Red-backed Shrikes arriving in good numbers – Dhahran Hills

As mentioned previously, this year was very slow for Red-backed Shrikes with the first one only seen at the end of April. In all previous years I have been in Saudi Arabia the first birds were seen on or about the 1 April, so this years arrival was four weeks late. Numbers have now built up significantly with many birds passing through including males and females. Most of the birds have been seen in the spray fields but there are plenty scattered over the camp including on the trees and bushes around the percolation pond as well as in the scrubby desert areas. The Red-backed Shrike is a common passage migrant in both spring and autumn with passage occurring between early April and early June and again from mid-August to early October. Last year (2013) was an amazing year for the species in the Eastern Province with more than 50 seen in a small stretch of scrub along one edge of Sabkhat Al Fasl in a single morning. Numbers appear to be higher in spring than autumn although good numbers pass during both periods. The below photographs are a few of the birds seen on 3 May 2014 in Dhahran spray fields.