02 June 2014

Red-watted Lapwing a new ‘patch’ species – Dhahran Hills

Last night, 1 June 2014, whilst birding the ‘patch’ Phil Roberts found a Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus, a new ‘patch’ species for both him and me as well as a new species for us both in Saudi Arabia. Luckily for me I was very close to Phil when he found it so soon saw the bird myself before it flew off and disappeared from sight. We went looking for it and I decided to look in the wet ditch and found it there but again it flew immediately and disappeared off over the Dhahran hills housing complex. Hopefully the bird will stay around and we can relocate it and get a few decent photos. Phil managed one photo into the sun that he has kindly sent me and allowed me to use that is reproduced below. The species is rare in Saudi Arabia with the following records all the birds I know about. In Riyadh & Central Arabia, birds were seen in January 1977, within the Riyadh city boundary; one was seen 1 November 1985 near Mansouriyah; one on 2 December 1988 and another January 1989 on farmland adjacent to the lower reaches of the Riyadh watercourse and another on 4 November 1989 at the Riyadh watercourse. One was on Thumamah dairy farm 16-22 January 1994. One individual wintered at Thumamah between 5 November 1999 and 17 February 2000 & from 27 January onwards it was present at the old dairy farm. A second individual was seen at Al Safi Dairy Farm on 25 January 2001. In the Empty quarter Up to five birds were seen on three days at Sabkha 40 in 2010 where there was suitable breeding habitat present. This species is resident at wetlands in eastern Arabia (United Arab Emirates), and is gradually colonizing westwards. Although the minimum of two pairs did not appear to be breeding (which would have been indicated by extreme agitation and mobbing of intruders, the timing of this record suggests that it might breed later in 2010 or in a future year. (The species tends to be present in breeding areas for two or more years before attempting breeding). So far it has not yet been recorded to breed in Saudi Arabia. In the Eastern province it is regarded as a rare passage migrant and winter visitor and there have been fourteen records prior to this one of single birds from October to December (especially November), but also January, April and July. Birds have been seen at Nayriyyah in the north, three times at Haradh in the south with the last records being sixteen 24 November 1983, four times at Abqaiq and four times in Dhahran with the last record 13 December 1985. The most recent record for the Eastern province was a bird Lou and Brian found on a birding trip to the Eastern Province at Sabkhat Al Fasl 15 February 2014.