17 August 2014

Male Little Bittern – Dhahran Hills

Little Bittern is an unusual species to see on the ‘patch’ but they are occasionally seen, primarily on the percolation pond. This year I have seen less than normal, probably as the reed beds are not very well developed from their clearance last year. In April I saw a male in the spray fields, which may well have been the same bird as I saw on the percolation pond. The lack of cover on the main pond meant that the Little Bittern had limited places to hide and after watching the bird for some time I was able to see it fully out in the open. At one point it even flew and landed on a very small piece of vegetation in the pond itself where it proceeded to catch what looked like extremely small fish. As it is unusual to see birds out in the open I stayed and watched this Little Bittern for a long time, although I was unable to move to a better angle for photography as the bird was behind the main pond fence. The species has a status as an uncommon passage migrant to all areas of Saudi Arabia and is a locally common breeding resident in some Gulf wetlands such as Sabkhat Al Fasl and the Riyadh wetland areas. Birds bred in the reed beds of the percolation pond in 2011, but there have been no further signs of breeding at the site since this time, although the species is often very secretive in nature. Migrant birds normally occur from March to early June and again from August to October and can be found in most habitats with at least some water.