25 November 2014

Hypocolius - Al Khafah

Whilst birding the area near Jebal Nayriyyah at a small settlement called Al Khafah that has a number of date palm trees nearby, we found a Hypocolius. It was a female sitting quietly in a small tree and was located due to the flock of Spanish Sparrows that were nearby. This area is north of Hanidh and is only the second time I have seen the species in Saudi Arabia as they are unobtrusive and easily overlooked, frequenting thick palm scrub in oasis and cultivated areas often near settlements such as this location. Hypocolius is a regular but local winter visitor from November to April. In the Eastern Province it has been noted at widely scattered locations from Hanidh in the north to Haradh in the south. The highest counts have been 85-120 at Salasil in December 1983. Migrants have been seen in November and April, with odd males at Haradh and Al Kharj away from the normal palms suggesting migration during those months. In Saudi Arabia as a whole they are an uncommon, but may be a locally common winter visitor to Central Arabia, Northern Hejaz, Hejaz and Northern Red Sea. Flocks of over 100 birds have been recorded in Riyadh each winter.