07 February 2015

Grey-headed Swamphen a new ringing species – Sabkhat Al Fasl

After a good mornings ringing at Sabkhat Al Fasl one of the last birds we caught was a Grey-headed Swamphen. They are common at the location but this is the only site in all of Saudi Arabia where they can be seen easily and only one of two where they breed. In a mornings bird-watching here it is easy to see up to 30 birds and they are always around the nets but they are a very big bird and were unlikely to be caught. If they ever did venture into the net they would almost certainly pull them down so although I was hoping to catch one somehow I was not holding out much hope. Nicole, however, managed to flush one from a small tree near one of our nets and it flew into the net where she was able to get to the bird before it escaped or damaged the net. They look big in the field but in the hand they are extremely large and easily the largest bird I  have ringed. Grey-headed Swamphen is a sub-species of Purple Swamphen although there is some talk of splitting in out as a separate species and was a new bird ringed by me as well as a new ringing species for Saudi Arabia.