09 February 2015

Seven Black-necked Grebes – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl on 24 January Phil Roberts and I found seven Black-necked Grebes on the main flooded sabkha area near the power station. All were in winter plumage except for a single bird approaching summer plumage. This bird was the closest of the seven and appeared to be happy picking small insects off the surface of the water and was acting very much like a Phalarope in its feeding behavior. The Black-necked Grebe is an uncommon but regular visitor to the Eastern Province from late August through March but becomes scarce in April and May and rare in the summer. It is usually local in coastal waters but counts of over 40 are not unusual in Half Moon Bay. Small numbers occur inland with up to four seen this winter on my local patch. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia birds have occurred in Riyadh, Tabuk and the Red Sea, as well as in the Jizan region.