12 June 2015

Little Bitterns - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl last weekend I saw many Little Bitterns. The total number for the day was 17 birds with pairs and individuals seen at many places around the location. Normally birds are difficult to photograph and getting flight shits is particularly unusual as the cover and reed beds make getting sharp in flight shots a challenge. I managed to photograph a number of birds in flight this trip though including a male and female flying across an open area of water following each other. The Little Bittern is a locally common breeder and an uncommon migrant and winter visitor seen throughout the Kingdom. The Birds of the Riyadh Region by Stagg (1994) mentions a small but growing breeding population that has become established but birds remain mainly as spring and autumn passage migrant passing mid March to June and again from late July to mid November. In spring it is scarce and sightings are usually of ones and twos. More numerous on autumn passage, especially during September and early October when small groups may be encountered. In the Eastern Province it is a locally common breeding species in a few suitable areas, including Sabkhat Al Fasl. They are present all year in breeding areas, whereas elsewhere it occurs fairly regularly from March to early June and from August to October on passage. I have trapped and ringed a number of birds in the last two years at Sabkhat Al Fasl with some having brood patches showing breeding is occurring.