11 June 2015

Third Striated Heron for the Eastern Province – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl on 7 June 2015 I found a Striated Heron Butorides striata along the edge of the central track feeding out in the open on the edge of the wetland area. Unfortunately before I could take a photograph of it the bird flew off but luckily came closer to me over the track and into the wetland area on the other side of the road where I could not relocate it. Striated Heron is a common breeding resident on the coasts of the Red Sea but is a vagrant to the northern part of the Arabian Gulf including the Eastern Province. Eastern Province records include one remarkable inland record was a bird at Sabkha 40 on 30 May 2010 in the huge desert of the Empty Quarter. This is a species usually associated with the coast of Arabia and had never been recorded this far inland before in our region and was the first record for eastern Saudi Arabia. It would have had to be a migrant, but its position at Shaybah raises the interesting possibility that it had travelled across eastern Arabia from the Arabian Sea en-route to the Arabian Gulf. The only other Eastern Province record, I know of, was one was in Al Fanateer marina, Jubail on 15 February 2014 seen by Lou Regenmorter and Brian James. Hopefully the increase in records in recent years means that birds may be spreading northwards and will become more frequent in the Eastern Province in the near future.
Striated Heron