25 October 2015

Pied Kingfisher - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst ringing at Sabkhat Al Fasl 23 October 2015 I found a Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis flying around near one of the nets. Pied Kingfisher is a scarce winter visitor to Saudi Arabia with most records from the Eastern Province. On 25 February 1999 there were six birds present at Sabkhat Al Fasl (Jubail) and an inland record of one at an old disused dairy farm at Thumamah 14-22 October 1999. A record from the northwest of Saudi Arabia was one at Lake Yanbu al Medina 14 April 1999. A few singles have been seen since then often at Sabkhat Al Fasl but it remains a scarce bird for the country and a good bird to find. Pied Kingfishers generally use small and large lakes, large rivers, estuaries, coastal lagoons, mangroves and sandy and rocky coasts and require waterside perches such as trees, reeds, fences and posts. They eat predominantly fish and regularly hover particularly so in windy conditions with the bird seen at Sabkhat Al Fasl regularly hovering and calling. Birds fly low over the water with steady wing beats and then rise 2–10 metres in the air, with body held nearly vertical, bill held down and wings beating rapidly; they then dive down into the water and if successful swallow prey on the wing without beating on branch or something similar. Birds are generally sedentary, however, in the non-breeding season, local movements can extend over several hundreds of kilometres and this is probably how birds enter the Eastern Province.