08 November 2015

First returning Bluethroats – Sabkhat Al Fasl

The Red-spotted Bluethroat is an uncommon wintering species in Saudi Arabia with birds wintering at Sabkhat Al Fasl each year, where it is locally common. The first birds return to Sabkhat Al Fasl around the same time and appear to be females with ringing data suggesting they first return in mid-October. A week or so later males are also seen with females and numbers then build up throughout the winter with birds staying around until the end of March to early April. We have retrap data showing that some birds use the same small area of Sabkhat Al Fasl each winter returning to exactly the same spot. Whilst ringing last weekend we caught a female and a male Bluethroat, it is not possible to tell it they are Red-spotted or White-spotted unless they are adult males. We have caught many Red-spotted Bluethroats but only two White-spotted, with White-spotted being a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia birds have been seen from August to May.