21 November 2015

The first male Pied Kingfisher of the autumn – Sabkhat Al Fasl

As mentioned previously there has been a major arrival of Pied Kingfishers into Eastern Arabia this winter including a minimum of ten birds at Sabkhat Al Fasl. All the birds photographed and the one seen by me have been females with this bias towards females also occurring with Common Kingfishers at this location. On 15 November I saw three Pied Kingfishers including two females but I also saw the first male recorded this year. Males have a thin breast band under the thick breast band, whereas females just have a single thick breast band. The birds gave excellent views perched on a dead bifurcated branch were they sat waiting for any signs of small fish below. It was possible using the car as a hide to get very close to the birds without frightening them and I spent a lot of time watching them fishing from their perch. The male seen is only the second record of a male I know of in Saudi Arabia (but there must surely have been more?) with the other male being a bird in the Riyadh area a couple of years ago. The three birds I saw looked very settled and were catching plenty of small fish so, hopefully, will stay for the remainder of the winter.