25 April 2016

Late Greater Spotted Eagle - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area on 22 April I cam across a late second calendar year Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga sitting on a pylon. The species is uncommon throughout the world and is on the IUCN Red List where it is classed as vulnerable. The Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is an excellent place to see it in the winter months when birds are almost always associated with freshwater. It is a regular passage migrant and winter visitor to the Arabian peninsula, with most records coming from the better recorded countries of the United Arab Emirates and Oman. The number of sightings of the species in winter is increasing in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia suggesting the wintering population is increasing, with more than ten birds wintering each year in the jubail area in the last few years. Birds are generally present from late September until late April with the birds recorded in late April being quite late for migrants but Dick Forsman (pers comm) mentioned young birds often linger in spring unlike adults, and late April is not too late for juvenile Great Spotted Eagles to be seen on their wintering grounds. It can be assumed that this bird will be one of the last remaining wintering birds rather than a bird that is planning on staying through the summer, although s few birds in the last five years have been noted in mid-summer.