05 April 2016

Lesser Kestrels on the move – Haradh

Whilst birding the Haradh area in recent weeks a good number of Lesser Kestrels have been seen. Lesser Kestrel is an uncommon passage migrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia that migrates in small flocks. They are normally seen in areas where insects are common such as pivot irrigation fields where good numbers can sometimes be seen in spring. Small flocks are sometimes seen flying over at some height and not landing suggesting many move through the area unseen. Numbers are significantly lower in the autumn than the spring. Most birds occur in Saudi Arabia from the middle of February to mid-April in spring, and between the end-September and mid-November in autumn. Since 1987 birds have apparently started over-wintered on the farmlands south of Riyadh. I have not been birding in Haradh in the winter but will go back this winter and see if I can record any wintering birds in this area, as it is similar habitat and quite close to Riyadh. The indiscriminate use of pesticides is thought to have contributed to dramatic population declines in this insectivorous raptor.