23 October 2016

Male Montagu’s Harrier - Haradh

Whilst birding the NADAC Farm area of Haradh 14 October I saw plenty of Harriers including at minimum of five Montagu’s Harriers including adult and juvenile harriers over the pivot irrigation fields. Male Montagu’s Harriers are easily identified by their upperwing pattern amongst other details but Juvenile Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers are difficult to identify with certainty at times and good views are needed. The birds were mainly at some distance but luckily for me the one bird that chose to come close was a fine adult male bird. It was hunting over the fields catching large Migratory Locusts by dropping into the pivot fields and catching them on the ground and then either eating them there or flying to the field side and doing likewise there. Birds are uncommon passage migrants in the Eastern Province mainly from April to May and from September to October with a few birds apparently wintering and up to eight seen in a day at Haradh in September. Birds of the Riyadh Region by Stagg 1994, says they are a common passage migrant and increasingly frequent winter visitor that passes March and again late August to mid-October. Since 1988, winter visitors have taken up residence around alfalfa fields south of Riyadh during December and January. Other records have come from all areas from the southwest to the northeast of the Kingdom although the species is not common anywhere.