08 August 2017

Breeding White-throated Kingfisher? – Sabkaht Al Fasl

White-throated Kingfisher has recently been classed as a vagrant to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia (Bundy et al 1989) with two records one at Dhahran 4-5 October 1984 and one overwintering at the Dhahran Hills percolation pond early November 1985 until March 1986. Since then there have two records at Sabkhat Al Fasl, one in November 2006 and one 21 August, 4 September & 18 September 2009. At Sabkhat Al Fasl the species was seen at each visit in August 2006 with probably 10-15 birds present with breeding thought likely to be confirmed at the site in due course (Jennings 2010). One was in Dhahran in December 2008 with other records from Dhahran Hills Park. After this date records the species become rare in the Eastern Province but since 2012 birds have again been seen regularly mainly in the Jubail to Dhahran areas. Sabkhat Al Fasl has had quite a few records recently with three birds wintering at the site in winter 2014-2015 but finding a bird in the summer is much more unusual. A single bird was found on 14 August 2015 along the reed fringed edge of the site but it did not stay long before flying off calling. Phil Roberts and I found another summer bird on 4 August 2017 in almost the same place as the previous record and where we had seen birds in the winter of 2016-2017. The bird we saw looked like a juvenile as the plumage was very dull and the bill a dull reddish not the bright red seen on adults. This suggests birds may have bred at the site this year, which would be a first for the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
White-throated Kingfisher