22 Apr 2019

Last of the wintering Bluethroats - Haradh

Whilst birding the Haradh area recently we saw good numbers Bluethroats. There were calling from an area of long grass in a partly cut pivot field and consisted mainly of Red-spotted Bluethroats but two White-spotted birds were also seen. There were double figures seen which is a good number of a non-wetland area and were probably the last wintering birds being joined by migrants on their way to their breeding grounds. They are really beautiful birds but not so easy to get good photos of as they seldom allow close approach. Other birds seen in the fields nearby were Namaqua Dove and Water Pipit.
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Red-spotted Bluethroat
Water Pipit
Water Pipit
Namaqua Dove
Namaqua Dove

20 Apr 2019

Winter Birds - Tabuk

Whilst birding the Tabuk area recently I saw a few good winter species such as Montagues Harrier. It was the commonest harrier although both Pallid and Marsh Harrier were also seen. Several Long-legged Buzzard were also around the large fields. Three Cream-coloured Coursers were seen along the edge of a large pivot irrigation field but trying to obtain good photos proved extremely difficult. Other birds seen commonly were Crested Lark and Eurasian Hoopoe.
Cream Coloured Courser
Cream-coloured Courser
Crested Lark
Crested Lark 
Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Hoopoe
Eurasian Hoopoe
Long-legged Buzzard
Long-legged Buzzard
Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier

18 Apr 2019

Flocks of Spanish Sparrows - Haradh

Whilst birding the Haradh area I came across several large flocks of Spanish Sparrows. This is a common resident of northern and western parts of the Kingdom with numbers increasing in the winter months. They are not so common in the area where I live in the east of the Kingdom but numbers are increasing. The Haradh area is probably the best place to see them in the Eastern Province with the birds shown here flocking in their hundreds in newly cut pivot irrigation fields, particularly liking the longer grown to the side of the main irrigation equipment.
Spanish Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

16 Apr 2019

Western Siberian Stonechat - Tabuk

Whilst birding the Tabuk area I came across a few Western Siberian Stonechat. The birds were looked at closely and there did not appear to be any white extending down the tail feathers. The rump was also unstreaked. They were almost always seen in tall scrub at the side of large pivot irrigation fields. The species in an uncommon wintering species throughout the north and east of the Kingdom with numbers varying each year. Sometimes they are seen regularly but in other years only a handful are recorded.
Western Siberian Stonechat

Western Siberian Stonechat

Western Siberian Stonechat

14 Apr 2019

Resident species – Talea Valley

Whilst birding the Talea valley near Abha in the southwest mountains I took the below photos of a few resident species. Arabian Serin is a common species in the Acacia scrub in the valley bottom with Cinnamon-breasted Bunting being common in summer but absent in mid-winter, where it presumably moves to lower elevations where the temperature will; be milder. Genuine Rock Dove is not so easy to see with feral pigeon being a cause of lack of good birds. The bird shown here looks good for a genuine bird and was in good habitat. Long-legged Buzzard in the southwest appear to be aminly dark morph birds whereas those seen in the Eastern Province where I live are the pale morph ones. Other birds seen were House Sparrow, which are a different subspecies to those I see in the east of the Kingdom and Streaked Scrub Warbler.
Arabian Serin
Arabian Serin
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting 
House Sparrow
House Sparrow
Long-legged Buzzard
Long-legged Buzzard
Rock Dove
Rock Dove 
Streaked Scrub Warbler
Streaked Scrub Warbler

12 Apr 2019

Ringed Baltic Gull – Jizan Corniche

Whilst Phil Roberts was birding the Jizan are he found and photographed a ringed Baltic Gull December 14, 2018. The Baltic Gull that also appeared to have something attached to its right leg with a wire tie. The ring was a darvic ring, black with white KX11. Phil sent the details off and received the following reply. The gull was ringed on Sennaya Luda Island (Russia, Arkhangelsk District, Solovetskiy archipelago) 64°59´44 N 35°39´44 E on August 21, 2014. KX11 plastic black ring, NS000330 metal ring + GLS logger. The attachment Phil noted was for the GLS logger but unfortunately this bird seems to have lost the logger.
Phil kindly allowed me to use his photo and details of the recovery on my website with the photo reproduced below.
Baltic Gull

10 Apr 2019

Inversed Fiddler Crab – Al Qahma

Phil Roberts went looking for Collared Kingfisher whilst in the Jizan area recently and although he arrived before sunrise he was unsuccessful, but did find Inversed Fiddler Crab Uca inversa lnversa. Phil has kindly allowed me to use his photo on my website which is shown below. The littoral environments of the Red Sea are characterised by wide temperature fluctuations. Crabs are conspicuous members of mangrove ecosystems in Saudi Arabia which by behavioural and physiological means, are able to survive extreme environmental conditions. One is the Inversed Fiddler crab that ooccupy burrows where they can burrow to about 50 cm depth. They eat detritus sorted from sand and can survive in sediments with low organic matter and high salinity. Their claw is yellow-orange; broad front; mobile claw tip is forked and their carapace is about 2.5 cm wide. They occur from the Red Sea to Natal and Madagascar.
Inversed Fiddler Crab

8 Apr 2019

African Pipit - Tanoumah

Whilst birding Tanoumah in the southwestern mountains I found an African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus eximiuscarry food for it young. African Pipit is a little known bird in Saudi Arabia where the subspecies is endemic to the southwest part of Saudi Arabia and nearby Yemen. There are three specimens from Saudi Arabia at the Natural History Museum, Tring, collected by Philby in 1936 and a handful of field records only.Birds have been recorded regularly since 2014, in very small numbers, but all in a small area between Abha and An Namas. They could be present elsewhere, but no records have come from outside this area. Prior to 2018 there had not been any records since the 1990.
African Pipit

African Pipit

African Pipit

African Pipit

6 Apr 2019

White-edged Rockbrown – Wadi Grosbeak

White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis a large butterfly with its prominent white borders. The species is found from the Western Himalayas to Eastern Turkey and in Oman. The normal habitat is rough hillsides with shrubs and grass. Here the butterflies spend much of their time sitting on rocks or on the bare ground; when disturbed they fly off at great speed but settle again quite soon. During the hottest hours of the day they seek out the shade of caves or overhanging rocks and several specimens may then congregate. 
White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis

White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis

White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis

White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis

White-edged Rockbrown Hipparchia parisatisis

4 Apr 2019

Eurasian Hoopoe on migration – Jubail area

Passage of Eurasian Hoopoe has been evident the last few weeks with birds turning up in many areas of the Eastern Province. The species is a widespread common migrant and scarce resident breeder. Passage birds pass from February to mid-Aril and September to October. Birds of the Riyadh Region (Stagg 1994) states it is a common passage migrant and localised breeding resident, passing from early February to late March with stragglers continuing into April. The return passage commences in early August and continues to late October with a peak in September. Since 1987 an increasing number of birds have become resident the year round in farmland areas and the same is true for the Eastern Province. Good numbers are even seen in the Empty Quarter where I saw ten on 4 October 2012 near Shaybah. Breeding birds are most often seen in the southwest in the Asir and Hejaz but birds also breed in Dhahran in the Eastern Province. The photos below were taken in the desert near Jubail and the bottom one at Khafra Marsh.
Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Hoopoe


2 Apr 2019

Pivot Irrigation Fields – Haradh

I have travelled over to the Red Sea coast a couple of times recently with work and was amazed at how green the desert was over there. This winter saw plenty of heavy rain and it was obviously to the liking of the plants that were growing everywhere. On the flight over we flew over Haradh which is the headquarters of the NADEC Dairy Company’s operations and to support these they have created large areas of pivot irrigation fields, growing cattle fodder, which are a magnet for wintering birds. I managed to take a few photos of the pivot fields near where we have seen Sociable Lapwings wintering in the last four years. These fields are massive as can be seen by the buildings near to them.
Pivot Irrigation Fields

Pivot Irrigation Fields

Clouds over desert