18 Jul 2019

Little Terns - Jubail

As mentioned previously Little Terns are seen during the summer months along the eastern province coast of the Arabian Gulf, where they are a common breeding visitor. They are normally seen at some distance either flying around or resting on mudflats. Below are a few photos of birds in flight with one seen close on the ground as the last photo. It has been a good year for photographing Little Tern this year and I am pleased with a few photos I have taken of the species in 2019. 
Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Tern

16 Jul 2019

Typical Summer Birds - Jubail

Summer birding in the Eastern Province is relatively quiet but good birds can be seen with perseverance. Terns are common summer visitors to mainly breed on the offshore islands in the Gulf with Caspian Tern, White-cheeked tern and Little Tern being commonly seen. Common breeding waders include Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover with Clamorous Reed Warbler also a common resident breeder. Egyptian Nightjar is a possible but unconfirmed breeder and a regular summer visitor to Jubail in recent years. 
Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Black-winged Stilt
Caspian Reed Warbler
Clamorous Reed Warbler
White-cheeked Tern
White-cheeked Tern
Caspian Tern
Caspian Tern
Little Tern
Little Tern
Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar

14 Jul 2019

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjars - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I came across good numbers of Egyptian Nightjars. I saw a number of birds that I assumed were juveniles due to their fresh plumage, but as I have not, knowingly, seen this age before sent some to Oscar Campbell in UAE as I knew he has seen some in recent years. Oscar kindly replied noting “you can be pretty confident these are all juveniles. The plumage is very fresh and smoothly soft, and they pretty much all have nice, neat white fringed coverts forming neat lines across the wing. Adults are really worn and grubby now and often look much darker; they never have the neat pale fringes, but may show erratic, dull buffy-cream covert spots”. We have no proof of breeding in KSA and as these birds are old enough to fly still have no conclusive evidence that they do breed in Kingdom but it looks very likely. We have assumed this to be the case for a few years but this is the first year juveniles have been conclusively seen. If they do breed in the Kingdom then the site where I see them may not be the breeding location and is more likely just used as a post breeding gathering location, as they are rarely seen, and then normally singly, in spring. These birds should now stay here until mid-September if other years are anything to go by. Numbers are increasing each year with at least 19 birds seen this year including at least six juveniles. There are possibly more as it is difficult to make sure you are not seeing, and counting, the same birds more than once.
Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar

Juvenile Egyptian Nightjar


12 Jul 2019

Fishing Little Terns - Jubail

During the summer months along the eastern province coast of the Arabian Gulf, Little Terns are a common breeding visitor. They are normally seen at some distance either flying around or resting on mudflats. Occasionally they find good feeding areas closer to the shore and then give good views. Trying to photograph them is tricky as they fly fast and trying to get shots of birds fishing even more difficult as their dives are extremely fast.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to get shots of birds entering the water with limited success, as handling a large 600mm lens for prolonged periods trying to photograph the terns is not an easy job with the below shots the best I could manage. 
Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

Fishing Little Tern

10 Jul 2019

Possible breeding Spur-winged Lapwing - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area in late June 2019 I saw four Spur-winged Lapwings in two different sites. The birds were very noisy calling and flying around when I got too close. There have been at least two birds around throughout the year and as last year suspected breeding occurred. Presumably the birds are again breeding this year but no young have ever been seen. The species is still scarce in the Eastern Province although good numbers have been seen recently in the Haradh area including possible breeding. The species was regarded as a vagrant to the Eastern Province when I arrived eight years ago but is now a scarce visitor that can be seen at any time of year indicating birds may now be resident in small numbers in areas away from Haradh where it appears they are now definitely resident. 
Spur-winged Lapwing

8 Jul 2019

Possible breeding Yellow Wagtail - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area in late June 2019 I flushed a yellow wagtail from an area of sabkha with tamarisk trees. The bird was very secretive and although flushed into the top of a tamarisk kept well hidden before dropping onto the ground and running off quickly. As I suspected the bird may be breeding I left the area quickly. Breeding has only occasionally occurred in Saudi Arabia with records from Al khaj in central Saudi Arabia with suspected occurrences in the Eastern Province. I have seen possible breeding birds in the last two years in the same area so assume birds are breeding here each year now, but positive proof has not been found. 
Yellow Wagtail

6 Jul 2019

White-cheeked Tern - Jubail

White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressais a common breeding summer visitor to the Gulf and Red Sea coast north to Jeddah. Birds start occurring in April and by June there are very large numbers as this is the start of their breeding season. White-cheeked Tern juveniles occur from late July and August and some remaining until October. Winter records are rare in the Eastern Province, although they have been seen occasionally. Birds breed offshore Jubail on small islands and use wetland areas of Jubail as feeding areas. It is not easy to get photos with light showing in the eyes as their plumage is grey, black and white, but birds do come close along the open water areas so close up shots are possible. In June many birds also form groups sitting on sandbanks and feed on some water outflows so close up photography becomes easier. 
White-cheeked Tern

White-cheeked Tern

White-cheeked Tern

4 Jul 2019

Feeding Squacco Herons - Jubail

Whilst birding Jubail I came across a few fishing adult summer plumaged Squacco Herons. They are extremely fast when striking for fish so the below photos are my best efforts at action shots. Adult summer plumage birds are being seen much more commonly in recent years suggesting birds are breeding in the area. I have no definitive evidence of this but the fact birds are seen in breeding plumage in good numbers throughout the year and many juveniles are seen in the autumn suggest breeding is occurring. The species is very common here on spring and autumn migration as well as in the winter but has only been recorded breeding occasionally in the Eastern province previously although they breed commonly in the west of the Kingdom.
Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron