20 Oct 2019

Grey-headed Swamphen - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I saw a large number of Grey-headed Swamphen, including one with a reasonably well grown young. Although I have seen young birds many times I have never had a close encounter until now. The adult and juvenile were on a sand bank but the juvenile slowly moved off into the water and cover of some reeds. The Grey-headed Swamphen is a common resident breeder at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail and has recently (August 2011) expanded its breeding range to Khafrah Marsh a wetland site 30 kilometres south-west of Sabkhat where six adults and a young bird were found. Birds have also been seen in Ash Shargiyah, Lake Al Asfar in Al Hassa and Dammam indicating they are extending their range in the Eastern Province. The species favoured habitat is large Phragmites australisreed-beds with associated water which is available at all the sites the species has been seen at in Saudi Arabia. The range expansion appears to be quite quick as the first record for Saudi Arabia was on 8th August 2003 at Sabkhat Al Fasl core area 2 with breeding confirmed in 2007 and numbers increasing each year since this date. It appears that the rapid population increase observed at Sabkhat al Fasl over the past five years has created pressures on territories and prompted some birds to move to alternative suitable habitats within the Eastern Province and thereby expand its range.
Grey-headed Swamphen

Grey-headed Swamphen

Grey-headed Swamphen

Grey-headed Swamphen

Grey-headed Swamphen - juvenile

Grey-headed Swamphen - juvenile

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