18 December 2020

White-headed Duck – Khafra Marsh

An overcast and dull day, 4 December 2020, meant that very little was seen in Deffi Park, Jubail and the nearby wetlands that were flooded and not birdable. As a result, we went to nearby Khafra Marsh to see if we could find anything. On arrival I scanned the open area of water and found a male Tufted Duck in eclipse plumage and then noticed a slightly smaller duck behind it. It had its tail upright and so I got Phil onto it suggesting it was likely to be a White-headed Duck. Phil had his scope so we set it up and got good views for thirty minutes of an immature White-headed Duck before it drifted off and was lost. The bird could not be relocated despite active searching and the next day it was not relocated. This is the first record of the species for the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia with no current records from Kuwait, UAE or Qatar. Interestingly it breeds in nearby Iran and winters in Iraq, so is slightly surprising it has not been located here before. The bird was too distant for photographs and we did not know how to use our phones through the telescope. A couple of records shots were obtained however. Other interesting birds were saw included a male Common Pochard, two Great Crested Grebes, four Black-necked Grebes, a male Tufted Duck, Little Grebes and Eurasian Coot.

Eurasian Coot