29 Apr 2021

Some birds starting to breed – Jubail

Whilst birding Jubail recently I saw quite a few signs of breeding behaviour. Some of the water birds such as Common Moorhen and Grey-headed Swamphen have young with other such as Little Tern showing courtship behaviour as shown in the below photos. Little Ringed Plovers are paired up for breeding and a Spur-winged Lapwing that has been about for a few weeks may have a mate sitting on eggs? A Black-necked Grebe was found in full breeding plumage but no mate was about and these birds do not breed in the kingdom. Many herons are still around in fine breeding plumage including Squacco Herons, Little Egrets and BBlack-cronwed Night Herons but proving breeding is difficult – with the first confirmed breeding of Squacco Heron and Little Egret last year and no confirmed records of the Black-crowned Night Herons.

Wood Sandpiper

Red-throated Pipit

Little Tern

Little Tern

Little Ringed Plover

Black-necked Grebe

Black-necked Grebe

27 Apr 2021

Bath White – Wadi Thee Ghazal

Whilst birding Bilasmer I found a Bath White Pontia daplidice. This is a small butterfly of the family Pieridae, the yellows and whites, which occurs in the Palearctic region. It is a small white butterfly with a wingspan of 45 to 50 mm. The underside of the hindwing has a pattern of greenish blotches, which is characteristic of the Bath whites and easily identifies it from other pierids. Sexes can be differentiated by markings on the forewing. The male is differentiated from the female by the markings on the upperside of the forewing. The apex of the forewing is black with white spots and lines. There is a black spot at the end of the cell. In the case of the female, there is an additional discal spot in 1b. The female also has an obscure row of terminal and marginal spots on the upper hindwing. They have a wingspan of 52–56 mm and occur commonly in central and southern Europe, Asia Minor, Persia and Afghanistan, migrating northwards in the summer. It is usually found on dry slopes and rough ground with little vegetation.The host plants of the larvae are in the family Brassicaceae and vary according to locality. They include tower mustard (Arabis glabra) and sea rocket (Cakile maritima). The subspecies found in Saudi Arabia is Pontia daplidice aethiops which occurs in the highlands of Ethiopia, south-western Arabia, Near East and Afghanistan.



 

25 Apr 2021

Migrants increasing in numbers – Jubail

Whilst birding Jubail recently there was good signs of increased migration. Migration this year has been a bit slow in the early period but now many migrants are passing such as Spotted Crake, Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Great Reed Warbler, Yellow Wagtails, Red-throated Pipits, Tree Pipits, European Bee-eaters and both Turkestan and Daurian Shrikes. Good numbers of both White-winged and Whiskered Terns in almost full summer plumage were seen as well and the number of Little Terns are slowly increasing as summer breeding season arrives. The last Greater Spotted Eagle and Western Marsh Harrier remain, and a stunning White-throated Kingfisher was a nice surprise and may now be breeding in the area, although not 100% confirmed.

Yellow Wagtail (beama)

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

Red-throated Pipit

Turkestan Shrike

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern


23 Apr 2021

Hamadryas Baboons Raydah Escarpment - Abha

Whilst birding the Raydah Escarpment near Abha in southwest Saudi Arabia I saw a number of groups of Hamadryas Baboon Papio hamadryasa species that is common in the Abha / Tanoumah area of the Asir Mountains with large groups seen all along the escarpments. It is the northernmost of all the baboons and is distinguished from other baboons by the male’s long, silver-grey shoulder cape (mane and mantle), and the pink or red rather than black face and rump. Males may have a body measurement of up to 80 cm and weigh 20–30 kg. They occur from north-eastern Africa, mainly in Ethiopia, but also eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia as well as the Arabian Peninsula, in Saudi Arabia and Yemen where it is the only native non-human primate. In Saudi Arabia they inhabit arid sub-desert, steppe, hilly areas, escarpments at elevations of up to 3,000 metres requiring cliffs for sleeping and finding water. They are primarily terrestrial but will sleep in trees or on cliffs at night. Each adult male controls a small group of females (a harem) and their young and remains bonded with the same females over several years, aggressively ‘herding’ any that wander, and retaining exclusive mating rights over the group.






21 Apr 2021

Some interesting birds – Jubail

Whilst birding Jubail recently I came across seven Black-crowned Night Heron, including adults and a juvenile bird. These birds could be breeding at the wetlands of Jubail but this has not be confirmed yet one hundred percent. Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins were still around for the third weekend as where good numbers of Tree and Red-throated Pipits. Tern numbers are increasing with Little Tern, four summer plumaged Whiskered Terns and three White-winged Terns seen amongst the large numbers of Caspian Terns. Good numbers of both Turkestan and Daurian Shrikes were also seen with three Spotted Crakes hiding themselves in the reed fringes. A single late Greater Spotted Eagle and ten Western Marsh Harriers are still present from the winter but will be departing shortly for their breeding grounds. Wader numbers remain fairly low although good numbers of Wood Sandpipers are passing at present.

Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike

Daurian Shrike

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Little Egret

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron


19 Apr 2021

Desert Locust – Billasmer

Whilst birding an area of small fields near Billasimer I saw a Desert Locust Schistocerca gregariasituation. The Desert Locust can form plagues and threaten agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, something it has done for centuries. The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of it to form swarms and to fly rapidly across great distances. There has been some very large swarms this year including huge numbers across virtually the entire Kingdom in the early part of 2020.






17 Apr 2021

Female Crested Honey Buzzard in Deffi Park – Jubail

Whilst birding Deffi Park Phil Roberts and I came across a female Crested Honey Buzzard perched in the trees and lampposts of the park  This bird has spent the entire winter from September 2020 until now but will almost certainly depart in the next few days and hopefully return next winter as they have been using this park for at least four consecutive winters. Crested Honey Buzzard in Saudi Arabia is a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor that also occurs rarely in summer. Most records are from the Eastern province in winter and spring with additional records in the west of the country in autumn, winter and spring. Deffi Park is a landscaped park in Jubail with a large number of mature trees which the Crested Honey Buzzards like perching in. 






15 Apr 2021

Faraid Edhabah – Najran

Of particular importance is the recently proven continuation of rock art production and reverence of specific motifs in the precinct. Animal depictions include camels, cattle, deer, ostrich, gazelle, lion, horses and dogs. In addition the country’s south rock art offers many female figures, which are rare in northern part of Saudi Arabia. The female figures are shown normally with their arms upraised, male depictions are shown holding spears and shields instead. For the first time we can see hunting scenes with spears and arrows piercing animal bodies, which in the northern part of the country are absent. The Jabal al Kaukab and Jebel al Qara area are the richest rock art sites in the Najran area. In total the Najran area offers over 6,400 human and animal depictions including over 1,800 camels and 1,300 human representations. Fighting over scarce resources is an important ancient way of survival, but surprisingly these scenes are rare in Saudi rock art. These depictions have only been found in the Bir Hima area showing men fighting each other. The females in Bir Hima at two meters are slightly taller than life size. They feature no faces or breasts, but show pronounced hips and thighs. Their hair is hanging to the waist and often braided again with ringlets or metal tips. Later during the Bronze Age females are depicted next to horse riding men and battle scenes. Throughout the Arabian Peninsula female figures are easily recognisable, because they are always shown with their arms raised. The depiction of body armour seems to occur in more recent examples of rock art, especially in Bir Hima where human and horse armours were seemingly depicted. 













13 Apr 2021

Some good migrants - Jubail

Whilst birdwatching the Jubail area in early April, we found a number of good migrants for the area. Several wintering birds were seen including juvenile Eastern Imperial Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle, which normally depart the end of March and early April. Great Cormorant is a species that is a wintering bird but numbers now say throughout the year. This species was rare in Jubail but is now commonly seen. An adult Black-crowned Night Heron was a good bird although they are now being seen each year with the chance they breed in the wetlands now a distinct possibility. Waders were about in good numbers with Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Kentish Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Greenshank seen in good numbers. Smaller numbers of Terek Sandpiper, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Common Snipe and Ruff were also seen. The first European Bee-eaters of the spring were seen and several Whiskered Terns joined the regular Caspian and Gull-billed Terns. Both Turkistan and Daurian Shrikes were seen with Turkestan the commoner of the two. A single singing Savi’s Warbler was also heard along with many Clamorous and European Reed Warblers. One adult and a juvenile Great-black Headed Gull remained on their normal flooded area with several Steppe Gulls with them. 

Common Snipe

European Bee-eater

Common Cormorant

Little Ringed Plover

Terek Sandpiper

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern