10 July 2021

Breeding Pied Avocet – Jubail area

Whilst birding the Jubail area in mid-June we saw two pairs of adult Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta behaving as if they had young nearby. A quick look failed to locate the young birds and as we did not want to disturb them if they were breeding, we only stayed a few minutes. The next week the birds again were acting in a way to suggest they had young, but again we failed to see any. At then end of the month we located two separate young birds with the adults and managed to get a few photos. It is very unusual to see breeding Pied Avocet in Saudi Arabia and the species is mainly an uncommon migrant and winter visitor to all coasts that is locally common along the southern Red Sea coast and scarce inland. Very few birds have been proven to breed but in Riyadh in 1986 10 birds over-summered and two pairs nested in June and produced young. In 1987 a pair again bred but the nest was preyed upon by Brown-necked Ravens Corvus ruficollis. In the Eastern Province two pairs attempted to breed at Abqaiq 1976 & 1982 and three pairs in 1983 although it is generally a rather scarce visitor from August to March. Records have occurred throughout the year in the Jubail area but records in summer are much less common. A number of breeding pairs (possible as many as twelve) were found in 2020 at the same location as this year’s breeders.