30 July 2021

Egyptian Vultures – Farasan Islands

I visited the Farasan Islands in summer and went to the rubbish dump area. Here I found a gathering of 28 Egyptian Vultures Neophron percnopterus of various ages. This is one of the best locations in the Kingdom to see the species, especially in the summer months. The Egyptian Vulture is sharply declining throughout its range and is currently classified as globally endangered with a status in Saudi Arabia as a rare breeding resident, scarce passage migrant and scarce winter visitor. The western coast of Saudi Arabia is an important wintering site with a recent study (Shobrak et al 2020) showing an important congregation site (c 200 individuals) for the species in the southwest of Saudi Arabia around the area of Wadi Qanuna. This area has optimal habitat and food widely available with roosting sites discovered on high-voltage powerlines with a safe pylon design, located at the foothill. Birds still breed in very small numbers on the Farasan islands as can be seen from immature birds present during my visit.