29 November 2021

Western White Stork - Abu Arish Municipal Dump

On 12 November Phil and I found a Western White Stork ciconia ciconia ciconia feeding on a municipal waste dump on the outskirts of Abu Arish in southwest Saudi Arabia. This is only the second time we have seen the species in Saudi Arabia, with the first a bird we found in Dhahran 17 September 2013. The Western White Stork is a scarce passage migrant and local winter visitor to all areas of Saudi Arabia mostly in autumn. They are usually seen singly or in small numbers, more often in the west of the Kingdom. Birds are thought to pass over the area unnoticed which is borne out by a paper on electrocution and collision of birds with power lines in Saudi Arabia by Mohammed Shobrak (2012) where he recorded 242 dead birds in 2008 with 150 dead birds found on 29 August 2008 alone. The power line surveyed was 100 kilometres south of Jeddah on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. The species is said to winter in the Tihamah, but records are very uncommon from here. The best location appears to be the Abu Arish Municipal Rubbish Dump, where we saw our bird, as 300 were present 9 February 1992 and 100 there December 1999, with one at nearby Malaki Dam Lake (Wadi Jizan Lake) on 7 May 2002 and 15 late October 2002.