21 February 2022

Eurasian Spoonbills – Abu Ali Island

Whilst I was birding the large lake at the end of Abu Ali Island we found four Eurasian Spoonbills, three adults and an immature bird. The birds were quite timid and flew after a couple of minutes. The status of Eurasian Spoonbill has changed over the years in the Eastern Province, with it being regarded as a rare and irregular visitor usually involving immature birds until the end of the 1980’s. Today it is an uncommon visitor in all months to the province. In Central Saudi Arabia the status of the species has also changed with the List of Birds of Saudi Arabia (Jennings 1981) saying there were no inland records for the country. By the mid 1980’s the Birds of the Riyadh Region (Stagg 1994) stated that prior to 1987 the Spoonbill was a rare autumn visitor. Since then, it made frequent appearances along the Riyadh watercourse and became a spasmodic spring and autumn passage migrant and a regular winter visitor in growing numbers. In the late 1990’s the species was not recorded at all by the local birders and is still regarded as a scarce bird in the area. The main stronghold for the species in Saudi Arabia is the Red Sea where it is a common resident breeder. Largest numbers are seen in the southwest near Jizan but birds have been recorded all along the coast to north to Yanbu. Jubail is the best location to see the species in the Eastern Province, but it is far from guaranteed here being only see on a few days per year.