17 February 2022

Sandwich Terns – Abu Ali Island

Whilst birding Abu Ali Island in February we found a single Sandwich Tern sitting on some metal poles sticking out from the sea close to the shore. It was in among 50 plus Lesser Crested Terns and two Swift Terns. We managed to take a few distant photos of the bird before leaving it in peace. On the way off the island we came across a distant flock of several hundred birds most of which were Slender-billed Gulls but also amongst them were a single adult Armenian Gull and two adult summer Great Black-headed Gulls. A large flock of tern made up mainly of Caspian and Lesser Crested were also present and after close inspection through the ‘scope’ we found up to ten Sandwich Tern with tem also. Sandwich Tern is a scarce and irregular visitor to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia with this being only my third sighting of the species. They occur mainly from November to February on the coast but old records from November record birds commonly seen offshore. Abu Ali Island has restricted access through a guard post where you have to show proof of access entitlement before being allowed onto the island.