02 April 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest ever flock of Black Storks – Tendada Dam

Whilst birding the southwest in mid-March Phil Roberts and I came across a flock of Black Storks Ciconia nigra. Initially I saw the birds on a wet area whilst Phil was driving the car and suggested there could be five birds. We parked the car up the road and walked back and saw about ten birds on the pool. The sun was in the wrong direction for photography so we decided to walk around to try to get on the other side of the pool. Whilst doing this it became obvious there were many more birds present than out initial estimate, including adults and immature birds. In total we counted forty birds although there may have been a few more as we could not see the entire pool at any one time and birds would not allow close approach and flew and landed on the nearby hill when then noticed our presence. This is the largest flock ever recorded in the Kingdom, as far as I am aware. Black Stork is a rare migrant and scarce winter visitor to western regions of Saudi Arabia including the Red Sea coast, especially the extreme southwest. The species, however has a very different status in the Eastern Province where it is a vagrant with its status in central Arabia and the Riyadh area a scarce visitor. Birds appear to use the Red Sea coast to migrate down and are often seen in the Jeddah area and the Jizan region where they are almost always associated with water bodies. Birds are mainly seen singly but in the west and southwest flocks of over ten birds are occasionally seen.