25 May 2022

Corncrakes - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area 20 May Phil Roberts located a Corncrake out in a relatively open area of the site and pointed it out to me. The bird was busy feeding on lots of small insects, picking them off the ground and nearby plants. It would often stretch its neck up like a Giraffe and pick insects from the top of plants. It was so busy feeding that it was completely oblivious to our presence allowing some close-up views and photos. These are by far the best views I have ever had of a Corncrake, and it was sometimes so close the camera could not focus on it. We watched the bird for over thirty minutes before leaving it in peace to continue searching for food. The Corncrake is a migratory species breeding from western Europe to western Siberia and winters in south, southwest and south-eastern Africa. It is a scarce passage migrant throughout Saudi Arabia, with records from both the spring (mainly May) and the autumn (mainly September) although it is more common in the north and west of the Kingdom. I see the species occasionally in the Eastern Province, but it is always a joy to find one and even more so when it puts on a show like the one photographed below. There is one exceptional record from the Eastern Province of about 30 birds together in a pivot irrigation field in Haradh in September. We saw two more birds during the day although these were more typical views, one running across a path and into thick vegetation and one in flight where they look quite heavy and ungainly with their legs dangling down but show the rufous in the wings nicely.