04 August 2022

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse – Phil’s Fields near Sabya

Whilst birding Phil’s Fields near Sabya in the late afternoon a female Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse flew into one dry pivot field and settled relatively close to the car enabling the below photos to be taken. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse are a common and widespread breeding resident on the Tihamah and southern Red Sea coastlands, less common in the Northern Hejaz north to Rabigh with all records below 1000 metres. The species is, however, uncommon in Central Saudi Arabia and rare in the Eastern Province. They are a relatively small species, with elongated central tail feathers, dark underwing and white trailing edge to the primaries, blackish belly and unmarked head. The male has a narrow pectoral band and chestnut brown belly darkening towards rear, whereas the female is more mottled above and shows a tricoloured ventral pattern. Races differ mainly in tone of upperpart coloration with the Arabian population P. e. erlangeri sandy coloured. They typically inhabit bare semi-desert, often with scattered thorny scrubs or trees including Acacia. They feed during the cooler hours of morning and afternoon and drink 2–3 hours after sunrise, while in very hot weather some individuals drink again before sunset.