26 August 2022

Grey-headed Kingfisher with young – Wadi Tarj

Whilst birding Wadi Tarj in the Asir mountains recently we found at least three pairs of Grey-headed Kingfisher. One pair was feeding two freshly fledged young that looked like they had just left the nest as their flight was very poor and short distance (top three photos). The young were being fed by both adults that were bring food, mainly beetles to the youngsters. We found a number of holes in the sand backs that could have been Kingfisher nests but did not examine them too closely in case of disturbance. Grey-headed Kingfisher of the subspecies H. l. semicaerulea, breeds only in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Yemen and western Oman and appears to winter in Somalia. In Saudi Arabia it has a status as an uncommon breeding migrant with around 1,500 migrating across the Red Sea from Africa to breed in the southwest Saudi Arabia, making it the most common kingfisher in the Kingdom. It mainly occurs below 2,300 m in the foothills and highlands in thick acacia scrub, woodland edge, bushy areas around cultivated fields, often near watercourses and marshy areas. It feeds mainly on insects, especially beetles, grasshoppers and locusts where it hunts by waiting on a perch before dropping suddenly onto prey below.