07 September 2022

Hamerkop – Bisha

Whilst birding the Bisha area in the late afternoon in July we came across a large gathering of Hamerkop. Birds were originally seen perched on a palm tree stump and then others on overhead wires, where we counted a minimum of 23 birds, easily the largest number I have seen together in Saudi Arabia. They seemed to be gathering to roost, but a couple of birds were seen feeding on small fish on a roadside pool, allowing close photographs to be taken. The Hamerkop occurs mainly in Africa south of the Sahara & Madagascar but also occurs in south-west Arabia from the lowlands to the top of Mount Soudah at almost 3000 metres above sea level. In Saudi Arabia they occur in wetland habitats including irrigated land, lakes and wadies and are of the sub-species Scopus unbretta umbretta. It is a locally common breeding resident in Saudi Arabia at all permanent watercourses of the Tihamah, Asir and Hejaz, in the south-west, with one record as far north as Rabigh.