02 November 2022

Grey-headed Swamphen – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area recently I managed to see a Grey-headed Swamphen close on the edge of an open flooded area of Sabkha. It is unusual to be able to get close to them when fully out in the open as they either slowly walk off or run. This one allowed me to take some of the best photos I have of the species so far and was very pleased with the results. The Grey-headed Swamphen is a common resident and was first found breeding in Saudi Arabia in August 2011 at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail. It has since rapidly expanded and now breeds at Khafrah Marsh a wetland site 30 kilometres south-west of Sabkhat, Dammam, Al Hassa, Qatif and probably elsewhere. This rapid spread of birds is probably due to the rapid population increase observed at Sabkhat al Fasl over the past few years, which has created pressures on territories and prompted some birds to move to alternative suitable habitats within the Eastern Province and thereby expand its range. The Eastern Province still remains the only part of Saudi Arabia where they occur, but this is likely to change over the next few years.