30 November 2022

Very late Ortolan Bunting – Deffi Park

Whilst birding Deffi Park in Jubail on 26 November, we located a single small bunting sitting in a tree some way from the ground. This was very unusual as it is a very late in the year for this species. On close inspection the bird seemed to be an Ortolan Bunting but we checked the features to ensure we were not overlooking a much rarer bunting like Grey-necked Bunting. We could not, however, make the bird fit any other species than Ortolan Bunting. This species in an uncommon passage migrant throughout Saudi Arabia but is seen in good numbers in some years particularly on the Red Sea coast. Most birds pass from March until mid-May and again from late August to early October and can often be seen in small groups rather than singly. Birds are equally as likely to be seen feeding on the ground, as they are perched in trees, where they normally occur if frightened from their feeding area. We took a number of photos of the bird and left it in peace still sitting in the same tree. Other birds of note seen in the park included two Crested Honey Buzzard, a Common Chiffchaff, Masked Shrike and a White-throated Kingfisher.