13 January 2023

Flock of Hypocolius - Haradh

Recently I saw a flock of approximately 100 Hypocolius in Haradh in the same area where they have been present the last three years. They are quite a difficult species to see, as they occur in regions that are not so easy to access like Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and are a short-distance migrant. Small numbers remain in western Iran throughout the year, but the majority migrate south and east to their main wintering areas in southern Iran, Pakistan, western India, west and central Saudi Arabia, and Arabian Gulf States (notably Bahrain). Departure from the breeding areas mainly occurs in August with birds arriving back in April. In Saudi Arabia as a whole, they are an uncommon, but may be a locally common, winter visitor to Eastern and Central Arabia, Northern Hejaz, Hejaz and Northern Red Sea. Flocks of over 100 birds have been recorded in Riyadh each winter and the last couple of winter flocks of several hundred birds have been seen in Uqair and Haradh. The birds we saw in Haradh at the end of December were feeding in an area of vegetation next to large pivot irrigation fields and returning to some large acacia bushes at the side of a track. The birds were, as always, quite noisy calling to each other but never settle long enough for good photos.