24 February 2023

Steppe Gulls – Dhahran Hills

At first light and for the next hour, it has been possible to see a few Steppe Gulls flying over the large Waste Water Lake in Dhahran. These birds do not stop very often and mainly just fly over going to and from their roosting area. Although Steppe Gull is common, it is not often possible to get close views, as they spend time out on the islands in Half Moon Bay. Abqaiq rubbish dump is a good place to see them but has become very difficult to access in recent years. Steppe Gull barabensis, is a taxon making up approximately 80-90% of the large white-headed gulls in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. These birds leave their steppe breeding grounds in August, and are thought to migrate along the coast of the Caspian Sea, then cross northwest Iran, through the Tigris valley and on to the Arabian Gulf. They start appearing in the Jubail, Dhahran and Uqair areas from mid-August and build in number through the winter. It is a common passage migrant and very common winter visitor from mid-August to April.