08 February 2023

Tufted Duck – Dhahran Hills

Whilst birding the Dhahran Hills area recently I saw a pair of Tufted Duck. This is an unusual visitor to Dhahran where it is one of the rarer of the regularly occurring duck species. The birds were seen at first light, and at long distance, but I managed to walk around the lake and get closer without them noticing me. I eventually sat down under a large tree and the birds moved closer and closer until they swam right past me, although at the other side of the lake. This allowed me to take the below photos of the birds. The species has migratory populations breeding in Iceland and northern Europe across most of Russia and wintering 6,000 km south in northern and eastern Africa and southern Europe through India to Japan and south into the Arabian Peninsula. In Saudi Arabia it has a status as a scarce passage migrant, uncommon winter visitor and very erratic summer visitor. They are mainly seen between October and February on large, open wetland sites, particularly with pools lacking surface vegetation, such as reservoir lakes, the Riyadh River and ornamental lakes.