20 June 2023

Summer Purple Heron – Dhahran

Whilst birding Dhahran Waste Water Treatment Lake this week I saw a nice breeding plumaged adult Purple Heron. It was located at first light in the reeds at the side of the lake but as the sun was rising flew down the lake and landed in a dead waterside tree. This species is not common in summer at the site but has been common during the winter and spring. In the Eastern Province the Purple Heron is a locally common passage migrant and winter visitor seen from August through April with the majority in the coastal zone and close to the littoral. Occurrences away from the coast occur only regularly during August to October suggesting a southerly passage over the desert. Birds of the Riyadh Region (Stagg 1994) mentions the species is a passage migrant and winter visitor but has been recorded in all months of the year. Some birds transit through the region, others remain forming a winter population that peaks in late November/early December and remains relatively static thereafter until the spring movement commences in March. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia it is a common migrant and winter visitor to all coasts and coastal wetlands and occurs inland in areas such as Riyadh and Tabuk. This species appears to have started to colonize the Eastern Province with birds regularly seen in the summer months now, including once at Jubail with a juvenile nearby. It presumably breeds somewhere nearby but I have not currently located where.