15 October 2023

Juvenile Sociable Lapwing – Dhahran Cricket Field

At first light on 9 October 2023 I found the first Sociable Lapwing ever recorded on my local path of Dhahran. It was feeding on beetles on the Cricket Field but was disturbed by workers repairing the field and flew off. It returned later in the morning where Phil Roberts also saw and photographed it. The bird returned in the afternoon and came very close to the car allowing some good photographs to be taken. The bird stayed around until 11 October before departing overnight. This is a very rare species worldwide and according to the IUCN Red List; Sociable Lapwing is Critically Endangered based on severe population declines across its range. It is also listed in Column A of the action plan under the African-Eurasian Migratory Water-bird Agreement (AEWA) and in appendix 1 of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). Research in central Kazakhstan on the species’ demography has shown that current levels of productivity are not particularly low, and that low adult survival is more likely to be the cause of recent population declines. The species status in Saudi Arabia is a locally scarce passage migrant and winter visitor with historical records from north of Jeddah near the coast, north of Yanbu, near Riyadh, and from Haradh farm – Eastern province and near Taif. During the last two decades most of the sighting of the species in Saudi Arabia have been in pivot irrigated fields around Tabuk & Tayma in the north, Sabya/Jazan in the south-west, Wadi Ad Dawasir in central Saudi Arabia (southwest of Riyadh) and Haradh farms in the east. Recent satellite tracking of Sociable Lapwings from their breeding grounds in central Kazakhstan has suggested that Saudi Arabia is an important stop-over and wintering area with Tabuk and Haradh in the Easter Province the main locations along with possibly Wadi Ad Dewasir. The species has a status as a scarce passage migrant & winter visitor to Saudi Arabia. I see Sociable Lapwing in most years but put in effort to see them by visiting suitable fields at the correct time of year. Most birds like large, ploughed pivot fields but this on was enjoying the lush wet grass of a cricket field.