08 December 2023

Huge flock of Black-winged Pratincole – Jizan Sewage Works

On 25 November we went to the Jizan Sewage Works area mid-afternoon, to look for waders and Flamingos. There were no Lesser Flamingos, which have not been seen since early spring, but we did see a flock of about 150 Black-winged Pratincoles. The birds were in a single large group and were easily disturbed. When they took flight, I got some photos of the group but it was against the sun and the photos are terrible. I could not see any rufous on the underwing in flight, even when they came into land and this led me to believe they could be Black-winged Pratincoles. I have only seen a single Black-winged Pratincole before and the species is a rare passage migrant in the Kingdom so this record is unprecedented. Phil and I looked at our photos on the computer and they again looked like Black-winged Pratincoles. We went back the following day to see if we could get better views/photos but there were many fewer birds with about fifteen seen. We went around the other side of the wet area they were near but before we could get close to the birds the coastguard said it was a prohibited area and we had to leave. Again, in flight we could not see anything remotely looking like rufous on the underwing. On return home I sent to a very experienced birdwatcher who also thought they were Black-winged Pratincoles. The date is very late for either Pratincole to be on migration, but Black-winged Pratincoles do migrate later than Collared Pratincole, so there is a chance they are late migrating birds. It would be great if someone could go back and loom for them again to see if they are wintering or on passage.