30 December 2023

Pallid Scops Owl still alive - Al Uqair

Whilst birding the Al Uqair area 10 November 2023 Phil Roberts and I found a Pallid Scops Owl trapped in an illegal mist net. Luckily the bird was still alive although very badly entangled so Phil cut the bird free with his knife whilst I held the bird and then we released the bird in a tree. It quickly opened its eyes and jumped onto the ground and ran and hid under some low vegetation. I was confident it would survive so when we returned to the location on 29 December, we looked for the owl. Amazingly I found it in the same tree we had released it seven weeks previously. We took a lot of photos of the bird and watched it for some time before leaving it in peace. Hopefully I can find it again the next time I visit as it appears to be wintering on the area. This species is an extremely rare breeding resident and rare winter visitor to Saudi Arabia, although may be more common than thought due to its magnificent camouflage. They are regularly recorded during the winter at Yanbu’ and possibly overwinters in Saudi Arabia more widely than is realized. There is a small breeding population in southwestern Saudi Arabia where birds have been heard calling as well as in the northwest of the Kingdom.