15 January 2024

Several hundred Hypocolius – Al Uqair

I went to Al Uqair in mid-January in the hope of see the Hypocolius that are wintering in the area. In November I saw over a hundred birds but in late December only seven. I was trying to see if the birds had departed or were still present and was surprised to see several hundred birds, possibly as many as 300. The birds were few and far between in the very early morning but as the sun rose they started flying in from other areas. They appeared to be mainly coming to drink from a small area of pools by the sea, where presumably there is some fresh water. Birds would gather in the trees near the waters edge and then fly down to drink briefly before flying off. As the sun was out it gave good opportunities to photograph the birds both at rest as well as drinking. The birds were continually calling their soft calls whilst in the trees but as it was windy it was difficult to tell where they were calling from. Hypocolius have been recorded at this location for the last three winters with another large flock of about 100 birds at Haradh over the same period. Birds have also been seen in good numbers near Buraydah this winter.