13 March 2024

Great Spotted Cuckoo – Al Uqair

Whilst birding Al Uqair 8 March Phil Roberts saw an unusual bird flying low over the scrubby desert area. It quickly became apparent that the bird in question was an adult Great Spotted Cuckoo a species nother of us had previously seen in Saudi Arabia. This species is a scarce passage migrant, particularly in early spring (February and March) most often in western regions, from the Tihamah north to Tabuk. It has parasitized nests of House Crow in the Gulf of Aqaba at the head of the Red Sea very close to Saudi Arabia’s border, so breeding could occur in the northwest and has been suspected (but has not been confirmed) in the ‘Asir foothills. There are only three previous records from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia that I know of, one Abqaiq, 17 February 1976, One Haradh, 1-3 March 1981 and one Abqaiq 11 March 1983.