22 Sept 2021

Late Egyptian Nightjar – Jubail area

Whilst birding the Jubail area 17 September we came across a late Egyptian Nightjar. Most Egyptian Nightjars depart the Jubail area in early September although the latest sighting was 23 September 2015, so this was a good record. Most of the hirundines from last week had passed through with only a handful of Barn Swallows and a few more Sand Martins. Good numbers of shrikes were present, mainly Red-backed and Turkestan with a single Daurian. Wheatear numbers had increased with good numbers of Pied Wheatear, one Northern and a single Isabelline. Spotted Flycatchers & Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are still present and waders were increasing in numbers with the best waders seen being Broad-billed Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper. Overt two hundred Caspian Terns and a similar number of Grey Herons were both large counts for the location.

Marsh Sandpiper

Spotted Flycatcher

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Egyptian Nightjar

20 Sept 2021

Black Cone-headed Grasshopper – Fayd

Whilst in Fayd I came across a Black Cone-headed Grasshopper Poekilocerus bufonius. The Black Cone-headed Grasshopper occurs throughout Saudi Arabia and has a large black body and slow movement and feed on plants in the milkweed family, which produce toxic chemicals. Ingesting these plants make the grasshoppers poisonous and distasteful to predators. When they are attacked, Black Cone-headed Grasshoppers spray a toxic fluid in defense. In Arabic, they are called zagat. Adults are 10 centimeters in length and black or dark-coloured often with yellow spots. Females are substantially larger the males with short wings. As is typical of this order of insects (Orthoptera), the grasshoppers go through incomplete metamorphosis. The young nymphs resemble the adults but have no wings. As they age, they will shed their exoskeletons several times, growing wings until their final moult into a mature adult with fully-developed wings. This is only the second time I have seen this type of grasshopper in Saudi Arabia.

18 Sept 2021

Plenty of Hirundines – Jubail area

Whilst birding the Jubail area 10 September we came across a good number is hirundines. Most birds were Barn Swallow with very good numbers of Sand Martins included. Barn Swallow is not an easy bird to photograph in my experience in Saudi Arabia, so I spent some time trying to get reasonable shots of a perched bird. Migration has just started in earnest with good numbers of shrikes, mainly Red-backed, Daurian and Turkestan as well as a few Spotted Flycatchers. Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters are passing over in small flocks daily some allowing close inspection and photographs to be taken. Warbler numbers seem to be low in the Eastern Province at present although a good number of Reed Warblers were calling from the reed beds. Herons were present with hundreds of Grey Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Egret and much smaller numbers of Western Reef Heron and a couple of Purple Heron.

16 Sept 2021

Processionary Moth caterpillars – Tayma

Whilst in the desert near Tayma, central Saudi Arabia, I came across hundreds of bright red-orange caterpillars on the sand. On asking some experts, they came to the conclusion they were a processionary moth Thaumetopoea caterpillar. They are a human irritant because of their venomous hairs, which can cause skin irritation. The exact species involved has not been ascertained. This is the first time I have seen these caterpillars in Saudi Arabia and they certainly made a spectacular sight.

12 Sept 2021

Duba Fort – Duba

The King Abdulaziz fort is one of the most prominent features of the city of Duba. It was built in 1932 to be a headquarter for the government in Duba. The fortress boasts of four high towers, a number of rooms, a big mosque as well as the courtyard in the middle of the fortress building.