Monday, 9 April 2012

Jizan bay

I visited the shoreline in the centre of Jizan twice over last weekend. The first visit was to an area of mud flats. The second was a walk along a rocky piece of coast next to the flats. It was very productive. They were large numbers of waders and I added three "lifers".

western reef heron

Herons weren't the most common birds but they were among the most photogenic. I saw one western reef heron and one striated heron. The former was very tame allowing me to within 3 metres with prolonged viewing. 

striated heron

There were much larger numbers of waders. As is often the case, dunlin was the most abundant. Common sandpiper was also common.

There were several curlew sandpiper which I misidentified as dunlin at first. Through correspondence on BirdForum, I have learned the best way to tell these birds in winter plumage apart is that curlew sandpiper have longer necks and longer legs. Actually the length and shape of the bill is not the best guide. 

curlew sandpiper

On the mud flats, there were a range of plovers and two were "lifers".  

crab plover

A single crab plover was caught eating a small crab. This wasn't my lifer though. I had seen this bird previously in Jeddah.

grey plover

Neither was grey plover a lifer either. 

pacific golden plover

One "lifer" was a pacific golden plover which was resting on the rocky shoreline with other waders. It was the only one I saw during the weekend.

ringed plover

There were three types of small plover on the mud flats. Two were kentish plover and ringed plover.

lesser sand plover

The third was lesser sand plover. This was my second "lifer" plover of the weekend. I knew greater sand plover from Azerbaijan where it breeds and one wintering bird in eastern Libya but had never seen a lesser sand plover before.

greater flamingo

There were significant numbers of larger water birds on the mud flats. A lay person would probably have noticed the six greater flamingo first. All of them were first cycle birds.

bar-tailed godwit

There were also three bar-tailed godwit in different stages of plumage. The one above was part way to its summer plumage.


There were several whimbrel seen as well though never in groups of more than three. 

three whimbrel on the beach

On a sandbank in the middle distance was a solitary oystercatcher.


I only saw two different members of the tern and gull family here. Nevertheless, the good news is that the tern was another "lifer".

white-cheeked tern

Thanks to my posting pictures on the BirdForum website, without their help I would never have been able to to identify the tern above (as a white-cheeked tern). Apparently they breed on most of the west side of the Red sea coast but surprisingly few places on the western side. Is this a case of under-reporting?

white eyed gull

The final bird for this blog was white eyed gull. There were several at the seaward end of the mud flats and on rocks. I knew this bird from a visit to Jeddah last Eid.  

There were 5 more types of tern and gull at a different location which I'll blog about in the coming days.


  1. Hi Rob
    A nice selection of birds. I think the third photo down shows Curlew Sandpipers rather than Dunlins.


  2. Tom,

    I have just posted the picture to BirdForum for a second and third and fourth etc opinion!



  3. Curlew Sands do look a 'scale' bigger, to me anyway - Long billed Dunlins can be a bit confusing i will agree but good views should be OK i would have thought. 3 'lifers' is a good day! Like the Crab Plover, looks like an Avocet with 'attitude'.

    Laurie -

  4. Good to hear from you again Laurie.

    Its been an education on the dunlin/curlew sandpiper issue. I don't get to the sea very often these days so I'm trying to make the most of the learning points.

    As for the crab plover, its the first time I have seen one eating. I must say I had envisaged they ate bigger crabs but now it makes sense as the mud flats were crawling with these minute crabs.