Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Water birds at Hofuf

Obviously there were birds with an affinity to water at Hofuf lake. However they weren't necessarily the ones I might have expected.

There were no egrets or grey or purple herons but there were at least 20 little bittern around the lake and I also saw four squacco heron.  
I have thought about this and I have a theory. I wonder if the reason is the hunters in the area. The other members of the heron family are either bigger or flock more making them easier targets. Certainly all the birds at the lake were very jumpy.


There was a single cormorant at the lake. Until this morning I had thought it was a great cormorant but now I am having second thoughts. Great cormorant can winter inland in northern Arabia but it isn't winter and Hofuf isn't that far north. On the other hand socotra cormorant is endemic to the coast 175 kilometres way and can be dispersive. This is a young bird and I can't tell them apart. I have posted to BirdForum and will blog the answer as soon as I know.

one of the little bittern

Only one wader was abundant. This was kentish plover which I saw in a variety of habitat. It is a known local breeder. None of the birds let me very close.

kentish plover

The only other waders I saw were common sandpiper and terek sandpiper. I presume they were all on passage. Unfortunately I didn't get a photograph of the latter. However, they are common on the coast to the east.

common sandpiper

Two other birds which weren't photographed were little tern and whiskered tern. These are known local breeders.


Two other local breeders are moorhen and little grebe. The little grebe in particular kept close to cover at all times, never venturing out towards the middle of the lake. 

little grebe

Despite all the water, I only saw one wagtail all weekend. Just as I was about to leave on Thursday night as it was getting dark, a female citrine wagtail landed in one of the marshy areas to the side of the main lake.

citrine wagtail

As Clive's says in the comments. The cormorant is a greater cormorant. Please read the comments for the reasons.


  1. Rob, the cormorant is a Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo). Size and heavy build particularly the throat and bill plus yellow throat patch rule out Socotra cormorant. Socotra cormorants look more like shags. Here's some photos I took of an individual in Dubai http://web.me.com/clivetemple/Photos/Socotra_cormorant.html

  2. Clive,

    Cheers. Very helpful. By the way I should be off to khobar this weekend where my chances of seeing a socotra cormorant must be high!


  3. The Citrine Wagtail is a Grey Wagtail in my opinion.