Sunday, 6 January 2013

Flamingoes, pelicans, terns and more

Mansur Al Fahad and I visited two main water bodies on our trip to Jizan. One was the fresh water Lake Maliki and the other was the red sea coast south of Jizan.

Some other birds seen have been posted in previous blogs but this is a round up of the remaining water-loving birds.


Every body loves flamingo. Greater flamingo were seen at several points down the coast. Lesser flamingo is known here but sightings are mostly in the summer.

Other large water birds included a fair number of both whimbrel and curlew although the former were more common.

Gull billed tern
We saw only two types of tern on the coast. These were gull billed tern and Saunders tern. I find the easiest way to recognise gull billed tern on the ground in winter is the mini black  mask behind the eye. I find this more useful than working out the bill size.

Pink backed pelican

A few water birds were seen both at Lake Maliki and at the coast. One important example was pink-backed pelican which is a resident bird here and which I saw on my last visit to Jizan.

spotted redshank

Not surprisingly, several waders such as Green sandpiper were found at both places but it was a surprise to see my first spotted redshank in Saudi Arabia not on the coast but at the fresh water inland. Mansur saw the one above and I saw one in a large group of water birds. 

little grebe at Lake Maliki

Two terns were only seen at Lake Maliki. These were the marsh terns, whiskered tern and white-winged tern.

They were present in very large numbers and this was most apparent just before dusk.

whiskered tern

In winter, I don't find these birds very easy to separate.  Whiskered tern has a grey rump while white winged tern has a white rump. The black on the head tends to be more extensive on whiskered tern too.

white winged tern

The bill of a white winged tern is slightly finer too but I can only normally use this feature after the field event while looking at photographs.

rear view of white winged tern

Thanks again to Mansur Al Fahad who provided all the pictures except the ones of the little grebe and the pink backed pelican.

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