As always in the fresh water areas, there were plenty of coot and purple swamphen. The latter bird was shyer than on previous occasions.
European coot and purple swamphen
In the winter, the sebkhet is as good a place as anywhere in Saudi Arabia to see ducks despite troubles with hunters. I am hopeful of adding common shelduck to my list here later in this winter. Apparently they can be seen sporadically from December to March. This time the only ducks I could see were five common teal.
Like coot, little grebe are another very common resident here.
little grebe with an immature bird
Both birds are breeders. Indeed the picture above shows an immature little grebe with an adult.
All the time I was in the fresh water half of the complex, I could hear bee-eaters. It was only towards the end of my visit to that area that I picked up on two blue-cheeked bee-eater. Their passage generally this year is very late.
female or juvenile marsh harrier
More easily seen in the air over the reed beds were four marsh harrier including one adult male.
male marsh harrier
The fresh water waders were mostly common redshank, little stint and black-winged stilt though there were vastly more waders and also more variety of species on the salty mudflats.
There was plenty of evidence of breeding of black winged stilt including several young birds.
black winged stilt with marsh sandpiper
The only tern I saw flying over the reed beds this time were all gull-billed tern.
gull billed tern
By early afternoon, there was some eagle activity over the marshes. Two greater spotted eagle arrived.
first greater spotted eagle
Actually I had seen several eagles standing on the mud flats earlier. They had been in the far distance and certainly too far to identify even if I had had a scope. The greater spotted eagle flying over the reed beds may well have come from that loose group.
second greater spotted eagle
The mud flats and shallow water next to them housed a vast number of birds. Many were too far away for me to see. Many others weren't. There were over 400 little egret compared with only an estimated 20 or so in the reed beds.
little egret and western reef-heron in the reed beds
The two birds above have caused me some identification issues. The back bird looks like a little egret but the front one looks more like a pale morph western reef-heron. There were at least 10 other western reef-heron on the site.
Most of the moorhen were surprisingly on the edge of the reed beds adjacent to the mud flats.
plenty of moorhen
However the mud flats themselves were fascinating. I wish I had had a scope.
There were at least 25 dunlin and a few curlew sandpiper.
four curlew sandpiper (and a little stint)
And there were at least 100 little stint.
mostly little stint
Five little ringed plover and a similar number of kentish plover were a sideshow. There was at least one ringed plover too.
There were over 400 greater flamingo surrounded by hundreds of terns and gulls too far away for me to fully identify though they included gull billed tern and a smaller number of Caspian tern.
flamingo with terns
There were other species there too. I spotted 8 pied avocet in the far distance.
At about the same distance, among the gull billed tern was at least one white winged black tern and it was the first one I have seen in Saudi Arabia in breeding plumage.
white winged black tern still in breeding plumage
These mud flats were very interesting and I look forward to my next visit hopefully with a scope.