Sunday, 19 January 2014

Jubail on a January morning

I took another long day trip to Jubail on Friday. This was my third visit in three months and my second with Bernard Bracken to Sebkhet Al Fasl.

Each time one of my main aims had been to see common shelduck in Saudi Arabia as well as observe birds more generally.

flamingo as usual

This time common shelduck was easily identified and within a few minutes of our arrival. There were 45 of them swimming next to the flamingo mostly in slightly shallower water than that species. Although, they were  over 300 metres from the shore, they were still easily recognisable and well behaved. This made me wonder why it has taken me two and a half years to see even one in the country before.

Incidentally there were over 500 flamingo.

common shelduck with the flamingo

Common shelduck was the 319th bird on my country list using the conservative Clements count as recorded on e-bird.  Other authorities would give me more. For example my OSME count is 325.

They were not the only birds in the lagoon area which had to be viewed from great distance. Many tens of waders were so far out I couldn't identify them even with Bernard's scope.

However a small group were on a sand bar which could be approached on foot. These included six common redshank

four different waders

There were single birds of three other species with the common redshank.

In the picture above the one on the far left is a curlew sandpiper. The one in the far right is a marsh sandpiper. The other bird is probably a broad billed sandpiper. Other photos of it I have suggest this species rather than dunlin.

grey plover

Alone and further along the sand bar was a grey plover.

moulting water pipit

At the very far end of the sand bar was pipit. It took me some time to assure myself that it was a water pipit. I finally worked out that it was a moulting bird which was changing into breeding plumage. Such plumage doesn't have the breast streaks of winter birds.

rear view of water pipit

Having finished with the northern lagoon Bernard and I walked into the fresh water area. Walking was necessary as the road was cut off by flood water over a short stretch.

little egret and western reef heron

There were plenty of both western reef heron as well as little egret around. In many cases they were mixed together. 

western reef heron

Some western reef heron and little egret are very difficult to tell apart especially if views are from a poor angle. I believe the bird above is a western reef heronIt's legs appear all yellow and although it's bill colour isn't clear, the bill shape looks too strong for a little egret.

great cormorant

One feature quite different from my last visit to Sebkhet Al Fasl three weeks before was the big increase in great cormorant numbers. There were at least 70 in the fresh and salt water areas.

purple swamphen

Once again it was easy to spot purple swamphen, moorhen, little grebe and coot. However, there was no sign this time of any black-necked grebe.

There was quite a bit of change with the warbler population at least in terms of the noise level. Both clamorous reed warbler and graceful prinia were much noisier. Two clamorous reed warbler were also seen out in the open. This is a sure sign the breeding season for both species is not far away.

graceful prinia

A single chiffchaff was the only other warbler seen.

white wagtail

Both water pipit and white wagtail were numerous and a single citrine wagtail was also observed. I wonder if it was the same bird as seen three weeks before. 

Likewise a single common starling may also have been the same one as last time.

marsh harrier

The cast of birds of prey consisted of four marsh harrier including one adult male and two greater spotted eagle. One was adult and the other immature.

young greater spotted eagle

This blog was recorded what was seen in Jubail up to noon on Friday. The next one looks at the afternoon.

Before we left the Sebkhet that afternoon, as well as seeing some other good birds, I had unexpectedly made a second addition to my Saudi list. I'll blog about this next. 

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