Tuesday 25 February 2014

Darin and Qatif corniche

After using up all our allocated time at the mangroves at the north of Tarout Island, Bernard Bracken and I moved round the coast on the island to Darin.

This area has extensive beaches and mudflats. We were also lucky in that we arrived at low tide so we could spend time on the mudflats themselves.

Pallas's gull in flight

One of our earliest sights was a Pallas's gull in full breeding plumage. Half an hour late we saw another which looked like its moult was just finishing. Both birds were on the beach.

A second Pallas's gull

Other gulls were mostly slender-billed gull which out-numbered black-headed gull.

slender billed gull

There were more steppe gull than Caspian gull. I didn't see a single Hueglin's Gull this time.

steppe gull

Every time I visit the east coast outside summer, I look for sandwich tern. I have never seen one in Saudi Arabia.

lesser crested tern and Caspian tern

This time on the mudflats were Caspian tern and also lesser crested tern. The latter bird is a very close relative of Sandwich tern and I was especially careful at looking any groups of lesser crested tern.


Unlike at the mangroves there were a few dunlin.

grey plover

Grey plover were common at both places.

ruddy turnstone

Oystercatcher and ruddy turnstone were at both places too. Lesser sand plover and greater sand plover were numerous here.

a dhow full of great cormorant

Several old dhows were anchored just beyond the mudflats and nearly all of them were covered in great cormorant.


After finishing at the mudflats of Darin, we walked further south along the coast from a while before turning inland towards the bridge connecting the island with the mainland.

The coast was not very eventful with only a few common redshank and a curlew and grey plover.

common redshank

As we walked inland over some scrub we came across some flooded areas with black winged stilt otherwise this part of the walk was relatively uneventful too.

black winged stilt

A local resident offered us a lift on to the mainland which we gratefully took.

We then spent a pleasant two hours walking down the corniche at Qatif.

Once again the coast held many tens of flamingo though the sea shore is mostly bunded there and so shore birds weren't plentiful. Out in the open sea we saw three mallard which is a rare habitat for therm.

mallard in the open sea

At one point a supply of treated fresh water flowed into the sea. Here we saw a small number of lesser sand plover and a single white winged black tern.

lesser sand plover

We ended the day walking through a field of coastal scrub. Surprisingly, a grey heron was resting in the middle.

grey heron

It was the only place we saw tawny pipit during the day along with the predictable crested lark.

tawny pipit

The final bird was a desert wheatear which turned out to be the only one of the weekend.

On Saturday, we visited Khobar and Dammam. The next two blogs will be about what we saw there.

List of birds seen at Darin coast and Qatif corniche

Kentish Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Western Reef Heron
Greater Sand Plover
Grey Heron
Grey Plover
Great Cormorant
Lesser Black Headed Gull
Terek’s Sandpiper
Slender Billed Gull
Eurasian Curlew
Pallas’s Gull
Steppe Gull
Black Winged Stilt
Caspain Gull
Collared Dove
Caspian Tern
Laughing Dove
Lesser Crested Tern
Graceful Prinia
White Winged Black Tern
Crested Lark
Tawny Pipit
Desert Wheatear
Ruddy Turnstone
House Sparrow
Ring Plover

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