Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Khobar corniche in February

On Saturday, Bernard Bracken and I visited Khobar. Unlike Tarout and Qatif the day before, this is a place I have been to several times. 

We spent all morning near the south corniche. We visited a couple of sea inlets and also the two lakes which are just the landward side of the corniche road. 

In one of these lakes was a great white egret. This was the second one seen over the weekend and indeed only the second one I had seen all winter.

great white egret

They are easily distinguished by their size alone but I also like to get a close look at the face pattern. A dark line of bare skin extends from the edge of the gape to beyond the eye. This feature is only seen with this egret.

facial close-up of great white egret

The similarity in size between this egret and a flamingo can be seen in the next picture.

great white egret in flight

The lakes otherwise were a little disappointing except for gulls: slender billed gull, black headed gull, Caspian gull, Steppe gull and a few waders and western reef heron

ringed plover

The waders were mostly common redshank and Kentish plover with a small number of ringed plover.

European collared dove

The scrub next to the lakes was inspected. This contained European collared dove, white eared bulbul, house sparrow, crested lark and graceful prinia.

Isabelline wheatear

This scrub is most interesting during March/April and September/October when passage birds drop down.

Non-resident interest this time was provided by a single Isabelline wheatear, a Siberian stonechat and a large roosting group of grey heron hidden well away. 

grey heron

Incidentally the scrub was swarming in places with painted lady butterflies which are probably all migrants from further north like many of the birds.  

painted lady

It was high tide when we visited the sea inlets which was not perfect for birding.

slender-billed gull and black-headed gull

Hundreds of gull were still roosting even in mid morning. Many of the slender-billed gull had acquired their pink wash of spring plumage.

little stint

This was the only place we saw great crested tern (swift tern) all weekend. More surprisingly, it was only place we saw little stint too.

great crested tern (swift tern)

Most of the waders were the larger ones.


Both greenshank and common redshank were numerous.

common redshank

Near the inlets were common myna and the ever ominous-looking house crow.

common myna

House crow is common on both the west and east coasts of Saudi Arabia. Its range is still expanding though not inland yet.

house crow

There are so many flamingo on the east coast in winter that they had almost be forgotten when you bird watch!


I have seen them at these two inlets every time I have visited in the winter months over the past three winters.

four flamingo

At midday we finished with the corniche at Khober and decided to try our luck at King Fahad Park in Dammam. I'll blog about that next.

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