The road is subject to major works so the journey was slow. The birding on the way was mostly uneventful apart from where we saw 5 eagles eating a carcass. Unfortunately we notice them late. We stopped late and too close to them so they flew off. Nevertheless I am quite confident they were a mix of tawny eagle, steppe eagle and one booted eagle.
This area is within the know residential range of tawny eagle and I regret missing the chance to see them up close.
Pink backed pelican
This was my first time at Al Birk and its quite a remarkable place. There are the most extensive mangroves in the whole of Saudi Arabia.
Not knowing how to tackle the terrain we started at the southern end of the mangroves and moved north. Views were not always good and the tide was out.
Despite these hardships, we saw a good selection of birds. Pink backed pelican were glimpsed from time to time. Both grey heron and purple heron were easily seen though sadly goliath heron was not.
Goliath heron is a known resident here.
Waders were plentiful. Whimbrel was abundant in front of the mangroves on the landward side but most waders were seen either in the mangroves or in gaps in the mangroves next to the sea. In the mangroves themselves mangrove reed warbler was spotted on more than one occasion. It was heard almost continually.
green sandpiper with a common redshank
A Green sandpiper group was seen resting. Some of the birds were asleep.
One Terek sandpiper was observed. This bird is easy to pick out from a group of mixed waders.
Other noticeable waders included a flock of five curlew sandpiper. Some were just starting to produce their purple bellies.
lesser sand plover
Ringed plover, Kentish plover and lesser sand plover were all observed but no greater sand plover were seen.
lesser crested tern
Surprisingly only one tern was seen and it proved to be a lesser crested tern.
Three osprey were seen as a single and later a pair.
Once again on the red sea coast I observed hoopoe lark very close to the sea in saline scrub. We saw the well-known courtship diving flight on three occasions.
Singles of three different wheatears were also observed: black-eared wheatear, northern wheatear and desert wheatear.
While the eagles mentioned earlier were the highlight of the travel to and from Al Birk there were some other interesting observations.
Among them, on the way out, was a hamerkop sighting where the road crossed a stream at Wadi Tadba.
brown necked raven
long legged buzzard
On the way back just before dusk, we came across four Bruce's green pigeon perched on a wire.
Bruce's green pigeon
The regional guide says it is chiefly found from 500 to 2400 metres but we were at 300 metres. Furthermore I have never seen them on wires before but usually deep in trees.
The guide does say they are partial migrants and this location and behaviour is consistent with that. I suspect these were summer returners from Africa.
An interesting end to a very full day.