Tuesday 8 November 2011

North coast of Jeddah

The best selling map of Jeddah shows a place called Salman gulf just north of the city. It appears as an large inlet to the sea with sebkhas (saltpans that occasionally fill into saltmarshes in winter). It looked promising so I went there yesterday.

I got a bit of a shock. The southern half is now prime real estate for wealthy locals and the inlet has been landscaped into a blue lagoon.

Undaunted I pressed on north.  Luckily for me and the birds the northern end of the inlet still exists (but is under development pressure). There are also a few public areas left with access to the sea.

After much searching I found one which was not crowded with beach goers. I am pleased with what I found.

flamingoes on a beach on northern edge of Jeddah

The light conditions were poor because the Red Sea coast faces west and it was in the afternoon so the sun was in the west too.  As soon as I arrived I saw a dark morph western reef heron. It stayed stubbornly out to sea so I had to stare straight into the sun to track it.

western reef heron

It was only when I turned 90 degrees to look at the beach did I notice that 5 flamingo were present!  They were sharing the beach with quite a few kentish plover and at least one little stint on the shore.   On rocks in the sea and also on shore were plenty of white eyed gull.

crab plover

After a while a small flock of crab plover arrived.  I had almost given up hope of seeing them on this holiday.  Nobody goes to the Arabian coast without seeing crab plover do they?  Anyway it was a lifer for me and now that credibility gap is bridged.

new housing and landscaping at the southern end of Salman gulf 

Although the southern part of the inlet is now deepened and separated by landscaping from the north, the north end is still wild and has birds.

whiskered tern

The most obvious bird was a tern. I couldn't separate between whiskered tern and  black tern in the field. Both a white belly in winter. Both have the trailing dark edge to the outer wing. However the helms guide helped me decide on whiskered tern on the basis of the head pattern. Interestingly this is the same tern that winters in some numbers in north east Libya. It seems to be an under-reported wintering bird in both places.

slender billed gull

Another difficult ID problem for me was this very tired slender billed gull. Actually I find many gulls difficult.

close up of the  face of the slender billed gull

Black headed gull eyes are always dark in winter and their dark spot near the ear covert in winter is darker than this one. So slender billed gull it is.


Possibly the most intriguing moment in the day was my fleeting view of what I thought at the time was strange looking greenshank. However as my readership has told me its a redshank! One drawback of blogging so quickly after the event is I sometimes make silly mistakes.

common sandpiper

Finally spare a thought for this single common sandpiper. It was the only wader I saw in the southern half of the inlet.  On the positive side, Indian silverbill and other land birds are already moving in. 


  1. Regarding the Greenshank, Szabo Jozsef is right. It is a Redshank (Tringa totanus) Rob.