Monday, 30 April 2012

The shrikes of Hofuf

There were four different types of shrike at Hofuf marshes. The most pleasing for me were two lesser grey shrike

lesser grey shrike

It is known as a scarce but regular passage migrant in Saudi Arabia. It is also a late migrant in spring. The good news for me is that these two were the first ones I had seen in Saudi Arabia.

second view of lesser grey shrike

All the shrikes were occupying the zone between the reeds and the steppe-like area (see below). There were scattered bushes especially Tamarisk which are ideal for shrike. The insect population was high too as the bites on my arms will testify.

view inland from the lake

A second shrike was red-backed shrike. This was only my second in Saudi Arabia. It is much more common than lesser grey shrike apparently but like that shrike it is a late migrant so the bulk of the birds are expected to pass through in the next two weeks or so.

red-backed shrike

Once again the most common shrike, as they have been since late September, was the two red-tailed shrike, Turkestan shrike and Daurian shrike.

Turkestan shrike at Hofuf marshes

I didn't see any woodchat shrike (the earliest passage shrike) or masked shrike (the second earliest, though a very small number actually winter in central Arabia). I had thought they had left the region but I read Jem's blog yesterday from the east coast ( He saw one of each at a place only 150 kilometres east of where I was birding.

Tomorrow I will blog about the birds with affinity to water found at Hofuf marshes. 

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