Wednesday 10 October 2012

Dammam coast

On Friday morning, after leaving the high tide roost at Khobar, Lou Regensmorter and I moved slowly up the coast through Dammam.

There were several stopping points. We found a set of enclosed mud flats right next to the high tide roost. Then there were two sets of mangroves, one at the port and the other off the north corniche. The beachy and rocky coast connecting these places was also searched.

close view of flamingo

The day was very productive. We added 28 more species to Wednesday evening and Thursday's total count of 51 making a grand total of 79.

Of course, one of the most attractive sightings were the flamingo. They were seen in four different places although the greatest numbers were at an off shore island. 

flock of flamingo on distant island

However before we even reached them we spent a long time at the enclosed mud flats. Here there were literally hundreds of waders. The most common were little ringed plover, kentish plover, common ringed plover, lesser sand plover  and little stint but there were also ruddy turnstone ruff, black winged stilt, common redshank, common greenshank, marsh sandpiper, green sandpiper, wood sandpiper, common sandpiper and dunlin.  The number of bar tailed godwit was remarkable and next to them were a smaller number of black tailed godwit.

waders - mostly bar-tailed godwit

The proximity and numbers of both species was a lesson in separation. Black tailed godwit was plainer and larger and had a longer and straighter bill.

grey plover

There were also plenty of grey plover often in the same depth of water as the godwits but also sometimes in shallower places.

Terek sandpiper

By looking carefully for any oddities, we picked up a couple of terek sandpiper.

Mostly Caspian tern

Along the coast itself the proportion of waders decreased and the proportion of terns and gulls increased. Slender-billed gull was common as was common black-headed gull. The latter was a first for me in Saudi Arabia. There were also a few Caspian gull present.

The terns were Caspian tern, gull billed tern, lesser crested tern and a single greater crested tern (swift tern). Gull billed tern was the sole lifer I found over the weekend.

Broad billed sandpiper

In among a flock of dunlin on the coast was a single broad billed sandpiper. We had hoped to see it though we had been warned it was late in the season.

Mostly curlew

The port mangroves had a different cross section of birds. There were at least 80 Eurasian curlew and ten or so whimbrel. This was also the only place that we saw oystercatcher. I regret not spending any time while there identifying the terns. It is clearly another species but I can't tell from the distance shots in the photos.

In the bushes we spotted a black redstart.

Reef heron in a mangrove

Indeed. the mangroves were the only place along the coast on Friday where we saw any non-sea birds. Even then the most common was house sparrow.

Turkestan shrike

The shrike above was seen on the edge of a mangrove. Identification wasn't easy. Although its supercilium is weak and its underparts not particularly pale it is almost certainly a Turkestan shrike (rather Daurian) because of its rufous crown.

A few minutes after visiting the second mangroves, it was time to leave the east coast and overall it was a more than satisfying trip.  Some species evaded us  and some are not there at this time of year so another visit will take place in the future.

In the meantime, here is the list of 79 species seen over the weekend complied by Lou Regensmorter.

Blue Cheeked Bee-eater
Daurian Shrike
Red-vented Bulbul
Turkestan Shrike
European or Common Coot
Common Snipe
Great Cormorant
House Sparrow
House Crow
Barn Swallow
Eurasian Collared Dove
Purple Swamphen
European Turtle Dove
Caspian Tern
Laughing Dove
Gull-billed Tern
Namaqua Dove
Lesser Crested Tern
Greater Flamingo
Little Tern
Spotted Flycatcher
White-winged Tern
Great Crested Grebe
Swift Tern (Greater Crested Tern)
Little Grebe
Common Nightingale (Eastern)
Common Black-headed Gull
Bar-tailed Godwit
Slender-billed Gull
Black-tailed Godwit
Great Egret
Black-winged Stilt
Grey Heron
Broad-billed Sandpiper
Little Egret
Common Greenshank
Purple Heron
Common Redshank
Squacco Heron
Common Sandpiper
Western Reef Heron
Eurasian Curlew
Crested Lark
Green Sandpiper
Greater Short-toed Lark
Little Stint
Sand Martin
Marsh Sandpiper
Pied Avocet
Common Myna
Ruddy Turnstone
Rock Pigeon
Common Ringed Plover
Terek Sandpiper
Greater Sand Plover
Grey Plover
Wood Sandpiper
Kentish Plover
White Wagtail
Lesser Sand Plover
Yellow Wagtail
Little Ringed Plover
Asian Desert Warbler
Common Quail
Graceful Prinia
Marsh Harrier
Isabelline Wheatear
Mourning Wheatear
Pallid Harrier
Northern Wheatear
Brown Necked Raven
Pied Wheatear
Black Redstart

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