Wednesday 12 December 2012

Crested honey buzzard at Najran

Last winter I visited Najran in the south west of Saudi Arabia. Among other birds, I saw a type of honey buzzard. The question was whether it was an oriental honey buzzard or European honey buzzard.

I posted it on BirdForum for identification. It was impossible to definitively identify the bird which was juvenile though the balance of opinion was in favour of oriental honey buzzard.

Oriental honey buzzard, Najran

My friend and birding colleague, Lou Regensmorter was in Najran 10 days ago and saw another honey buzzard in almost the same place as I had seen one 10 months before.

second view of oriental honey buzzard

Once again I asked birders on BirdForum for their views. There was no mistaking this time. Lou's bird is an oriental honey buzzard. In particular you can see the all dark eyes found on an adult male bird.

Looking again at the map in the Helms guide to birds of the Middle East and you see it isn't supposed to winter within 1200 kilometres (in UAE and northern Oman). This is another incidence of under-reporting from KSA. There is a lot more here than the maps say.


  1. Agreed, birds are where the birdwatchers are and not where the maps say they should be. I had an extra-limital record of a Hawfinch in Maroc a couple of weeks ago, first record South of the Atlas so i was informed......

    Laurie -

  2. Laurie,

    Congratulations on the hawfinch.

    I think there is a particular problem with map data for KSA. I thought the Collins maps for Libya were bad but the helms maps for KSA are worse. I have always said it is under-reporting and historically that must have been true. But I wonder if the research is also at fault. After all the guides in the 1990s had to concentrate on such things as illustrations and ID factors to help separate from similar species. But the amount of re-work in those areas is now limited. For later editions, the balance of work should have been shifting to following up all the sightings to get the maps right through papers, blogs, ebird, bird forum etc etc

    On a personal level, there is a guide that may be produced for Libya and I was asked by the authors about sightings but it hasn't happened anywhere else or by any other guide researcher.

  3. At least more people, such as yourself, working in areas where little birding either takes place or is recorded can only be more grist the mill as far as records are concerned...

    ATB Laurie -