Wednesday 20 February 2013

Lake Maliki revisited

Last Friday morning I visited Lake Maliki, Wadi Jizan with Lou Regenmorter. It is well known for its diversity of birds and has been described by one birder as " the best birding in the kingdom".

The last time I was there was in late December and while there was once again a large variety of birds many of them were the same. Please read my blog on Lake Maliki written over New Year for details.

The main change will come when spring arrives and the wintering birds go and the "intra-African migrants" such as Abdim's stork and white throated bee-eater arrive.

This blog concentrates on the differences from late December's observations and although these are not as profound as those expected in spring they were interesting nevertheless. 

white browed coucal hiding

First a short reminder of some of what is there. The heron family is well represented with glossy ibis, grey heron, purple heron and squacco heron seen in very large numbers. White winged black tern and whiskered tern hawk for insects all day long. As last time a single pink backed pelican was swimming in the middle. Could this have been the same one? and why only one?

Since December it was obvious that the large little grebe population had breed. There was no sign of young coot and moorhen but these species are more secretive with their chicks.

little grebe

Watching the reeds is good value. Like last time there are sounds of reed warbler species and once again I failed to see which one(s) despite a lot of patience. Graceful prinia was identified and this time I saw a flock of Arabian waxbill in reeds.

Arabian waxbill

Last time the only obvious wagtail was white wagtail. This time yellow wagtail was predominant and I spied a citrine wagtail hiding in some tall reeds.

citrine wagtail

Its worth stating that white tailed lapwing was once again the only lapwing seen. This is not bad for a bird which fails to make it on the map for this area in the "Birds of the Middle East".

African collared dove

Four doves were again seen: Namaqua dove, laughing dove, African collared dove and European turtle dove.

Lou managed to come across helmeted guineafowl on one of his walks but I missed them. Whilst pleased for him, I had regrets as this would have been another addition to my Saudi list. All was not lost though as I picked them up elsewhere later in the day (see the next blog for more details).

Arabian babbler beside Lake Maliki

We managed 107 species over the weekend but it should have been a few more. At a certain moment someone drove a motor launch on the lake which caused panic in tens of ducks. They had been there all the time hidden in side pools and we hadn't noticed them. They flew high, wide and quick. Somehow we failed to identify them and there was probably four or five species. This was careless birding. In retrospect, we can surmise it was because there were so many flying in different directions at the same time that we didn't focus. This is probably how so few birds get shot too (although shooting is not part of the culture in this part of Saudi Arabia).

yellow billed kite

As in December the dominant bird of prey was yellow billed kite with a few marsh harrier.

dark phase booted eagle

This time we also observed a greater spotted eagle and a dark phase booted eagle.

second view of dark phase booted eagle

Since I had visited Lake Maliki relatively recently, we moved away before the end of the morning.

The next and last stop of the weekend was a visit to Wadi Juwa which is near-by. This was a first visit for me and it proved fruitful as the next blog will tell.


  1. Oh my God !Arabian waxbill!!!! I'm excited and I hope to see this bird .

  2. Mansur,

    There was flock in the reeds where we first parked the car when you and I went there!


  3. Sounds superb, what a site - nice Booted c/w 'landing lights'.

    Laurie -

  4. Laurie,

    Lake Maliki holds more standing fresh water than anywhere else in KSA. Its special.

    As for the booted eagle, the landing lights are what I look for first these days.