Monday 13 May 2013

Bahrain on Friday

On Friday, I split my birding into two parts. In the morning, I birded an area in the Budaiya district and in the afternoon I went to the area around Bahrain fort. 

In Budaiya I found an area of untended fields with some wetland. Around the fort was a small stretch of coast and some farms.

black headed gull and curlew sandpiper

At the small wetland were a mix of  birds I would normally associate with the coast but also inland ones too. And a large proportion of them are listed as wintering rather than summer birds even though it was well into May. Both black headed gull and curlew sandpiper would be expected to move off north pretty soon.

 Little tern and little stint

The same goes for the little stint at the same place. 

There were two adult  little tern present and two unfledged terns too which didn't fly during my time watching there. I assume they were the young of the two adults. This was pretty much confirmed when I saw the two adults attempt at one stage to clear all other birds way.

They succeeded with all except the black headed gull which ironically were probably the only birds that could threaten their young.

 young little tern and a kentish plover

Two other waders were present. There was a single green sandpiper and lots of kentish plover. The former is a migrant whereas the latter were probably resident.

green sandpiper

The wetland was large enough to attract members of the heron family. I also noticed that the wetland had small fish which must have helped.

little egret
I saw two little egret and both a squacco heron and purple heron.

squacco heron

Elsewhere near the wetland in the fields were a different set of species.

Upcher's warbler

Like Thursday elsewhere on the island, I came across Upcher's warbler, common whitethroat and willow warbler though there wasn't quite the same diversity of warblers as at the day before's coastal tamarisk.

willow warbler

Rufous bush robin seem to be everywhere with greenery on the island. I was following one which was deep under a tree when I flushed a grey francolin. This was a lifer for me and the target bird for me on the trip.

I revisited the same tree 3 hours later, just before I left the area for lunch. This time I was tracking a common redstart under the same tree. Unbelievably I flushed the same grey francolin from what must have been the same spot. I never even considered he would have returned.

This time he flushed to somewhere in the same field. I followed where he went and I must have got close without seeing him in the same spot before he flushed over and away. Sadly I didn't get a photo but i did  get good if short views.

Rufous bush robin

After lunch, I journeyed out to Bahrain fort and near-by farms on the coast there.

The Bahrain fort (plus wasps)

The coastal sands had ruddy turnstone, kentish plover and western reef heron.

ruddy turnstone

Indeed I saw a very small barely fledged kentish plover among them.

However, the main excitement was in the farms. Here I came across a group of about  eight or nine grey francolin. This time I managed to get a record shot of one of them.

grey francolin

Grey francolin (my lifer on the trip) seem common in Bahrain, present in Qatar and is recognised as expanding in UAE. Yet there seems to be some ambiguity about it's status in the near-by parts of Saudi Arabia.

The Helms guide map shows it present in Saudi Arabia but as far as I know it hasn't been recorded in recent years. Surely it must be around the farms or compounds in the Khobar area?

common redstart
The farms had a very pleasant smell of pepper in places. I assume that is what the workers were harvesting as I walked past one area. Elsewhere there was much market gardening rather than arable.

The farms were rich in migrants and I wish I had been in this place during the main part of the passage season. Some birds which I had finished seeing in central Arabia seem to be lingering longer in the cooler coastal environment of Bahrain. These included common redstart and whinchat.


I often get the feeling that whinchat look at me as much as I do them.

spotted flycatcher

The late migrant shrikes (lesser grey shrike and red backed shrike) were easy to see as were spotted flycatcher.

graceful prinia

Once again graceful prinia were abundant. This bird is resilient and expanding its range throughout the Middle East. I wonder if increased water management and associated farms in new areas are the main reasons (though in this case the farms are natural enough).

collared dove

Two very other abundant birds were collared dove and common myna.

common myna

The latter bird was flying menacingly over the sands on the coast. I don't think they take small birds though I couldn't relocate the small fledgling kentish plover on my way back to the car park.

My Bahraini list began with this weekend since it was my first ever visit. The full list is below.

Grey francolin
Red backed shrike
Squacco heron
Lesser grey shrike
Grey heron
House crow
Purple heron
White eared bulbul
Little egret
Western reef heron
Crested lark
Sand martin
Black winged stilt
Barn swallow
Kentish plover
Graceful prinia
Green sandpiper
European reed warbler
Little stint
Marsh warbler
Curlew sandpiper
Upcher’s warbler
Ruddy turnstone
Eastern olivaceous warbler
Black headed gull
Willow warbler
Common tern
Little tern
Common whitethroat
Saunder’s tern
Common myna
Rock dove
Rufous bush robin
Collared dove
Common redstart
Laughing dove
Spotted flycatcher
Masked shrike
House sparrow


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Nice blog Rob!

    I will be staying in Bahrain for two months starting June. I was looking to get some advice on any group that goes birding during weekends in Bahrain. I could then look to join. Any help would be useful :-)

  3. Thomas, thanks for the compliment. I know folk in Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Unfortunately I have not yet met up with the birders in Bahrain. Sad but true.

    1. Oh OK. I guess then the option I have is to hire a car and go around the spots on my own. Any suggestions for the spots that I should cover?