Friday 24 May 2013

Farasan Islands with Mansur Al Fahad

There are two main reasons why birders visit the Farasan Islands. They use it as a launch pad to see pelagic birds and they go in the passage seasons. The Farasan Islands are stepping stones in the Red Sea between Arabia and Africa. Many thousands of migrants pass through.

There are other aspects to Farasan birding though. Mansur stayed on when Lou and I left south west Saudi Arabia last weekend to make a part-day trip to Farasan to explore these.

First and foremost, its the most guaranteed place in Saudi Arabia to see Egyptian vulture (once you have got there).

 Egyptian vulture

Mansur also saw other birds which we didn't see on our weekend trip on the mainland. These included brown necked raven, mangrove reed warbler and lesser crested tern.

brown necked raven

I have seen mangrove reed warbler several hundred kilometres north at Thuwal. In my limited experience its a little less shy that European reed warbler but that could just be that its more difficult to hide in mangroves than reeds.

Mangrove reed warbler

Some lesser crested tern can be found all year round off all Arabian coasts though most more south or at least disperse unlike lesser crested tern in Libya (which I have also know) which all migrate. 

lesser crested tern

The coastline on the Farasans is well worth inspecting in summer for African species such as lesser flamingo and African spoonbill but its still a low probability with a short trip. 

sooty gull

Mansur captured an excellent picture of this adult sooty gull. For some reason we struggled to see white eyed gull all weekend.

crab plover and common redshank

I thank Mansur Al Fahad once again for sharing his photographs and report. It is much appreciated.

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