Tuesday 21 May 2013

Nightjar and sandgrouse at Abu Arish waste waters

Lou Regenmorter is our birding team's best planner in advance of our trips away from Riyadh. 

Mansur Al Fahad and I are very grateful to him for identifying many of the sites we visited in the Jizan area last weekend.

One new one that Lou identified was Abu Arish city's waste water treatment lakes. 

I can't find any records of any birders going there before.

Nubian nightjar

These lakes are east of Abu Arish and close to Lake Maliki. We went there late on Thursday afternoon. I had expected them to be a poorer version of the much better known and larger Lake Maliki. However I was wrong.

Most of the surprises did not come from the lakes themselves but the bushy hinterland near the last and cleanest lake.

Not only was a Nubian nightjar with a juvenile flushed and re-found there but a flock of lichtenstein's sandgrouse were also in and around the same bushes.

Lichtenstein's sandgrouse

Both birds were new additions to my Saudi list and lifers. They were on my target list for the trip but my expectations for either weren't high.

Having spoken to Brian James who birds out of Thuwal north of Jeddah, he told me that Nubian nightjar has been spotted near Thuwal recently. I found this information very interesting because it means the Israeli population may not be as isolated as the maps show. Thuwal is well north of its mapped range in Saudi Arabia.

another pied cuckoo

Two more pied cuckoo were seen in the bushes. I saw a total of four during the trip while Lou managed seven!

glossy ibis

The lakes themselves were also interesting but not surprising. Like at Sabya waste water lakes there were large numbers of members of the heron family but proportions of glossy ibis and squacco heron compared with cattle egret were much higher.

blackstart at Jizan waste water lakes

The visit to these lakes was a great ending to an excellent and exhausting day where I saw 7 lifers and built my Saudi list up to 295.  

Friday was not a bad day either as I will report in future blogs.

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