Wednesday 30 October 2013

Coast north of Yanbu

Last Saturday Brian James and I visited the coast north of  Yanbu. After a short look at the sharm (inlet) on the northern edge of the city, we headed north to the cement works and worked our way down the coast back to the city.

The area just north of the cement works has some good historical records and that's why we went there. However it appears the scrub there is drier than it used to be (unless it rains?) and that's why species like common crane and European golden plover, previously recorded were an obvious non-starter for us.

In the drier but still bushy landscape we did see a good variety of birds though not sensational.

common kestrel

Two birds of prey were seen in the scrub. There were three common kestrel scattered about and a female pallid harrier passed by.

common redstart

Several of the bushes house common redstart presumably on passage.

northern wheatear

The only wheatears were desert wheatear and northern wheatear

red-backed shrike

Red-backed shrike were common and a single spotted flycatcher was observed. Both are very common passage birds throughout Saudi Arabia.

The warblers were a bit more varied than in many places. The majority were willow warbler but there were also a small number of blackcap, a Menetries warbler and a skulking clamorous reed warbler in slightly unusual terrain for it even on passage.

hoopoe lark

A sign of how dry parts of the area has become was the presence of hoopoe lark as well as crested lark.

On the other hand,  this was also the only place on the coast where we saw Arabian babbler which doesn't tolerate really dry places.

Having finished with the cement factory area, we headed down the coast trying where possible to keep to the shore line.

Eurasian curlew

Here we saw several Eurasian curlew and  fewer whimbrel.

lesser crested tern

Four types of tern were also observed. The most abundant were lesser crested tern.

Caspian tern

There were a splattering of Caspian tern

common tern

There was a single common tern alongside three greater crested tern (a.k.a swift tern). This is the first time I have seen a common tern on the west coast.

slender-billed gull

Most of the gulls were slender bill gull or sooty gull. Two white eyed gull were also seen.

Caspian gull

The main large white headed gull on the coast is Caspian gull though the next blog will show that contrary to the maps it and lesser black-backed gull - baltic (not seen on this trip) are not the only two in the area.

Caspian gull and sooty gull

A bird I have rarely seen in Saudi Arabia is sanderling. It prefers large expanses of sandy beach and I don't visit them very often. 


This was the first time I have photographed one close up since leaving Libya three years ago.

Terek sandpiper

The most prevalent sandpiper was actually Terek sandpiper.


The only bird of prey observed south of the cement works was a solitary osprey.

We had to travel many kilometres to see these birds which were not densely packed for the most part.

The shore birding was better when we got back within the city and that's what the next blog will look at.

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