Monday 11 November 2013

Red-necked phalarope at Jubail

Sebket al Fasl in Jubail on the east coast is a great birding venue which I visit all too rarely. In the next blog I'll report on what I saw there on Friday with the exception of red-necked phalarope which is featured in this one.

red-necked phalarope at Jubail

Red-necked phalarope must pass through (or by) Saudi Arabia in great numbers given how many are known to winter in the sea just off the coast south of Oman and Yemen.

Yet it is rarely seen here. However, a good number of the sightings have been at Sebkhet al Fasl and that's where I saw one on Friday.

In spring, both males and females migrate north late in the season, usually in May or even June. The females lay eggs and start migration down south almost immediately leaving the males to incubate the eggs and raise the young.

So the birds seen heading south in July and August are all females. The immatures and males migrate later in a second wave. Indeed there is a distinct time gap between the two waves. However I was surprised to see one as late as November 9th.

note the kink in the bill

It was seen at the point where the fresh water from the reed marshes flows out into the salty mudflats on the coast.

I was privileged to watch the turning motion it does to bring up food in a swirling vortex. I had understood this was done by swimming round and round but this one did it by wading similarly.

red-necked phalarope from another angle

I am finding it increasingly challenging to add to my Saudi list but this was a welcome and unexpected addition.

the last five additions to my Saudi list

A lot more travel, time and patience is needed.


  1. Being a 'house husband' myself i have a great deal of empathy with RNP's!

    Laurie -

  2. So 337 could be a number of years away!

  3. Shane, good to read you on this site. I think something like 9 months to 2 years depending on a bit of luck and the ingredients already mentioned. Rob