Monday, 6 February 2017

Khobar 27/1/17

As I will soon be leaving Saudi Arabia I decided to try to get around to visiting some of the sites I have been to over the past 4 years.  This weekend we took the long drive towards the gulf coast to Khobar to see some seabirds.  Unlike my last visit here last summer it was cold with temperatures only around 14 degrees centigrade when I arrived around 8:30 am.  Not that I was upset, it is far easier to walk in 14 and 42!!

Al Khobar water tower is one of the main landmarks on this coast along with the King Fahd Bridge joining Saudi Arabia to Bahrain.  This is an impressive landmark towering 90m above the city and hosts a restaurant and observation area along with its primary water tower function.  Impressive eh?

Almost immediately after arrival I got some lovely views of Great Cormorant which were present in large numbers, some were molting to their breeding plumage.  This one is in classic feather drying pose as unlike many water birds Cormorants do not have waterproofing and have to get out from time to time to dry off.

I think these are probably the avian version of a submarine swimming very low in the water.  In addition to the Great Cormorants there were a small number Socatra Cormorants out to sea on the shallow water markers but I could not get any useful photos of them. 

There were a small number of Grey Herons around the place today although as ever they were quite difficult to get close to.
The most common member of the Heron family seen around the place was the Western Reef Heron, a good deal smaller than the grey but nonetheless impressive.

The Western Reef Heron comes in a variety of colours, the Dark Morph and the light morph as seen here.  There is an intermediate type also seen which I think is a hybrid of the two.

There were a small number of terns along the Corniche like the Lesser Crested Tern.

And rather a lot of Greater Flamingo, as always the Adults were segregated from the juveniles (above). 

Common Redshank were pretty much all over the place today.  Dispersed in small numbers but everywhere.

As were members of the plover family with the most abundant being the tiny Kentish Plover which is found in many areas of the Kingdom almost all year round.

Slightly less common but a handsome bird is the Grey plover.  There were a couple of dozen of these about today.

And last but by no means least the Ringed Plover which was scurrying about the tideline in search on food.

The Black Headed Gull were on site in huge numbers.  One of the many flocks I watched numbered a couple of hundred birds.

The Black Winged Stilt was another common sight today, I'm not sure why the gull in the background was giving one of them a ducking but it did not appear to bother any of the others too much.
A little fly by of some more Black Heads.
There were not that many land birds around today for some reason, I spotted a few Collared Dove and the ubiquitous House Sparrow were busy in the trees.  I did have a flypast of 4 House Crows but they were gone before I got a chance to take a photo.  

Along the pathway were a few Crested Lark picking at crumbs left by picnicking locals.
I am not certain about this gull.  I think its a Caspian Gull although the yellow bill with black tip and small red spot suggests Armenian.  The classification of many of the yellow legged gulls is far from clear with a number of different bodies either lumping or splitting the species.  For those who are interested in the challenges of this I attach an interesting article on the identification of Yellow Legged Gulls from British Birds magazine.

The cool conditions were much to my liking today and made life a lot easier for birding.  That said there is never a dull day when your birding here, always loads to keep the interest.

© Bernard Bracken

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