Whilst photographing gulls at Jizan fish market, Phil saw a Brown Booby Sula leucogaster flying in and alerted me to its presence. The bird had been seen the day before at the fish harbor, but this time was much closer, flying around and occasionally over the fish market. It perched on the roof of the market at one stage and remained there until a collection of fish waste was thrown out and all gulls and the Booby flew down to eat the scraps.
As the Brown Booby was at least twice the size of any gull present it took the largest flatfish and after eating it flew off in the direction of the harbour. The close fly past allowed a number of photographs to be taken of the bird that are not easy to see and photograph from the mainland. Brown Booby is an uncommon resident of the Red Sea, where it mainly occurs offshore.
They breed on the Farasan Islands as well as other islands in the Red Sea and wander north to the Gulf of Akaba in winter. S. l. plotus is the subspecies we get in Saudi Arabia and it occurs from the Red Sea and tropical Indian Ocean east to northern Australia and the central Pacific Ocean. The race plotus is the largest and has a blackish head and neck almost concolorous with rest of upperpart. Its iris is grey to yellowish grey with narrower pale yellow outer ring.
The bill is yellowish horn to pale horn with bluish or greyish cast, facial skin and gular pouch bluish grey to blue, legs pale greenish yellow. The female has an ivory or pale horn coloured bill, slightly tinged either yellowish or pale greenish. The facial and gular skin are pale greenish yellow, with the legs coloured like the facial skin or slightly more greenish.
Birds are strictly marine, feeding mostly in inshore waters. They breed mainly on bare, rocky islands or coral atolls.
Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.
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