Whilst birding the NADAC Farm area of Haradh 20 October I saw plenty of Harriers including at minimum of two Montagu’s Harriers over the pivot irrigation fields. Male Montagu’s Harriers are easily identified by their upperwing pattern amongst other details but Juvenile and female Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers are difficult to identify with certainty at times and good views are needed.
Face pattern and neck collar amongst other features are useful for identification on perched birds where the underwing cannot be seen. The birds were mainly at some distance but luckily one was found under a bush resting from the still very high temperatures.
Normally the birds fly well before getting close to them but this one stayed and allowed close approach but as it was in the shade the light was not too good for very good photos. Birds are uncommon passage migrants in the Eastern Province mainly from April to May and from September to October with a few birds apparently wintering and up to eight seen in a day at Haradh in September.
Birds of the Riyadh Region by Stagg 1994, says they are a common passage migrant and increasingly frequent winter visitor that passes March and again late August to mid-October. Since 1988, winter visitors have taken up residence around alfalfa fields south of Riyadh during December and January.
Other records have come from all areas from the southwest to the northeast of the Kingdom although the species is not common anywhere.
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.