An adult and juvenile Bewick’s Swan Cygnus (columbianus) bewickii near Al Jawf 14-15 December 2016 with three more adults in the north of the Kingdom 19 December 2016 being only the third to seventh records of the species for the Kingdom. Four See-see Partridge Ammoperdix griseogularis, including a calling male, were at a remote desert site a couple of hours drive from Sakaka in Al Jawf province 23 April, the first records for the Kingdom for many years.
A Striated Heron Butorides striata was at Al Khobar Corniche seafront 13 January the fifth record for the Eastern Province with signs the species is spreading north up the Arabian Gulf coast. A Goliath Heron Ardea goliath remained at KAUST until 18 May at least with two present from 6 – 19 April. A Macqueen’s Bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii, a species in serious decline in the Eastern Province, was near to Al Hassa 6 January. A juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata was over Dhahran Hills 25 February only the fourth record for the Eastern Province.
An overwintering immature male Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus was at Deffi Park 16 December 2016 with up to eight wintering birds in Dhahran until mid-February with a single remaining until 12 April. An adult Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii was at the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment 31 March. 350 Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus at Haradh 13 January where the second largest recorded flock for Saudi Arabia.
26 Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus were at Haradh pivot fields 13 January with six at the same site 3 February. Two further birds were at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail 7 April with one staying until 27 May at least. A single bird at Haradh 21 April appeared to be defending a territory aggressively from other birds suggesting it might be breeding. An amazing 24 Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus were at Shaybah water ponds 14 February, a species previously regarded as a vagrant to the Eastern Province. Seven Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious were at Haradh 13 January with at least five remaining until 3 February, only the third record for the Eastern Province and proving birds have started wintering at this site since 2016.
The bird at KAUST wintered in the area until 23 February at least. A Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius was at KAUST 4 February. A Pallid Scops Owl Otus brucei was in a Wadi south of Zulfi 20 December 2016. A White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis was at Dhahran 20 January whilst a Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis remained at KAUST until 23 May. A Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus was at the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment 31 March.
Two Arabian Magpie Pica (pica) asirensis, were at Sallal al-Dahna, Tanoumah 1-2 April. A large flock for twenty Blanford’s Lark Calandrella blanfordi were at Talea’a Valley, Abha Province 31 March to 2 April. Fifteen Oriental Skylarks Alauda gulgula were at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail 10 February. A Basra Reed Warbler Acrocephalus griseldis was at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail 26 May. A Moustached Warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon was at KAUST 19 April a first for the site.
The first Thick-billed Warbler Arundinax aedon for Saudi Arabia was at Sarrar 24 February amongst a large ‘fall’ of migrants. An adult male Common Blackbird Tudus merula was at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail 29 December 2016 until 20 January with a female there 29 January. Four Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogularis, an adult male and three first year males were at Deffi Park, Jubail 20 January, the first record for the Eastern Province since the 1980’s, increasing to 12, two adult males, two adult females and eight first year males 27 January remaining until 10 February.
Two Redwing Turdus iliacus were at Deffi Park, Jubail 27 January a vagrant to Saudi Arabia. A pair of Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe near Sarrar 24 February with another a short distance away still in Sarrar was the sixth & seventh records of this species for the Eastern Province. Additional records from Al Hassa area show the species is now resident in the region favouring farms. A female Eversmann’s Redstart Phoenicurus erythronotus was at Sabkhat Al Fasl, Jubail 29 January the first record since 2000.
A Sinai Rosefinch Carpodacus synoicus was well to the south of its normal range at Yanbu Waste Water Treatment dump, 4 February.