Phil Roberts and I found two winter plumaged Red-necked Phalaropes on some flooded Sabkha in Jubail on 26 February. This is the first time I have seen the species in winter plumage in the Kingdom and appears to be the earliest ever record for the Eastern Province.
These two birds were behaving in typical Phalarope manner by spinning around at the same spot feeding. They kept quite close to the muddy edge of the flooded sabkha allowing a few photographs to be taken. Red-necked Phalarope is an uncommon bird in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, although Sabkhat Al Fasl is the best place in the Province to see them.
Bundy’s ‘Birds of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia’ published in October 1989 states that they are regular in varying numbers on marshy pools in spring but very scarce and irregular in autumn.
Records are regular in Kuwait to the north but from the Eastern Province are limited with one record from March, scare in April and regular in May with the peak inland count being 150 birds at Abqaiq in May 1976. As shown they were regular in years gone by but have become increasingly scarce, although in the last four years birds have been seen each year. Recent sightings have been in May, June, August and September.