Adventurers arrive in The Gulf

Two new eye-witness reports we have just received confirm Sociable Lapwings are now passing further south through the Middle East and have arrived in The Gulf.

On Thursday November 18th two birds were sighted in Central Qatar about 40 km south-west of Dohar,  by Jamie Buchan, who reports “The birds were in non-breeding plumage. They were flighty and not approachable and were associating with nine Northern Lapwing, one Ruff, and one 1st-Winter Black-winged Pratincole. Interestingly, there were  eight birds at the same location last year, from the 20th November 2009 to at least the 19th December 2009, with a single Ruff always with the group.”

The only other records of Sociable Lapwing from Qatar are of single birds on the 16th October 1985 and the 17th September 1981.

Sociable Lapwings, Qatar November 18th 2010

Despite the birds being extremely wary, Michael J Grunwell was still able to capture these great images of the birds in flight.

Last Saturday – November 20th, ringers from the Bahrain Banding Project ringing at the Hamalah Experimental Farm ( 26° 8’16.94″N, 50°28’27.94″E) also discovered two Sociable Lapwings. The birds arrived at the site at 3:30 pm along with a Northern Lapwing and a Grey Plover.

The project is run by Professor Brendan Kavanagh and he and colleagues managed to trap and ring one of the birds securing more important data about the birds on passage.

The photographs reproduced at the head of this post and here (with Howard King’s kind permission) confirm these were immature birds in juvenile plumage.

These two birds represent only the seventh record of Sociable Lapwings we have from Bahrain and the first this year. Previously birds have been recorded as follows: Two individuals in March 1982, one in April 1982, 12 in October 1986, one in October 1990, one in January 2006 and one in October 2009.

While the final destination of the birds passing through The Gulf is uncertain, it is quite likely they will move on to winter in Oman or possibly even further south. Historical records from Oman show a distinct winter bias with multiple records peaking in December, January and February.