Friday 20 June 2014

The Corniche, Jeddah, June 2014

There are not many opportunities for bird watching with our schedules into Jeddah, but at least we stay close to the waterfront and can walk along the Corniche at Google Earth ref; 21 36 19.51N 39 6 26.19E. It is best, in the morning as the sun comes from behind.

 There are a few gulls, notably the White-eyed Gull which is a Red Sea specialist. Luckily this is quite a striking bird and can be identified easily. Strictly speaking, binoculars and cameras are not to be used in Saudi Arabia, so a bird that you can call with the naked eye is a blessing. The similar Sooty Gull may occur, but the heftier yellow bill with its black and red tip should stand out.

White-eyed Gull, Immature.

The Corniche is paved for about 5kms of seafront. The water is very shallow at the shoreline, but suddenly drops away about 50-100m out. A three-headed pier allows fishermen to cast into the depths and takes birders closer to terns that patrol the drop-off. Lesser Crested Tern was seen today with a few White-cheeked Terns.

Carefully positioned rocks at Google Earth ref; 21 36 47.36N 39 6 25.44E provide a breakwater and good roosting spots for the terns, gulls and Striated Herons. Little piers allow the watcher to get closer, though the piers are often used as picnic sites in the evening.
Feral cats are abundant amongst the rocks and probably live off scraps from the nightly picnics. Just to the north of here, a restaurant complex hosts a Rueppell’s Weaver colony.

Birds seen from the Jeddah Corniche;

Striated Heron 2, Black-winged Stilt 3, White-eyed Gull 20, White-cheeked Tern 12, Lesser Crested Tern 1, Feral Pigeon 100, Laughing Dove 2, House Crow 6, White-spectacled Bulbul 1, Common Myna 30, House Sparrow 8, Rueppell’s Weaver 3.

Ladies are allowed to walk alone on the Corniche, but must remain demurely dressed at all times. Ankles, arms and head should be covered to maintain respect for local customs. Gentlemen should also dress conservatively with long trousers and long sleeves being preferred.

Cameras are not allowed, yet almost every person I saw was happily clicking away or videoing with a phone or tablet. Luckily I have some library pictures of cats and White-eyed Gulls. Binoculars are also frowned upon, but I am not sure why.

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