Wetland habitats


The Sanctuary harbours internationally important numbers of migrating and wintering waterfowl. Many of these can be seen feeding on a large, inland, flooded sabkha known as Sabkhat al-Fasl. Here excess treated waste water is dumped and allowed to evaporate. Rich in nutrients· it has caused the growth of microorganisms and small invertebrates such as ostracods (20) and midges (19), a food supply which has not been missed by the migratory birds and the resident species, such as the black-winged stilt (22).


During the autumn many wading birds, such as dunlin (23), migrate south from the Arctic circle to overwinter in the Gulf. Other species, such as the little stint (24) and the broad-billed sandpiper (21), may stay or fly on to east and southern Africa. After crossing the Gulf they stop to feed along the intertidal mudflats of the Saudi Arabian coast. Here they replace their fat reserves, often doubling in weight in a few weeks.


Large numbers of the beautiful greater flamingoes spend the winter here, visiting from Iran or Central Asia. The total number of birds seen on these lagoons regularly exceeds 20,000 during the autumn and the spring.

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