15 Oct 2018

Blister Beetle – Wadi Grosbeak

The Blister Beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) are global distributed insects except for New Zealand and the Antarctic region and are also called Oil Beetles. The species seen near Bani Saad was Mylabris calida that has a distribution in central Asia (east to China and Korea), Caucasus and Transcaucasia, southern Balkan Peninsula, Near East, Levant and Arabian Peninsula and northern Africa. The insect was common in the area where we saw them always on flowering plants. Adult beetles can be recognized by morphological characteristics such as soft body, bright coloration, rather elongate, head deflexed with narrow neck, pronotum not carinate at sides, heteromerous tarsi, smooth integument. The bodily fluids of blister beetles contain the skin irritant cantharadin, giving the family its common name. It is possible that cantharadin acts as a protection against accidental beetle consumption by large herbivores, as some animals will avoid grazing on vegetation supporting large numbers of orange, red, or otherwise brightly colored blister beetles.


13 Oct 2018

First Autumn European Turtle Dove – Jubail area

The European Turtle Dove is a long-distance migrant breeder across much of central and southern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, wintering mainly in the Sahel zone of Africa. The species is in serious decline because of loss of suitable habitat in both the breeding and non-breeding range, unsustainable levels of hunting on migration and disease. In Saudi Arabia the species breeds in very small numbers but is mainly a passage migrant. Numbers seen in recent years on migration in the Kingdom seen to also be declining with the bird seen near Jubail the first record for me this autumn. 
European Turtle Dove

European Turtle Dove

European Turtle Dove

11 Oct 2018

Yemen Rock Agama – Wadi Grosbeak

The Yemen Rock Agama occurs in northern Yemen and adjacent Saudi Arabia, but the limits of its distribution in Saudi Arabia are currently not well known, although I have seen it as far north as Bani Saad, where these individuals shown below were taken. It occurs from around 2,000 to 3,000 metres above sea level mainly in rocky habitats. They occur both on the ground and climbing rocky surfaces, including stone-walls and human habitations where they are sometimes common. Females are bull brown whereas males can become very bright blue when trying to attract a mate.



9 Oct 2018

Migrants passing – Jubail area

The last few weeks a few more migrants have been passing through with plenty of warbler seen. Most have been Eurasian Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Barred Warbler but also a few Eastern Olivaceous Warbler have been seen and one or two Asian Desert Warblers. Wheatears have also arrived with Black-eared and Pied being the most numerous with the Asian Desert Warblers almost always associated with the Wheatears feeding in close proximity to each other. Eurasian Bee-eaters and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters have also been plentiful with small groups seen regularly over the last few weeks. Shrikes have been seen in small numbers but many less than previous years. Woodchat Shrike has been the commonest with a few Mauryan Grey Shrikes also seen with the odd Red-backed Shrike also present. 
Asian Desert Warbler
Asian Desert Warbler 
Barred Warbler
Barred Warbler
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Mauryan Grey Shrike
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Pied Wheatear
Woodchat Shrike
Woodchat Shrike

7 Oct 2018

Band-winged Grasshopper – Wadi Grosbeak

Whilst in Wadi Grosbeak near to Bani Saad in the Taif area recently I saw a number of small well camouflaged grasshoppers that could have been a type of Band-winged Grasshopper Sphingonotus savignyi classified under the family Acrididae. They are sometimes elevated to full family status as Oedipodidaeand inhabit primarily weedy fields containing little water. These species are colourful, usually with hindwings that are yellow or red and edged with black. Others have black hindwings with pale edges. This particular grasshopper was quite small and coloured to match the rock/soil type it was present amongst. I have seen these grasshoppers from just north of Abha through the area where I photographed the grasshopper below to Wadi Thee Ghazal north of Taif.