26 Jun 2015

Raydah Escarpment - Abha

The Raydah Escarpment is a first class site 15 kilometres from Abha signposted off the Al Souda road on the Sarawat escarpment and has been protected to some degree since the 1980’s. The site is a very steep west-facing slope with crags. The escarpment, approximately nine square kilometres in size, supports a more or less intact forest of mainly Juniperus excelsa with Olea europa on the uppermost slopes. Here the cloud woodland has many juniper trees draped with lichens and is one of the most densly wooded mountainsides in Saudi Arabia. Lush more deciduous vegetation occurs on the lower slopes. In the foothills below 1,500 m vegetation becomes much more Afrotropical with numerous Ficus trees and genera such as Commiphora, Aloe, Ceropegia and Caralluma being well represented. These lusher habitats of the foothills soon give way on the tihama to arid sandy deserts interspersed with very fertile irrigated fields where water runoff from the highlands can be controlled or where water is close to the surface. It is located in the biologically rich Asir Mountains and is also an Important Bird Area encompassing strata of highland and foothill habitat from 2800 meters to Wadi Jaw at 1350 meters, including a succession of vegetation from juniper dominated upper regions, with olive Oleo europaea, through to the Afrotropical foothills at Wadi Jaw with Ficus trees and where coffee growing occurs. This reserve also holds several excellent mammal species including African small-spotted Genet, Caracal, Red Fox, Hamadryas Baboon and Arabian Wolf. Indian Crested Porcupine and Rock Hyrax can also be seen here. We saw many good birds here including 13 Arabian Partridges, six Dusky Turtle Doves, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Dideric Cuckoo, Eurasian Hoopoe, two Grey-headed Kingfishers, four White-throated Bee-eaters, five Fan Tailed Ravens, five Tristram's Starlings, Yemen Thrush, Pale Crag Martin, 10 Red-rumped Swallows, two Brown Woodland Warblers, Yemen Warbler, five Abyssinian White-eyes, Arabian Wheatear, two Blackstarts, three Little Rock Thrushes, 20 Palestine Sunbird, Shining Sunbird, two African Silverbills, Arabian Serin, 50 Yemen Linnets and a Cinammon-breasted Bunting.
White-throated Bee-eater
White-throated Bee-eater
Yemen Thrush
Yemen Thrush 
Grey-headed Kingfisher
Grey-headed Kingfisher
Dusky Turtle Dove
Dusky Turtle Dove
Cinamon-breasted Bunting
Cinamon-breasted Bunting

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