5 Jun 2020

Aloe castellorum – Talea Valley

Whilst birding the Talea Valley we came across a number of large flowering
Aloe castellorum. This is a medium-sized aloe with solitary rosettes of up-turned pale green leaves that have green spines that darken with age. Unbranched flower spikes rise about 60 centimeters above the leaves bearing waxy greenish-yellow flowers that at first point outwards as buds then lie flat against the spike when open. This is a drought resistant species found in the highlands of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. 
Aloe castellorum

3 Jun 2020

White-throated Bee-eater – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birdwatching the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment I came across a few White-throated Bee-eaters. This is a migratory species moving from winter quarters in Africa (Liberia to Uganda) to breeding locations in southwest Arabia including Saudi Arabia as well as the Sahel region of Africa. They are scarce breeding migrant below 1600 metres, mainly nesting in dry acacia bush country, wadis or cultivated areas with earth embankments and scattered trees. They are similar to other bee-eaters in the fact they catch flying insect during sorties from an obvious perch or during continuous flight. They are active during the day and are seen as pairs in early spring and occasionally family parties of several birds, including helpers, during the early summer. All Bee-eaters are beautiful birds but these are in my opinion particularly attractive due to their long tail streamers and plumage.
White-throated Bee-eater

1 Jun 2020

Umbrella Thorn Acacia tortilis – Talea Valley

Whilst birding the Talea Valley we came across a number of large flowering
Umbrella Thorn Acacia tortilis. It is a common species in Saudi Arabia and it thrives in semi-arid and arid zones particularly where sandy substrate is present. Among the many species of acacia, Acacia tortilis is a major component of the vegetation of the, mountains, coastal and inland plains of Saudi Arabia. The flowering period varies between years and locations, related to the climatic conditions. They are an extremely important plant for honey production in the Asir region. A. tortilis is very distinctive and easily recognised, with the characteristic mixture of long straight spines and shorter hooked ones combined with spirally twisted or contorted pods. Over most of its range the characteristically flattened crown has given it the popular name of Umbrella Thorn; however, this is usually not the shape in the subsp. Raddiana which occurs also in Saudi Arabia. Generally, the foliage is smaller than in many acacias, and the whitish flowers in small round heads are also characteristic, though this is a feature shared with other Acacia species.
Umbrella Thorn Acacia tortilis

Umbrella Thorn Acacia tortilis

Umbrella Thorn Acacia tortilis

28 May 2020

Female Anderson's Rock Agama - Tanoumah

Whilst birding the fields in Tanoumah I came across some female Anderson's Rock Agama Acanthocercus adramitanus. Rather than being the brightly coloured males I normally see, these were much duller. As I was not certain of the identity of them I sent the photos to Mansur Al Fahad a local expert on lizards, as well as most things to do with nature in general. He very kindly identified them for me as female Anderson's Rock Agama. They are very common in the Abha/Tanouma area and I see them every time I go out birding.
Female Anderson's Rock Agama

Female Anderson's Rock Agama

Female Anderson's Rock Agama

26 May 2020

Red-breasted Wheatear - Talea Valley

Whilst driving down the raod in the Talea Valley I found a pair of Red-breasted Wheatear Oenanthe bottae at the side of the road with a juvenile. As I did not have many photos if this species I stopped in the hope the birds may come closer to the car. Luckily for me they performed well allowing some good photos to be taken whcich are shown below. It is a common breeding resident, mostly sedentary in the highlands of the southwestern mountains of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It occurs north to Taif always above 2300 metres in flattish areas such as wadi bottoms and cultivated fields with walls. There are two subspecies O. b. frenata from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and nominate O. b bottae from southwest Saudi Arabia to Yemen.
Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear

Red-breasted Wheatear