18 Jun 2019

Birding Alheefah Park - Tanoumah

Alheefah Park is normally very popular but as it was Ramadan when we were there, the number of people was much less than normal. The park is right on the escarpment edge and has breathtaking views, and is covered by large juniper trees and acacia scrub. The large trees are good places to see birds and Phil Roberts located a small group of Bruce’s Green Pigeons in good light where I managed to get a few good photos. There are plenty of rocks and hillsides and we heard Phlby’s Partridge calling soon after arriving and eventually located a single bird calling from the top of a rocky hill. As it was getting late and we want to look for owls we did not stay too long at the site with the only other bird photographed a male Palestine Sunbird.
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Bruce's Green Pigeon
Palestine Sunbird
Palestine Sunbird
Philby's Partridge
Philby's Partridge


16 Jun 2019

Desert Locust – Billasimer

Whilst birding a deep woodland valley near Billasimer I flushed a Desert Locust Schistocerca gregariasituation off the main track and onto a dry stone wall, where it was well camouflaged. The Desert Locust can form plagues and threaten agricultural production in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, something it has done for centuries. The desert locust is potentially the most dangerous of the locust pests because of the ability of it to form swarms and to fly rapidly across great distances. There has not, however, been any large swarms I know of in recent years.


14 Jun 2019

Crested Honey Buzzard in Alheefah Park - Tanoumah

We went to look for Eurasian Griffon Vultures at the lookout point in Alheefah Park and were rewarded with a female Crested Honey Buzzard that flew along the escarpment before disappearing. The species has only been seen five times previously in the summer in the Kingdom but this record being mid-may could be a late spring bird. Last summer we saw an adult female flying just overhead in the Bani Saad area and another adult female at some distance at the bottom of Wadi Wadj in Taif. An adult Male was at Dhahran 5th & 6th May to 30 July 2011 with two second calendar year birds 5 July 2014 in Dhahran. A second calendar year was at Tanoumah 5 July 2013. These new records mean that birds have been seen along most of the Asir mountain range in summer and show a few birds may regularly summer there. As most birds seem to be females there is a chance birds could be breeding in the area?
Crested Honey Buzzard
Crested Honey Buzzard
Crested Honey Buzzard
Crested Honey Buzzard
Crested Honey Buzzard
Crested Honey Buzzard


12 Jun 2019

Woodland birding - Billasimer

The tall woodland around Billasimer looked good for birdwatching and as neither Phil or I had birded the area we spent both our available mornings at the location. There are plenty of good looking sites and a few nice tracks that may hold nightjars (Plain and Montane), for which we will look next time in the area. We found a couple of very deep valleys with Philby’s Partidge calling regularly but the birds stayed hidden in the woods and did not fly as normal, so we failed to even see them. Arabian Babblers were common along the edge of the valley and Red-breasted Wheatear were seen on the way into the location. Other birds seen and photographed were Little Rock Thrush, Yemen Thrush and Abyssinian White-eye. Brown Woodland Warbler was common and plenty of Dusky Turtle Doves were seen with a couple of Arabian Magpie as calling and flying up and down the valley.
Abyssinian White-eye
Abyssinian White-eye
Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler
Arabian Babbler
Little Rock Thrush
Little Rock Thrush
Yemen Thrush
Yemen Thrush

10 Jun 2019

Diederick Cuckoo in Alheefah Park - Tanoumah

On arrival at Alheefah Park I head a Diederik Cuckoo calling and after some searching, we saw the bird in the top of a tall tree. Unfortunately, it flew almost immediately but landed again in a better-positioned tree for photography. This is normally a very difficult species to get good photos off, so the ones below were very pleasing. The bird stayed calling in the same location for ten to fifteen minutes before we left it in peace. The Diderick Cuckoo is a summer visitor to southwest Saudi Arabia where it parasitizes Rüppell's weaver. They were previously regarded as vagrants to the area, but recently birds have been seen near Tendaha dam 5 July 2010, Abha area 20 July 2010, As Sudah 5 July 2013, Wadi Jaw June 2015, Taif area July 2015, Al Mehfar Park area of Tanoumah June 2016, Quaraish June 2018 and An Namas June 2018. Now I know the call well I seem to see them every trip to the Asir Mountains in summer, so they are presumably an uncommon summer breeder.
Diederik Cuckoo

Diederik Cuckoo

Diederik Cuckoo

Diederik Cuckoo