26 Jun 2019

Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl - Tanoumah

Whilst in Tanoumah in May Phil Roberts and I managed to see and photograph an Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl. I initially saw the bird on some overhead wires where it stayed for a few minutes before flying off. I have seen the bird here last year on the same wires. When it flew, it did so only a short distance and landed on a nearby building where it started calling very softly. We got out of the car and moved closer getting to about twenty metres of the bird where I got some very poor IPhone recordings of the call. After about ten minutes the bird flew again and disappeared. We walked down the road the way it had flown and I saw it again perched on some more overhead telephone wires. Here we managed to walk behind large sets of building walls and get in front of the bird allowing reasonable photos to be taken at close range. The owl was not disturbed by our presence, and stayed on the wires the entire time until we left it in peach in the same location. The subspecies in Arabia is an endemic sub-species to southwestern Arabia and although not rare is difficult to locate. Birds are resident near the Red Sea coast north to Jeddah and can be seen in the Tihamah and Asir areas including Najran and Hejaz north to Taif. Other birds have been seen in a wooded wadi eight kilometres east of Wadi Juwwah in April and near Tanoumah at various times of year. The taxonomic status of form milesi, significantly isolated in southwest Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, is uncertain. It is a rather small eagle-owl with long, erect ear-tufts and with race milesi smaller and more tawny coloured. They use a variety of habitats, from rocky outcrops in desert to woodland with sparse ground cover: particularly favours areas with mosaic of low hills, grassland and scrub; prefers semi-open woodland, and rocky hills with scattered trees and bushes; also found in thorn savanna; avoids dense forest. From sea level up to c. 2100 metres.
Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl

Arabian Spotted Eagle-owl



24 Jun 2019

Solanum incanum – Talea Valley

Whist looking around the Talea Valley in the Asir Mountains, after a huge thunderstorm, hail and heavy rain I came across an erect bushy leaf shurblet 1 metre high and slightly spiny. Some spines are on the mid-rib of the grey-green velvety leaves. Large pale yellow smooth round fruits. It turned out to be a Solanum incanum which is widespread in the Hijaz and Asir mountains.
Solanum incanum

22 Jun 2019

Late migrants – Jubail

Towards the end of May I went to Jubail with an early morning start getting me to the site at first light. There were a good number of migrants around with a couple of Whinchats and plenty of Willow Warblers in the tamarisk bushes. A few Red-backed Shrikes, a Common Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatchers. Apart from Willow Warblers the reeds were alive with the song of Caspian Reed Warblers and Clamorous Reed Warblers. GrOut on the flooded sabkha were plenty of terns and herons a good numbers of Wood Sandpipers.
Clamorous Reed Warbler
Clamorous Reed Warbler

Grey-headed Swamphen
Grey-headed Swamphen
Little Ringed Plover
Little Ringed Plover 
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Whinchat
Whinchat
Whinchat
Whinchat 
Whinchat
Whinchat
Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper

20 Jun 2019

Arabian Skittering Frog - Tanoumah

Whilst looking for Owls at night in Tanoumah in the Asir mountains of southwest Saudi Arabia Phil spotted a frog jumping across the road infront of the car. As we had cameras at the ready for any owl sightings we took some flash photographs of the amphibian. The Arabian Skittering Frog or Arabian Five-fingered Frog Euphlyctis ehrenbergii is a species of frog in the Dicroglossidae family found in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It has previously been treated as a subspecies of the Skittering Frog Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis, but is now considered as a valid species. The frog is restricted to areas of permanent and temporary water in the Red Sea coastal region of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. It has an altitudinal range from sea level to 2,400 metres above sea level and lays its eggs in water. The species may aestivate during the dry season, meaning it spends the hot or dry period in a prolonged state of torpor or dormancy.
Arabian Skittering Frog

Arabian Skittering Frog

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