30 September 2012

Raghadan Forest - Baha

Raghadan Forest covers an area of 600,000 square meters in Al-Baha Province and is one of more than forty reserved zones called (Hema) which is a traditional sustainable recourse management system. Tribal people live in this region and traditionally every tribe have their own (Hema) or reserved zone. The reserve is well signposted with brown tourist signs and is quite popular with the local people for picnics. Although it is quite disturbed the area is still very good for birds and is the most wooded area in Baha that we found. Hamadryas Baboons also occur in the area but guards with sticks keep them away from the general public.  There are a few wadis nearby that are less disturbed and a number of regional endemics have been seen in them including Yemen Thrush, Arabian Wheatear, Arabian Serin, Yemen Serin and Arabian Waxbill. As I was with the family we went to the main reserve area and as a result, out of the regional endemics, I only saw Arabian Wheatear at this site but plenty of other good birds were seen. Twenty Yellow Wagtails mainly Syke’s Wagtail were feeding around on the grass roadside fringes and Spotted Flycatcher and Ortolan Bunting were feeding amongst the trees. A single Dusky Turtle Dove was flushed from cover and gave reasonable views as it flew and landed some distance away. Striolated Bunting was seen on the rocky ground at the top of the reserve and Little Rock Thrish, Arabian Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear were also in the same area. Common Redstart and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler were plentiful in the taller trees and Fan-tailed Raven was even more common with up to fifty in the air together. Red-backed Shrikes, Woodchat Shrikes and Masked Shrikes were also near the top along with Palestinian Sunbird and a small flock of Crested Larks of a different subspecies to the one that is present in the Eastern Province. Other birds of interest were Spectacled Bulbul and Siberian Stonechat.
Arabian Wheatear - male
Crested Lark
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Masked Shrike
Northern Wheatear
Red-backed Shrike
Sykes's Yellow Wagtail
White-spectacled Bulbul