20 July 2014

African Paradise Flycatchers - Raydah Escarpment

On the way back to the airport in Abha from Tanoumah area we stopped at the Raydah Escarpment for a few hours. The ranger station gate was open so we go into the reserve easily and drove down to the disused farm. The farm now has a new locked gate blocking access for vehicles along the small track but as we always walked there was no issue as it was easy to get around the outside of the gate. As we were at the location around midday it was relatively quiet but we still saw some good birds including two Arabian Waxbills. This was only the second time we had seen the species with the first in the reed beds at Malaki Dam near Jizan in April 2014. These two birds were perched in the low scrub of a large tree, very different habitat from the previous sighting. Two African Paradise Flycatchers were also seen here including a fantastic male with extra long tail streamers. Little Rock Thrush, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Linnet and Abyssinian White-eye were also common here. With a few Fan-tailed Ravens flying over.
African Paradise Flycatcher - female
African Paradise Flycatcher - male
Yemen Linnet

We then slowly made our way down the incredibly steep road to the small village at the bottom where the first bird I saw when getting out of the car was a Grey-headed Kingfisher. An African Grey Hornbill was sitting quietly in a large tree and a couple of Bruce’s Green Pigeons flew over. Violet-backed Starlings and Gambaga Flycatchers were also seen. Arabian Partridge could be heard calling from the steep cliffs but remained unseen. This was our tenth out of twelve Saudi Arabia Arabian endemics in a two day trip – a good result for two full days birding with virtually no sleep due to looking for owls and nightjars in the dark.  After Raydah we had a hour left so went to the top of Mount Soudah where there were plenty of Fan-tailed Ravens  as always and two Yemen Serins on the rocks at the top.
Gambaga Flycatcher
Violet-backed Starlings
Yemen Serin