17 August 2016

Blanford’s Lark in Tale’a Valley - Abha

Blandford’s Lark is a scarce medium-sized lark that occurs in a very limited number if sites in southwest Saudi Arabia. It had not been seen for many years until recently when some birds were found at Azeeza near Abha. Whilst birding the southwest recently Phil Roberts and I found a number of birds, probably more than ten, coming down to drink at a small area of water in a stony wadi, in the Tale’a Valley, a new area some distance from Abha. Whilst walking around this same area a few days later we saw a few birds feeding on the dry and stony landscape including both juveniles and adults.  Birds are obvious when seen as the adults have a rufous crown and sometimes erect their crown feathers to form a prominent short crest. Race eremica found in southwest Saudi Arabia and Yemen has a darker rufous crown with blackish lateral streak anteriorly a b.lackish loral streak and a yellower bill. The other races are found in northern Eritrea and northern Somalia. Birds occur mainly on open grassland and bare ground, including stony areas. Generally found in wadis with occasional bushes and scattered trees in Arabia where it occurs mainly between 1800–2500 metres.