30 Sep 2019

Singing Bush Larks near Sabya – Phil’s Fields

Whilst birding Phil’s Fields near Sabya in southwest Saudi Arabia I found a good number of Singling Bush Larks. This set of fields is an almost guaranteed place to see the species in the Kingdom where they are otherwise difficult to find. The subspecies we get in southwest Saudi Arabia is M. c. simplexthat occurs in southwest Saudi Arabia, Yemen and western Oman and has upperparts somewhat warmer and browner than the nominate subspecies. The bird is a small, compact lark with shortish, stubby bill. Singing Bush Lark is an uncommon resident of the extreme southwest of Saudi Arabia and does not occur anywhere else in the country. They are often common in the very local areas where they occur and where they frequent fairly short grassland and cultivated land, provided that crops are short and dense enough to provide cover.
Singing Bush Lark

Singing Bush Lark

Singing Bush Lark

28 Sep 2019

Butterflies – Abha area

Whilst birding the Abha area recently I came across a few butterflies. The African Lime Swallowtail is a common butterfly of this region of southwest Saudi Arabia and I saw good numbers on the ground in a group at the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment. This was the first time I had seen tem gathering like this. Painted Lady butterflies were also very common and could be seen in many places, with this one shown below photographed in the Talea Valley just outside Abha. The Doubleday Acraea is a less common but still regularly seen butterfly and was seen and photographed about 50 kilomenters south of Abha still in the Asir mountains.
African Lime Swallowtail
African Lime Swallowtail
African Lime Swallowtail
African Lime Swallowtail
Painted Lady
Painted Lady
Doubleday Acraea
Doubleday Acraea

26 Sep 2019

Birding Malaki Dam Lake – Abu Arish

Whilst birding Malaki Dam Lake near Abu Arish Phil Roberts and I saw a few good birds. We were mainly there to try to see and record Nubian and Plain Nightjars during the night but also spent some daylight time looking for other birds. The lake is a huge expanse of water with semi cultivated fields nearby and other rough hillsides made of volcanic rock. The water areas are good for Eurasian Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis and the trees for doves where Red-eyed Dove has been seen previously. We failed to see any Red-eyed Doves but located plenty of similar African Collared Doves. The uncommon Abyssinian Roller was seen on some overhead wires and African Palm Swifts were flying over.
Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian Spoonbill
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis 
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis


African Collared Dove
African Collared Dove 
African Palm Swift
African Palm Swift
African Palm Swift
African Palm Swift
Malaki Dam Lake
Malaki Dam Lake

24 Sep 2019

Anderson's Rock Agama – Raydah Escarpment

Whilst birding the Raydah Escarpment recently I came across an Anderson's Rock Agama Acanthocercus adramitanus. This species is endemic to the Arabian Peninsula, where it is found in west and south Arabia, from Taif (Saudi Arabia) in the north to Dhofar (Oman) in the east. Its range includes Oman, Yemen, and southwestern Saudi Arabia and is the most common species of Agama in Yemen. It is a common rock dwelling lizard in Saudi Arabia mainly present in mountainous areas and is found to around 2200 metres above sea level. Populations can be found on vertical rocks, rock steps and amongst boulders often in the vicinity of water. They can occur in precipitous wadis surrounded by dense vegetation, with the animals usually seen on the top of boulders. They do not however require water, obtaining moisture from their insect prey.
Anderson's Rock Agama

Anderson's Rock Agama

Anderson's Rock Agama

22 Sep 2019

Pink-backed Pelican & Brown Booby – Jizan fish market

At the Jizan fish Market on the Red Sea coast in southwest Saudi Arabia, the fish traders occasionally come out and put all the fish offal in the road for the gulls. When the fish waste was out other birds such as Pink-backed Pelicans and Brown Booby will come in and try their luck. There was huge commotion and fighting with the bigger Booby and pelicans making off with food and the gulls fighting for the rest. The site is great for getting close to the birds feeding on the fish waste but is quite busy with people.
Pink-backed Pelican
Pink-backed Pelican 
Pink-backed Pelican
Pink-backed Pelican 
Pink-backed Pelican
Pink-backed Pelican 
Brown Booby
Brown Booby

20 Sep 2019

Gulls – Jizan fish market

Whilst birding the Jizan fish Market in Summer with Phil Roberts we saw plenty of gulls waiting around for fish scraps from the nearby fish market. Occasionally a fish trader would come out and put all the fish offal in the road and the gulls would have a feast. There were plenty of White-eyed Gulls and Sooty Gulls sitting around and a couple of Baltic Gulls were also present.  We spent quite a long time trying to get good photos and they normally come out less well than anticipated. Some of my best shots are below. 
Baltic Gull
Baltic Gull
Baltic Gull
Baltic Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
Sooty Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull
White-eyed Gull


19 Sep 2019

White-browed Coucal – Abu Arish Waste-water Lakes

Whilst birding the Abu Arish area recently I came across a good number of White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus including well grown juveniles. The subspecies of White-browed Coucal we get in southwest Saudi Arabia is Centropus superciliosus superciliosus. They occur on Socotra and southwest Arabia as well as eastern Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and western Somalia south through Kenya and northeast Uganda to northeast Tanzania. In Saudi Arabia, they are an uncommon breeding resident in the Tihamah and have been recorded on the Farasan Islands. They are normally located by their distinct song/call that is a series of 10 – 20 notes, descending in pitch and increasing in tempo. They may call from deep inside vegetation but occasionally do so from an exposed perch. The best places to see the species in the Kingdom appear to be Malaki Dam Lake and the bottom of the Raydah Escarpment where they can be seen near the village and in the dry wadi at the bottom of the escarpment. This is a difficult species to photograph well as they spend much of the time hidden in vegetation.
White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

White-browed Coucal

17 Sep 2019

Pharaoh Eagle Owl - Dhahran Hills

I took a few photos today of a Pharaoh Eagle Owl in Dhahran Camp. It allowed extremely close approach in the car and the below photos are some of those I took before leaving in in place on its favourite perch. Although they have occurred here previously this is the first time I have seen and photographed the species on my ‘patch’. They are an uncommon species throughout most of the Kingdom. The Pharaoh Eagle Owl is distributed throughout much of North Africa and the Middle East, with two recognised subspecies and the smaller, paler and sandier coloured Bubo ascalaphus desertorum appearing to be this subspecies. They are found in arid habitats, including open desert plains, rocky outcrops and broken escarpments and jabals, mountain cliffs and wadis. 
Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pharaoh Eagle Owl

Pharaoh Eagle Owl