17 Nov 2019

African Olive Pigeon - Raydah Escarpment

Phil Roberts and I recently when to the Raydah Escarpment. This is a Saudi Wildlife Authority reserve and needs permission to enter. Luckily we managed to obtain permission from the Authority and were allowed down the escarpment. As it was Mid-October there were very few birds around and Dusky Turtle Dove and Laughing Dove numbers were very low, possibly as they move to lower elevations in the winter. The lack of doves made it easier to try to locate African Olive Pigeon. This is a species I have seen on three occasions but always at a great distance and never close enough to photograph. This changed however this last trip as a car in front of us on the way up the escarpment disturbed a large dark br that flew into some dense cover of a tall juniper tree. I suggested it could be an African Olive Pigeon and on looking through the binoculars we could see it was indeed one. I maneuvered our car to safe parking spot and we got out in the hope the bird would show itself well and allow us some photos. Luckily this is exactly what happened and the bird flew into a tall dead tree nearby allowing a few photos before moving off up the escarpment. This was a species both Phil and I had been trying to photograph over the past six years so we were very happy with the results. Whilst parking the car a second birds was seen briefly in the same place. This is a scarce to uncommon species although it is a local breeder in the southwest highlands. It is not entirely clear if birds are resident although HBW states it is, as there is only one record from the months of December to February. It is a large pigeon, about the size of a European Woodpigeon and is predominantly dark grey with obvious white speckles on breast and wing-coverts. The females are a bit duller than the males. The iris is pale yellow to light brown, the bare skin around the eye, cere, bill and legs are bright yellow, which is conspicuous and diagnostic even in flight. They feed on fruits of various trees, including Podocarpus, Prunus and Ficus species and are patchily distributed from Eritrea south through eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to southern South Africa. 
African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

African Olive Pigeon

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