07 December 2021

Red-eyed Dove - Jebal Faifa

Jebal Faifa is a tall mountain near the Yemen border and has become a popular tourist resort. The roads to the top are narrow and very steep but there are a number of places to stay at the top. It has recently become a good place to see Red-eyed Dove a species that is claimed widely in Saudi Arabia but one I have personally not seen. It occurs widely throughout Africa south of the Sahara as well as in southwest Arabia (southwest Saudi Arabia and Yemen). It is sometimes common where it is found but it is scarce and local in Saudi Arabia where it is regarded as a resident. It is mainly found in well wooded sites on hillsides, often with gardens with large trees and running water. I went to Jebal Faifa with Phil Roberts in mid-November and stayed at the very top of the mountain. We arrived in the middle of the day and there was very little bird activity except for an unexpected Tihama Shikra flying over near the top. In the late afternoon bird activity started to become more obvious and a number of Red-eyed Dove were heard calling. We slowly worked our way towards where the birds were calling from but the steep hillsides made it difficult getting close. We decided to sit and wait near a small roadside overlooking a steep valley and were rewarded after a short wait by four birds flying in and landing on some overhead wires. We slowly moved closed and were able to obtain some reasonable photos, and counted nine birds in total that evening. On the drive down the mountain the following morning birds were seen regularly on overhead wires almost all the way to the bottom. Other mountain birds seen in the area included Steppe Buzzard & Fan-tailed Raven