Friday, 2 March 2012

Baha magic

Tonight, I have just returned from one of my best birding experiences! 

Once a month, I am visiting places in other parts of Saudi Arabia away from Riyadh. This weekend,I followed up my trip to Najran a month ago with one to Baha. Like Najran, Baha is in the south west but it is a more mountainous region.

The relatively few birders who have been to the south west usually go to Abha for land birds (250 kilometres further south). If they do go to the Baha area they often chose Mount Shada and Raghadan forest. I had intended to visit at least one of these but as it turned out this never happened. I'll explain why.

I arrived at my hotel which is the Golden Tulip on the edge of Baha on Thursday morning. The hotel is on one of the highest points in the city and there is a 300 metre drop directly behind it.  I noticed there was a wide wadi right next to the hotel which starts at 2,100 metres and descends into the city. It is lightly forested but I could see some cultivation further down.

I had a hunch that I didn't need to go far to have good birding. I decided to bird the wadi before setting off for the "normal" birding venues.

I never left the wadi all weekend.

I saw over 40 species, at least 10 of them were lifers (more depending on some identification issues) and there were 6 Arabian endemics there too. All were within walking distance of the hotel. I am sure the diversity of birds was because the wadi is an uncommonly diverse habitat itself.

dusky turtle dove

I will blog about the trip over the next few days. Since the trip turned out to be so eventful,I'll divide up the birds seen into groups.  

As a taster: dusky turtle dove is an almost random example of one of the lifers I saw. This one was eating seeds in a fallow field in the farming area of the wadi.

second angle on dusky turtle dove

I almost missed it as there were pigeons in the area and there is a superficial resemblance to them. 

To build on the sighting of dusky turtle dove, in the next blog, I'll take a look at doves and partridges in the wadi.


  1. sounds like you're in birding heaven. looking forward to your upcoming posts.

  2. Khadija, good to hear from you. Hope all is well with you and your family. Yes, the birding was very, very good at Baha. What's more I just birded straight out of the hotel. No driving just good honest hill walking.