Saturday, 3 March 2012

Partridges and doves at Baha

As I said in the last blog,  I visited Baha in the south west of Arabia over the weekend. I birded by walking straight out of the hotel with no driving to sites. I got very lucky. The valley 200 metres to the east had virtually everything I could have asked for in a two day period:  6 endemics, over 40 species and 10 plus lifers.

I am going to blog by species type for want of a better way of doing it. This blog looks at doves and partridges.

valley at the top looking down, edge of  Baha city

Although I birded the valley on Thursday, I went back again on Friday because the birding had been so good and I thought I might see more. I did. Before breakfast I looked at the top part of the valley and accidentally flushed a flock of Arabian partridge. This is an endemic bird to Arabia.  They actually flew over the cliff down into the ravine below.  There was no way I could follow them!

Arabian partridge near the hotel

I made a mental note to try looking for them again later in the day. As it happens I re-visited the top of the valley in mid afternoon. And I found a flock of partridge in nearly the same place. This time managed to get closer before any bird was flushed. You can imagine my surprise when I found this flock was not Arabian partridge but Philby's partridge. Philby's partridge has a black face and a grey crown. They are immediately distinguishable from Arabian partridge as I discovered. Philby's partridge is also an endemic to Arabia.

Philby's partridge running away

The only problem with birding the top of the wadi is baboons. On Friday morning there was 120 of them in the deserted supermarket car park near-by. I'll show the photo in a later blog. Meanwhile I wonder whether their presence was one reason why I didn't meet a single person all weekend on foot in the top end of the valley or maybe it was just the windy conditions up there?

male baboon staring at me

I have already blogged about the dusky turtle dove I saw further down the wadi in the cultivated area. In fact the cultivated places were teeming with doves and pigeons. 

dusky turtle dove

There were several dusky turtle dove, a few namaqua dove and many tens of pigeons and laughing dove.  I don't know weather it is me or what but like in Najran (in another part of the south west) I failed to see an African collared dove.

Namaqua dove

Namaqua dove were only found in the lower part of the valley (which is still above 1500 metres!) whereas laughing dove was everywhere part from the very top.

laughing dove

The next blog will feature finches and friends seen in the valley. There will be an endemic, a bunting, a white eye and more!

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