Saturday, 10 November 2012

African birds in the south west

In Yemen and south west Saudi Arabia, the breeding birds are predominately "African" or Arabian endemics. By African I mean that the majority of the breeding populations are there.

Mansur Al Fahad visited the Taif and Baha areas between October 19 and 22nd, almost exactly 2 months after Brian James and I visited very similar places.

Mansur videos much of what he sees but has kindly made some stills of some of the birds he saw and is allowing me to show them on this blog.

 Bruce's green pigeon

What I have done today is compiled most of his pictures of the African birds he videoed.

In the Baha area he saw Bruce's green pigeon. In Africa many of this species are partly migratory. I was interested to see that it is still around in Saudi Arabia in mid October.

second shot of Bruce's green pigeon

It is supposed to be partial to figs and that is supposed to be an important factor in its migratory behaviour but from Mansur's first picture it's diet looks a bit more varied. Also there isn't such a clear cut wet and dry season in south west Arabia as in the parts of Africa where this pigeon can be found. All in all, it could easily be resident contrary to some books.

Shining sunbird

Another "African" bird is shining sunbird. It's dark red-purple breast strip is often a lot more difficult to see than the guides would draw it. It is often quite tricky to distinguish from palestine sunbird if the view is short. It tends to be a more upland rather than coastal bird here and this one was also seen in the Baha area.

Abyssinian white eye

It goes without saying where most Abyssinian white eye are found but it is quite common in south west Saudi Arabia too.

Brown woodland warbler

Brown woodland warbler is found in the tropics and sub tropics in Africa but also upland south west Saudi Arabia.

Red breasted wheatear

Every birder has his nemesis birds - ones he should have seen but hasn't. I have got 4 birds which I really ought to have seen in Saudi Arabia but haven't yet. My four are golden oriole  (incidentally its very common in the  village I live in in Bulgaria), moustached warbler, hooded wheatear and red-breasted wheatear. I have spent far too much time looking for them. Of course, there are other birds I haven't seen but these four should have been seen by now given where I have visited and how often.

Mansur observed red-breasted wheatear with easy in the As Shafa area near Taif. This was one of the places I had looked for it!

yellow billed kite

Also in the Taif area were several yellow billed kite, the African sub species or arguably full species cousin of black kite.

Nile valley sunbird

South of Taif, Mansur picked up Nile Valley sunbird and African silverbill. The last bird was a lifer for him.

African silverbill

Thanks again to Mansur for sharing his observations and pictures.