Monday, 12 May 2014

Return to Wadi Talea

Bernard Bracken and I returned to the Abha area for the first time since February last weekend. 

We visited the same two places. First we went to Wadi Talea on Friday and on Saturday we visited the Raydah escarpment. Both places are off the Jebel Souda road.

The diversity was greater than in winter and the shear volume of birds was among some of highest I have witnessed in Saudi Arabia particularly in Wadi Talea. The temperate weather will have helped the bird activity which continued all day. 

Bruce's green pigeon

In Wadi Talea we began before seven and continued until nearly five in the afternoon. 

We started in the middle of the valley at al Shat and moved up the valley before looping round back to al Shat. This blog looks at the area near al Shat. The next will look at what was seen further up the valley.

In February one of the obvious features was the presence of fair numbers of dusky turtle dove despite the high elevation. It has an altitude of about 2500 metres.

The dusky turtle dove and indeed laughing dove were still there.

dusky turtle dove

However there were more Bruce's green pigeon that either. While chasing a blackcap in a knot of three trees we managed to flush 12 Bruce's green pigeon from the same fruiting tree. This pigeon is described as a partial migrant and I saw 4 in March at 400 metres towards the coast. 

red rumped swallow

Other migrants and altitudinal movers were also back. Red rumped swallow were hawking for insects up and down the wadi.

Gambaga flycatcher

Gambaga flycatcher was everywhere but none were seen in February.

striolated bunting

Striolated bunting was not so common but again was not present in our winter visit. Another bunting was more common but I'll describe that in my next blog.

Incidentally the main regional guide suggests striolated bunting is shy but the bird above allowed me within two metres.

yellow wagtail

Some wintering and passage birds were still lingering. A lone yellow wagtail was seen.

willow warbler

Willow warbler and blackcap were more numerous.


While we were stopping for lunch a whinchat was spotted at the far end of the same field.


There were almost countless hoopoe. Some were in groups but it is difficult to say which were wintering, passage and resident. There were doubtless all three.

Arabian babbler

There was a good selection of south west upland resident birds in the wadi too. These were also around in February. Arabian babbler was one of the first birds seen in the morning and again during the day.

Yemen thrush

Yemen thrush was seen again but was arguably more numerous than in winter.

little rock thrush

Little rock thrush was an easy sighting. However the similar looking common redstart and black redstart around in winter were gone.

white spectacled bulbul

Other resident birds included white spectacled bulbul and African silverbill.

female Arabian wheatear

Arabian wheatear and Abyssinian white eye were plentiful.

Abyssinian white eye

Two birds seen towards the end of the day as we looped back towards Al Shat were Tristram's starling and Arabian partridge.

Tristram's starling

The starling was seen near the village while we stumbled upon the partridge close up in the wadi just before we reached the village.

four Tristram's starling

The next blog looks at what was seen in the middle of the day when we left the al Shat area to go up the valley. At first there is some open country with a different mix of birds and then there is a heavily wooded area in a particularly lush part of the wadi. Both had very interesting birds. 

I'll also provide a list of all 43 species seen on Friday.

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