Tuesday 10 April 2012

Wadi ar Rayth, Jizan province

I made one journey in-land during last weekend's visit to Jizan and that was  north east to Wadi Ar Rayth.

The wadi starts at near sea level and rises to over 1500 metres. There is a variety of habitat with semi-desert at low levels through to maquis type vegetation at high levels.

It even rained while Moe, Yousef and I were visiting a smaller wadi off-shoot in the upper valley. 

The bird life was as varied as the habitat with African and endemic species alongside Palearctic wintering birds. 

African grey hornbill in the upper wadi Ar Rayth

African grey hornbill was the most notable Afro-tropical bird. Two were seen in the upper valley very close to a car park for picnickers. This wasn't a lifer for me but it was a welcome and interesting addition to my Saudi list.

Yousef (right), me (left) and three local teenagers. Photo by Moe

Half way up the valley was a reservoir. Here I sighted a single grey heron and a black kite otherwise it was an uneventful body of water. I presume it was without fish.

However the acacia and other trees in the open woodland next to it were more interesting. Here I saw my first ever Arabian warbler (actually two of them).

Arabian warbler

Among the other birds were two I can't yet identify. One is a warbler and the other probably a chat. I have sent the pictures off a couple of experts to view for verification.  I will report the conclusion of its identity in a blog as soon as I know.

Other birds in the area included pied wheatearmasked shrike, black bush robin, rufous bush robin, barn swallow, laughing dove, Ruppell's weaver and hoopoe

Tristram's starling

Towards the top of the valley is a smaller, narrow wadi which is popular with local picnickers because it includes a permanent stream and is surrounded by steep escarpments on both sides. The most common bird inside this wadi was Tristram's starling with lesser numbers of yellow vented bulbul.

fan tailed raven

At the small wadi's entrance were eight or so fan tailed raven flying around. 

brown necked raven

Inside the wadi I also noticed a single browned necked raven in the air high above. There were many more African palm swift,  European crag martin and African rock martin

grey wagtail

One of the palearctic wintering birds was a grey wagtail near the stream's edge.

baboons in the wadi

This wadi was problematic because there were so many baboons in a narrow space. I had to walk past the three (there is a small one at the back) above to get out with steep cliffs either side. For this stage of the journey I was on my own too.

common redstart

The final bird of the trip was a wintering common redstart next to our car in the car park at end of off-shoot wadi.

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