Thursday 23 May 2013

Bani Malik

On Friday afternoon, Lou Regenmorter, Mansur Al Fahad and I ascended the foothills east of Sabya and birded an area known as Bani Malik and at an altitude of 750 metres.

This wasn't an upland weekend but even climbing up to the relatively modest height of 750 metres had a significant effect on the mix of bird species seen.

Female African grey hornbill

Many Afro-tropical species prefer higher elevations than sea level. For example African grey hornbill is much more common at 500 metres than 100 metres. Indeed at our main birding stop up the foothills it was easily seen on several occasions.

The bird above is female as told by the red bill colour. Males have a black bill.

Bruce's green pigeon

Some of the trees at our main stop, a verdant wadi, were fruiting and had attracted a number of Bruce's green pigeon. I had only seen one before (in August last year south of Baha). This time I managed long views without too much trouble.

Red-eyed dove

Red eyed dove was present in the same area. Both these birds ignore the plain for the foothills.

Little swift and red-rumped swallow hawked the skies.

Abyssinian white eye

Two more examples of Afro-tropical birds found at this height but not much lower were Abyssinian white-eye and shining sunbird. Nile valley sunbird is the lowest elevation sunbird but there is extensive range overlap including where we birded.

shining sunbird

Two birds we failed to see on our weekend in the south west were Klaas cuckoo and Dideric's cuckoo. The former is mapped as being in Saudi Arabia in the main regional guide whereas the latter is not. However it has been reported here and indeed seen previously by Mansur Al Fahad.

Research shows that Klaas cuckoo has a strong preference for being parasitical on sunbirds of shining sunbird size (whereas a nile valley sunbird is considerably smaller).  This connection was part of the reason I was so keen to go up the foothills.

griffon vulture

My hunch is that Klaas cuckoo is best found in areas where the density of shining sunbird is highest. This theory will have to wait for a future visit to the south west.

We spent a brief amount of time going even further up the hill side before time ran out.

One of the last views before we had to return down and end our birding for the weekend was a soaring griffon vulture.

Below is the full list of 88 birds I saw over the weekend. All seven additions to my Saudi list (S) were also lifers (L).

Two other species: helmeted guineafowl and European reed warbler were seen by other team members but not by me.

Little grebe
Laughing dove
Greater flamingo
Namaqua dove
Abdim’s stork   S,L
White browed coucal
Glossy ibis
Pied cuckoo     S,L
Eurasian spoonbill
Nubian nightjar   S,L
Cattle egret
African palm swift
Squacco heron
Little swift
Grey heron
Abyssinian roller
Purple heron
Reef heron
Grey headed kingfisher
Pink backed pelican
White throated bee-eater  S,L
Little green bee-eater
Black kite (yellow billed)
African grey hornbill
Griffon vulture
Asian grey shrike
Gabar goshawk S,L
Arabian babbler
House crow
Fan tailed raven
Yellow vented bulbul
Crab plover
Black crowned sparrowlark
Black winged stilt
Crested lark
Greater painted snipe  S,L
Desert lark
Spur winged lapwing
Pale crag martin
Common ringed plover
Red rumped swallow
Kentish plover
Barn swallow
Lesser sand plover
Zitting cisticola
Black tailed godwit
Graceful prinia
Sedge warbler
Willow warbler
Little stint
Barred warbler
Arabian warbler
Sooty gull
Abyssinian white eye
Black headed gull
Common myna
Lesser black backed gull (Baltic)
Violet backed starling
Caspian tern
Rufous bush robin
Gull billed tern
Black bush robin
White winged black tern
Whiskered tern
Nile valley sunbird
Swift tern
Shining sunbird
Chestnut bellied sandgrouse
House sparrow
Lichtenstein’s sandgrouse  S,L
Arabian golden sparrow
Rock dove
Ruepells weaver
African collared dove
African silverbill
Red eyed dove
Arabian waxbill

Yellow wagtail

1 comment:

  1. It was happy to see such a great list from Saudi. Great findings and Thank you for sharing the info. I would like to join you for a weekend trip if possible. can I have your contact detail> please mail me:

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