Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Far end of Wadi Talea

I blogged yesterday about what Bernard Bracken and I saw near Al Shat village in the highland Wadi Talea near Abha. 

We also walked up the wadi away from the village. 

When you do this, the base of the wadi turns sharp left at one stage but instead of following the base we crossed some terraced fields in a direct line to make a short cut.

This blog is about the crossing of the fields and the lush base of the wadi at the far end of our walk before we doubled back.

The area at the far end is truly lush with many fig and other fruiting trees.

female African paradise flycatcher

It was here that we spotted a female African paradise flycatcher.

another view of African paradise flycatcher

Having lost sight of it twice, it finally gave us good and prolonged views. This was only the second time I had seen this bird in Saudi Arabia. My last view of one anywhere in the world was seen climbing up my hotel wall in Adama, Ethiopia!

Bruce's green pigeon

The fruit and fig trees were a magnet for Bruce's green pigeon

four Bruce's green pigeon

In near-by bushes brown woodland warbler was common.

Brown woodland warbler

The main regional guide says that Arabian warbler is found up to 1500 metres. However we saw a pair here at over 2500 metres. Indeed the comments on altitude for several species in the guide underestimate how high they are found including the African paradise flycatcher.

Arabian warbler

The Arabian warbler up at this altitude is almost certainly summer-only undergoing seasonal movements up and down the Asir mountains.

second view of Arabian warbler

Palestine sunbird is unusual in that we found more of them at this high altitude in winter. We presume it is because they follow flowering plants and one particular plant was flowering in large numbers up there in February. It's certainly a hardy bird.

Palestine sunbird

In contrast plenty more Rueppell's weaver were present this time.

Ruepells weaver

The other main habitat visited in this part of the walk was stony open terraced fields with a few bushes. I had hoped to find Blanford's lark here to add to my Saudi list but didn't get a positive identification. As you can see from the picture of the crested lark, larks are well camouflaged in this type of terrain.

crested lark

The wires and sporadic bushes gave more dividends. On one wire, I saw a red-breasted wheatear for the one and only time I have seen this species in Wadi Talea.

Red breasted wheatear

Cinnamon breasted bunting was very common even though none were observed on our winter visit.

Cinnamon breasted bunting

Both red-backed shrike and lesser grey shrike were spotted here. Both are passage birds.

Lesser grey shrike

Only one species of bird of prey was seen all day. This was kestrel. In winter there are eagles.


On Saturday, Bernard and I visited the Raydah escarpment where some difficult birds were observed and I added a new bird to my Saudi list. The next blog will report on this.

43 species seen in Wadi Talea

Arabian partridge
Abyssinian white eye
Violet backed starling
Feral pigeon
Tristram’s starling
Bruce’s green pigeon
Yemen thrush
Dusky turtle dove
White throated robin
Laughing dove
Red breasted wheatear
Red backed shrike
Arabian wheatear
Lesser grey shrike
Little rock thrush
African paradise flycatcher
Spotted flycatcher
Arabian babbler
Gambaga flycatcher
Fan tailed raven
Palestine sunbird
White spectacled bulbul
House sparrow
Crested lark
Rueppells weaver
Pale crag martin
African silverbill
Red rumped swallow
Yellow wagtail
Graceful prinia
Long billed pipit
Brown woodland warbler
Tree pipit
Willow warbler
Yemen linnet
Cinnamon breasted bunting
Arabian warbler
Striolated bunting
Common whitethroat


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