Wednesday 21 October 2009

21 October - Heading to the Red Sea

Today we started birding before breakfast in the woodland in Al Mahweet that was so good yesterday (where we then had Arabian Woodpecker and Yemen Warbler). Now the sun hadn´t reached the area and we didn´t see many birds except Red-eyed Doves and Brown Woodland Warblers, which were singing everywhere. When we left though a Yemen Warbler started singing.

Before we left Al Mahweet the Yemeni Television had arranged an interview with the group where we among other questions answered about our view of Yemen, it´s nature, people and how secure we felt travelling around in the country. They were especially interested in how Heidi experienced the Yemen as a woman. Yousuf acted as an interpreter from and to Arabic.

We spent the whole day thereafter driving through Wadi Sari about 60 km on gravel roads, and made several stops for birding. Among other birds we saw about 30 Griffon Vultures having a party on a dead donkey, one White-browed Coucal, Grey Hornbill, Arabian Babblers, Upcher´s Warbler and a Southern Grey Shrike of the race buryi.

Later on Tihama on our way to Al Hodeidah we stopped at Bajil´s rubbish dump where we in a terrible smell searched for Abdim´s Storks without success. We found a lot of White Storks, several Steppe Eagles, two Tawny Eagles, one Greater spotted Eagle and one Egyptian Vulture. On our way we also had some Palm Swifts and Abyssinian Rollers.

Got to the hotel and made an early night after a good fish-dinner.
Tomorrow we´ll try for Arabian Bustard.

Good Night from us all.

The Yemen Party. From left: Yousuf, Kjell-Åke, Niklas, Göran, Heidi, Ulf and Alf. Photo: Abdulhamid Abdulkhalliq.
Kjell-Åke is interviewed by the Yemeni Television and Yousuf acts interpreter. Photo: Niklas Holmstrom.

Griffon Vulture Party. Photo: Ulf Stahle.

A curious but hiding White-browed Coucal. Photo: Ulf Stahle.

20 October - Al Mahweet

Today we had a very joyful day with easy birding at Al Mahweet and nearby locations. We started at Al Rayadi to enjoy a colony of Griffon Vultures. We had amazing close-up of the vultures. We had several target species on our list, but we failed on Golden-winged Grosbeak. However, the day was very productive concerning birds and the landscape in the area is just amazing, dramatic and beautiful. In the evening we were invited along with Yousuf to a great celebration by the Governrate of Al Mahweet. This celibaration was by the occasion of Yemeni National days of September, October and November .We had a seat on the second row, just behind the governar and his party. The Yemeni Television was there and we were interviewed by two different newspapers. For an hour we listened to traditional and national Yemeni music, which was performed live on stage. Just lovely and a momento for life!

Sightings from today, worthy of mention: Dusky Turtle Dove (20), Red-eyed Dove (3), Bruce's Green Pigeon (1), African Grey Hornbill (3), Arabian Woodpecker (3), Little Rock Thrush (4), Blue Rock Thrush (1), Yemen Thrush (1), Brown Woodland Warbler (10), Arabian Warbler (1), Yemen Warbler (2).

That's all for today folks. Cheers.

Brown Woodland Warbler. Photo: Ulf Stahle.
Yemen Warbler. Photo: Ulf Stahle.

Arabian Warbler. Photo: Ulf Stahle.

African Grey Hornbill. Photo: Ulf Stahle.

Miscellaneous photos by Niklas

Sana'a. View from the entrance of our hotel Arabia Felix.Al Saleh Mosque, which was finished a year ago. We had the opportunity to visit the very huge mosque along a guide just for us.
Heidi had to be dressed up for visit inside. Here in company with two Yemeni police officers. Guess who is Heidi.Part of the incredible huge and beatiful mosque!
The lovely village Kawkaban, which is located at about 3000 metres altitude.Happy birders that just had twitched Arabian and Philby's Partridge. Göran let a nice Yemeni have a look in the scope, while Ulf photographing eagles and Yousuf and Kjell-Åke having a chat.
We waiting for the lunch to be served at a traditional restaurant in Shibam. From left: Ulf, Kjell-Åke, Yousuf (director of Arabian Eco-tours), Heidi, Göran, Åke and Abdulhamid (driver).

Göran (back), Kjell-Åke and Alf waiting for the Arabian Warbler to show up (which it later did!).Happy and curious children at Sarat Mahal. They rarely see foreigners as the village is located far off road.