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  • jackyjudas

Road trip in Western Saudi Arabia- day 2

Started the day with a quick breakfast in the hotel bedroom. At 5, we were on the road, going to Khairah forest park, 30 min drive from Al Baha center for some birding, with the objective to find the Arabian Grosbeak, an Arabian endemic, that I am still looking for. The sky was free of clouds but temperature had dropped to 9 degrees during the night, so it was quite a fresh morning. With the sun shining, conditions became pleasant, and birds were relatively active...although no sign of the Arabian Grosbeak. A nice find was a Red- knobbed coot on the lake of wadi Al Amer dam. This species has made a recent rapid colonisation of southwest saudi Arabia. They were rarely seen up to 2 years ago, and can now be found in good numbers and in many different small artificial lakes.

Water was flowing every where, and the.greenery and freshness of the area was very pleasant. Around 11, clouds started to quickly cover the sky.

Quick lunch in hotel room, eating the chicken bought the night before, and by 12, we checked out and started driving to Taif. I initially thought to take the mountain riad, running along the escarpment, which is some 50 min longer, but seeing the heavy cliuds hanging on the mountain in that direction , and the rain starting, i preferred to take the other road, away from the escarpment. We passed by wadiTurbah, where i used to go: it was completely flooded.

2 hours drive to the National Wildlife Research center of Taif, where I had worked for 5 years from 1998 to 2003. I contacted the new director, Majid Aljoaeid, who asked his new Vet, Dr. Ali Sahad Alsagheir, to show us around. It was heartening to find our accommodations abandoned and in ruins, but pleasant to remember this time spent there, and see all the new development,: new breeding facility in development, a museum at the gate, new administration building, a big majlis ...

In the evening in Taif we tried a new restaurant Bohoo, where the food was good , amd nice ambiance.

Small tour at the old souq, after taking a picture of Alanoud, the only supermarket available 20 years ago,

Several big malls have also grown , and the number of small fast food, coffee shops , and diverse small shops has exploded.

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