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Road trip in western Saudi Arabia: day 3 from Taif to Madina.

After an evening of heavy rain and flooding in Taif, the sun was shining and the sky bright blue in the morning. We headed to wadi Thee Gazal, near Al Shifa for few hours of birding. A small river was flowing in the valley bordered by huge granite boulder rocks, with green and abundant vegetation. The river run across short grass fields, bordered by hedges. Toads and the endemic tree frog were very active singing and mating.

Birding was quite good , with species characteristics of the higher Arabian elevations , like Yemen linnet, yemen Thrush, little rock thrush, olive-rumped serin, but still no luck with the Arabian Grosbeak which has also been recorded here a month ago by visitor birders from Poland.

Link to on-going Ebird trip report:

Around 11, we headed back to the hotel, had a quick lunch (Herfy burgers, one of the only restaurant/ fast food that serve food for lunch during Ramadan), and left Taif around 1 p.m.

Five hours drive to Madina, the road leaves Taif to the north, the highway to Riyadh., driving through urbanised area, surrounding Taif for about 30 km. Then a.turn to the west to take a small road, that cross acacia gravel plain for about 130 km, and then cross lava fields, empty of settlements, and where we met very few cars.

All these semi- desert areas had also received good rains, as can be judged by the number of flooded areas we crossed.

The road then reach the foothills of the Hijaz mountains in As Suwayriqiyah , cross the hills up to wadi Fora'a to join the Jeddah Madina highway. We reached Madina shortly after sunset, stop on the side of the road ,for a quick iftar, and headed to a Chinese restaurant, identified on Google map.: Shing Yang Chinese restaurant. The food was excellent for a reasonable price.

We passed by Rashid mega-mall nearby to buy few clothes for Hamdiati, our indonesian maid, and finished the day, checking in our hotel in the SW suburb of Madina: Diamond corner hotel, a cheap suite for less than 200 SAR.

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