Whilst birding recently in the Abha area I came across a good number of Philby’s PartridgeAlectoris philbyi.This is a scarce resident of the south-west highlands and is related to the Chukar & Red-legged Partridge and is native to south-western Saudi Arabia and Yemen. It can be easily identified from other partridges by the black cheeks and throat and a narrow white stripe from the bill to behind the eye separating the black from the greyish-blue head.
Both sexes look alike, although males may be slightly larger in size and have a tarsal knob. The best sites for locating the species are the terrace fields near Tanoumah, the dry scrub covered hillsides on Jebal Souda plateau and the area around Al Baha. They prefer juniper dominated habitats where rocky knolls & clearings occur and occurs from 1500 – 3000 metre elevations.
Numbers have declined significantly in the Jebal Soudah area, probably due to increased human activity in the area and even at locations where birds are seen they are very timid and do not allow close approach. Luckily I got close to a number of birds from the car and managed to take my best photos yet of the species some of which are show below.