Tailor-made tour to Texas

  • Dates: From October 16th, 2022
  • Number of tour participants: 3
  • Number of species seen: 235

All images by Carles Oliver. All rights reserved.

Overview: With a delayof two years due to the pandemia, out tailor-made tour to Texas went on finally in October 2022 with 3 tour participants. Originally the idea was to start to the tour at the beggining of November, but part of the clients wanted to be moved to late October so finally the starting date was decided to be Otober 15th. During the tour we thinly explored the large woodlands North of Houston and the desert-like areas around Del Rio but the main effort was to enjoy birding in the many hotspots along the Mexican border between Hidalgo and the Golf as well as around Corpus Christi.

Weather in average was stable, with a couple of days of light rain and low temperatutes for the season. In Corpus Christi we had some days of strong winds, making birding a big uncomfortable and sometimes frustating. The last day of the tour was also marked by strong winds and rains.

Really looking forward to be back in Texas. This time in November, as originally planned!

Day 1. Our guests attented the tour from differents countries so we met at Houston International Aiport. It was the afternoon but we could still have almost a pair of hours of birding. We fastly moved to a corner nearby to enjoy the first bird in the Americas. Here, a short walk produced 5 Scissor-tailed Flyatcher, American Kestrel and Cooper’s Hawk but also common birds like Carolina Chickadee and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. A small pond was full of Killdeers as well as some Greater Yellowlegs, Wilson’s Snipe and 3 Baird’s Sandpipers. Here we also had a flock of 4 Westerm Kinbirds, that turned out to be the only sight of this species nesting from the mid-West to the Pacific Ocean.

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea), a typical inhabitant of tall thickets and woodlands.
Flock of Western Kingbirds (Tyrannus verticalis) along with a Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Day 2. After a good rest we left our accommodation to explore Sam Houston National Forest. Before that, a 10 minutes short walk around the parking lot produced a good summary of the garden birds living in the area. Here we got some really common birds like Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

After a short transfer we did have a first stop inside Sam Houstol NF. Soon, we connected with some of the many Pine Warblers around and Brown-headed Nuthatches showed up very well but high. We certainly didn’t have to wait long for the very especialty of the area to appear, and after some minutes, a mixed flock of Woodpeckers revealed to not Red-bellieds but also 3+ Red-cockaded’s and even a rather unexpected Hairy Woodpecker! It took some time but everybody in the group had excellent views on the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, a quite endangered species linked to long-leave pine savannas. A further walk into the area produced several Carolina Chickadees but also the first White-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouses and Eastern Phoebe of the trip.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis), a specialist of pine jungles
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

After such a great start, we started moving East. While driving the area both Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks were noted. It was a sunny and calm day and by midday temperatures went high up.

We arrived around San Antonio by the early afternoon, and even if it was still warm we stop around Crescent Bend Nature Park for some birds. A nice flock of Eastern Meadowlarks provided good looks in the yellowish prairies and we were surprised by the presence of 5+ Crested Caracaras, some of them providing close up views. Once arrived to Betsen????? we had a short walk around. Here we got our first Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the trip but also Lincoln’s Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Goldfinch and Nashbille Warbler. At sunset, we were surprised byt the wholoes of a Barred Owl that, despite our efforts, was reluctant to show out.

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers (Tyrannus forficatus) can be surprinsingly common
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
Nashville Warbler (Leiothlypis ruficapilla)

Day 3. This day started with a massive rain and very low temperatures. Theoretically, the morning was devoted to explore one of the main wetlands south of San Antonio, but due to the bad weather we just went directly with the transfer West right beside the Mexican border at Del Río.

En route we had a first stop when the rain stop to explore some open lands and farming. Here we were surprised by a number of good birds including Western Meadowlarks, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Dickcissel, Vesper & Lark Sparrows and the first Vermilion Flycatcher that was extremely welcome by the group.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

The transfer to Del Rio was fast and easy, and marked by a Ferruginous Hawk spotted by the highway. The weather was still really fresh and temperatures clearly lower than average, even fresh! Just arrived to Del Rio we went to explore some corners around the city. Our first stop was to explore the Cementrey ______ and here we found 12+ Eastern Bluebirds, 10+ Vermilion Flycatchers, small flocks of Lark Sparrows feeding along with Lincoln’s and House Finches, several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and a dark form Red-shouldered Hawk. Following the border between Mexico and USA we also had our first of mane Great Kiskadee. The area is rich in lake and ponds, and in one of the them we got Ringed Kingfisher but also first views on Common Yellowthroat, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, a lovely male Northern Harrier and Neotropical Cormorant before going for dinner and rest at our comfortable accommodation.

Female (up) & male (down) Eastern Bluetail (Sialia sialis) in a mixed migratory flock
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
Couch’s Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii)
Vermilion Flycatchers (Pyrocephalus obscurus) were really common at Del Rio

A great combination of birds in a single tree!
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) close up

Day 4. The day started as cloudy as the day before, and with temperatures 10ºC below the average of the season! A great weather to explore the desert. Our first visit to Seminole Canyon State Park was concentrated into exploring its plains and bushland, famous for its rich birdlife. A short walk throught the plains fastly produced a good number of species. After only a few minutes a calling came from the bushlands, and after checking we all glad to find a wonderful Pyrrhuloxia sitting near the top of the bush, calling. The excitation came to the group, the bird flew off and despite all our efforts we were uncapable to relocate the bird. Sparrows seem to be everywhere, with small flocks constantly moving in the grassland. Here we enjoyed great views on Cassin’s, Vesper, Lincoln’s, White-crowned, Clay-coloured and Lark Sparrows. Black-throated Sparrows looked like specially common in this dry ambient, and after checking several flocks we were surprised by a Harri’s Sparrow sitting along with Lark Sparrows! That’s a good bird, with really thin records in the area.

Turkey Vultures were pratolling the sky while a massive number of Monarch Butterflies were doing its way South to their winter. There were thousands of them, many times gathering in small “flocks”. Their number was so numerous than we drove over tens of them while approaching the area. Not possible to skip them all in the road, and the tarmac showed tens of them dead or badly injured in a very sad view.

After enjoying the plains we finally decided to go down to the rocky areas. In our way to the rock scarpments, a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher left the group wanting more of it. Once if the rocks, we were lucky to find out a lovely pair of Rock Wrens doing its thing along the cliff edge in a wonderful sight. In our way back the clouds cleared for a while, and we could only see a flock of Eastern Meadowlarks and some Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.

Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
Small flocks of Clay-colored Sparrows (Spizella pallida) were seen in different semi-arid countryside around Del Río.
Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

After lunch we moved North, amid to explore some more desert-like ambients. During the next 3 hours we explored different valleys and plains. The sky was again cloudy and we could enjoy a good selection of the birds living in the scrublands. The fast moving Black-tailed Gnatcatcher gave us a hard time but finally everybody in the group could connect with it. While searching for the Gnatcatcher we were surprised by a fly over flock of Woodhouse Scrub-Jays! Along the afternoon we had three flocks of this restless species but never got any shot! Canyon Towhee was another great adding to our list, providing excellent sights as Common Ground Doves did along the tracks of the area as well as at least 3 Chihuahuan Ravens along the roads.

Canyon Towhee (Pipilo fuscus)
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Day 5. Early morning morning start to explore another corner in the Seminole State Park. This time we went into a very impressive gorge in search of the sought-after Canyon Wren, a specialist on rock faces that spend a lot of time in crevices and ravines and thus, difficult to locate. In our short walk in the ravine we got the first Black-crested Titmouse of the trip as well as Golden-crowned Warbler and Common Raven. It didn’t took long before we located the first Canyon Wren, moving in fast, almost mouse-like runs along the crags. Investing some time, we got more than decent views in this awesome bird and we even had a second individual in another corner of the canyon. Back to the vehicle we decided to drive back to the same place we were the morning before, expecting to find a Roadrunner in the area. Another walk was required to explore the place, and even if we didn’t find any Roadrunner, we were regarded with a fine selection of birds. The flocks of Sparrows were as active as they previous day, and we had the same species as the day before but adding a Lark Bunting and, the most unexpected, 2 Green-tailed Towhees that showed up at two different places! ere we also hot the only Say’s Phoebe of the trip along with a pair of Scaly Francolins flying out of the bushland.

Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus) singing his heart out
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus). Up to 4 individuals were seen
The impressive Seminole Canyon

After such a great morning at Seminole we still had a last stop at Del Rio to explore one of the urban parks. Here we got a nice selection of birds including the first House Wren of the trip but also both Ringed & Velted Kingfishers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroats and Lesser Goldfinches to name a few.

we drove South in search of the birding hotspots along the Rio Grande. Along the way, we enoyed several Harri’s Hawks in the posts, and also several Crested Caracaras. A stop in some small ponds near Freer provided the first Blue-winged & Green-winged Teals of the tour along with a minimum of 2 Cinnamon Teals. When approaching the our accommodation, a Broad-winged Hawk just passed over our van, giving a great end to this day!

Vesper Sparrow (Pooceetes gramineus)
Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus)
Harri’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)

Day 6. Our first day exploring Rio Grande was devoted to the Santa Anna State Park. This large natural reserve protects an extensive patch of indigineous evergreen forest. Once upon the time, this valley had been covered with this lush vegetation, but nowadays only small number of locations remain. Black-crested Titmouses, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, White-eyed Vireos and Grey-backed Gnatcatchers fullfilled the parking place with its song and calls, and the group enjoyed very much taking images of all of them. Green Jays appeared also almost inmediately, with their harsh calls announcing their arrival and 3 Inca Doves were feeding on the ground.

Walking into the habitats in Santa Anna is like transporting yourself into a different era, which majestic trees covered by !!!!!!!!. Once inside the park, we were surprised by the first Clay-colored Thrush perched in a low branch. Curve-billed Thraser was calling a bit beyond and we had to wait a bit until the bird showed up. The time invested was worth it not only because of the good looks on the Thraser but also because a Red-eyed Vireo decided to walk into view! The calls of the Great Kiskadees were constant and they were easily found in the top the trees along our way. At some point we saw a Kisadee chasing a smaller, colourful bird and we were all surprised to see that it an Altamira Oriole that decided to stop in the out at the top a dead tree! Couch’s Kingbirds were also around in a wonderful combination of birds. But the Altamira Oriole was not alone and we count not 2 but 5 of these great birds moving tree to tree, sometimes perching in the out and vocalising.

Santa Anna is preserving some remants of the rather pensive native habitats along the Rio Grande
Long-billed Thraser (Toxostoma longirostre)
Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)
Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula) close up
White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus). One of the three species of Vireos seen during the tour.
Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

This had been a great start of our day! Approaching the first basins we added some species to our list including both Pied-billed & Least Grebes, Lesser Yellowlegs, Snowy Egret, Long-billed Thraser & some Cave Swallows moving along with Northern Rough & Barn Swallows. In our way out, a wonderful Blue-headed Vireo jumped out from the vegetation, but only for a few second before flying bak up to the canopies. When arriving to the parking place, the first flock of Plain Chachalacas appeared in our way, providing great looks.

After a short midday break we went to explore the farming around the border wall between the USA and Mexico. Certainly not an easy place to do birding due to the several border patrols, but with great birds and gentle police officers all the way long. Our first stop could not be better as we got 1 Swainson’s, 2 White-tailed and 2 Red-tailed Hawks that seemed to be hunting the area along with 1 Northern Harrier. Here we also found 2 obliging Burrowing Owls that were extremely well appreciated by the group. The area was full of Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and back to a woodland we enjoyed 1 Tropical Kingbird before has one of the surprises of the day, a wonderful Eastern Screeching Owl that was half way out of its nesting box and provided amazing scope views!

Back to the open lands, some paddy fiels around were full of Western Cattle Egrets but also White Ibis and one of the very few White-faced Ibis along the tour! A bit more of drive in such a great area allowed us to find a Grey Hawk hunting just by the road, and we could see how this very elegant small bird of prey captured a water snake a few meters away from us! Beyond this point we had a short-walk in a patch with dense scrubs allowed us to see the first Tenneesse Warbler of the trip and the second Clay-colored Thrush of the day.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)
Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
We were lucky to find this Easter Screech Owl (Megascops asio) out of its nestbox in day light!
Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus) feeding a Snake deep in the woods

Day 7. Bentsen State Park is often related as a birding heaven due to the massive number of species noted here. Its extensive mesquite habitats, combined with woodlands, thickets and water bodies allows a wonderful birding all year round and it is specially noted for birds of prey both resident and migratory. Soon after getting inside the natural area we got a family group of Chachalacas feeding on the ground and a small flock of warblers including Nashville, Tennesse and 3+ Black-and-White’s, a wonderful start under any circumstance. The mesquite ambients were great and beyond Eastern Phoebes and Orange-fronted Woodpeckers we got excellent views on Verdin, Eastern Poo-weet and White-tipped Dove. A Lazuli Bunting flew over and briefly stop in a tree, but not everybody connected with the bird before flew off. A bit beyond, a pair of Grey Hawk flew low over the path, allowing again excellent views on the birds! The air was steadily warming up and by 10:20 we saw 2 Cooper’s Hawks circling. Red-railed Hawks were also noted right before an endless stream of Turkey Vultures appeared in the sky. With their characterystic flight, balancing their body and the wings up, hundreds of them were flying quite low. All the county is famous for being a natural corridor for birds of prey in migration, and in the half an hour that we spent at the Bentsen Hawk Torrer we enjoyed impressive raptor action involving not only hundreds and hundreds of Turkey Vultures but also some Swainson’s, 3 Broad-winged, some Red-shouldered’s, 3 Sharp-chinned’s, 1 Merlin, tens of American White Pelicans and the only 2 Wood Storks of the trip circling along with some Black Vultures. In our way back, we were delighted to find a flock of 15+ Wild Turkeys in the road itself.

Back to the thickets around the headquarters of the park, we got a nice flock of birds feeding on thickets around. New species for the trip inside the flock icluded: 3 Yellow-throated Warblers, 2 Wilson’s Warbler, Baltimore Oriole and Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Bentsen State Park
Flying Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)
Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps), the only North American bird in the Penduline Tit family.
Common Ground Dove (Columbina passerina) in mesquite ambient
Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)

In the afternoon went to explore a small natural reserve not far away from Bentsen and we got excellent views on Green Kingfisher, Wilson’s Warbler, Buff-bellied Hummingbird. Other interesting species here included Rufous Hummingbird, Spotted Sandpipers, Least Grebe and the only one Green Heron of the trip!

An evening stop was added in a small pond between roads. Here, the small lagoon produced Black-necked Stilts, Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs and Blue-winged Teals but everything vanished when 2 Cooper’s Hawk launched themselves in a king of coordinated attack to the waterfowl! The lagoon went empty, but only for a pair of minutes when 4 Mexican Ducks arrived, allowing great scope views before leaving. This is a great species to have. Formerly considered conespecific with Mallard, nowadays is treated as a different one, with small (but maybe overlooked) populations in the American side of the Rio Grande Valley.
In the fields around 3 Nothern Harriers were hunting along with a White-tailed Hawk. A walk in a small area of mesquite produced little songbirds but we were surprised to find a Common Parauque roosting on the ground! Delighted to find this speciality of the mesquite, we enjoyed walk-away views on the bird. Later in the evening we came back to the open fields, and with the very last light of the day we had a Common Whir-Pool flying around us. Some Burrowing Owls were calling around and in our nocturnal drive out of the area a Coyote appeared in front of the van allowing great views!

Back (up) and frontal (below) views on Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia yucatanensis)
Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)
Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) in the mesquite

Day 8. A very early start of the day was necessary to accomplish the intense program for that day! First stop at Estero Llano State Park, where we were delighted with the image of tens and tens of Black-bellied Wistling Ducks early in main lagoon early in the morning. Bird activity was nice and the reedbeds around not only provided good views on Common Yellowthroat but also on Sora, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, American Moorhen and Solitary Sandpiper. The lagoons had good number of ducks including Gadwalls and Mottled Ducks. A walk around also produced Wilson’s Warbler, Lincon’s Sparrows, the first Bronze Cowbirds of trip as well as Great Kiskadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

A second stop in another nature reserve nearby produced our best views on Green Jays along with some Yellow-throated Warblers, the only one Northern Parula of the trip and close up views on Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

The very vocal Black-bellied Wistling Ducks (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Bronze Cowbirds (Molothrus aeneu)
A rather punk Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas)
Northern Parula (Parula americana)
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Dryobates scalaris)

In the afternoon we drove inside the massive Atascosa Wildlife National Refuge. Soon we got the first White-tailed Hawks of the trip along with several Ospreys, Loggerhead Shrikes and American Kestrels in the posts and wires. Once in the main laggoon, an enormous flock of ducks and American Coots was waiting for us. There were hundreds of American Wigeons along with 200+ Redheads, several Pied-billed Grebes, 7 Canvasbacks, 5+ Ruddy Ducks and 2 Ring-necked Ducks. In the shores of the lake we got the first Willet of the trip. Tricolorated Heron, Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron were feeding along the shores, short distance from each, allowing good us to compare them with each other. In our way out of the Atascosa we were surprised to find the first Greater Roadrunner of the trip, gentlenly stopped by the road. It allowed wonderful views and some great shots. In the coming 3 miles we got another 3 Roadrunners, allowing all great views including a small hunting scene of the particular terrestrial cuckoo. But this was not the only surprise of the road, and some minutes a random stop in the road allowed us to find 3 Long-billed Curlews feeding in the farmland. Clouds of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds covered the area, and a good scanning in the distance produced 2 Aplomado Falcons in an aerial fight. This is an endangered species with tiny populations in the grasslands and dunes in Southern Texas.

This massive flock of Coots and Wigeons was also having Northern Shovelers, Redheads, Pied Grebes, Ruddy Ducks and Canvasbacks
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)

Day 9. Parcs + Port Aransas Nature Preserve. Morning deserved to explore some urban parcs and small corners around Corpus Christi. Our first stop was at Pollywog Wildlife Sanctuary, where birding was a bit low but we still managed to enjoy good views in some migratory birds such as Yellow Warbler, Least Flycatcher and Audubon Oriole plus some interesting regular species including Marsh Wren, Sharp-chinned Hawk , Common Yellowthroat, House Wren and Grey Catbird. Our second stop, at Bucher Park, produced the best views on Blue Grosbeak of the trip along with and Ruby-throated Hummingbird and some warblers.

Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)

The shoreline around Corpus Christi is really interesting and a short stop in a marshy area produced excellent views on American Avocet, Western & Stilt Sandpipers, Sanderling, Ruddy Turstone, Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew and some commoner species including Grey Plover, Black-necked Stilts and Brown Pelicans. A carefully scanning in the tidal plains produced not only Caspian & Foster’s Terns but also Snowy, Semipalmated & Piping Plovers, and Cabot’s and Royal Terns.

From here, we drove to the Port Aransas Nature Reserve to end our day exploring the reedbeds and freshwater ponds of these lovely corner. Here we were welcomed by a extremely tame Sora. The broadwalk along the marshes allowed us great views on Tricolorated Herons, white form Reddish Egret and lovely American White Pelicans & Short-billed Dowitchers in lovely afternoon light while a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were flying over. A careful scanning of the reeds soon revealed an American Bittern appearing and disappearing, and a second Sora was seen walking along the edge of the reeds. There were some ducks, with the American Wigeons already back to show their lovely coloration and some Blue-winged Teals walking that path down. But our scanning of the reeds was abruptly broken by a Least Bittern that crossed the lagoon and landed really close to us, merging into the vegetion in a pair of seconds! Still enjoying this sight, a Clapper Rail just appeared from under our feet to do a short flight and land really close from where the Least Bittern blinded itself. After such a great afternoon we came to the hotel to enjoy a lovely dinner!

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) was really common all the way
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)
Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) close up
American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)
Sora (Porzana carolina)

Day 10. Goose Island State Park + Skimmer. Early morning start to explore the Goose Island State Park, a first go for trying to connect with the Whooping Crane population overwintering in the area. A first walk in the forested areas produced the best views on Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the trip along with Grey Catbirds and White-eyed Vireos. From here, we went down to the island, where a few terns and waders were feeding. Here we were lucky enough to find a Wilson’s Plover feeding along with a Semipalmated Plover, and we all had goos scope views on both species feeding side by side. Walking in the marshes around we were also lucky, and a Clapper Rail just flew to us to land a few feet away from us. We could track the bird for over a minute allowing great views and photos on it! After a while and with no sign of any Crane we went to explore a close pond, where we found the first Anhinga of the trip plus 3 Indigo Buntings feeding in the grass around. and the only one Tree Swallow of the tour flying along with Barn Swallows

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheuticus ludovicianus)
Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitans)

After a midday break we went to another corner combining reedbeds and tidal plains. Soon after our arrival, a Grove-billed Ani called from the thickets around and after soe efforts we got short but solid views on it. Common Yellowthroats were really active, and when arrived to the tidal area we saw a lovely flock of Black Skimmers resting along with many Laughing Gulls, 1 Ring-billed Gull, Avocets, Sanderlings, 2 Western Sandpipers, Marbled Godwits and Foster’s Terns. While scanning around a short call came from the reeds, and a pair of seconds later a lovely Nelson’s Sparrow appeared in the top of a bush beside our platform, showing its wonderful orange/pumcacke face with a lovely, well defined grey auricular patch. Apparently this is a scarcity around Corpus Christi, and a really good adding to our list!

Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)

Day 11. Morning start to explore a bit more the Bucher Park where we got a good selection of birds. Just parking, a Summer Tanager showed out by the van, and soon we contacted with some Warblers including Orange-crowned and Tennessee. Great Kiskadees were active as ever, and while scanning the trees we got an Ash-throated Flycatcher, another scarcity in the area in these dates. Still not recovered from this finding, a 1st winter Yellow-bellied Sapsucker just landed by our small group, allowing excellent (but short) views on the bird. When leaving the park, a female American Redstart just appeared in the low branches of a small tree, giving us a great end to our hour-long walk!

Our second stop of the day was to explore Oso Bay Wetlands. Here we were welcomed by flocks of Sandhill Cranes, just arriving from their nesting grounds to spend the winter in Corpus. Several Lincoln’s Sparrows were moving around along with some Savannah Sparrows, and another Ani was calling in the thickets. Crested Caracaras were in the move around and while enjoying the Thrasers and Grey Catbirds around a Firecrest-like call came to us, and we fastly discovered a Golden-crowned Kinglet feeding in the mesquites by the track. A bit beyond a superb Yellow-throated Warbler allowed some good shots and our visit to this location ended with a Sprague’s Pipit appearing from under our feet to show briefly before flying away!

Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis)
Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandvicensis)
Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica)
Giant Walkingstick (Megaphasma denticrus)

After lunch, we went to the South Texas Botanical Gardens. Here we enjoyed the several ducks in the lagoons. American Pigeons and Blue-winged Teals were the most common but we also located 4 Mottled Ducks, 27+ Ruddy Ducks, 6 Ring-necked Ducks and 2 Lesser Scaups. 2 Black-necked Grebes were also noted, and Northern Harriers and Cooper’s Hawks were flying around to check the capabilities and reactions of the ducks. From here we moved North to end the day in __. There we got a Zone-tailed Hawk flying over being moved by a Red-shouldered Hawk, a really scarce species and fabulous adding for the trip! In the marshes it was little movement but we still got really close views on 2 Sedge Warblers that unfortunately didn’t allow any photo.

Day 12. Aransas Wildlife National Refuge is the very well known place where Whooping Cranes come to overwinter. Unfortunately we arrived a bit too early and the Whooping Cranes were not there yet. The exploration of the area started with a short-walk around the information center. It was a cloudy and windy day but we still got some small birds. Along with the typical species for the area, we enjoyed good views on a Yellow-breasted Chat, one of the largest warblers in North America, that appeared from a thicket along with Thrasers and Catbirds.

The marshes beyond produced good views on Herons and Egrets plus 2 Virginia Rails (one of them literally walking our path in front of us), 1 Clapper Rail, Common Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Reddish Egrets and the good views on Alligators. The main pond for ducks in Aransas didn’t produce so much, and a solitary Cinnamon Teal was the most interesting of a lagoon dominated by American Wigeons and Blue-winged Teals. We spent quite a long time looking for Whooping Cranes in the main watch tomer for them, but we didn’t get anything out a of a single Sandhill Crane moving in the marshes.

Back to the wood trails crossing the swamps we were lucky enough to find another American Bittern only 20 metres away from us. We waited quite long hoping for the bird to come out of the reeds, but never happened. In the meanwhile, another Sora walked around us providing, once more, great looks.

Wonderful habitat in Aransa Wildlife Refuge
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)
American Alligator (Alligator mississipiensis)

Day 13. Early morning stop in the marshes checking for something new to appear. The morning was warm and windy, and massive clouds in the horizon suggested the rain to come. In the tidal planes, Black Skimmers were again the main characters along with 2 distant Piping Plovers and Stint Sandpipers. 4 Frankling Gulls were noticed roosting along with Laughing Gulls, and a full adult American Herring Gull was a nice adding for the list of the trip.

Living Corpus, we transfered to Bolivar Peninsula via Houston. In our way we had a number of intense showers. We arrived to Houston with a windy and extremely cloudy ambient. A small park in the South West of the city was the place to explore. We only had 20 minutes before a massive rain started to come down. But we did have luck! The first bird we saw inside the park was an impressive Pileated Woodpecker doing its way in the woods. It called several times before flying away. Only a pair of minutes after that 3 American Robins showed out and 1 Downy Woodpecker came to feed around us. No time for more. A extremely intense rain started. We moved for lunch around the park, hoping for the weather to clear out in the meanwhile, but did the opposite. The rest of the transfer and afternoon we faced intese rains and winds and by the time we did arrive to the Bolivar Peninsula it was almost dark.

But right before going for dinner we had a short walk around our accommodation. The weather was surprisingly calm and clear, and in only five minutes of scanning we got a Great Horned Owl owling in the trees around and eventually it did fly over us, allowing a short but really intense sight!

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pyleatus)

Day 14. Our last morning in Texas was devoted to explore the marshy flatlands in the Bolivar Peninsula. After the strong storm and the heavy rain of the last afternoon, we faced a calm, cloudy morning. We had only a pair of hours, but it was worth to explore the Bolivar flat lands, specially after we had to cancel any birding in the previous afternoon due to rough weather.

In only a pair hours the group enjoyed the very last views on Crested Caracara, Northern Harrier, White Ibis, Loggerhead Shrike, Snowy & Reddish Egrets, Willets and Least Sandpipers. Clappers Rails were active in the marsh and we had a glimpse in a pair of them, and we were lucky enough to see a King Rail shortly flying above the vegetation, to land in the middle of the marsh and disappear but no before showing the nice contrast in the upperwings.. Here we also had excellent views on some Segde Wrens moving in the low vegetation, while a Nelson’s Sparrow showed shortly in the grass. After some checking, we finally connected with two Swamp Sparrows, and one of them allowed decent views while calling from the grasslands. Cabot’s & Fosters Terns were noted and in our way out of the peninsula we got a group of 4 Boat-tailed Grackles, another nice adding to the tour list.

From here we drove back to Houston with some juvelines Red-tailed Hawks and Blue Jays crossing the road, and two Bald Eagles cicling in the sky while refuelling was a magical way to end up our tour!

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens)
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)

List of species of birds seen during the tour:

  1. Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)
  2. Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)
  3. Mottle Duck (Anas fulvigula)
  4. Mexican Duck (Anas diazi)
  5. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
  6. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
  7. American Wigeon (Anas americana)
  8. Green-winged Teal (Anas caroliensis)
  9. Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)
  10. Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)
  11. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
  12. Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
  13. Redhead (Aythya americana)
  14. Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
  15. Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
  16. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
  17. Plain Chachalaca (Ortalis vetula)
  18. Scaled Quail (Callipepla squamata)
  19. Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
  20. Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)
  21. Common Poor-will (Phalaenoptilus nuttallii)
  22. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
  23. Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
  24. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
  25. Buff-bellied Hummingbird (Crotophaga sulcirostris)
  26. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia sp)
  27. White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)
  28. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
  29. Inca Dove (Columbina inca)
  30. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  31. White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)
  32. Clapper Rail (Rallus longirostris)
  33. King Rail (Rallus elegans)
  34. Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola)
  35. Sora (Porzana carolina)
  36. American Coot (Fulica americana)
  37. American Moorhen (Gallinula galeata)
  38. Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis)
  39. Pied-billed Grebe (Podylimbus podiceps)
  40. Least Grebe (Tachybaptus dominicus)
  41. Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
  42. American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
  43. Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
  44. American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
  45. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
  46. American Golden Plover (Pluvialis !!!!!)
  47. Killdeer (Charadrius vociderus)
  48. Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
  49. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
  50. Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus)
  51. Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia)
  52. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)
  53. Lesser Yellowlegs (Triga flavipes)
  54. Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)
  55. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia)
  56. Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus)
  57. Marbled Godwit (Limosa fedoa)
  58. Hudsonian Whimbrel (Numernius hudsonicus)
  59. Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)
  60. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
  61. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  62. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
  63. Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
  64. Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
  65. Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus)
  66. Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
  67. Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
  68. Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla)
  69. Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipixcan)
  70. Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
  71. American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus)
  72. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
  73. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
  74. Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
  75. Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus)
  76. Cabot’s/Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus acuflavidus)
  77. Foster’s Tern (Sterna fosteri)
  78. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
  79. Black Skimmer (Rhynchos niger)
  80. Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
  81. Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
  82. Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
  83. Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)
  84. White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi)
  85. White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
  86. Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja)
  87. American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
  88. Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
  89. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
  90. Agró blanc (Agrodiaetus albus)
  91. Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
  92. Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens)
  93. Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
  94. Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
  95. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  96. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  97. Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax violacea)
  98. American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
  99. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
  100. Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
  101. Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
  102. Osprey (Pandion haliaetos)
  103. White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)
  104. Sharp-chinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus)
  105. Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperi)
  106. Northern Harrier (Circus hudsonius)
  107. Harri’s Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus)
  108. Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
  109. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  110. Ferruginous Hawk (Buteo regalis)
  111. Zone-tailed Hawk (Buteo albonotatus)
  112. Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
  113. Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
  114. Bald Eagle (Hieraaetus leucocephalus)
  115. Eastern Screech Owl (Otus asio)
  116. Barred Owl (Strix varia)
  117. Burrowing Owl (Athene cunilaria)
  118. Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
  119. Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata)
  120. Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
  121. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyapicus verius)
  122. Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)
  123. Golden-fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons)
  124. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
  125. Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
  126. Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)
  127. Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis)
  128. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
  129. Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway)
  130. Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis)
  131. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
  132. Esmerla (Falco columbarius)
  133. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  134. Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus)
  135. Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
  136. Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)
  137. Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)
  138. Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)
  139. Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)
  140. Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens)
  141. Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
  142. Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)
  143. Couch’s Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii)
  144. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus)
  145. Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)
  146. Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)
  147. White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)
  148. Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
  149. Blue-headed Vireo (Vireo solitarius)
  150. Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)
  151. Green Jay (Cyanocitta yncax)
  152. Woodhouse Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
  153. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
  154. Common Raven (Corvus corax)
  155. Chihuahuan Raven (Corvus cryptoleucus)
  156. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile caroliensis)
  157. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)
  158. Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)
  159. Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps)
  160. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  161. Cave Swallow (Petrochelidon fulva)
  162. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
  163. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripenis)
  164. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
  165. Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
  166. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus caledula)
  167. Marsh Wren (Cistothorus palustris)
  168. Sedge Wren (CIstothorus plantensis)
  169. Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)
  170. Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus)
  171. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)
  172. Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
  173. House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
  174. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura)
  175. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
  176. Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)
  177. Gray Catbird (Dumetella caroliensis)
  178. Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
  179. Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)
  180. Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre)
  181. Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre)
  182. Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  183. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  184. Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi)
  185. Eastern Bluebird (Sialias sialis)
  186. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  187. America/Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
  188. Sprague’s Pipit (Anthus spragueii)
  189. Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria)
  190. House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus)
  191. Canyon Towhee (Pipilo fuscus)
  192. Green-tailed Towhee (Pipilo chlorurus)
  193. Olive Sparrow (Arremonops rufivirgatus)
  194. Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys)
  195. Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
  196. Rufous-crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)
  197. Cassin’s Sparrow (Aimophila cassinii)
  198. Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
  199. Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammodramus nelsoni)
  200. Brewer’s Sparrow (Spizella breweri)
  201. Vesper Sparrow (Pooectes gramineus)
  202. Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)
  203. Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandvichensis)
  204. Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnii)
  205. Swamp Sparrow (Melospiza georgiana)
  206. Harri’s Sparrow (Zonotrichia querula)
  207. White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
  208. White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)
  209. Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)
  210. Audubon’s Oriole (Icterus graduacauda)
  211. Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
  212. Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
  213. Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
  214. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
  215. Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
  216. Boat-tiled Grackle (Quiscalus major)
  217. Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
  218. Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus)
  219. Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
  220. Nashville Warbler (Vermivora ruficapilla)
  221. Orange-crowned Warbler (Vermivora celata)
  222. Tennessee Warbler (Leiothlypis peregrina)
  223. Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata)
  224. Black-and-White Warbler (Mniotilta varia)
  225. Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
  226. American Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)
  227. Yellow-throated Wabler (Setophaga dominica)
  228. Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)
  229. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)
  230. Yellow Throated Chat (Icteria virens)
  231. Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
  232. Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)
  233. Blue Grosbeak (Passerina caerulea)
  234. Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovica)
  235. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)

Uganda 2022 Trip Report

Dates: From July 15th to 30th, 2022

Number of participants: 3

Number of bird species seen: 454

All images in this trip report by tour leader Carles Oliver and tour participant Mike O’Neill. All rights reserved

Oveview: After a long delay due to the well known global pandemia, we finally went on with our first tour to Uganda. And it was great. Not only due to the well known quality of the birdwatching in the country, but also because of the very rich mammal life living there, the quality of the lodges along the whole trip, the amazing landscapes all along the tour, the charming local people all along, and the very pleasant temperatures, with an average of 23ºC, and many sunny days that were only broken by a pair of showers in the first and the last day of the tour.

This tour was planned for some years, but the pandemia emerged in our lifes, and it had to be cancelled a pair of times. At the end, the many hours of talks with our local partners produced a tour with the perfect tone, focused in the many endemics, but not only, in an effort that at the end crystallized in 454 species of birds and 40 species of mammals! Indeed we not only enjoyed Shoebill Stork once, but three times! All in three different places. It is also to be noted in our list species such as the endemics Rwenzori Nightjar and Grauer’s Warbler as well as the rarely seen Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo and Yellow-footed Flycather. At the end of the tour we have enjoyed up to 6 African Finfoots! and had remarkable views on Chocolate-backed Kingfishers, Ituri Batis, Papyrus Gonolek, Black Bee-eater, Rwenzori Hill Babbler and Archer’s Robin Chat to name a few along with several African goodies including African Crowned Eagle, Yellow-billed Barbet, Blue Malkoha, Short-tailed Pipit, African Emerald Cuckoo or Dusky Crimsonwing getting in our list.

The massive Great Blue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata) was one of the highlights in the first morning of the tour
Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis). Probably the easiest raptor to see in Uganda

Day 1. Lake Victoria

After an evening flight from Europe, our group landed in Entebbe afer midnight, and in a magical start of the trip, only 10 minutes after leaving the airport we were crossing a small arm of the Lake Victoria in a small boat. It was there, in the calm waters of the lake, enjoying the fresh night with the ecos of the firsts Ugandans going to work arriving from the city, that we had the first unforgettable footprint of Uganda in our travel book!

In a few minutes we arrived to our accommodation at the opposite shore, where we enjoyed a well deserved rest before going out for breakfast.
Our first birding of the tour was in the gardens of the accommodation, where we had good views on several species including the firsts of many Pied Kingfisher, Village Weaver, Red-chested Sunbird, Broad-billed Roller and Yellow-billed Stork. Here we also had a selection of Weavers including Slender-billed, Golden-backed and Yellow-baked. Long-crested Eagle was hunting in the hotel grounds, and Black-and-White Shrike Flycather and Lesser Honeyguide were seen around the cottages. The area around the lodge is basically a farming area, but there are still interesting remants of the original forest, so we were not surprised when a gorgeous, enormous Great Blue Turaco appeared right in front our eyes to give us one of the first unforgettable momments of the trip.

From this lodge we headed to marshes around the Victoria Lake. The area opposed to Entebbe is still preserving a large complex of swamps and wetlands, and right after arriving we were enjoying not only common birds such as African Pied Wagtail but also Swamp Flycatcher, Widding Cisticola, Brown-headed Batis and the always breath-taking African Blue Flycatcher. Once in our boat, we started moving the swamp, and soon Squacco and Purple Herons flew from both sides of the channels, rich in lotus and other floating plants. Widding Cisticolas were singing everywhere, and were soon joined by Marsh Black Widowbirds. A White-faced Whistling Duck showed really well while a flock of White-winged Black Terns was a nice adding. Back to the swamps, Long-toed Lapwings were feeding in the marshes, some pairs already with chicks around, and Malachite Kingfishers were a common view along the channels.

A Little Egret caught our attention for a few seconds, but we soon forgot about as a massive figure was revealed about 30 metres away from us. A grey-blueyish, statue-like massive bird with penetrating eyes made us forget about the world. A Shoebill Stork. No movements. No calls. Just the iconical, imposing figure with its massive, prehistorical-like bill. We enjoyed of this incredible bird for about 20 minutes, and during all this time the bird moved only a pair of steps.

Northern Brown-throated Weaver (Ploceus castanops), one of the Weavers linked to water corpses
African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascarensis), note the delicate greenish back
The massive Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rex) feeds mainly in fish, but young coccodriles, small mammals and birds. Image by Mike O’Neill
No way to describe what it comes to your mind when a Shoebill looks at you that way…
White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)
African Jacanas (Actophilornis africanus), so common and so smart!

We still had some time more in the swamps, and we enjoyed the very common African Jacanas, the flight of some African Marsh Harriers, the delicate dance of the Northern Brown-throated Weavers on the lotuses and the rather unexpected view of 3 Plain Martins passing over our little boat.

From here we went to a nearby restaurant for lunch and rest. After lunch we transfer North of Kampala, moving the Rhino Sanctuary, where we had a first contact with many of the birds leaving in the woodlands. Our arrival to this Sanctuary, devoted to protect an increase the thin population of this giant in Uganda, was precided by a strong storm. Once the rain passed away, we were scorted by a ranger to track some White Rhinos, and soon after we were enjoying of impressive views on 4 individuals feeding on the refreshing grass, and interacting nicely. At the same time that enjoying the Rhinos, we could move a bit in the bushland, and some birds were noted: Saddle-billed Stork, Hadada Ibis, Vinaceous Dove, Black-headed Gonolek, Grey Woodpecker, Northern Black Flycather and Bronze Mannikin were all noted. The short walk around produced also a Short-tailed Pipit, a really scarce species in the area, and a gorgeous White-headed Turaco that was feeding in the trees around. From here we just headed to our accommodation for a good dinner and rest.

The always impressive White Rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) is recovering in Uganda. Please, note the Piapiac (Ptilostomus afer). Images by Mike O’Neill and Carles Oliver
Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus) is suprisingly common in moisty grasslands

Day 2. Royal Mile – Murchinson Falls

After the rains during the previous evening, our day started with a fresh and clean atmosphere. This day was devoted to explore the famous Royal Mile, a wonderful track crossing a one of the largest areas of lowland primary forest in Uganda. Here, we explored both open lands and the forest, and in our first stop of the morning we had already a massive number of birds. Here, exploring a gentle slope mixing moisty grasslands and crops, we had a really nice collection of birds living in this habitat including Marsh Tchagra, African Moustached Warbler, Red-faced Cisticola, Fawny-coloured Waxbill, Dusky Twinspot, Lizzard Buzzard, Vielliot’s Black & Baglafecht Weavers to name some of them. Here we also got first views on other common species to appear several times later in the trip such Senegal Coucal, Copper Sunbird and Brown Babbler.

Once in the forest, the firsts of many Saw-wings & White-rumped Swifts of the trip were a wonderful setting for a flock of Black-and-white Casquet & White-thighed Hornbills, the last being a speciality of the Royal Mile, and having a really limited range within Uganda. While enjoying these incredible Hornbills and going throught the differences we got an African Grey Parrot flying above us at low range, providing with excellent views. From here we started our short-walk in the Royal Mile, and we didn’t have to wait long for the first African Pygmy Kingfisher to appear nicely. Chestnut-capped Flycatchers looked like very common that day, and in our first hour within the forest we got a wonderful list of birds that included good looks at Yellow-throated Tinkenbird, Western Black-headed Oriole, the rather scarce Honeyguide Greenbul, along with Tambourine Dove, Red-chested Cuckoo, Blue-throated Roller, White-breasted Nigrita, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Yellow-crested Woodpecker, the always interesting Green Hylia and African Shrike Flycather. Greenbuls were really well represented as got Little, Little Grey and Slender-billed Greenbuls.

But the Royale Mile is famous because of the number species living here which are difficult to find anywhere else. The Ituri Batis is one of them, and we had to chances to follow the nervous movements of a pair up in the canopies. African Dwarf Kingfisher was reluctant to show but by the end of the morning we tresoured excellent looks at them. A pair of Gree-backed Twinspots provided also great looks moving in tall grassland of some clearings. Blue-breasted Kingfisher, often shy in Uganda, showed really well, and Forest Flycatcher, Rufous-crowed Eremomela, Narina Trogon, Buff-breasted Apalis and Little Green & Green Sunbirds were also added to the tour list.

Further on in the forest, a visit to a clearing allowed us to get good views on both Sabine’s and Cassin’s Spinetails, both with a very limited range. When coming back to our van, another stop was mandatory as Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo was calling in the forest. After a long waiting, we finally got some views on the bird as it crossed to track, and the sight had a warm welcome in the group as this is exremely shy bird that normally is reluctant to show out. Already close to our vehicle, a wonderful Chocolate-backed Kingsfisher was our very last discovery in the forest, giving a wonderful end an excellent morning.

The impressive primary forest at Royal Mile
White-thighed Hornbill (Bycanistes cylindricus), is a scarce resident in primary forest
African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta) provided the group with several views, and in different locations along the tour
Chestnut Wattle-eye (Platysteria castanea) female shining its wonderful contrast
The very handsome Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Halcyon badia) was one of the most celebrated birds of the day!
The elusive Fraser’s Forest Flycatcher (Fraseria ocretata) showed up in the Royal Mile

Leaving behind the Royal Mile in our way to the Murchinson Falls National Park we still had a last stop in the primary forest, and we were lucky enough to enjoy a Forest Robin moving in the undergrowth. Scanning the sky, a massive, bulky African Crowned Eagle showed up in the sky, in a magnificent aerial display that let us enjoy many of its wing markings. Extremely happy after this great morning, we definately started our transfer to the Murchinson Falls National Park.

One in the park, birds were momentanely eclipsed by a wonderful array of game moving around us. Not the Mosque Swallows, neither the Pink-backed Pelicans nor White-headed Saw-wing could compete with the herds of Uganda Kobs and the lovely Oribis while family groups of African Elephants fed along the tracks a few feet away from our vehicles. Cape Buffalos appeared to a bit more scarce, but the magnificent silhouettes of the first Giraffes emerging in the sunset light with a chorus of Black-headed Gonoleks and Black-crowned Tchagras is something that will remain in our memories for long!

The firsts African Bush Elephants (Loxodonta africana) of every trip are always very special! Image by Mike O’Neill
African Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides typus) is often found aroud towns, and many times inside hotel grounds. Image by Mike O’Neill

Day 3 – Murchinson Falls game drive & Rock Pratincoles

During the morning we enjoyed a mixed of game and birding drive in the Murchinson Falls National Park. Here we enjoyed a good variety of birds including the firsts Martial Eagles of the trip along with Rüppell’s Vultures, Black-winged Kites, Short-winged & Zitting Cisticolas, Speckled-fronted Weavers, Black-bellied Bustards, Spotted Palm Thrush, Crowned Lapwings and Black-rumped Waxbills. Here we also got the only 3 Brown-chested Lapwings of the trip, a very scarce species that many trips fail to find!

Endless herds of Uganda Kobs were covering the plains along with small packs of the very handsome Oribis. The slender silouhette of the Giraffes were also a common view in the park, and small herds of them were crossing here and there, sometimes not far from the much less common Hartebeest. It did’nt take us long before we located the first pack of Lions lying on the shade of the bushland. Two individuals, one of them a male, were out of the bushes and resting in the dry grass, providing a much better view.

Far away from this plain, we had a very short walk in an open bushland to cath up with some birds, and here we enjoyed Nubian Woodpecker, Red-chested Bee-eaters, Mariqua Sunbird and Spot-flanked Barbets. In our way back to the accommodation, we still enjoyed wonderful views on a flock of Banded Martins that soon were eclypsed by a flock of Northern Carmine Bee-eaters that delighted our group with extremelly close views!

Nubian Giraffes (Giraffa c. camelopardalis) taking advantage of the recent rain. Image by tour participant Mike O’Neill
Black-bellied Bustard (Lissotis melanogaster) favours rather moisty grasslands, and its range has been reduced in Uganda in recent years due to farming. Image by Mike O’Neill
Abyssinian Ground Hornbills (Bucorvus abyssinicus). We enjoyed up to four family groups of these impressive birds!
Greater Honeyguide (Idicator indicator)
Saddle-billed Stork ((Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), another African classic
Northern Carmine Be-eater (Merops nubicus)
Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus)

After a nice lunch and some rest we went for more birding in the afternoon. Exploring some corners we enjoyed with good views on Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike, Brown Babblers, Yellow-throated Greenbuls but also Black-billed Wood-Dove and Jacobin Cuckoo. Later in the afternoon we visited the impressive waterfalls kwon as Murchinson Falls. Here, the White Nile jumps down a rocky scarpment in their way to South Sudan, and this incredible natural spectacle is even improved with the wonderful flights of the Rock Pratincoles living here. Yes, not far from the waterfalls we enjoyed several of this little jewels while busy trying to catch insects in flight over the waves of the Nile!

After enjoying this incredible site, we walked back to the van, having a Brown-headed Batis in our way back. This is again a quite scarce species, and the only one of the trip! Back to the woodlands, we tried to have some more birding, but we only got nice views on some Red-breasted Bee-eaters before a massive storm came to our way. After some driving trying to scape the rain, we finally decided to go back to our lodge for an early dinner.

Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)
Rock Pratincoles (Glareola nuchalis) at the White Nile rapids
Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki)
Oribis (Ourebia ourebi) at Murchinson Falls National Park

Day 4. Murchinson Fall – Kibale National Park

Morning birding in the Murchinson Falls National Park is always a wonderful experience. A short drive from our accommodation produced not only lovely views on the only Woolly-necked Stork of the trip but also Heuglin’s Francolin, African Wattled Lapwings, lovely views on Foxy Cisticolas, a lovely flock of Red-winged Grey Warblers, Lesser Striped & Wire-tailed Swallows while flocks of Violet-backed Starlings were moving all around.

Further on but still inside the National Park, we could enjoy a flock of the rather scarce White-crested Helmeted-Shrikes, and while tracking them in the woodlands, and wonderful Pennant-winged Nightjar simply appeared from under our feet to stop in a branch 60 metres away from us. Everybody in the group enjoyed great scope views on this amazing bird and took several images before ending our stay in the park with a family flock of Buff-bellied Warblers, great views on Northern Chanting Goshawk, several Red-headed Weavers and the first Barn Swallow of the trip.

Papyrus Gonolek (Laniurus mufumbiri), one of the first endemics appearing in the tour
African Bush Elephants foraging in the morning
Wolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus)
Heuglin’s Francolin (Ptermistis icterorhynchus)
Yellow-winged Bat (Lavia frons)
Nubian Giraffes in a power quest
Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates)
Foxy Cisticola (Cisticola troglodytes)
Pennant-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus vexillarius)
Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)

From this area, we drove South for the longest transfer of the tour (5h 30′) to arrive in the evening to the massive primary forest in the Kibale National Park. Midway down, we enjoyed the very tasty local food in a buffet restaurant, and we were surprised to see a small flock of Horus Swift flying above us for a pair of minutes!

From here still had a brief stop in a nice patch of forest, where we had 2 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flying above the canopy, while inside we spotted Honeyguide Greenbul, Little Green & Olive Sunbirds and Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird. Our very last stop of the day was not far from our accommodation in Kibale, and we enjoyed good views on 2 Highland Rush Warblers, another endemic of this very rich plateaus.

Day 5. Kibale National Park

Our day in Kibale started really early. Before daylight we arrived to the National Park headquarters, and while waiting for our armed scort we spend some time with a pair of African Wood Owls that were houling around. Even if we never enjoyed the bird perched, a pair of fly overs were a good entertaiment for our group before starting the walk in the jungle. Our first and most important target that day was the Green-breasted Pita, a scarce breeder in South West Uganda.

It is always a nice experience to be inside the jungle at dawn, listening the calls of Greenbuls, Sunbirds and Flycatchers. During the next two hours we enjoyed good views on a good variety of species, being Purple-headed Starling, Fraser’s Rufous Thrush and Red-tailed Ant Thrush the most interesting. But despite our efforts, we failed to have a proper view on the Green-breasted Pita.

At mid morning we walked away the area to focus in a family group of Chimpanzees nearby. Their noisy behaviour was a clear indication of their presence, and after many hours in the forest we were granted with a really close encounteer with a the Chimps. Females and small ones were really approachable, with the apes only a few inches away from us! The males seemed to be away, hunting or locating potential preys. We enjoyed the Chimps for about half an hour, enjoying several interactions of adults with the young members of the family. The group was mainly on the ground, but probably the most exciting moment was to see a pair of pursuits in the branches, mid way up in the trees with a lot of screaming and violent behaviour. Chimpanzees groups are highly hierarchical societies, and tensions can speed up when a member of the group sees its position threatened.

Always a prvilege to spend time with wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Image by Mike O’Neill
Fraser’s Rufous Thrush (Neocossyphus fraseri) showed very well during our morning in Kibale

Once out of the jungle, we enjoyed a number of stops in key corners, enjoying the good variety of birds living in this area. In the way out of our accommodation, we were lucky to find a Marsh Tchagra feeding a Black Cuckoo in a small pond! Little Grey & Yellow-throated Greenbuls were noted, and an African Emerald Cuckoo catched all the attention while a small flock of Dusky Tits were moving high in the canopies. Here we also got the first Buff-throated Apalis of the trip, along with Chestnut-winged Starling and African Blue Flycatcher. The area was great for Sunbirds, and we got 7 species quite easily, including Grey-headed, Blue-throated Brown, Green-throated, Green-headed and Bronze!

Grey-headed Sunbird (Deleornis axilaris)
Uganda Mangabeys (Lophocebus ugandae) showed out in our way out of Kibale
African Blue Flycatcher (Elminia longicauda)

From Kibale we moved to the Semliki National Park. This sublime patch of Congolese jungle inside Uganda hosts some of the most scarce and difficult birds in the region. Unfortunately, to explore the area is not always easy due to the difficult terrain and umpredictable weather conditions.

In our way to Semliki, we had a pair of stops to add some interesting birds including Lead-coloured Flycatcher, Plain-backed Pipit, Piping Hornbill, Black Cuckooshrike, Grey-headed Nigrita, Sooty Flycatcher and a brief but intense view on a Scaly Francolin.

After this last stop, we walked inside our accommodation for a cold drink and a good rest!

Black Cuckooshrike (Campephaga flava)
Crowned Hornbill (Lophocerus alboterminatus). Image by Mike O’Neill

Day 6. Semliki National Park

Early morning start to explore a patch of jungle that connects with one of the largest patches of continous forest in Africa, getting well inside Congo. During the morning we contacted with a number of interesting species, adding to the tour list Crested Malimbe, Xavier’s Greenbul, Blue Malkoha, the very impressive Black-casqued Wattled Horbill, the small Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Jameson’s Wattle-eye, Black-bellied Seedcracker, Yellow-whiskered Greenbul. A fast glimpse on a Fire-crested Alethe that left the group wanting more of it, and trakking a group of Red-tailed Monkeys led us to find a always wonderful Western Nicator.

Here we also got excellent views on our second Narina Trogon, and a nice swampy area we had excellent views on both Yellow-footed Flycatcher and African Green Pigeon. Almost back to the lodge, we still had great views on Great Blue Turaco and a nervous Dusky Crested Flycatcher.

In the afternoon we drove back to Fort Portal, but adding a stop in our way in a nice habitat where we finally found a wonderful Cabani’s Bunting in full song! Here we also had the only one African Citril of the tour!

Yellow-footed Flycatcher (Muscicapa sethsmithi). Image by Mike O’Neill
African Green Pigeon (Treron calvus)
Black-bellied Seedcracker (Pyrenestes ostrinus)
Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Halcyon badia)
Cabani’s Bunting (Emberiza cabanisi)

Day 7. Fort Portal – Queen Elizabeth National Park

Our overnight in Fort Portal allowed us to enjoy the good variety of ambients and birds. In another bright morning, along with the enchanting atmosphere of the volcanoes covered with dense forests and the deep blue of their lakes, we ejoyed anoher great birding day. A short walk in the forest beside our accommodation allowed excellent views on Green Crombec, White-chinned Prinia, Giant Kingfisher Joyful Greeful and African Goshawk. In the lake, Yellow-billed Ducks and Little Grebes were both feeding youngs while Palm-nut Vultures were still roosting in the trees arond the lake.

From here, two minutes inside te van were enough to reach a meadow rich in lush vegetation and papyrus. Here we got nice views on Black-capped Waxbills while getting the first of many Common Fiscals for the group while smalls flocks of Western Violet-back Starlings were passing by. An African Marsh Harrier was patrolling the area and several Tambourine Doves were in the move around, but after some minutes in the area we were hit by the wind, and or expectations to get some good from the papyrus vanished.

Back to the accommodation we went on with a short walk that explores an interesting mature forest. Here we got a number of interesting birds including Yellow-spotted Barbet, Joyful Greenbul, Little Greenbul, Buff-throated Apalis and Sooty Flycatcher while both Black-necked & Black-billed Weavers were new for the list. Here we also enjoyed wonderful views on Ashy Flycatcher & Lowland Masked Apalis, the last a top target bird for many birdwatchers visiting Uganda. Lühder’s Bush-shrike allowed good views even if never left the wines! Here we also got our first African Paradise Flycatcher for the trip, and Cassin’s Honeybird appeared shortly, leaving the group wanting more of it! During the walk we also tried to see White-spotted Flufftail, but despite our efforts and having the bird only a few meters away from us, we never contacted with it and the observation was reduced to a “good listening”. Here we still got to see some Cinnamon-breasted Bee-eaters in our way back to the accommodation, and when being really close to the cottages we were stopped by 8 Red Colobus hanging in the trees, joined by two Crowned Hornbills.

The wonderful secundary forest around Fort Portal
Hairy-breasted Barbet (Tricholaema hirsuta)
Joyful Greenbuls (Chlorocichla laetissima)
Red Colobus (Cercopithecus badius)
Lowland Masked Apalis (Apalis binotata)
Black and White Colobus (Colobus guereza)

After a light lunch we left our accommodation. In our way to Queen Eizabeth National Park we had a number of stops, and Red-faced Cisticola, Olive Sunbird, Olive-bellied Sunbird, Dusky Flycatcher and Dusky-blue Flycatcher were added to the tour list. A further stop allowed us to explore some wooded hills. In these gentle hills covered with grass and scattered bush we got good views on Cinnamon-breasted Buntings, Northern Crombec, Red-cheecked Cordon-bleu, Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver, Beautiful Sunbird and the very handsome White-shouldered Tit.

After a pair of hours of driving we arrived to the Queen Elisabeth National Park, crossing the Equador line that separates the Northern Hermisphere from the Southern. Only a few miles beyond, an impresive Martial Eagle perched by the road was the unforgettable welcome to the Southern Hemisphere!

A bit later we arrived to our accommodation, but before we still had time to enjoy some Sooty Chats and Striped Kingfishers. Once in our accommodarion, and taking advantage of its amazing terrace overlooking the National Park, we enjoyed in the evening a good selection of specialities such as Double-Toothed & White-headed Barbets, Copper Sunbird, and scope views on a Peregrine Falcon perched on a tree and feeding on a prey.

Arriving to our accommodation around the Queen Elizabeth, we enjoyed Uganda Kobs, Warthogs, Elephants and Cape Buffalos. Once in our accommodation we enjoyed some local birding, and the baranda of the dinner area, overlooking the grasslands and woodlands beyond, offered us good looks.

Red-faced Cisticola (Cisticola erythrops)
Black-winged Red Bishop (Euplectes hordeaceus). Image by Mike O’Neill
Northern Crombec (Sylvietta brachyura)
Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
White-headed Barbet (Lybius leucocephalus)

Day 8 . Queen Elizabeth

Our full day in the Northern area of the Queen Elizabeth National Park was a wonderful mix of bird & mammalwatching. After the rains during the last night, we woke up in a fresh ambient, and went inside the park with our packed breakfasts, ready for action. As soon as getting inside the National Park, Red-necked Francolins appeared to be everywhere. The firsts Black-lored Babblers appeared soon after, and our attention was soon jumping from herds of Elephants to Yellow-throated Longclaws, and from them to Cape Buffalos when a lovely flock of Water Thick-knees made us come back to birds!

Rufous-naped Larks seemed common in the area this year, as were Grassland Pipits. A pair of Black-bellied Bustards were noted, and the scanning of small ponds finally produced an African Crake running above the back of a huge Hippopotamus that was almost totally inside a muddy corner.

While enjoying our take away breakfast, we had a locely views on a salty lagoon, and here we got about 20 Lesser Flamingoes feeding along with Pied Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. Back to the grasslands, both Western Banded Snake Eagle and Common Wood-Hoopoe were really interesting addings before concentrating in Big Cats.

Our first goal to have more or less close views on Lions, and this quite easy to get as soon we were enjoying great views on a pack of 8 individuals that were enjoying some rest. But Lions are mostly active at the end of the day, so it means our pack was mostly resting (when not sleeping). Still, the impressive views of this huge predators is always impressing, no matter how far they are!

Our second target for the end of the morning was a it more difficult. Leopards are always tricky to get, but after some scanning around (and a bit of help) we finally enjoyed absolutely great views in one of this iconical predators. Leopards spend most of the daylight up in trees, where they are safe from attacks coming from Spotted Hyenas and Lions. And we can say that we were very lucky, not only because of the close views on the Leopard, but also because after 5 minutes enjoying the cat, it decided to go for a walk, and came down the tree to cross a patch of open terrain right beside us, providing once again in our tour an unforgettable moment!

Ugandan Kob (Kobus kob thomasi)
Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)
Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermiculatus)
African Rail (Rallus caerulescens)
Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) close up
Young male Lion (Panthera leo)
You can never get enough of Leopards (Panthera pardus)

After such a great morning, we came back to our accommodation for some lunch and rest. The afternoon was devoted to explore the inner bank of the park. Here we were surprised by an old male Elephant that was blocking the traffic in a local road! We spend some time around a pair of lakes, where we found the first Golden-breasted Bunting and the only one Goliath Heron of the trip! The rest of the afternoon we searched for Common Buttonquail, but without success. Still, we enjoyed good views on Flappet Larks, Stout Cisticolas obliging views on a Palm-nut Vulture and, at sunset, we had gorgeous views on 2 Pennant-winged Nightjars displaying around us before a pack of Spotted Hyenas appeared a pair of metres away in front our vehicle!

Impressive male Bush Elephant. Please note the colony of White-breasted Cormorants above the paquyderm
Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis)

Dia 9 .Queen Elizabeth to Inshasha

This day crossed this massive National Park to explore its Southernmost part. Still, in the morning we had 3 hours of impressive birding around our accommodation. There, taking advantage of the good combination of moist grasslands and Acacia woodland, we enjoyed species such as Brown-backed Srub Robin, Brown Snake Eagle, Crimson-rumped Waxbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Moustached Grass Warbler and White-chinned Prinia. In the thickets the group got good views on Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike, Black-headed Batis, Northern Black Flycatcher and Double-toothed Barbet while Spotted-flanked & White-headed Barbets and Great Scimitarbills remained always up in the trees. Holub’s Golden Weaver was added to the list, and the rich bird activity in the grasslands not only allowed us good views on Red-faced, Stout and Croaking Cisticolas but also favoured us with excellent scope views on both Dark-capped and Grey-capped Warblers!
All of this while flocks of Madagascar Bee-eaters and Lesser Striped Swallows were around us, and the very last Palm-nut Vultures were leaving their roosting sites.

Leaving behind the grasslands, we did a short visit to a papyrus swamp. Here, we were granted with good views on Lesser Swamp Warbler and Papyrus Gonolek, even if the location was more calm than expected. A fast check to the area around also produced good looks on Swamp Flycatcher and the firsts Striolated Herons of the trip. Indeed, here we also got the best views of the tour on Slender-billed & Yellow-backed Weavers!

Forest Hog (Hylochoerus meinertzhageni)
Yellow-throated Greenbul (Atismastillas flavicollis)
Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
White-browed Robin Chat (Cossypha heuglini)
Slender-billed Weaver (Ploceus pelzelni)
Red-chested Sunbird (Cinnyris eryrhocercus). Image by Mike O’Neill

It was already mid-morning, so we started our way to the Southern banks of the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Before going, the group enjoyed really close looks on 1 Forest Hog feeding by the road! Our transfer to the South didn’t produce much, but a pair of stops in the way allowed us to connect with the first Cameroon Sombre Greenbul, Speckled Barbet & Dusky Tits of the trip, but also more chances to compare Little & White-rumped Swifts at close range. Still, the most wonderful moment of the stops along our way was when 3 Chimpanzees decided to cross the road right beside us while we having a break to eat something light.

Once in our accomodation, we could enjoy some of the good birds of the garden, that included Tropical Boubou, African Paradise Flycatcher and Arrow-marked Babblers. After a good rest we came back to birding, this time to explore the National Park on its Southern part. A few minutes after leaving the accommodation, we had a wonderful moment when 3 Green Wood-hoopoes decided to stop close to our vehicle while a Grey Woodpecker was seen working a lower branch nearby.

Contuining our driving among Uganda Kobs and Elephants we did get inside the National Park, exploring a small patch of grass which is great for larks. Soon we had good views on both Rufous-naped and Flappet Larks, but the best was still to common, as a White-tailed Lark just flew right to side of the van, providing excellent views to all the participants.

After this wonderful spot, we drove a bit beyond to a water wole. There we enjoyed a large concentration of Uganda Kobs, but also African Sacred Ibis, Black Crakes, 1 Intermediate Egret, 1 Saddle-billed Stork and, the most impressive, a Shoebill Stork that, even if rather far if compared with the view that we all enjoyed the first day of the tour, it was still great!

We were moving fast to the sunset so we moved to our last spot, arriving once it was dark. There we tried to see African Scops Owls, as we had up to three individuals singing around us. Unfortunately and despite our efforts, we never got to see them!

Grey-throated Barbet (Gymnobucco bonapartei)
African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis)
Tropical Boubou (Laniarius aethiopicus)
Arrow-marked Babbler (Turdoides jardineii)
Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)
Sooty Chat (Myrmecocichla nigra)
Topi (Damaliscus lunatus)
The woolands around Inshasha

Day 10 – Queen Elizabeth – Mwindi

Transfer day between the lowland woodlands and the impressive mountain jungle in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. During the day we had a number of stops to enjoy the good variety of birds leaving as we went the slopes up. Near our accommodation we got really close views on Double-tooth Barbets and 2 gorgeous Thick-billed Seeadeaters. From here we crossed a number of cropped valleys, with remants of the natural forest at the bottom of them. Here, the tea is again the dominant crop in the best slopes, while the most steep are reserved to other crops.

Further on, a new stop became mandatory when we found a small flock of Black Bee-eaters feeding about 100 metres away from the road. Once out of the car, all the tour participants enjoyed great views on this really sought-after species! Along with them, a flock of Dusky Tits was also present while some African Green Pigeons were also in the move.

Early in the afternoon we were already in the Impenetrable Forest, and we had a pair of walks trying to find some of the goodies living there. We were lucky to find some endemics including Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Mountain Masked Apalis and an obliging Rwenzori Apalis, but the very best bird of these two stops was to find wonderful Black-faced Rufous Warbler, a species normally heard but not that easy to see! Extremely elusive, it took several minutes to get everyone to have at least some views in this impressive bird. A bit beyond, a Cassin’s Flycatcher was waiting for us in a river, its flauting song emerging from the crystalline water and spreading out into the jungle! A scoped Fine-banded Woopecker was also an excellent adding to our list, but was less celebrated than the Sharpe’s Starling that appeared right by the car!

This road keeps going up the slopes for several miles, and a flock of Dusky Tits was a milestone for another stop. Here we didn’ have that much out of some lovely Brown-capped Weavers, the first Grey-throated Barbets of the trip and an impressive African Crowned Eagle perched in a distant branch! This sight was among the top 3 moments of the tour according to our guests. The views on the scope of this massive bird of prey made us think about all the Black-and-White guezera Monkeys in the area, and we counted ourselves lucky to be big enough to not be in its menu…

Double-toothed Barbets (Lybius bidentatus) with Vieillot’s Black Weaver (Ploceus nigerrimus)
Black Bee-eater (Merops gularis), without doubt, one of the top birds of the trip
African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) taking an eye on some big Apes…
Red-faced Woodland Warbler (Phylloscopus laetus)
Cassin’s Flycatcher (Muscicapa casssini)
Sharpe’s Starling (Pholia sharpii)

Day 11 – Bwindi Gorilla Trekking

The Impenetrable Forest in Southern Uganda is an impressive 330 square kilometers area of ancient mountain cloudy forest. This jungle, survivor of the last glaciations, is one of the oldest forests in Africa. Its density is proverbial, and its dark slopes not only are home for over 300 species of birds including several endemics, but also for Eastern (Mountain) Gorillas and Chimpanzees. Indeed is the only natural spot in the world where you can find two apes. Besides, this beautiful landscapes of steep slopes and narrow valleys is also home for the very last Pygmy Humans in Uganda. Communities extremely threatened by habitat loss and contact with economic activities, including tourism.

After enjoying breakfast in our accommodations, we were back to our cabins deep in the forest to prepare ourselves for a intensive Gorilla trekking. This morning will be devoted to get in conctact with our closer relatives inside the mountain jungle. Before the march, we were conveniently adviced about all the security details to be considered for the safety of both Humans and Gorillas. Our group was lead by two rangers and one tracker that was able to follow the apes deep in the forestry.

During the walk we enjoy few birds, but we still had good views on Montane Oriole, White-eye Slaty Flycatcher and Northern Double-banded Sunbird. After 90 minutes of walk our traker was informed that a family group of Gorillas was nearby. In silence, we approach them and we were all soon having excellent views on a group of 1 individuals resting on the forest floor. Even if the most notiable was the sice of the massive “silverback”, the presence of the babies in the group provided us with unforgettable images of them playing, running and interacting with other members of the group.

The experience to have these massive animals, so close related to ourselves, is simply beyond any word!

The jungle at Impenetrable Forest National Park
Present and future of the Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei). Image by Mike O’Neill
Some Gorilla’s close up

Back to road, we went back to our accommodation for some rest before coming back to birding bussiness in the afternoon. The birding after lunch was devoted to explore some forest patches inmediatly around our accommodation. There, we enjoyed excellent views on both Mountain and Yellow-striped Greenbuls and first but incomplete views on Rwenzori Hill Babblers and Rwenzori Batis. Regal Sunbirds showed really well, and we were lucky enough to enjoy a small flock of Tuftet-chested Sunbirds feeding, including a full mounted male! This sighting is specially nice since this species tends to be scarce, and many times difficult to find! Other good birds along our walk included White-tailed Blue Flycatcher, and Streaked Canary and Mountain Buzzard were also added to our tour list.

The last stop in the evening was reserved to look for one fo the most special endemics in the Rwenzori Mountains. With the very last lights of the night a Rwenzori Nightjar emerged from the shadows of the forest to fly around us, and after a pair of pass-byes, to stop a few meters away from the group, allowing everyone to have great views! This was one of the best moments in the tour, as this Nightjar, formerly considered to be conspecific with Montane Nightjar but no considered a different species based on DNA analysis, morphological assets and calls.

Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatix)
Rwenzori Apalis (Oreolais rwenzori)

Day 12. Bwindi Birding

After the long Gorilla trekking, much longer than expected, today we were suposed to climb up the hills in search of the poorly known Grauer’s Broadbill. But the evening before we all arrived to the consensus to swich the long walk for a relaxed birding in search of the long list of endemics living and other good birds living in these mountains.

So, after a not-that-early breakfast, we moved by food to nearby open slope. But even before leaving our accommodation we had a new adding to our list, as a wonderful Brown-crowned Tchagra popped out in the hotel gardens. This is a scarce species up the hills, and a great addition to the group list. Once beyond the hotel facilities, we explored a slope with remants of the former natural grasslands combined with different crops. Here we enjoyed the strong, unmistakable Chubb’s Cisticolas song, and the flauty sounds of the Cape Robin Chats. A pair of African Stonechats were catching insects from the tea bushes, and a flock of Yellow-bellied Waxbills were feeding on the ground. But the best bird of the stop was the pair of Dusky Twinspots feeding along with the Waxbills. Another endemic in the bag! From here we turned to the forest, and a short walk around the impenetrable tangles allowed us to enjoy close ups to Rwenzori Apalis & Batis. Some Red-faced Woodland Warblers were also feeding around, and Banded Prinia was appearing shortly but left a great impression in our group! As much as the bizarre bird was considered for some the bird of the day! The general birding was also great, adding Grey Cuckooshrike and Black-billed Turaco to our list. A bit beyond, a Mountain Buzzard was spotted sitting in a dead branch, at the same time that some Black-throated Apalis showed up in a superb way, and only a pair of minutes after a Grauer’s Warbler started to sing in the tangles. It took several minutes and some effort but at the end everyone in the group had at least some views in this enygmatic and really difficult to spot bird. A few meters beyond a pair of Western Canaries were also a good character for the photographers in the group. This species, recently split from the African Citril, is probably the very last endemic to the Rwenzori, so far! When coming back to our accommodation for a good lunch, we still had to White-naped Ravens flying above us.

Brown-rumped Bunting (Emberiza affinis)
Dusky Twinspot (Euschistospiza cinereovinacea)
Rwenzori Batis (Batis diops)
Mountain Greenbul (Arizelocichla nigriceps)
Black-throated Apalis (Apalis jacksoni)

After a nice lunch and some rest we went back to the forest, where we had a short but nice selection of birds. A Dusky Turtle Dove showed up just when living our accommodation, allowing some shots. Beyond, we had our first Stülhmann’s Starling, and a few meters beyond we were lucky enough to enjoy a mixed flock of this rather scarce species along with 4 Shaper’s Starlings. A long fight was necessary in order to bring a Archer’s Robin Chat into the light, but even if we had good views on the bird, it left us wanting more of it! Another great bird appeared only a few minutes later, as three White-headed Wood-hoopoes came in flight to stop right beside us, with lot of loud calls, flikering and social activity between individuals, that soon disappeared back in the jungle. We still searched for more specialities, but the weather was quite cold and cloudy, and bird activity collapsed after 18:00. After some more time we decided to come to our accommodation, but not without an expected view of a male Purple-breasted Sunbird at close range was one of the highlights of the afternoon.

The many times elusive Purple-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia purpureiventris) performed really well for our group
Dusky Turtle Dove (Streptopelia lugens)

Day 13. Bwindi to Nburo National Park.
Transfer day between the high mountain in the Albertine Ridge to the dry woodlands in Nburo National Park. An early start was necessary to try to catch with more endemics in the highland forest. Despite that the morning was not that productive as expected, we still got excellent views on Chestnut-throated Apalis, Yellow-streaked Greenbuls and we added Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher and a lovely Handsome Francolin to our already long trip list. Here we also got the best views on Regal Sunbird in the trip, as this wonderful endemic stopped right in front of us to show itself for a pair of minutes while singing his heart out! Several Mountain Illadopsis were also calling around, and after some work we did get a glimpse in this shy underworth specialits than, despite our efforts, was not enough for most of the tour participants.

Regal Sunbird (Cinnyris regius), a Rwenzori endemics, and one of the most awesome Sunbirds in Uganda!
Handsome Francolin (Ptermistis nobilis)
Grey-crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum). Image by Mike O’Neill

From the mountains, we had a transfer to East, arriving to the Nburo National Park in the afternoon. Here we were welcomed by herds of Plain Zebras and Impalas, but our goal for the afternoon was our boat trip exploring the Nburo Lake. A family group of Giraffes in the track was about to ruin our plans… Finally on board, we were soon enjoying the first of 6 (!!) African Finfoots feeding along the lake shore along with Water Thick-knees, African Wattled Lapwings and 3 Wood Sandpipers. African Finfoots can be a really challenging bird, and we were all delighted to see so many of them. During the boat trip we had the chance to see them feeding, but also walking out of the water, interacting with Striated Herons, and we even enjoyed an individual roosting 2 metres high in a branch. The lake was full of Hypos, and some large Nile Crocodiles were also a main attraction along with the many African Fish Eagles around. Some Yellow-throated Greenbuls were also noted, but probably the most remarkable sight of the boat trip (apart from the Finfoots) was the unexpected sighting of a (distant) Great Painted Snipe having a word with 2 Wood Sandpipers.

Back to the ground, we were back to the main birding spots in the park, and we were soon delighted by some Bared-faced Go-away-birds when our van had a breakdown. The engine failed and the efforst of our driver didn’t work at all. Fortunately, we were really close to our accommodation, and we were “gentlely” rescued and transported to our lodge. In the way, a magnificent Leopard was a phenomenal reward for the hour of good light that we lost because of our van breakdown…

African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis)
African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
Nile Cocodrile (Cocodrylus niluticus)

Day 14. Nburo National Park – Entebbe.
Early morning start to catch up with the very first light and recover a part of the hour lost with the breakdown of our previous van, and enjoy the new car sent from Entebbe during the night. The day was fresh and partly cloudy, a wonderful weather to enjoy the good variety of birds living in the area. After a short walk around our accommodation we fastly connected with a good number of goodies including several Trilling Cisticolas, Grey-backed Fiscals and Bare-faced Go-away-birds. Here we also got the only one African Hoopoe of the trip, as well as wonderful views on Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-faced Crombec and Spot-flanked Barbets. Here we also added the majestic Meyer’s Parrot to trip list, and a pair of skulkers: Yellow-breasted Apalis and Red-faced Barbet. Despite all of this, the very best sight of the short walk was probably the great views on the Red-faced Lovebird that showed out in excellent light, but shortly!

Once inside the National Park, we kept enjoying the variety of mammals there, including several herds of Plain Zebras and Impalas, but also the always enchanting Giraffes moving around. A pair of Impalas were being attented by some Yellow-billed Oxpeckers but, even if having good views on them, we never managed a proper close up. The ambient of sparce thornbush woodlands and dense scrub is excellent for a number of species, and here we got the only Brubru of our trip along with a lovely White-winged Black Tit. The acacia woodland also produced the firs of many Lilac-breasted Roller, and excellent views on the always elusive Bearded Woodpecker. But birding in this corner can be really intense, and at the same of the Roller and Woodpecker, a small flocks of Vultures just passed over us, and could enjoy 3 Lappet-faced Vultures, 1 Rüppell’s & 1 White-backed in a good comparition of shapes, sizes and colours.

The area surrounding the National Park is now having a large number of cattle, depriving wildlife from an excellent habitat. Still, birdlife keeps being good here, and in our way out we enjoyed not only Black-crowned Tchagra, but also Crested Francolin and Green-winged Pytilia while small floks of Wattled Starlings were moving all arond the area!

Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)
Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida)
Bearded Woodpecker (Dendropicos namaquus). Image by Mike O’Neill
Spot-flanked Barbet (Tricholaema lacrymosa)
Red-faced Lovebird (Agapornis pullarius)
Trilling Cisticola (Cisticola woosnami)
Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscescens)
Lapped-faced Vulture (Torgos trachilaetos)
Bare-faced Go-away-bird (Crinifer personatus)

Moving North in the way to Entebbe, we had a stop in the __ Marshes, were we enjoyed the best wetland of trip. Here we enyojed large flocks of Grey-backed Cranes, Yellow-billed Storks, Yellow-billed Ducks, Long-toed Lapwings and White-faced Whistling Ducks along with 12 Hottentot Teals, several Black Egrets, and lovely views on at least 8 Rufous-bellied Herons. Other species noted in this wonderful corner included 5 Spur-winged Geese, Grassland (aka African) Pipits, White-browed Coucal, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Squacco Herons, African Swamphens and the only Three-banded Plovers of the trip.

Good variety of waterfowls including Yellow-billed Ducks, Long-toed Lapwings and White-faced Whistling Ducks
Hottentot Teals (Spatula hottentota)

After such a great stop, we drove further North for a lunch stop by the Ecuator Line, and we were welcome back to the Northern Hemisphere by some light rains. Taking advantage of the end of the rain, we stopped in a papyrus swamp. No sign of any of the many papyrus specialists, but our efforts were regarded with another wonderful sight on a Shoebill Stork; the third of the trip! And this time the bird was moving in the moisty grassland in a disturbant slow motion while looking for food. The rain came back while enjoying this wonderful, always extremely impressive bird, so we decided to keep our way North to Entebbe.

Once in Entebbe, we still had time for a crepuscular stop around our accommodation, and once again we were lucky enough to enjoy close views on Meyer’s Parrot while the noisy Plantain-eaters were choosing its roosting place. A rather distant African Grey Parrot was a nice add to the day list, and right before sunset we got our first views on the fast flying African Hooby, busy in catching African Palm Swifts. Another crepuscular specialist, the Bat Hawk appeared as well, but left the group wanting more of it! Once it was dark, we were regarded with a wonderful close view on a Southern White-faced Scops Owl posing for us in a wire right beside our accommodation. This was the very last adding to our list, and a great way to end our first tour to Uganda!

From here only drove the short distance to our accommodation, where we had a nice dinner (and cold beer!) before taking our nocturnal flight back to Europe!

Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudatus)
A privilege to end the tour with another Shoebill!
Southern White-faced Scops Owl (Ptilopsis granti). Image by Mike O’Neill
Raising at Mburo National Park. Please note the African Hoopoe! Image by Carles Oliver

List of bird seen during the tour:

  1. Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus)
  2. Spur-winged Goose (Plectropterus gambensis)
  3. Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos)
  4. White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)
  5. Hottentot Teal (Spatula hottentota)
  6. Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata)
  7. Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
  8. Handsome Francolin (Ptermistis nobilis)
  9. Heuglin’s Francolin (Ptermistis icterorhynchus)
  10. Red-necked Francolin (Ptermistis afer)
  11. Crested Francolin (Dendroperdix sephaena)
  12. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  13. Lesser Flamingo (Phoenicopterus minor)
  14. Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)
  15. Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus)
  16. African Open-billed Stork (Anastomus lamelligerus)
  17. Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)
  18. Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus)
  19. African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
  20. Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash)
  21. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  22. African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)
  23. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  24. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  25. Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
  26. Rufous-bellied Heron (Ardeola rufiventris)
  27. Striated Heron (Butorides striatus)
  28. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  29. Black Egret (Egretta ardesiaca)
  30. Great White Egret (Casmedorius albus)
  31. Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)
  32. Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)
  33. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  34. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
  35. Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)
  36. Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)
  37. Shoebill Stork (Balaeniceps rexs)
  38. Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens)
  39. White-breasted Pelican (Phalacrocorax lucidus)
  40. Long-tailed Cormorant (Phalacrocorax africanus)
  41. African Darter (Anhinga rufa)
  42. Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus aegyptius)
  43. Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
  44. African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)
  45. Palm-nut Vulture (Gypohierax angolensis)
  46. Hooded Vulture (Neophron monachus)
  47. White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)
  48. Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps ruepellii)
  49. Lapped-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotus)
  50. Brown Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus)
  51. Western Banded Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinarescens)
  52. African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus)
  53. Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates)
  54. Lizzard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)
  55. African Sparrowhawk (Accipiter tachiro)
  56. Great Sparrowhawk (Accipiter melanoleucos)
  57. African Harrier-Hawk (Polyboroides typus)
  58. Augur Buzzard (Buteo augur)
  59. Mountain Buzzard (Buteo oreophilus)
  60. Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax)
  61. Wahlberg’s Eagle (Aquila wahlbergi)
  62. Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)
  63. Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)ç
  64. Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)
  65. African Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus)
  66. Black-bellied Bustard (Eupodotis melanogaster)
  67. White-spotted Flufftail (Sarothura pulchra) – heard only
  68. African Finfoot (Podica senegalensis)
  69. African Crake (Crex egregia)
  70. Black Crake (Amaurornis flavirostris)
  71. African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)
  72. Grey-crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
  73. Water Thick-knee (Burhinus vermiculatus)
  74. Senegal Thick-knee (Burhinus senegalensis)
  75. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
  76. Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
  77. Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus)
  78. Long-toed Plover (Vanellus crassirostris)
  79. African Wattled Lapwing (Vanellus senegallus)
  80. Crowned Lapwing (Vanellus coronatus)
  81. Black-headed Lapwing (Vanellus tectus)
  82. Senegal Lapwing (Vanellus lugubris)
  83. Brown-chested Lapwing (Vanellus superciliosus)
  84. Three-banded Plover (Charadrius tricollaris)
  85. Greater Painted Snipe (Rostratula benglahensis)
  86. African Jacana (Actophilornis afrivanus)
  87. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  88. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  89. Green Sandpiper (Tringa sttagnatilus)
  90. Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)
  91. Rock Pratincole (Glareola nuchalis)
  92. Grey-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)
  93. Gull-billed Tern (Chlidonias nilotica)
  94. White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)
  95. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)
  96. African Green Pigeon (Treron calva)
  97. Speckled Pigeon (Columba guinea)
  98. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
  99. Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatrix)
  100. Blue-spotted Wood-Dove (Turtur afer)
  101. Black-billed Wood Dove (Turtur abyssinicus)
  102. Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria)
  103. Ring-necked Dover (Streptopelia capicola)
  104. Red-eye Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)
  105. African Mourning Dove (Streptopelia decipiens)
  106. Vinaceous Fove (Streptopelia vinacea)
  107. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
  108. Dusky Turtle Dove (Streptopelis lugens)
  109. Great Bllue Turaco (Corythaeola cristata)
  110. Ross’s Turaco (Musophaga rossae)
  111. White-crested Turaco (Tauraco leucolophus)
  112. Black-billed Turaco (Tauraco schuetti)
  113. Bared-faced Eastern Grey Plantain-eater (Corythaixodes personata))
  114. Eastern Grey Plantain-eater (Cinifer zonorus)
  115. Jacobin Cuckoo (Oxylophus jacobinus)
  116. Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitairius)
  117. Black Cuckoo (Cuculus clamosus)
  118. Dusky Long-tailed Cuckoo (Cercococcyx mechowi)
  119. Klaas’s Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas)
  120. African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus)
  121. Blue Malkoha (Ceuthmochares aereus)
  122. White-browed Coucal (Centropus superciliosus)
  123. Blue-headed Coucal (Centropus monachus)
  124. Senegal Coucal (Centropus senegalessis)
  125. African Wood Owl (Strix woodfordii)
  126. Greyish Eagle Owl (Bubo cinerascens)
  127. African Scops Owl (Otus senegalensis)
  128. Southern White-faced (Strix woodforsii)
  129. Rwenzori Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruwenzori)
  130. Pennant-winged Nightjar (Macrodipteryx vexillarius)
  131. Little Swift (Appus affinis)
  132. White-rumped Swight (Apus caffer)
  133. Horus Swift (Apus horus)
  134. African Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus)
  135. Sabine’s Spinetail (Rhaphidura sabini)
  136. Cassin’s Spinetail (Neafragus cassini)
  137. Speckled Mousebird (Colius striatus)
  138. Blue-naped Mousebird (Urocolius macrourus)
  139. Narina Trogon (Apaloderma narina)
  140. Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus)
  141. Blue-throated Roller (Eurystomus gularis)
  142. Lilac-breasted Roller (Coracias caudata)
  143. Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
  144. Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti)
  145. Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucocephala)
  146. Woodland Kingfisher (Halcyon senegalensis)
  147. Blue-breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon malimbica)
  148. Chocolate-backed Kingfisher (Halcyon badia)
  149. Giant Kingfisher (Megaceryle maxima)
  150. Malachite Kingfisher (Alcedo cristata)
  151. African Pygmy Kingfisher (Ispidina picta)
  152. African Dwarf Kingfisher (Ispidina lecontei)
  153. Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus)
  154. Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater (Merops oreobates)
  155. Blue-breasted Bee-eater (Merops variegatus)
  156. White-thoated Bee-eater (Merops albicollis)
  157. Swallow-tailed Bee-eater (Merops hirundineus)
  158. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
  159. Black Bee-eater (Merops gularis)
  160. Madagascar Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus)
  161. Red-throated Bee-eater (Merops bulocki)
  162. Northern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicus)
  163. African Hoopoe (Upupa africana)
  164. Green Wood-hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)
  165. White-headed Wood-hoopoe (Phoeniculus bollei)
  166. Greater Scimitarbill (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas)
  167. Abyssinian Ground-hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus)
  168. African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus)
  169. Crowned Hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus)
  170. African Pied Hornbill (Tockus fasciatus)
  171. Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill (Tockus camurus)
  172. Piping Hornbill (Bycanistes fistulator)
  173. Black-and-White Casqued Hornbill (Bycanistes subcylindricus)
  174. White-thighed Hornbill (Bycanistes cylindricus)
  175. Black-casquet Wattled Hornbill (Ceratogymna atrata)
  176. Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus bilineatus)
  177. Yellow-throated Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus subsulfureus)
  178. Western Green Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus coryphaeus)
  179. Speckled Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus scolopaceus)
  180. Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)
  181. Grey-throated Tinkerbird (Gymnobucco bonapartei)
  182. Spot-flanked Tinkerbird (Tricholaema lacrymosa)
  183. Hairy-breasted Tinkerbird (Tricholaema hirsuta)
  184. Yellow-spotted Barbet (Buccanodon duchaillui)
  185. White-headed Barbet (Lybius leucocephalus)
  186. Black-billed Barbet (Lybius guifsofalito)
  187. Red-faced Barbet (Lybius rufrifacies)
  188. Doubled-toothed Barbet (Lybius bidentatus)
  189. Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator)
  190. Lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor)
  191. Cassin’s Honeybird (Prodotiscus insignis)
  192. Fine-banded Woodpecker (Campethera thaelionaema)
  193. Nubian Woodpecker (Campethera nubica)
  194. Cardinal Woodpecker (Dendropicos fuscencens)
  195. Bearded Woodpecker (Dendropicos namaquus)
  196. Yellow-crested Woodpecker (Dendropicos xantholophus)
  197. Grey Woodpecker (Dendropicos goertae)
  198. Rock Kestrel (Falco rupicolus)
  199. Grey Kestrel (Falco ardosiacus)
  200. African Hobby (Falco cucieri)
  201. Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera)
  202. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  203. Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus)
  204. Meyer’s Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)
  205. Red-headed Lovebird (Agapornis pullarius)
  206. Chin-spot Batis (Batis molitor)
  207. Black-headed Batis (Batis minor)
  208. Rwenzori Batis (Batis diops)
  209. Ituri Batis (Batis iturensis)
  210. Brown-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira cyanea)
  211. Black-throated Wattle-eye (Platysteira peltata)
  212. Chestnut Wattle-eye (Dyaphorophyia castanea)
  213. Jameson’s Wattle-eye (Dyaphorophyia jamesoni)
  214. Tropical Boubou (Laniarius aethiopicus)
  215. Lüdher’s Bush-shrike (Laniarius luehderi)
  216. Black-headed Gonolek (Laniarius erythrogaster)
  217. Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri)
  218. Northern Puffback (Dryoscopus gambensis)
  219. Brubru (Nilaus afer)
  220. Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegallus)
  221. Brown-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra australis)
  222. Marsh Tchagra (Tchagra minuta)
  223. Sulphur-breasted Bush-shrike (Malaconotus sulfureopectus)
  224. Doherty’s Bush-shrike (Malaconotus dohertyi)
  225. Bocage’s Bush-shrike (Malaconotus bocagei)
  226. African Shrike-flycatcher (Megabias flammulatus)
  227. Black-and-white Shrike-flycatcher (Bias musicus)
  228. White-crested Helmet-shrike (Prionops plumatus)
  229. Black Cuckoo-shrike (Campephaga flava)
  230. Red-shouldered Cuckoo-shrike (Campephaga phoenicea)
  231. Common Fiscal (Lanius collaris)
  232. Grey-backed Fiscal (Lanius excubitoroides)
  233. Mackinnon’s Fiscal (Lanius mackinnoni)
  234. Montane Oriole (Oriolus percivali)
  235. Western Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus brachyrhynchus)
  236. Fork-tailed Drongo (Dricurus adsimilis)
  237. African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis)
  238. Red-bellied Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone rufiventer)
  239. Piapiac (Ptilostomus afer)
  240. Pied Crow (Corvus albus)
  241. White-necked Raven (Corvus albicollis)
  242. African Blue Flycatcher (Elminia longicauda)
  243. White-tailed Blue Flycatcher (Elminia albicaudata)
  244. Dusky Crested Flycatcher (Elminia nigromitratus)
  245. Dusky Tit (Parus funereus)
  246. White-winged (Parus leucomelas)
  247. White-shouldered Tit (Parus guineensis)
  248. Western Nicator (Nicator chloris)
  249. Rufous-naped Lark (Mirafra africana)
  250. Flappet Lark (Mirafra rufoninnamomea)
  251. White-tailed Lark (Mirafra albicauda)
  252. Common Bulbul (Pycnonotus barbatus tricolor)
  253. Yellow-whiskered Greenbul (Andropadus latirostris)
  254. Little Grey Greenbul (Andropadus ansorgei)
  255. Little Greenbul (Eurillas virens)
  256. Plain Greenbul (Eurillas curvirostris)
  257. Mountain Greenbul (Arizelocihla nigriceps kikuyuensis)
  258. Slender-billed Greenbul (Stelgidillas gracilirostris)
  259. Yellow-throated Greenbul (Atismastillas flavicollis)
  260. Joyful Greenbul (Chlorocichla laetissima)
  261. Honeyguide Greenbul (Baeopogon indicator)
  262. Yellow-streaked Greenbul (Phyllastrephus flavostriatus)
  263. Xavier’s Greenbul (Phyllastrephus xavieri)
  264. Red-tailed Bristlebill (Bleda syndactyla)
  265. Red-tailed Greenbul (Criniger calurus)
  266. White-headed Saw-wing (Psalidoprogne albiceps)
  267. Black Saw-wing (Psalidoprogne holomelas)
  268. Plain Martin (Riparia paludicola)
  269. Banded Martin (Riparia cincta)
  270. Rock Martin (Ptynoprogne fuligula)
  271. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  272. Angolan Swallow (Hirundo angolensis)
  273. Wire-tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii)
  274. Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
  275. Mosque Swallow (Cecropis senegalensis)
  276. Red-breasted Swallow (Cecropis semirufa)
  277. Lesser Striped Swallow (Cecropis abyssinica)
  278. Moustached Grass Warbler (Melocichla mentalis)
  279. Green Crombec (Sylvietta virens)
  280. Lemon-bellied Crombec (Sylvietta denti)
  281. Northern Crombec (Sylvietta brachyura)
  282. Red-faced Crombec (Sylvietta whytii)
  283. Black-faced Rufous Warbler (Bathmocercus rufus)
  284. Chestnut-capped Flycatcher (Erythrocercus mccallii)
  285. Green Hylia (Hylia prasina)
  286. Red-faced Woodland Warbler (Phylloscopus laetus)
  287. Lesser Swamp Warbler (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)
  288. Dark-capped Warbler (Iduna natalensis)
  289. Highland Rush Warbler (Bradypterus centralis)
  290. Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
  291. Wing-snapping Cisticola (Cisticola ayresii)
  292. Stout Cisticola (Cisticola robustus)
  293. Croacking Cisticola (Cisticola natalensis)
  294. Rattling Cisticola (Cisticola chiniana)
  295. Rufous-winged Cisticola (Cisticola galactotes)
  296. Red-faced Cisticola (Cisticola erythrops)
  297. Chubb’s Cisticola (Cisticola chubbi)
  298. Trilling Cisticola (Cisticola woosnami)
  299. Foxy Cisticola (Cisticola troglodytes)
  300. Short-winged Cisticola (Cisticola brachypterus)
  301. Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava)
  302. White-chinned Prinia (Prinia leucopogon)
  303. Black-faced Prinia (Prinia melanops)
  304. Banded Prinia (Prinia bairdii)
  305. Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flacida)
  306. Chestnut-throated Apalis (Apalis porphyrolaema)
  307. Buff-throated Apalis (Apalis rufogularis)
  308. Black-throated Apalis (Apalis jacksoni)
  309. Lowland Masked Apalis (Apalis bonitata)
  310. Mountain Masked Apalis (Apalis personata)
  311. Rwenzori Apalis (Oreolais ruwenzorii)
  312. Buff-bellied Warbler (Phyllolais pulchella)
  313. Red-winged Grey Warbler (Drymocichla incana)
  314. Grey-backed Camaroptera (Camaroptera brevicaudata)
  315. Green-backed Eremomela (Eremomela canescens)
  316. Rufous-crowned Eremomela (Eremomela badiceps)
  317. Rwenzori Hill Babbler (Sylvia atriceps)
  318. Green White-eye (Zosterops stuhlmanni)
  319. Mountain Illadopsis (Illadopsis pyrrhoptera)
  320. Arrow-marked Babbler (Turdoides jardineii)
  321. Brown Babbler (Turdoides plebejus)
  322. Black-lored Babbler (Turdoides sharpei)
  323. Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea)
  324. Purple-headed Starling (Hylopsar purpureiceps)
  325. Greater Blue-eared Starling (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)
  326. Lesser Blue-eared Starling (Lamprotornis chloropterus)
  327. Rüppell’s Long-tailed Starling (Lamprotornis purpuropterus)
  328. Splendid Starling (Lamprotornis splendidus)
  329. Violet-backed Starling (Cinnyricincus leucogaster)
  330. Chestnut-winged Starling (Onychognatus fulgidus)
  331. Slender-billed Starling (Onychognatus tenuirostris)
  332. Sharpe’s Starling (Peoptera sharpii)
  333. Stuhmann’s Starling (Peoptera stuhlmanni)
  334. Yellow-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus africanus)
  335. Red-tailed Ant Thrush (Neocossyphus rufus)
  336. Fraser’s Rufous Thrush (Stizorhina fraseri)
  337. African Thrush (Turdus pelios)
  338. Fire-crested Alethe (Alethe diademata)
  339. Brown-backed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas hartlaubi)
  340. White-browed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas leucophrys)
  341. Lead-coloured Flycatcher (Myioparus plumbeus)
  342. White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher (Melaenornis fischeri)
  343. Northern Black Flycatcher (Melaenornis edolioides)
  344. Yellow-eyed Black Flycatcher (Melaenornis ardesiacus)
  345. Pale Flycatcher (Melaenornis pallidus)
  346. Silverbird (Empidornis semipartitus)
  347. Ashy Flycatcher (Muscicapa caerulescens)
  348. Swamp Flycatcher (Muscicapa aquatica)
  349. Cassin’s Flycatcher (Muscicapa cassini)
  350. Yellow-footed Flycatcher (Muscicapa sethsmithi)
  351. African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)
  352. Dusky-blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa comitata)
  353. Sooty Flycatcher (Muscicapa infuscata)
  354. Forest Flycatcher (Fraseria ocreata)
  355. Cape Robin-Chat (Cossypha afra)
  356. White-browed Robin-Chat (Cossypha heuglini)
  357. Archer’s Robin-Chat (Cossypha archeri)
  358. Forest Robin (Stiphornis erythrotorax)
  359. Spotted Palm-Thrush (Cichladusa gutatta)
  360. African Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
  361. Moking Cliff Chat (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris)
  362. Sooty Chat (Myrmecocichla nigra)
  363. Grey-headed Sunbird (Deleornis axiliaris)
  364. Little Green Sunbird (Anthrepes seimundi)
  365. Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris)
  366. Green-headed Sunbird (Cyanomitra verticalis)
  367. Blue-throated Brown Sunbird (Cyanomitra cyanolaema)
  368. Blue-headed Sunbird (Cyanomitra aliane)
  369. Olive Sunbird (Cyanomitra olivacea)
  370. Green-throated Sunbird (Chalcomitra rubescens)
  371. Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis)
  372. Bronze Sunbird (Nectarinia kilimensis)
  373. Purple-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia purpureiventris)
  374. Northern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris preusi)
  375. Olive-bellied Sunbird (Cinnyris chloropygia)
  376. Tiny Sunbird (Cinnyris minulla)
  377. Regal Sunbird (Cinnyris regia)
  378. Copper Sunbird (Cinnyris cuprea)
  379. Variable Sunbird (Cinnyris venusta)
  380. Mariqua Sunbird (Cinnyris mariquensis)
  381. Beautiful Sunbird (Cinnyris pulchella)
  382. Red-chested Sunbird (Cinnyris erythrocerca)
  383. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  384. Grey-headed Sparrow (Passer griseus)
  385. Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-Weaver (Plocepasser superciliosus)
  386. Speckle-fronted Weaver (Sporopipes frontalis)
  387. Thick-billed Weaver (Amblyospiza albifrons)
  388. Village Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)
  389. Lesser Masked Weaver (Ploceus intermedius)
  390. Vitelline Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)
  391. Spectacled Weaver (Ploceus ocularis)
  392. Black-necked Weaver (Ploceus nigricollis)
  393. Baglafecht Weaver (Ploceus baglafecht)
  394. Little Weaver (Ploceus luteolus)
  395. Slender-billed Weaver (Ploceus pelzelni)
  396. Golden-backed Weaver (Ploceus jacksoni)
  397. Yellow-backed Weaver (Ploceus melanocephalus)
  398. Northern Brown-throated Weaver (Ploceus castanops)
  399. Compact Weaver (Ploceus superciliosus)
  400. Holub’s Golden Weaver (Ploceus xanthops)
  401. Brown-capped Weaver (Ploceus insignis)
  402. Black-billed Weaver (Ploceus melanogaster)
  403. Vieillot’s Black Weaver (Ploceus nigerrimus)
  404. Crested Malimbe (Malimbus malimbicus)
  405. Red-headed Weaver (Anaplectes rubriceps)
  406. Red-billed Quelea (Quelea quelea)
  407. Fan-tailed Widowbird (Euplectes axilaris)
  408. Marsh Widowbird (Euplectes hartlaubi)
  409. Black Bishop (Euplectes gierowii)
  410. Yellow-mantled Widowbird (Euplectes macrourus)
  411. Southern Red Bishop (Euplectes orix)
  412. Northern Red Bishop (Euplectes franciscanus)
  413. Black-winged Red Bishop (Euplectes hordeaceus)
  414. Bronze Mannikin (Spermestes cucullata)
  415. Black-and-White Mannikin (Spermestes bicolor)
  416. Yellow-bellied Waxbill (Coccopygia quartinia)
  417. Green Twinspot (Mandingoa nitidula)
  418. Dusky Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza jacksoni)
  419. Grey-headed Nigrita (Nigrita canicapilla)
  420. White-breasted Nigrita (Nigrita fusconota)
  421. Black-crowned Waxbill (Estrilda nonnula)
  422. Fawn-breasted Waxbill (Estrilda paludicola)
  423. Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)
  424. Black-rumped Waxbill (Estrilda troglodytes)
  425. Orange-cheeked Waxbill (Estrilda melpoda)
  426. Crimson-rumped Waxbill (Estrilda rhogopyga)
  427. Orange-breasted Waxbill (Amandava subflava)
  428. Red-cheeked Cordon-bleu (Uraeginthus bengalus)
  429. Black-bellied Seedcracker (Pyrenestes ostrinus)
  430. Green-winged Pytilia (Pytilia melba)
  431. Red-winged Pytilia (Pytilia phoenicoptera)
  432. Dusky Twinspot (Euschistospiza cinereovinacea)
  433. Brown Twinspot (Clytospiza monteirei)
  434. Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)
  435. African Firefinch (Lagonosticta rubricata)
  436. Bar-breasted Firefinch (Lagonosticta rufopicta)
  437. Village Indigobird (Vidua chalybeata)
  438. Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura)
  439. African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp)
  440. Cape Wagtail (Motacilla capensis)
  441. Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)
  442. African Pipit (Anthus cinnamomeus)
  443. Plain-backed Pipit (Anthus leucophrys)
  444. Short-tailed Pipit (Anthus brachyurus)
  445. Brimstone Canary (Crithagra sulphuratus)
  446. Yellow-fronted Canary (Crithagra mozambicus)
  447. Thick-billed Seedeater (Crithagra burtoni)
  448. African Citril (Crithagra citrinelloides)
  449. Western Citril (Crithagra frontalis)
  450. Papyrus Canary (Crithagra koniensis)
  451. Streaky Canary Seeadeater (Crithagra striolatus)
  452. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi)
  453. Golden-breasted Bunting (Emberiza flaviventris)
  454. Cabani’s Bunting (Emberiza cabanisi)

List of species of mammals appeared in the tour:

  1. African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
  2. Stripped Ground Squirrel (Euxerus erythropus)
  3. Isabelline Sun Squirrel (Heliosciurus rufobrachium)
  4. Alexander Bush Squirrel (Paraxeus alexandri)
  5. Boehm’s Bush Squirrel (Paraxeus boehmi)
  6. Olive Baboon (Papio anubis)
  7. Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas)
  8. Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)
  9. L’Hoest’s Monkey (Allochrocebus lhoesti)
  10. Red-tailed Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius)
  11. Blue Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis)
  12. Red Colobus (Cercopithecus badius)
  13. Uganda Mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae)
  14. Black and White Colobus (Colobus guereza)
  15. Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei)
  16. Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
  17. African Straw-coloured Fruit-Bat (Eidolon helvum)
  18. Yellow-winged Bat (Lavia frons)
  19. Lion (Panthera leo)
  20. Leopard (Panthera pardus)
  21. Spotted Hyaena (Crocuta crocuta)
  22. Side-striped Jackal (Lupulella adusta)
  23. Slender Mongoose (Herpestes sanguinea)
  24. Common Dwarf Mongoose (Helogale parvula)
  25. Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)
  26. White Rhinocero (Ceratotherium simum)
  27. Common Warthog (Phacochoerus africanus)
  28. Forest Hog (Hylochoerus meinertzahageni)
  29. Hyppopotamus (Hippotamus amphibius)
  30. African Buffalo (Synverus caffer)
  31. Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)
  32. Impala (Aepycerus melampus)
  33. Oribi (Ourebia ourebi)
  34. Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)
  35. Uganda Kob (Kobus kob)
  36. Hartebeest (Alcephalus busephalus)
  37. Topi (Damaliscus lutanus)
  38. Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)
  39. Rwenzori Duiker (Cephalophus rubidus)
  40. Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

OrnitoRepte mallarenga d’aigua al Ripollès

  • Data: 24 d’abril del 2022
  • Número de participants: 19 + dos guies

En el marc de les sortides ornitològiques organitzades conjuntament amb la Fundació Plegadis i Birding Catalunya, el propassat 24 d’abril vam fer un OrnitoRepte pel Ripollès per mirar de trobar el Pàrid més escàs a casa nostra: la mallarenga d’aigua.

La idea inicial quan el vam programar era de gaudir del començament de la primavera als vessants boscosos de la capçalera del Riu Ter. Amb el que no comptàvem era amb unes temperatures força baixes, aque a primera hora del matí amb prou feines arribaren als 5ºC, i que van donar a la sortida un caire força hivernal, només trencat al final de la mateixa amb l’aparició del sol i unes temperatures lleugerament més agradables. Les baixes temperatures es van traduïr en una activitat d’ocells bastant discreta.

El pica-soques blau (Sitta europaea) es va deixar veure bé, però per molts, massa breument
La mallarenga d’aigua (Poecile palustris) va aparèixer tot just després d’encetar l’OrnitoRepte!

A primera hora del matí el grup de participants va anar arribant al punt de trobada. Un cop fet el recompte i ben abrigats, vam fer un petit tombet des del mateix punt de trobada. Aquí, tot caminant al voltant d’una roureda madura, vam observar els primers ocells de la sortida: Gafarró, tord comú i mallarengues blaves que es van deixar veure força bé. Hi havia merles en vol i també gaig quan la primera mallarenga d’aigua va aparèixer en un arbre ben a prop nostre, oferint molt bones observacions a tot el grup!

Havien passat uns 10 minuts i ja havíem assolit el “repte” de la sortida. Un cop gaudida la mallarenga, vam continuar fent via. Tallarol de casquet, pardal xarrec, cotxa fumada, pica-soques blau, mallarenga cuallarga i raspinell comú també es van deixar veure força bé. L’activitat d’ocells, però, era baixa degut als 4ºC de tempetatura. En aquestes condicions, una mica més de pista només va produir gratapalles, dues caderneres i un parell de mosquiters de passa només apreciats pels anaven davant de tot del grup. Tot amb tot, just al moment que decidíem fer el tomb, una parella de mallarengues d’aigua es van deixar veure durant una bona estona mentre s’alimentaven amb mallarengues carboneres i emplomallades, en el que va ser una bona comparativa de totes tres espècies.

De camí de tornada cap als vehicles una desena de voltors comuns van aparèixer al cel. Els voltors estavan baixant a uns camps vessant amunt, i tot repassant els camps va saltar la 1a sorpresa del dia quan vam trobar un voltor negre aturat a un prat! Tot i estar lluny, tothom va gaudir d’una molt bona observació pel telescopi. El voltor negre estava acompanyat a terra per dos voltors comuns, així que la comparativa no podia ser millor!

Ben amagat entre la vegetació, aquest voltor negre (Aegypius monachus) va ser, sens dubte, la sorpresa més gran del matí!

Tothom estava gaudint d’allò més amb aquesta espècie tant poc esperada així que vam decidir d’apropar-nos tot seguint la pista amunt. La temperatura continuava sent molt baixa, així que la caminada va anar bé per a recuperar temperatura. Un cop retallada la distància, vam gaudir d’una observació força millor amb el telescopi i d’un parell de fotos testimonials tot i que el voltor negre no ens ho va posar especialment fàcil ja que s’anava movent pel prat, a voltes desapareixent darrera d’alguns arbres. El trajecte també havia produït bitxac comú, cuereta blanca, griva i un fantàstic mascle de mastegatatxes!

De tornada als vehicles ens vam dirigir a un cafè proper, a on vam demanar quelcom de ben calent per intentar recuperar temperatura (encara estàvem a 6ºC!). D’aquí, ens vam desplaçar al Nord i vessant amunt, per explorar un seguit de prats i zones de landes de muntanya.

La temperatura anava pujant, però encara èrem lluny de poder dir que èrem a final d’abril. Poc després d’aparcar vam trobar la primera de moltes verderoles, mentre una piula dels arbres cantava força a prop. Un parell de mallerengues petites s’alimentaven per la zona quan, en apropar-nos a zona de landes, va saltar la segona sorpresa del matí: 2 perdius xerres que van aixecar el vol, deixant-se caure vessant avall!

Aquesta piula dels arbres (Anthus trivials) era dels pocs ocells que refilaven per les landes de muntanya!

Mooolta exitació al grup (i als guies) per aquesta observació, així que ens vam apropar molt a poc a poc a la zona a on havien aterrat, amb l’esperança de millorar l’observació. Tot i les moltes precaucions, només vam aconseguir una segona observació de les perdius xerres en vol, mentre marxaven una mica més enllà dins la zona de landes. Aquí ho vam deixar correr per no destorbar-les, tot i que aquestes perdius ens van deixar amb ganes de més!

Encara comentàvem la jugada quan el cel ens va reclamar. Una àguila daurada va apareixer a força alçada però encara reconeixible, mentre un falcó peregrí volava força més baix. El sol anava sortint i la temperatura pujava, i això explicava que els voltors comuns també passessin força amunt! Tot seguint el camí, dos còlits grisos van passar volant per sobre nostre, per aturar-se vessant amunt. Una àguila calçada també es va deixar veure.

Una de les moltes verderoles (Emberiza citrinela) que vam veure a la 2a part de la sortida

Ja de baixada als vehicles, el grup va poder gaudir de molt bones observacions d’una verderola mascle cantant, una parella de bruels i una fantàstica observació d’una àguila marcenca caçant, i que vam poder observar des de dalt. Coses de mirar ocells a la part alta dels vessants pirinencs! Com a observació final, un cucut ens va passar volant pel davant quan arribavem al pàquing.

De camí cap al restaurant, vam fer una parada final al Riu Ter, per tal de gaudir de merla d’aigua i cuereta torrentera! I amb aquesta aturada a la vora del Ter, ja amb temperatures quasi normalitzades per a l’època de l’any, vam acabar un altres OrnitoRepte força exitós!

En temps afegit, una parella de pinsà borroner (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) va fer les delícies de tots plegats

PD: Aquells que vam fer dinar de germanor vam tenir la sort de gaudir de pica-soques blau, mallarenga d’aigua i una parella de pinsans borroners (trobats gràcies a la Paqui i l’Octavi) entre aiguat i aiguat!

Voleu venir a les nostres sortides?

Trobareu el calendari complert d’OrnitoReptes aquí: https://barcelonabirdingpoint.com/ornito-reptes/?lang=ca

Finland & Finnmark Tour 2022 Trip Report

Overview: Our 5th tour exploring Finland was dated a pair of weeks earlier than previous issues. The average temperature was low during the whole trip, and the early dates marked the tour, improving our chances for Grouses and Owls, but also making not possible to connect with some species including Terek’s Sandpiper, Common Rosefinch and Greenish Warbler. However, the early date provided us with better chances for both Steller’s & King Eiders and some interesting migratory species (Marsh Sandpiper, Greater White-fronted Goose, Purple Sandpiper), while the cold ambient was excellent to spot Grouses in the taiga forest. The number of Owls was extremelly high, especially aorund Oulu. Here, we counted a minimum of 20 Short-eared Owls in a single day!

All images in this trip report by tour leader Carles Oliver

  • Dates: 19th to 28th May, 2022
  • Number of participants: 8 +1 tour leader
  • Species along the tour: 171

Day 1. After meeting in Helsinki Airport, the whole group of participants landed in Oulu in the afternoon. The beggining of the tour was delayed as we had to wait for our bus to come, but even from the airport terminal we already had a good sensation about the trip since one of the very first birds to appear was Short-eared Owl flying above the parking of the airport. Other birds noted while waiting included the first of many Yellowhammers and Tree Pipits.

Once in our accommodation we had an early dinner, and after dinner we enjoyed some pre dawn birding in a localy location nearby. There we enjoyed the first displaying Ruffs along with several Wood Sandpipers and Common Snipes. A Greater Bittern was booming in the distance, and Reed Buntings were singing all around. This location, a lovely bay with an extensive bog plain around produced also 6 White-tailed Eagles, Marsh Harriers, Dunlins, 2 Greenshanks, Whooper Swans and hunting Short-eared Owls. Small flocks of Common Cranes were feeding in the fields nearby, the song of Pied Flycatchers emerged from the woodlands close to the sunset, and a male Whinchat joined them for a little while. In our way back to the accommodation European Starlings and Rook were both noted.

Male Ruff (Calidris pugnax) in full summer plumage
Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca) was churring around our accommodation in Oulu

Day 2. A very early start to explore some typical places for some of the wonderful Owls living around Oulu. It was a really cold morning, with temperatures far below the average, arriving to -4ºC! Not far from our accommodation we had the first surprises of the day, as we had several Black Grouses displaying along the lane, some of them in the open fields, others flying away as our van recheaded them. We crossed several good spots a low speed, and we were granted we our firsts Western Capercaillies of the tour, including a wonderful male that showed out for us in the top of a pine.

Soon after we arrived to the first key place, where a Northern Hawk Owl had been hunting the last days. We didn’t have to wait long before the Northern Hawk Owl showed out of the forest, landing in the wires and allowing excellent views. The bird spent some time hunting around and we could all enjoy views of the bird hovering and diving on the grass in search of prey.

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) was the very first species of Grouse of the trip this year
Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) crossing the lane right in front of our van
Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) offered consistent but rather distant views

During the morning we counted 20+ Short-eared Owls, that seemed to be everywhere! We always thought that we would be granted with a close view soon or later, but that never happened this time…

A second stop in the morning produced another wonderful moment of our group. A Great Grey Owl was seen standing up in a meadow by the our road, so we had a stop and enjoyed wonderful views on the bird moving in the field and even catching a prey before vanishing into the woods. Even if the stop was short, we again had 2 Short-eared Owls moving in the fields around!

We kept moving into the woodlands, with more Black Grouses here and there and eventually some Eurasian Woodcocks flying around until arriving to one of the several territories of Eurasian Pygmy Owls around Oulu. Coal Tit and Mistle Thrush were added to our list but a nice (pressumed) male stole the show when decided to stop really close to us in a dead branch. For 5 minutes, we all enjoyed great views on this tiny Owlet, and when decided to leave the spot, the Owl was still sitting on his branch, enjoying the very early morning ambient in the forest.

It was already mid morning, so we had a break to enjoy some coffee before going on with some more birding. Lesser Whitethroats were singing around, and the first of many Eurasian Bullfinches and Common Crossbills of the trip were also seen. But the best surprise of the stop was to enjoy more than decent views on a Black Woodpecker that was feeding around the area!

Eurasian Pygmy Owls (Glaucidium passerinum) inhabits spruce and fear forests, sometimes in high densities
Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus) in its nest box around Oulu

Back into the boreal forest, we visited a nest box for Tengmalm’s Owl, and we also enjoyed good views on the bird taking out the head from its whole and watching us. From here, a short drive was mandatory to explore one of the typical corners for Ural Owl, and we were again granted with excellent views on a adult of this magnificient Owl! It was one of the tour participants who found the massive Owl roosting in a pine, and we had 15 minutes to admire and take some shots on the bird. Always respecting the distance so the bird was not disturbed.

After such a wonderful morning we drove back to our accommodation to have some rest. After lunch and rest, we visited a pair of places in the afternoon. Before dinner, we visited a corner near Oulu in the search of Terek’s Sandpiper. There, we enjoyed Common Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Arctic Terns, Whinchats and singing Skylarks, but no sign of the Terek’s Sandpipers.

The last stop in the afternoon was to explore the large belt of marshes South of Oulu. Here we had a good list of waders, but also enjoyed good views on 1 Marsh Sandpiper along with several Wood Sandpipers and some Common Greenshanks. We had good scope views on the Marsh Sandpiper but not long because it was all the time getting inside the many ditches around.

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), a very common nesting wader in Northern Finland

After this 2nd stop we drove back the small distance to our accommodation to get an early dinner. After dinner, everybody with still some energy went for a walk inmediatly around our accommodation. A new booming Greater Bittern was listened around as well as a good variety a good selection of waders that included two Spotted Redshanks, Eurasian Oystercatchers and Common Ringed Plovers to name a few. In the distance, we also had a small flock of Barnacle Geese (now nesting in different places along the Baltic See), Great Crested Grebes (the only ones along the trip) and 2+ Great Northern Divers feeding in the bay.

Day 3. Early morning start to explore a pair of spots before our midday transfer to Kuusamo. The first spot was to check a nesting place of Great Grey Owl around Oulu. After some searching in the place, we enjoyed wonderful views not only of the female in the nest but also on the perfectly camouflaged male nearby!

An impressive Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa), one of the most impressive sights along the tour!

A second stop was to done North of Oulu, and even before arriving to the location we had excellent views on a pair of Hazel Grouses feeding on the ground, very vocal and moving in the woodlands. Very happy after such a great success, we still scanned around the area looking for other goodies, but Eurasian Robin and Reed Buntings was everything that we could see. After this scanning we went to search for some of the Pallid Harriers nesting around. The different stops along the morning produced Short-eared Owls, White-tailed Eagles, Rough-legged Buzzards, 3 Hen Harriers, several Marsh Harriers and even a Black Kite and 1 Eurasian Hobby (both species pretty scarce in the area), but unfortunately we couldn’t contact with any Pallid Harriers. Special mention required for a lovely pair of Garganeys that were spotted in our final stop that morning.

This one was the first of many Western Capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus)
Mountain Hare (Leppus nitidus)

After lunch we drove to Kuusamo, where we did arrive in the late afternoon. En route, a stop was mandatory to enjoy the first of many females Western Capercaillies along the trip. All the clients enjoyed great views on this gorgeous female! Once in our accommodation, our guests enjoyed some free birding in the lake and forest around the hotel, enjoying good views on the nesting Goldeneyes, Black-throated Divers and Whooper Swans before dinner.

Day 4. Very early start that morning to explore the gorgeous boreal forests around Kuusamo. Before doing some walk in selected areas we had some “game drive” in some areas which are normally great for grouses. In about 30 minutes of drive we got 10+ Capercaillies and 2 Willow Grouses! We changed the area, and in a different lane we still got more Capercaillies (it looked like being everywhere) and 15+ Black Grouses, some of them lekking directly in the tarmac!

Black Grouses (Lyrurus tetrix) lekking in the road

After such a great start, we went to explore one of the most famous corners in the Kuusamo. This hill, with a good spruce forest in the top, is hosting some of the most wanted birds in the region. Unfortunately the rain was going to join us during the rest of the morning, but still we got 2 Bohemian Waxwings moving around and good views on 1 Red-flanked Bluetail while singing. The variety of birds was low, anyway. A further walk under the rain only produced Song Thrush and flocks of Crossbills passing away.

We had to wait until the stopped at mid-morning. Then we tried again the same spot, having good but good views on Parrot Crossbills and amazing views on 2 Siberian Jays that delighted the photographers in the group.

The boreal forests around Kuusamo
Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus) within its amazing habitat

After our early lunch and a good nap, we went out to check out a pair of locations around Kuusamo. Our first stop produced excellent views on Mountain Hares, but also Eurasian Wigeon, Pied Flycatcher and Eurasian Woodcock singing around. But the best birds on this small grassland were a superb pair of Rustic Buntings that came to us, allowing excellent views by everyone in the group! After this stop we went to enjoy a colony of Little Gulls in the area, and we found more birds than ever before, allowing really close views on some pass by birds. Along with them, 4 Red-necked Grebes in full summer plomage were a wonderful way to end our afternoon.

This it turned out to be a good year for Rustic Buntings (Emberiza rustica)
Little Gulls (Hydrocoloeus minutus) have rather mobile nesting colonies in Northern Finland
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea), the equivalent of Long-tailed Skuas for terns!

Day 5. Another really early start. After a wonderful breakfast, our first stop was to explore one of the best corners to enjoy Willow Grouse, and even before getting out of the van we were listening a bird singing around. After a short strall we got excellent views on a male singing from the top of a birch tree. 2 Rustic Buntings were also seen around, and the stop produced also a flock of migratoy Yellow Wagtails, and a male Eurasian (Northern) Bullfinch.

Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) inhabits a wide range of habitats
Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) keeps expanding its still tiny nesting range in Fennoscavia
While searching for forest specialties we were surrounded by some very obliging Siberian Jays (Perisoneus infaustus)
Scandinavian Willow Tit (Poecile montanus) showing the white edges in the wing
This superb Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) was one of the birds of the day!
Another superb view on Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica)

The second stop of the morning was devoted to have better views on Red-flanked Bluetail, and after some walk, we had wonderful views on a lovely male, but also Common Redstart, another male Rustic Bunting, Northern Goshawk and extremely confiding Siberian Jays!

From here we still visited another area of boreal forest, still searching for Tree-toed Woodpecker. Unfortunately we had no luck with this specialty but we got our first drake Smew, but also Scandinavian Willow Tits. In our way back, another stop was mandatory as we spotted a pair of Hazel Grouses. After some waiting, we all enjoyed amazing views on the male while singing and performing for us at close range!

After a stop and a coffee it was time to go North. From Kuusamo we drove North, getting inside the Northern Circle Pole. After an en route lunch, our last stop of the day was to explore a gorgeous patch of spruce forest really close to Ivalo. In here, one of my favourite spots in Finland, we had a pair of stops but it didn’t take long before we had our first Siberian Tit appearing and showing in front of us! A second stop produced another pair, and along the we had 3 Capercaillies and really close views on Black Grouses (both males and females).

Part of the group enjoying the first drake Smew of the trip
Not many times you can enjoy Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) in full sun light
Siberian Tit (Poecile cinctus) was a really desired bird for our group.
We got several superb views on Capercaillies (Tetrao urogallus) around Ivalo
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) in full summer plumage
We were granted with really long views on a pair of Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator)
We had another displaying Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)
The group enjoying Pine Grosbeaks, one of them also visible in the image

A short walk around, even if it was at mid-afternoon, produced Siberian Jay, Bohemian Waxwing, Siberian Tit and Mealy Redpolls. But the very best birds of the afternoon were a pair of Pine Grosbeaks feeding, and the male even singing extremely close from the path. Our group enjoyed a 20 minutes long view in this amazing, and often extremely hard to find bird! In our way out of the area, we still had to stop again as 2 Willow Grouses were lekking in the dart road, and provided us, again, with unforgettable views!

Day 6. After the previous successful days, we decided to have a slightly later start today. After breakfast, we kept moving North towards to Norwegian border. In our way, we had a pair of stops to enjoy Rough-legged Buzzard and a pair of nesting Peregrine Falcons. Siberian Tit and Great Grey Shrike were other “en route” birds.

Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) reaches its best densities in the North Polar Circle

Once in Norway, we enjoyed excellent views on Rough-legged Buzzards and we had a mandatory stop in the road to enjoy some really close Moose. Keeping our way North, we had a stop in an estuary to look for migratory waders and geese. Here we had the only 2 Greater White-fronted Geese of the trip, and also 2 Tundra Bean Geese. The area was hosting some waders such as Eurasian Whimbrel, Sanderling, Ruddy Turstone, Dunlin in lovely full nesting plomage, Little Stints and the first Temminck’s Stint of the trip: a calling bird that was flying around the hide.

Getting inside Varanger is always a great experience, and soon we were enjoying great views on a number of White-tailed Eagles and Rough-legged Buzzards. A pair of Short-eared Owls were also noted, as well as the first of many Arctic Skuas. Before arriving to our accommodation we had some scanning in the bay around, and we were lucky enough to find 6+ Steller’s Eiders roosting along with Common Eiders, and including 3 drakes! While enjoying the birds, a close Temminck’s Stint feeding along Dunlins was also a nice adding! Happy with the scope views, we had a break and some members of the group decided to try closer views on the birds while exploring the meadows and coastline around our hotel.

A small flock of Steller’s Eiders (Polysticta stelleri) delighted us for most of an afternoon.

In the afternoon, the Steller’s Eiders were moved to the other side of the bay, so we drove and enjoyed excellent views on the birds while swimming and feeding, sometimes getting at close range of our group! Everybody was delighted with these magnificient birds as it was one of the main targets for most of our clients. Along with these beauties, the area produced the first of many Kittiwakes of the tour along with several Dunlins, Ruffs and some drake Bar-tailed Godwits.

Before dinner, we still had time to explore a first patch of tundra. Unfortunately it was windy so the number of birds was low. Still, we had good views on Meadow Pipits and European Golden Plovers but the best bird of the stop was a stunning Bluethroat singing his heart out!

Red-spotted Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) can be really common in the bushland around the tundra

Day 7. Again a windy day in Varanger. The pre-dawn strall didn’t produce much because of the wind. After breakfast we went North to Vardo, where a small boat brought us to the bird colony in Hornoya. It is quite difficult to put down in words how an experience such as visiting Hornoya is. Tens of thousands of birds nesting, calling, yelling in cliffs. Waves of birds taking off from the roks to the sea: Guillemots (about 20% being “bridled”), Razorbills, Kittiwakes and wonderful Puffins nesting around! Atlanlic Shags a few inches away from you, nesting under rocks on the ground. Broken eggs of Auks on the ground, and the intense smell all around!

But Hornoya is also home for one of the easiest accessible colonies of Brünnich’s Guillemot, and once we were in the island, our first target was to find some of them. Even if not specially common, it didn’t take long before we had some of them nesting in the cliffs. Once located, we had some time enjoying the very close views on the Auks. We also had a confiding flock of Purple Sandpipers that catched our attention while a pair of Razorbills were mating only inches away from us! Rock Pipits were also seen around, catching insects but also exploring broken eggs while Great Black-backed & Herring Gulls were patrolling the area. Black Guillemots were scarce in the island this year, but we still got to see some around.

The impressive colonies of Auks in Hôrnoya
Guillemots (Uria aalge), about 25% of them Bridled, are the commonest Auk in the area
In Hôrnoya it is possible enjoy ridiculous views on Shags (Golosus aristotelis)
Brünnichs Guillemots (Uria lomvia)
Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica) are the less common of the Auks nesting in Hôrnoya
Kittiwakes (Rissa Tridactyla) are everywhere!
Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) in full summer plumage. Flocks of these beauties were still in the move going towards Russia
Razorbill (Alca torda), the most elegant Auk in Europe!
Here Common, Bridled and Brünnich’s Guillemots

In the distance we could the Greylag Geese nesting a close island, but our eye was permanently in the sky, looking for anything interesting to appear. 2 White-tailed Eagles were also patrolling the cliffs, and their movements produced waves of Auks leaving the nesting sites in search of shelter down in the ocean. We never saw any of the eagles catching an Auk, but they didn’t look in a hurry… Even if our main target in the sky never appeared (too early in the season?), we were granted with a pastby Glaucous Gull.

Back in the continent, we spend the afternoon exploring the tundra and the many bays between Hornoya and Hamminberg. The wind was still blowing, but even with it we soon had great views on some males Lapland Buntings. Several Arctic Skuas were also moving in this spot, already chosing the nesting site and being monitored by the White-tailed Eagles around. European Golden Plovers, Rough-legged Buzzard, Red-throated Pipits, Ruffs, Common Snipes, Wood Sandpipers and Common Ringed Plovers were also noted around. Along the bays we had several Long-tailed Ducks, but also Common Eiders, Tundra Bean Goose and large feeding flocks of Goosanders. Black-throated & Red-throated Divers were also seen in different locations.

Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus) were quite active all along the area
White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetos albicilla) were a common view along the coast, including some very attractive adults
Small flocks of Tundra Bean Geese (Anser serrirostris) were seen in the typical places

But the best sighting on our way North were 2 impressive Humpback Whales really close to the coast. One of them was splashing its large pectoral fin in the water, and at times we saw both the pectoral and the tail fins out of the water! It looks like this behaviour is not uncommon during the mating season, when females can do it for quite long to keep the attention of the males!

Once arrived to Hamminberg, we enjoyed good views on Atlantic Gannets fishing close to the coast. Large flocks of Goosanders were in the move to the East while both Long-tailed Ducks and Black Guillemots were all around. Still, the strong wind made the sea watching quite unpleasant. In our way back, a nice Pomarine Skua was also noted and provided us with good views!

Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) was the 3rd species of whale seen in our tours exploring Finnmark!

Day 8. In the morning we explored a patch of forest were a pair of Northern Hawk Owl was nesting, but unfortunately we couldn’t find it. Still, we got excellent views on Bluethroat while Bohemian Waxwings were moving around. After this stop we moved to center of Varanger, to explore some tundra plateaus. As soon as arrived to the high lands, we had the first Long-tailed Skuas performing for us, chasing each other in long pursuits. They were just arrived, so it means a lot of activity to defend the best corners of the tundra.

A number of stops along the way produced a great list of birds including close ups to Temminck’s Stints, Shore Larks, Lapland Buntings, Bluethroats, Ruffs and 4+ mobile Snow Buntings in shinning summer plomage!

The extremely smart Long-tailed Skuas (Stercorarius longicaudus) within its tundra nesting ground
Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) in full summer plumage

After this successful start in the tundra, we decided to explore the Northern patch of coast of Varanger. There, Atlantic Gannets were fishing all around along with large numbers of Black Guillemots and Long-tailed Ducks. Great Cormorants and Goosanders were migrating East in good numbers and flocks of Purple Sandpipers were noted doing the same. The dramatic landscapes of the area were also the perfect background for small flocks of Twites moving in the grasslands, and a nice pair of King Eiders (female and 2nd year male) that we found inside a flock of 20+ Common Eiders.

Back to the plateau, we had a pair of stops searching for Rock Ptarmigan before we found a wonderful pair of them. Everybody in the group enjoyed wonderful scope views, and some enjoyed a walk in the snow to have closer views and good shots on the Ptarmigans. In our way to our hotel we still had a last stop, since we found an obliging pair of Red-throated Divers feeding really close to our lane.

2nd calendar-year male King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) along with Common Eiders (Somateria mollisima)
Most of Varanger was still really icy!
Rock Ptarmigans (Lagopus mutus), the male still showing his winter plumage
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata) in wonderful afternoon light
Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) were scarce and very mobile!

Day 9. Morning stop in the plateaus in our way South to enjoy more views on Rock Ptarmigans, Snow Buntings and Shore Larks. Unfortunately we were a bit too early for Eurasian Dotterels, but the Long-tailed Skua spectacle was a wonderful reward anyway!

Almost in Finland, we had a last stop in Norwegian territory to scan for Gyrfalcons. Under the intense rain and wind we could only find a pair of Peregrine Falcons while pastby Merlin and Ring Ouzel were noted. Back into Finland, and despite the intense rain, we had a pair of stops in our way to the accommodation to admire close Smews and Bohemian Waxwings were noted again along the road.

During the afternoon, we were hit by the rain and the very strong wind. Still, we decided to explore a pair of corners targeting some specialties that had been scaping to us so far. After some driving, we arrived to one secret pool, were we enjoyed 10 minutes of plain weather, with Bluethroats, Reed Buntings, Yellow Wagtails around and confiding Wood Sandpipers. But the very best were 3 Red-necked Phalaropes landing in the pond quite close and offering some great views even under the incipient rain!

This drake Smew (Mergellus albellus) appeared in a smalls pond by the road
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus) was the very last specialty to appear in the tour, under the heavy rain!

Day 10. Early morning start to enjoy the bird feeders of our accommodation under the rain. Pine Grosbeaks offered great views as so it did the many drake Bramblings and 1 Red Squirrel. In our way to the airport for our morning flight, a very last female Capercaillie showed out as a wonderful way to end our 5th tour exploring Northern Finland and Finnmark!

Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)

List of seen bird species during the tour:

  1. Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
  2. Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
  3. Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
  4. Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris)
  5. Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)
  6. Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
  7. Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
  8. Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
  9. Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
  10. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  11. Pintail (Anas acuta)
  12. Gadwall (Mareca strepera)
  13. Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
  14. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
  15. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  16. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
  17. Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
  18. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)
  19. Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri)
  20. Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
  21. Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
  22. Smew (Merguellus albellus)
  23. Goosander (Mergus merganser)
  24. Red-breasted Merganser (Megur serrator)
  25. Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
  26. Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)
  27. Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
  28. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  29. Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
  30. Greater Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
  31. Atlantic Gannet (Morus bassanus)
  32. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  33. Atlantic Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
  34. Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
  35. Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
  36. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
  37. Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
  38. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
  39. Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus)
  40. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos)
  41. White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
  42. Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  43. Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
  44. Merlin (Falco columbarius)
  45. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
  46. Hazel Grouse (Tetrastes bonasia)
  47. Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)
  48. Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)
  49. Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix)
  50. Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
  51. Common Crane (Grus grus)
  52. Western Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
  53. Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
  54. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
  55. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
  56. Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
  57. Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
  58. Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
  59. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
  60. Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
  61. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  62. Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
  63. Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
  64. Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
  65. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
  66. Jack Snipe (Lymnocriptes minimus)
  67. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
  68. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
  69. Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
  70. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
  71. Spotted Sandpiper (Tringa erythropus)
  72. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
  73. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  74. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
  75. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  76. Green Sanspiper (Tringa ochropus)
  77. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  78. Ruddy Turstone (Arenaria interpres)
  79. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
  80. Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)
  81. Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus)
  82. Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus)
  83. Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
  84. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
  85. Common Gull (Larus canus)
  86. Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
  87. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
  88. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
  89. Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)
  90. Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
  91. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
  92. Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
  93. Common Guillemot (Uria aalge)
  94. Brünnich’s Guillemot (Uria lomvia)
  95. Razorbill (Alca torda)
  96. Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
  97. Atlantic Puffin (Fratecula arctica)
  98. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
  99. Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
  100. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  101. Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
  102. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
  103. Tengmalm’s Owl (Aegolius funereus)
  104. Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa)
  105. Northern Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula)
  106. Ural Owl (Strix uralensis)
  107. Eurasian Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium passerinum)
  108. Common Swift (Apus apus)
  109. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
  110. Black Woodpecker (Dryocopus martius)
  111. Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
  112. Shore Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
  113. Sand Marting (Riparia riparia)
  114. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  115. Western House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
  116. Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
  117. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
  118. Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
  119. Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)
  120. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  121. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava thunbergi)
  122. Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
  123. Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
  124. Eurasian Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
  125. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
  126. Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus)
  127. Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
  128. Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
  129. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
  130. Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
  131. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
  132. Eurasian Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
  133. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
  134. Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
  135. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
  136. Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca)
  137. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
  138. Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
  139. Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
  140. Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
  141. Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
  142. Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)
  143. Siberian Tit (Poecile cinctus)
  144. Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
  145. Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanisted caeruleus)
  146. Great Tit (Parus major)
  147. Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
  148. Northern Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
  149. Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
  150. Siberian Jay (Perisoreus infaustus)
  151. Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
  152. Western Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
  153. Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
  154. Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
  155. Common Raven (Corvus corax)
  156. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  157. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  158. Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
  159. Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
  160. European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
  161. Eurasian Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
  162. Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)
  163. Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea)
  164. Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)
  165. Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
  166. Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytopsittacus)
  167. Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
  168. Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator)
  169. Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
  170. Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
  171. Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica)
  172. Lapland Bunting (Calcarius lapponicus)
  173. Snow Bunting (Pletrophenax nivalis)

List of seen mammal species during the tour:

  1. European Hare (Leppus leppus)
  2. Mountain Hare (Leppus nitidus)
  3. Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)
  4. Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)
  5. Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus)
  6. Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)
  7. Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
  8. Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)
  9. Moose (Alces alces)

Morocco Birding Tour 2022 Trip Report

  • Dates: March 12th to March 25th, 2022
  • Number of participants: 6
  • Species seen: 190

All images in this trip report by Carles Oliver. All rights reserved.

Overview. Our 8th tour to Morocco explored again one of the most popular routes in Southern Morocco. Combining excellent mountain birding in the Atlas with the stunning variety of birdlife living in the transitional plains between the mountains and the Sahara, this tour embraces a good array of habitats that provides excellent chances for all the main specialties living in the area. This year, the tour was marked by an unusual cloudy weather and very cold temperatures. During our stay in Agadir, we had general rains in the area, and the snow was appearing a pair of times during the tour. This situation was translated in a poor bird migration, with several trans-Saharan migratory species showing very thin numbers, when not being totally absent from our trip list. Despite the general unusual weather, we got excellent views on all specialties out of Thick-billed Lark. The tour had also a pair of very interesting birds, as males Little Crake and Pallid Harrier were seen both around Ouarzazate.

Day 1: Early breakfast in our hotel in Marrakech before going out and enjoy a sunny but rather fresh day. All tour participants were arriving along the day before in a number of afternoon flights, and we all met for an evening meal.

Before getting to the van we had some nice looks to the Marrakech urban birdlife. A number of Pallid Swifts were flying low, and we got good views on the colour and structure. On the same hotel, two House Buntings were singing their heart out while Sardinian Warblers, Common Bulbuls, Spotless Starlings and Eurasian Greenfinches were also noted.

Maghreb Magpie (Pica mauretanica) showing out its smart blue facial markings

In our way out of Marrakech we had first views on Maghreb Magpies, a recent split from Eurasian Magpies, on the wires or feeding on the ground, often along with Cattle Egrets. Our first stop was to explore a lovely valley in the Atlas. Here, small patches of riverside forests are surrounded by the wallnut orchards while the slopes around are fittered with Juniper srublands. Soon after living the van we had our first Levaillant’s Woodpecker (aka Atlas Green Woodpecker) nicely showing. We could all have excellent views while the bird was slowy moving in the branches of tree, in an interesting warbler-like behaviour. 2 African Blue Tits appeared as well in the same place, and a showy Eurasian Wren was a nice adding. Great Tit was calling in the distance, and European Serins were moving all around. A bit more of time in this wonderful location allowed us to have 3 Little Swifts, our first Moroccan Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker and lovely views on a male Cirl Bunting.

The North African race of Great Spotted Woodpeckers are quite disctintive, showing a darkish tint in the breast and extensive red in the vental area
Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker, the first of many specialities showing in the tour
African Chaffinches are close to the races living in the Canaries but still considered conspecific with the European races

We move on from this wonderful corner to go up in the hillsides. As normal, we had some good roadside birding, and Lesser Kestrels and Eurasian Sparrowhawk were noted while moving up. Once arrived to a typical habitat we had a second stop, successful again. Soon after we got out of the van a wonderful Tristam’s Warbler was moving really close while feeding in the Junipers. Another bird was singing up in the slope and provided good looks while showing on the top of a bush. Around the area we also had two Atlas Coal Tits (a potential split) and a wonderful Rock Bunting calling while doing its way in a barren slope. However, the suprise of the stop was to see 3+ Ring Ouzels (torquatus race) moving in the scrublands and on the ground while looking for berries.

Back to the lane, we kept doing our way up until a large flock of Red-billed Choughs came to us in a wonderful aerial spectacle. The birds were not only playing with the wind in the slopes, but also harrasing an Atlas Buzzard (still considered a race of Long-legged Buzzard, but who knows for how long). A fast stop by the road was required, and happily all the tour participants could connect with this amazing bird of prey, clearly smaller and short-winged than nominals Long-leggeds. But we were still luckier when a Barbary Falcon joined the show for a while, and offered nice views while flying quite lower than the Choughs themselves!

Tristam’s Warblers look for slopes rich in junipers to nest
In our way to Oukaimeden we had the chance to enjoy superb views on cirtensis Long-legged Buzzard (aka Atlas Buzzard)

Happy after such a wonderful road side stop, we kept our way to arrive to Oukaïmeden. Once in the area, we did a short walk in the plain and we fast had a flock of 6 Rock Sparrows that gave us nice views. Black Redstarts and Black Wheatears were around, and we were lucky enough to see White-throated Dipper in the stream and 1 Alpine Accentor that flew along right in front of us, but the main attractions of the place kept elusive for us.

We decided to do a lunch stop, and enjoy the good food up in the mountains. After lunch we went for a second shot in the plains and we were definately luckier, since a female African Crimson-winged Finch appeared sitting on a wire and, after a bit of walk, we all enjoyed excellent views on the bird! It was certainly strange to have a single individual here, contrasting with flocks that we normally find but never mind. We really took that!

A last stop was required before stating going down to Marrakech. In a small corner of the plain (a typical place for them to be) we found 12+ Atlas Horned Lark, a very distictive, resident race of Horned Larks, and again a good candidate for a future split.

Out of mountains, we still decided to go for a final stop before going back to our accommodation. The Southern part of Marrakech has lovely fields and a good array of birdlife living on them. Here we had a stop to and we were granted with a lovely flock of European Serins, Spanish Sparrows, Corn Buntings, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, European Stonechats plus the views on species such as Moussier’s Redstart and Woodchat Shrike. But the main character and the authentical reason of our stop was to look for Barbary Partridges, and we were lucky enough to find 3+ of them doing their way in the fields, and trying to disapear in the open terrain.

Atlas Horned Laks are endemic of the Atlas high plateaus and slopes, overwintering in the same mountains but at lower altitudes
This year we struggled to find this female African Crimson-winged Finch!
While searching for the high mountain species we had the chance to enjoy some obliging Red-billed Choughs

Day 2. Transfer day from Marrakech to the Agadir area. A transfer was more complicated due to the difficult traffic around Agadir. Our first stop was in Essaouira, where we enjoined some good birds South of the city. Here we had first views on Ruddy Shelducks but also Pied Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, 2 Green Sandpipers, Wood Sandpiper, 1 Ruff, 14 Eurasian Spoonbills, Greater Flamingoes, Common Redshanks, 3 Little Ringed Plovers and 1 Common Snipe. Some other species, although more distant, included 3 Audouin’s Gulls + 1 Mediterranean Gull and 3 Sandwich Terns roosting along with large numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls (probably coming from the Mogador Island colony) and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Our journey kept to the South, following the wonderful coastal route that, crossing slopes fittered with Argan trees, arrives to the Tamri Estuary. Here we had a walk and soon we had good views on Northern Bald Ibis flying above us. The walk goes along the coastal dunes, with many Lesser Black-backed Gulls moving up in down along the coast. A scan into a flock of gulls roosting in the beach produced to less than 40 Audouin’s Gulls and some nice-looking Kentish Plovers. But the main attraction was still to come when a Northern Bald Ibis just landed a few metres away from us, and started to look for food in the sand. Digging its bill in the dunes, the bird showed really suggessful and got warms and some small insects. After 20 minutes of wonderful sighting, joined by two pairs of Moussier’s Redstart, we did a last stop further South, in the Cape Tamri.

Northern Bald Ibis, with only three colonies in Morocco, is one of the most endangered birds in the region

This location proved in other issues to be excellent for seawatching, but this time all the birds were seen really far away, and the counts were not above 25 Northern Gannets moving North and some Sandwich Terns moving around. The stop was complemented with great views on tame Thekla Larks moving around the rocky outcrops and 2 Algerian Shrikes (the race of Great Grey Shrike living in Northern Morocco and along the Atlantic coast).

We started moving to our accommodation, with a last stop in mind, but our changes of this last birding stop vanished into a large traffic jump due to road works.

Day 3. Our day in the Souss-Massa National Park started with a pair of short walks to catch up with some specialties around. The weather was clearly changing, with a massive low pressure system coming from the Atlantic Ocean and threatening with strong rains and lower temperatures. Still, we managed a pair of successful stops in the morning.

Our first stop was to explore a small corner of the Massa River. In the past, this area showed a wonderful variety of birdlife, including several migratory birds. But this year the water level (like in many other corners along the Massa River) was really low, and the migratory birds almost absent. A short stroll rapidly produced good views on Cetti’s Warbler and African Chaffinches. Several Common Chiffchaffs were moving around, and a obliging pair of Moussier’s Redstart provided great views. In the distance, a Black-winged Kite was whovering above the farming around the river. After some scanning, we were able to locate a wonderful Black-crowned Tchagra moving in the lash vegetation, and with some patience we all enjoyed great and close views on it!

Black-winged Kite next to our accommodation!
This issue again provided excellent views on Black-crowned Tchagra, despite the weather
Little Owl in a fig tree was a rather unexpected sight

The clouds were already coming, and temperature was getting down (collapsing!), but we managed a second stop before the heavy rain arrived. In a small patch of reeds and tamarisks we found the first Western Olivaceous Warbler (aka Isabelline Warbler) of the trip moving in the vegetation and going on with what it sounded like a subsong. 3 Eurasian Spoonbills were feeding in a small pond along with 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Little Ringed Plover. Some Little & Pallid Swifts flew above us, providing good looks while we moving away from the river to have a short exploration of the fields around. A flock of 35 Eurasian Siskins was quite a surprise so far South, but little more could be added out of 1 Meadow Pipit and Moussier’s Redstarts. It started to rain heavily so we decided to go back to our accommodation. In our way back, a Little Owl was a nice find!

The heavy rain tied us to ous hotel until mid-afternoon, when the rain stopped and we could go out. There were still some clouds, but had to move! Another potentially good corner in the river Massa was also rather quiet, but we still had 4 Plain Martins flying around, brief views on 1 Bluethroat, Maghreb Magpies, a distant Western Swamphen, 1 Purple Heron and a small flock of Pied Avocets feeding nearby the bridge. Beyond this point, the area become more bushy, with formidable formations of euphorbias. Here we did a second stop, and we were granted with 3 Western Black-eared Wheatears, European Bee-eaters, Sardinian Warblers, 2 Eurasian Hoopoes, 2 Cirl Buntings at close range and 1 Great Spotted Cuckoo! We were all quite satisfied with this, and we drove back to the hotel for an early dinner. After dinner, more birds!

A short walk from our accommodation, and a bit of luck, provided great views on 1 Red-necked Nightjar calling, flying and briefly stopping around us in a great sight that, for our clients, ranked among one of the 10 better birds of the trip!!!

This stunning and wet male Moussier’s Redstart was extremely tame with our group
Western Olivaceous Warblers nest along the River Massa
Female Cirl Bunting around our accommodation
Superb Spanish Sparrows were feeding at the hotel grounds

Day 4. Transfer day between Agadir and Ouarzazate. The morning was again really cold (only 10ºC!!) and with some rain. Despite the bad weather we did stop in the Massa River, and we had a good hearing on 3 Black-crowned Tchagras singing while a flock of Glossy Ibis was feeding around. A second morning stop in the Souss River estuary was way more productive. Here we got a really good selection of waders feeding in the mudflats along with several Eurasian Spoonbills, some Greater Flamingoes, Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser Kestrel hunting dragonflies!

It was quite a surprise the good number of Black-tailed Godwits in the estuary feeding along with several Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocets. A minimum of 48 Ruffs were also counted, and 27 Curlew Sandpipers. 3 Spotted Redshanks were also noted along with many Common Redshanks, Grey Plovers, Eurasian Whimbrels and some Wood Sandpipers. A careful scanning revealed also 1 Temminck’s Stint, 2 Red Knots, 4 Eurasian Curlews, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits and a flock of 7 Little Stints. Surprisingly we only counted 4 Common Ringed Plovers in the whole estuary!

Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruffs + Common & Spotted Redshanks feeding in Souss River
A lovely view of the Souss River

A short walk along the more vegetated areas produced some Yellow Wagtails and short views on a (white-spotted) Bluethroat.

After this pleasant stop we went on with our transfer along the Anti Atlas. The roads between Agadir & Ouarzazate goes along one of the best areas for birds of prey in Morocco. With the Tawny Eagle and Chanting Goshawks both gone for long, the area remains as an interesting hot-spot for birds of prey such as Black-winged Kite. Along the road, we counted up to 4 Black-winged Kites, but also Black Kites, our first Short-toed Snake Eagle and 1 Barbary Falcon.

House Bunting in a terrace

One of the best stops on this road birding provided excellent views on a Great Spotted Cuckoo singing from the top of an Argan Tree. Some tens of miles away from the cuckoo, another stop was mandatory when we found 4 obliging Cream-coloured Coursers and 2 Desert Larks just by the tarmac!

This was the 2nd Great Spotted Cuckoo of the tour. Just by the highway
This year Cream-coloured Coursers seem to be everywhere!

In the afternoon we were already close to Ouarzazate, when we crossed one of the many streams coming down from the Atlas. There, roosting in the reedbeds, there were several Little Egrets and 4 Black-crowneds Night Herons. A stop was, obviously, mandatory!

The vegetation along the stream was full of Sedge Warblers that were feeding along with 1 or 2 Eurasian Reed Warblers while the first Willow Warbler of the trip was moving in a tall grass right beyond. We were really enjoying the views on these little fellas just when 1 male Little Crake decided to walk out of the vegetation, showing himself in a superb afternoon light! The bird was there for 10 minutes, in what it was a lifer bird of more than the half of the group! Then somebody advaced about a bird of prey coming from the right, and we all had the time enjoy a superb Bonelli’s Eagle diving right beyonf the stream, tallons in the front of, probably trying to catch a prey!

Everybody was really excited, and the Little Crake was still in the out, but a Eurasian Wryneck just called in our back. Time to move to the small Almond plantation and try to find the Wryneck. We moved slowly in the fields with scatered large Almond trees, when a small bird just flew off from the grass and landed low in small bush: 1 Common Grasshoper Warbler! It took me 10 minutes to put everyone in the bird, but we did it!!!

Back to the Wryneck operation, we moved around the area and found a lovely European Turtle Dove sitting on a tree. A tour participant found a Woodchat Shrike in a large shrub and we all admired it but, by the time my bins came back to the tree where the Turtle Dove was, it was turned into the Wryneck that we had been looking for!! What a wonderful stop!!

And this is how a road birding day can turn out in a absolutely great birding day!

Male Little Crake in a small stream around Ouarzazate
Surprisingly, this was our only European Turtle Dove of the tour!

Day 5. Early morning start to explore the massive reservoir inmediatly South of Ouarzazate. Weather was still cloudy, and temperatures were far lower than expected. Still, we enjoyed another great day. Instead of heading directly to the reservoir, we drove a bit around the semi desert to try to find some specialties. There we had first views on Desert & White-crowned Black Wheatears but also a pair of Trumpeter Finches and 1 Spectacled Warbler. It was clear that it was some migration, since it was a flock after a flock of Greater Short-toed Larks moving North, and we got 17 Black Storks that seemed to be roosting in a distant plateau East of the reservoir.

Once in the lake, we had good views on both Maghreb & Thekla’s Larks. The shores were full with Ruddy Shelducks and the songs of migratory Sedge Warblers were all over. A distant Water Rail was also noted, while a large flock og 400+ White Storks were roosting in the reeds. On waders, it was low. We only had some Little Ringed Plovers, some Ruffs, Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks and 3 Black-tailed Godwits.

Maghreb Lark (Galerida macrorrhyncha), a recent split from Crested Lark
One of the only 3 Alpine Swifts during the tour

A bit beyond we reached a view point over the reservoir and we soon had excellent but distant views over the many Marbled Teals around. We counted a minimum of 80 of them and, along with this really scarce duck, we enjoyed a good array of other ducks including Gadwalls, Northern Shovelers and Eurasian Teals, but also 1 female Eurasian Wigeon, 2 Tufted Ducks, 12 Common Pochards, 5 Garganeys and 2 Northern Pintails. In the lagoon we also got the only Great Crested Grebes of the trip while 2 Alpine Swifts flew over.

After some time scanning the lagoon we started to move. It was still cold and cloudy but it was evident that a good raptor migration was going on. Hundreds of distant Black Kites were cincling and moving North, 1 female Western Marsh Harrier was seen flying low and inmediatly after we got one of the surprises of the trip, a male Pallid Harrier that showed briefly while flying towards the Atlas! Unfotunately not everyone in the group got a proper view on this very scarce bird of prey!!

It was already late in the morning so we started moving East to arrive to our accommodation in Boulmane du Dades for an early lunch. The ambient here was even colder that it was in the morning, and we had lunch by the fire!

During the afternoon we had a first contact with the extensive steppe land inmediatly South of Boulmane. The light was poor and the temperature was only 6ºC, extremelly low for Morocco in this season. Still, it didn’t take long to have first views on Temminck’s Larks, and a proper stroll around produced a pair of Greater Hoopoe Larks, 1 Long-legged Buzzard, 1 Barbary Falcon a flock of 6 Cream-coloured Coursers and some Desert Wheatears.

Part of our group enjoying the plains!
Barbary Falcon in its scouting point
There were still few numbers of Desert Wheatears in Boulmane and nearby areas

Day 6. Full day enjoying the steppes and gorges around Boulmane. In the morning we had some stops in the plains, adding great views on Trumpeter Finches and Red-rumped Wheatears to our list. We were only 3ºC but the birding was still great, with several Temminck’s Larks around and migratory Greater Short-toed Larks feeding around. A short visit to proper fields around produced 8 Black-bellied Sansgrouses and, for our surprised, they were joined by 1 Pin-tailed Sandgrouse!

We were in a small lowland in the way to the Atlas, and a further exploration of the areas produced excellent views on Little Owls!

Our last stop of the morning was even better. A small corner in the plains that is normally a good place for Larks was having more than ever: 15+ Cream-coloured Coursers, 10+ Greater Hoopoe Larks, Mediterranean Short-toed Larks, Thekla’s Larks and Greater Short-toed Larks were all seen and enjoyed. A Tawny Pipit showed briefly and some bush around produced 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Tree Pipit, Linnets and 4 species of Wheatears (Northern, White-crowned Black, Red-rumped & Desert!).

Trumpeter Finch is, un many locations, the only one Finch around
Temminck’s Lark, always a treat
Little Owl in the plains South of Boulmane. Please note the light brown coloration

In the afternoon the sun finally appeared, and temperature rose. We basically spent the afternoon in a pretty gorge close to Boulmane. There, we enjoyed great views on a roosting Pharaon Eagle Owl, but also a pair of Lanner Falcons, Black Wheatear, Desert Larks, a flyby Red-rumped Swallow and stunning views on a Maghreb Wheatear, one of the most sought-after birds of the country!

We enjoyed great views on a pair of Lanner Falcons
Pharaon Eagle Owl inside its daytime hollow
Maghreb Wheatear, one of two endèmic Wheatears in the region
An old Kashba, the Southern Morocco fancy castles made on clay

Day 7. In the morning we had another walk to explore a different corner in the plains, hoping to connect with Thick-billed Lark. It was no way to find this species but we enjoyed good views on Black-bellied Sandgrouses feeding on the ground and a good set of other larks.

After our en-route lunch we spent some time in a well-known spot in the desert, where we looked for the scarce and unobtrusive Saharan Scrub Warbler. The walk produced Woodchat Shrike, Tawny Pipit, Thekla Lark, Spectacled Warbler and the first Bar-tailed Lark of the trip. After some time looking for the famous Scotocerca, we were about to quit from our day quesy when one of the tour participants advaced us about a bird moving low in the scrubs. It took us about 25 minutes to put everybody in the bird but eventually there they were: A handsome pair of Saharan Scrub Warbler!

Saharan Scrub Warbler lives in low density in desert Scrub lands and barren slopes
Black-bellied Sandgrouses blind perfectly with the stony plains
This year Greater Hoopoe Larks were really common around Boulmane du Dades

After this great sight we just drove to our accommodation down in the desert, with some road birding sights including Booted Eagle and Brown-necked Raven.

Day 8. Our day started in the desert by checking some great places for migratory song birds. Unfortunately, the extremely low temperatures of the last days was affecting the bird migration. Along the morning the number and variety of birds was extremely low. We still had good views on Western Subalpine Warblers, Western Bonelli’s Warblers, Common Redstarts, Eurasian Hoopoes, Willow Warblers and 3 Woodchat Shrikes. 1 Western Black-eared Wheatear was an unexpected sight, and we also enjoyed good views on Bar-tailed & Maghreb Larks.

But the bird of the day was the African Desert Warbler that we found nesting close to one of the main roads in the area, and that was providing really good looks!

Western Bonelli’s Warblers are a common view along the tour
African Desert Warbler in typical nesting site

Day 9. Early morning start to enjoy the birds of the desert. Our first stop was to visit a water hole in the dunes, and our efforts here were granted with great views on 80+ Crowned Sandgrouses and 40+ Spotted Sandgrouses that came down to drink water early in the morning. The images of these Sandgrouses drinking water is something that our clients will never forget!

A short drive for a coffee stop gave us access to one of the few Desert Sparrows left in the area, and we all again enjoyed really good views on a species that is becoming more and more scarce due to the concurrence of House Sparrows in the area. The morning ended with a last stop, this time to see 2 Egyptian Nightjars roosting in the dunes! Another amazing sight!!

During the afternoon, our clients had a free time to explore by their own the dunes and the bushland around the accommodation.

This year Crowned Sandgrouses were surprisingly common in Merzouga
Spotted Sandgrouses on their to the water hole
Egyptian Nightjar blinding in a wady
The impressive sand dunes around Merzouga
Once and again we got amazing views on Desert Sparrows

Day 10. Transfer day from the desert to Marrakech. But in the morning we still had time to explore the extensive palm groves near Merzouga. There we were lucky enough to find a gorgeous Fulvous Babbler! Other good birds in the area included Common Redstart and Maghreb Lark.

Fulvous Babbler, a typical bird of palm groves
Atlas Wheatear inhabits the Atlas high mountain grasslands

The roads in Morocco have improved a lot and only some hours after we were already in the Atlas alpine meadows, were we had another productive stop, adding Atlas Wheatear (a recent split from Northern Wheatear, a short-migratoy species that nests in the Atlas high plateaus and overwinters in the Sahel plains). Here, we also got 3 Booted Eagles migrating North and the only Water Pipit of the trip!

A pair of hours later we were arriving to Marrakech after crossing the Atlas, and a rather massive snowfall that was ending our 8th tour to Morocco, and the one with the most weird weather!!!

In 2023 we will come, same dates. Join for excellent birding and good fun!!

List of bird seen during the tour:

  • 1. Barbary Partridge (Alectoris barbara)
  • 2. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • 3. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
  • 4. Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
  • 5. Pintail (Anas acuta)
  • 6. Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
  • 7. Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
  • 8. Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
  • 9. Northern Shoverler (Spatula clypeata)
  • 10. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  • 11. Tutfed Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  • 12. Common Swift (Apus apus)
  • 13. Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
  • 14. Little Swift (Apus affinis)
  • 15. Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata)
  • 16. Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
  • 17. Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronata)
  • 18. Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)
  • 19. Feral Dove (Columba livia)
  • 20. Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
  • 21. Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
  • 22. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  • 23. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
  • 24. European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
  • 25. Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)
  • 26. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  • 27. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  • 28. Little Crake (Zapornia parva)
  • 29. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  • 30. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  • 31. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  • 32. Eurasian Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
  • 33. Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorior cursor)
  • 34. Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
  • 35. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
  • 36. Pied Avocet (Revurvirostra avosetta)
  • 37. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
  • 38. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
  • 39. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
  • 40. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
  • 41. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
  • 42. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
  • 43. Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
  • 44. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
  • 45. Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
  • 46. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
  • 47. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  • 48. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
  • 49. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  • 50. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  • 51. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
  • 52. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  • 53. Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
  • 54. Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
  • 55. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
  • 56. Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
  • 57. Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
  • 58. Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
  • 59. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
  • 60. Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
  • 61. Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
  • 62. Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus)
  • 63. Audouin’s Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii)
  • 64. Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
  • 65. Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
  • 66. Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris diomedea)
  • 67. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
  • 68. Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
  • 69. Atlantic Gannet (Morus bassanus)
  • 70. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  • 71. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • 72. Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
  • 73. Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
  • 74. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • 75. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • 76. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
  • 77. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • 78. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  • 79. Great White Heron (Agrodiaetus albus)
  • 80. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos)
  • 81. Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)
  • 82. Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)
  • 83. Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
  • 84. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
  • 85. Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
  • 86. Long-legged Buzzard, aka Atlas Buzzard (Buteo rufinus cirtensis)
  • 87. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
  • 88. Little Owl (Athene noctua)
  • 89. Pharaon Eagle Owl (Bubo ascalaphus)
  • 90. Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegiptius)
  • 91. Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)
  • 92. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
  • 93. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
  • 94. European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
  • 95. Atlas Woodpecker (Picus vallantii)
  • 96. Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
  • 97. Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
  • 98. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  • 99. Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanii)
  • 100. Barbary Falcon (Falco peregrinoides)
  • 101. Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)
  • 102. Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalensis)
  • 103. Algerian Shrike (Lanius excubitor algeriensis)
  • 103b. Desert Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor elegans)
  • 104. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
  • 105. Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
  • 106. Common Raven (Corvus corax)
  • 107. Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
  • 108. Magherb Magpie (Pica mauretanica)
  • 109. Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
  • 110. Fulvous Babbler (Argya fulva)
  • 111. Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
  • 112. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
  • 113. Maghreb Lark (Galerida macrorrhyncha)
  • 114. Thekla’s Lark (Galerida theklae)
  • 115. Temminck’s Lark (Eremolauda temminckii)
  • 116. Atlas Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris atlas)
  • 117. Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (Alaudala rufescens)
  • 118. Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
  • 119. Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)
  • 120. Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura)
  • 121. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  • 122. Western House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
  • 123. Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
  • 124. Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
  • 125. Plain Martin (Riparia paludicola)
  • 126. Eurasian Crag Martin (Ptrynoprogne rupestris)
  • 127. Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
  • 128. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
  • 129. Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus troquilus)
  • 130. Western Bonelli’s Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli)
  • 131. Firecrest (Regulus ignacapilla)
  • 131. Western Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna opaca)
  • 133. Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
  • 134. Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenibaenus)
  • 135. Saharan Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca saharae)
  • 136. African Desert Warbler (Curruca deserti)
  • 137. Western Orphean Warbler (Curruca hortensis)
  • 138. Sardinian Warbler (Curruca melanocephala)
  • 139. Western Subalpine Warbler (Curruca iberiae)
  • 140. Tristam’s Warbler (Curruca deserticola)
  • 141. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
  • 142. Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
  • 143. Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
  • 144. Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
  • 145. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
  • 146. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
  • 147. European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
  • 148. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
  • 149. Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
  • 150. Moussier’s Redstart (Phoenicurus moussieri)
  • 151. European Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
  • 152. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
  • 153. Atlas Wheatear (Oenanthe seebohmi)
  • 154. Desert Wheatear (Onenanthe deserti)
  • 155. Maghreb Wheatear (Oenanthe halophila)
  • 156. Western Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
  • 157. Red-rumped Wheatear (Oenanthe moesta)
  • 158. Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura)
  • 159. White-crowned Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)
  • 160. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  • 161. Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispanoliensis)
  • 162. Common Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia)
  • 163. Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
  • 164. Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
  • 165. Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
  • 166. Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris)
  • 167. Great Tit (Parus major)
  • 168. African Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae)
  • 169. Atlas Coal Tit (Periparus ater atlas)
  • 170. Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla mauretanica)
  • 171. Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaeus)
  • 172. Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
  • 173. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  • 174. Moroccan Wagtail (Motacilla subpersonata)
  • 175. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
  • 176. Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
  • 177. Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
  • 178. Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
  • 179. Water Pipit (Anthus spinolleta)
  • 180. Eurasian Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
  • 181. Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
  • 182. Eurasian Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
  • 183. Linnet (Liniaria cannabina)
  • 184. African Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs africana)
  • 184b. Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
  • 185. European Serin (Serinus serinus)
  • 186. African Crimson-winged Finch (Rhodopechys alienus)
  • 187. Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
  • 188. Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)
  • 189. House Bunting (Emberiza sahari)
  • 190. Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

List of mammals seen during the tour:

  • 1. Barbary Ground Squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus)
  • 2. Fat Sand Rat (Psammomys obesus)
Female Desert Sparrow

Thanks for arriving until down here! And, remember, in 2023 we will be back to enjoy the Moroccan birdlife!

Oman Birding Tour 2022 Trip Report

  • Dates: January 16th/26th, 2022
  • Tour participants: 3
  • Species seen: 208

Day 1. After a long flight the day before, our small group had a nice breakfast before exploring the hotel grounds. Common Mynas were everywhere, as Laughing Dove did. A five minutes transfer allowed us to visit the Al Ansab Lagoons, always a pretty interesting place.
Here we did have a first contact with several of the common species in Northern Oman including Grey Francolin, Indian Silverbill, Delicate Prinia, Purple Sunbird, Arabian Bee-eater as well as Red-vented and White-cheeked Bulbuls.
Once there we were informed that the area was having the access limited due to recent rains, so our visit limited to the Eastern lagoon. There were several Common Snipes in the area, feeding along the shores along with Common Redshanks but also 2 Marsh Sandpipers that were really celebrated in the group. Among the ducks, Pintail was having good numbers this year, and so it was Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler. 16 Greater Flamingoes were providing a exotic note while we were suprised to find a small flock of 4 Gadwalls, a rather scarce species in Oman.
Our visit to Al Ansab was shorter than usual, but we do still managed to get a pair of bonus birds; the first Greater Spotted Eagle of the trip and a Clamorous Reed Wabler skulking inside the bush.

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) during our first day of tour. All images in this trip report by Carles Oliver

Once we leaved this lovely Nature Reserve, we drove a few miles to explore a well known corner for waders, terns and gulls. A short walk in the area allow us to see a long list of species, including several good views on Lesser Sandplovers with useful comparitions on size and structure with local Kentish Plovers. Western Reef Egrets were really common, especially in its dark form, but including also some lgihts. Here we did also find several Little Stints, and a roosting flock of 50+ Black-tailed Godwits. A Western Osprey was also roosting in the channel itself, surrounded by tens of Dunlins and some Temminckˋs Stints. Greenshanks and Redshanks were also common. We walked the channel down to the see, enjoying this good variety of waders. 2 terns were roosting along with them, and we found out that they were actually White-cheeked Terns! A nice find of a quite scarce species.

Dunlins, Little Stints & Lesser Sand Plovers in the River Muscat

We were already really close to the sea shore, and here we found the first of many Oystercatcher and Ruddy Turnstones. A pair of White-winged Black Tern just landed upper in the channel, joining a mixed flock of waders. Here we also found another Marsh Sandpiper, and we could compare it with both Greenshanks and Redshanks. We were just scanning all this amazing activity when 2 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses appeared from nowhere and stop in our path, only 100 metres away from us. Carefully, we approach them and we all enjoyed amazing views on both the male and the female!

A further scanning of the area and sea shore produced a lot of more species: Frist views on both Heughlinˋs & Steppe Gulls, 3 adult Caspian Gulls, and first views on pass-over Sooty Gulls. Still, what our clients celebrated more was the change to compare Great Crested, Lesser Crested, Caspian & Sandwich Terns all together in a mixed flock. A wonderful way to find our the differences between them!

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus) male.
Female Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)

We still had some time before lunch so we drove a bit until the Natural Reserve, a small dot of open Acacia thornbush in the middle of the city. The area was having a big density of both Indian Silverbills and Purple Sunbirds. Arabian Bee-eaters were also feeding all around, providing excellent views. But all became nothing when a gorgeous male Long-tailed Whydah flied over us showing out its amazing tail, joined by another small bird that we could not identified. The bird flied over and took us some minutes to refind the bird, nicely showing right in the top of one Acacia and joined by several Silverbills. This incredible birds was not only causing a big excitation in our group of birdwatchers, but also in the birds around.

The Long-tailed Whydah is a bird in the __ family, that inhabits a variety of Acacia thornbush landscapes, gardens and open woodlands in the Horn of Africa, and East Africa.

This is probably the first record for this species in Oman. A former record of Whydah exists in Oman, as a male Pin-tailed Whydah was seen in Salalah some years ago. Still, the bird was finally considered as an scape. In this case, even if it so, it was a sight and we can count ourselves as lucky to have enjoyed this amazing bird. Really happy after enjoyed such a wonderful beauty, we still spent some more time in this tiny natural park, and we were granted with good views on 2 Bonelliˋs Eagles circling along with 2 Brown-necked Ravens.

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah (Vidua paradisaea), one of the surprises of the tour

It had been a great morning, and after such a successful time, we drove back to our accommodation for an early lunch. After enjoying the Omani cuisine, we did drive throught the packed Mascate traffic to arrive to Al Qurm Natural Reserva and park. Here we got both Squacco Heron and Indian Pond Heron, Little Grebe, Puple Herons, a lonely Tufted Duck male, Alexandrine Parakeet and excellent views on Indian Rollers that were chasing large insects from the park lights.

A short walk along some shaddy areas allowed us also to connect with our first Isabelline Shrike while 2 Sedge Warblers were calling from a small patch of reeds. Some waders were also noted, including Temminckˋs Stint, 2 Green Sandpipers and Eurasian Curlews. Pallid Swifts and Pale Crag Martins were patrolling the sky in the search of insects, while flocks of Bulbuls were feeding brambles. 2 Garganeys were also spotted in a small pond along with 1 male Mallard (probably the only one along the whole trip). To end this really intense first day, we chose the mouth of the Al Qurm Natural Reserve, where we enjoyed more views on Lesser & Greater Sand Plover and Eurasian Whimbrel. A good scanning of the gulls in the beach produced our only 1 Pallaˋs Gull of the trip (a 1st winter), and with the last lights of the day, we enjoyed the static beauty of a Striated Heron while fishing from some rocks.

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis), a real stunner!
Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus), an extremelly common bird in Northern Oman
White-eared Bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucotis)

Day 2. Early morning breakfast to explore the breathtaking Al Harar Mountains landscapes. During the day we did a number of spots, exploring a good variety of corners. Our first stop was in an semi arid stony landscapes, with scatered Acacias all around. Here we got an amazing number of Striolated Buntings, a bird that can be hard to spot. Over 30 of them were seen in different flocks here! Along with them, Indian Silverbills, but also some Desert Larks and our first Long-billed Pipit. This ambient is excellent for Warblers, and we soon had our firsts Lesser Whitethroats “taking” from the trees and provinding good views. After some scanning around, something bigger appeared and soon we were all enjoying a skulking Eastern Orphean Warbler moving in the canopies. It took as some minutes to have proper views! When leaving, a lovely Persian Wheatear (also known as Red-tailed Wheatear) appreared to provide excellent views!

Striolated Bunting (Emberiza striolata)
Ménétriés’s Warbler (Curruca mystacea). A scarce overwintering bird in Oman
Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra) is only found in Northern Oman

After this good start we moved to a close gorge totry to find some of the goodies living there. In our way, a Variable Wheatear appear in the top of a large boulder. Our walk inside the wady proufed soon to be a good idea. A lovely Ménétriesˋs Warbler appeared right in front of us, providing good views not only on its markings, but also in the lovely movements of its tail. It could not be more different from a Sardinian!

A further walk produced several Purple Sunbirds but also a superb Variable Wheatear and a lovely Levant Scrub Warbler that fly over us to stop a bit beyond! Happy after such a great stop, we came back to our van, where another Hume’s Wheatear was waiting for us!

While searching for proper views on Hume’s Leaf Warbler we found some Arabian Toads (Bufo arabicus)
The impressive Al Harar Mountains

At the end of the morning the temperature raised. It was time to drive a short distance to a local restaurant to have some food and rest. The afternoon was going to be long!

During the afternoon, we explore one of the largest gorges in the Al Harar mountains. Here we were expecting to find the extremely unknown Omani Owl, that was discovered in 2004 and it is only known from this gorges. But first we were to explore some some oases that can concentrate some good birds. Just arrived we had some Lesser Whitethroats moving in the trees along with our firsts Plain Leaf Warblers. This tiny Phylloscopus breeds in Northern Iran and Western Turkmenistan so it is always a treat! The area was having good warbler activity, but not even in our best dreams we expected what was next. Suddenly, a Mountain Chiffchaff started calling in a small tree right by our side. We played the call of the bird, and it came! It showed really well the really white supercilium, that came to its maximum above the lore. Also, it was possible to see a nice white contrast in its throat. We enjoyed good views for some seconds, and everybody in the group got to see the bird before it flew off to go somewhere else. We still listened the bird time to time! This Mountain Chiffchaff was relocated and photographed by Markus Craig on February 24th, 2022.

Right when the Moutain Chiffchaff called and showed in front us, another call came from more distant canopies. I really didnˋt want to trust my ears, but it really sounded like a Humeˋs Leaf Warbler! So, after some listening we decided to get closer (the bird sounded from a quite dark corner of the oases with not a really easy access). Once there, we spent half an hour trying to see the bird. Time to time clearly heard the call, sometimes really close inside a large, dense bush. We all got views on Lesser Whitethroat and Plain Leaf Warbler in that corner, but the best we could manage on this Humeˋs Leaf Warbler was a poor view on the wing bar…

Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), a scarce resident bird in Northern Oman

Back to the open, the first Grey Wagtail of the trip apperared in the most open area of the oases. It was time, anyway, to move to the best corners for owl. We did a good wait, and despite scouting the walls we were uncapable to have any contact with such a mysterious bird. Instead, we got good views into Blue Rock Thrush and 2 Egyptian Vultures flying by the large walls, but probably the best was the good views on 3 Lappet-faced Vultures that soared above our heads in lovely afternoon light.

The day had been great and full of surprises, but it was now time to go our accommodation and get some rest.

Day 3. The first was the day of our transfer from the North of the country to the Dhoffar region, in the far South of Oman, and neightbouring Yemen. It is a long drive that, surprisingly, can be really productive in term of birds.

After the successful finds of the afternoon before, we decided to go back to the that oases and try to have some pictures in these really scarce Warblers (both rarities for the country). We did spent about 2 hours in the area, but we were uncapable to do so. Mountain Chiffchaff was showing brief but nicely in a tree before flying away for over 150 metres. It called sometimes and we were all satisfied with that. The Humeˋs Leaf Warbler was much worst as it only called twice and no one in group managed to have any views on the bird.

A bit disappointed after this unproductive stop we kept going with our long transfer South to Salalah. We didn’t have any proper birding until mid-day, when we did stop for lunch in Qitbit, in the abandoned grounds of a closed hotel. After our picnic we enjoyed a short walk in the shade. There were several White Wagtails around, and we had our first hammomedri Lesser Whitethroats of the trip, with their characteristic, Wren-like calls. The grounds were rather low in term of birds but our short walk was still providing us with a pair of surprises, a Song Thrush came out from the bush, a Great Reed Warbler was moving inside a small reed patch in the grounds (the only one Great Reed along the trip) and a surprising Western Barn Owl flew out from a palm tree and gave us good views for a while. It was a big surprise to find out a Barn Owl in such a small orchad in the middle of nowhere!

Western Barn Owls (Tyto alba) inhabitates desert oases in Oman

A bit more of driving allowed to explore one of the many — farms in this part of the desert. We are about 2 to 3 hours of driving West of the Dhoffar, and here there is water in the subsoil, allowing these kind of farming. We different areas, all of them having good numbers of both Desert and Isabelline Wheatears. Here we also had our firsts Tawny Pipits and Greater Hoopoe-Larks of the trip. Small flocks of Brown-necked Ravens were all around, while tens (yes, tens) of Eurasian Kestrels were hunting the very common insects in the place. Just arrived, a flock of a very promising larks were moved out from our location by a Kestrel so we just came closer to the area and wait. There were several Yellow Wagtails, but also Tawny Pipits and Crested Larks. Large flocks of Sandgrouses were moving in the distance, mainly Chestnut-bellieds, and some of the moved closer, including a pair of Spotted Sandgrouses that flew right above our heads, providing excellent views!

Ranking high in the worst-ever-Bimaculated-Lark-image…

Some minutes after our waiting was regarded as a lovely flock of 26 Bimaculated Larks just came back to field to feed on the ground. They allowed excellent views in flight, showing their brownish underwing and tiny, rounded tails. For me, far more used to see Calandra Larks than Bimaculateds, it was a pleasure to have such a good views on this species! Moreover, when the flock flew over, 1 Arabian Lark was seen flying along with them, and it could be identified thanks to the tail pattern. The meadows still provided good views on 4 Common Snipes, several Western Marsh Harriers and distant views on 2 circling Pallid Harriers.

Levant Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor aucheri)
One of the several Isabelline Wheatears (Oenanthe isabellinus) during the tour

Leaving the area, we still enjoyed more views on Desert & Isabelline Wheatears, before going back to the main road and drive the last 2 hours until Salalah, where we did arrive before dinner time.

Day 4. Our first day complete day in Southern Oman provided an amazing array of birdlife, including some of the finest Dhoffar specialities and a good variety of the wildfowl overwintering in this stunning region.

Our first stop was at one of the best known areas for variery and amount of passerines. Here we find an open forest, with several fig trees right at the footstep of the impressive Dhoffar mountains.

Right after leaving the van we got some of the first birds of the day. In the open plains around Salalah we got our firsts Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks, a lovely flock of 3 males and 2 females feeding on the ground along with Isabelline Wheatears. Nearby, flocks of Cinnamon-breasted Buntings & Rüppell’s Weavers were fiding in the area along with African Silverbills and a pair of beautiful Blackstarts. After enjoying these wonderful birds we just walked 50 meters before a “taking” called our attention. Soon, we disovered a Eastern Olivaceous Warbler moving up in a thornbush, joined soon by a Lesser Whithethroat and handsome Graceful Prinias! Things were happening fast, and a pair of minutes later we found a Long-billed Pipit walking among the trees while the firsts Arabian Sunbirds were showing up in the trees around. In the distance, a Turkestan Shrike appeared, and we were lucky to move that way, since 50 metres away from the Shrike a superb Arabian Chameleon was taking a sunbath! We all enjoyed amazing views on the Chameleon, that was really exposed to any potential predator!

Tristam’s Starling (Onychognatus tristamii)
Arabian Warbler (Curruca leucomelaena)
Arabian Chameleon (Chamaeleo arabicus)

After such a lucky finding we came back the main woodland. Flocks of Tristam’s Starlings were coming into the fig trees, joined by White-spectacled Bulbuls and some superb African Paradise Flycatchers. A very short walk produced then the first of up to 7 Arabian Warblers that morning. It took us some time to enjoy a full view on this individual, but it was worth the time invested not only because of the great views at the end, but also because a small break in our particular fight with this Arabian speciality produced great views on a Pale RockFinch that simply arrived at the top a small tree next to us! That bird created a huge wave of happiness in the group, since it is a really scarce species, normally relicted to the far Nort West corner of Oman, with scattered sights anywhere else!

Still more activity. Even before leaving the Arabian Warbler, another great bird appeared. A black and white, long-tailed bird was moving 50 metres away in the lowest part of the trees. Yes, it was a female Masked Shrike! Well, we did move little to enjoy this masterpiece of the shrikes. After spending some minutes admiring such a pearl, we just realised that we were right beside our car! Everything happened in a 150 metres cercle around!!

Masked Shrike (Lanius nucibus). Probably the same individual that we found in October 2021
Arabian Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegallus percivali), a serious candidate to become a new full species.
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)

Well, this time we took it seriously to go a bit beyond. Once we were about 200 metres away from our car, a new set of species appeared. An (Arabian) Black-crowned Tchagra just appeared from the tree next to us to offer us great views. Here, Green Sandpiper & Common Sandpipers were feeding in the stream, along with flocks of Tristam’s Starlings, African Silverbills and Buntings. 4 Common Snipes flew up from a really muddy corner, and a short exploration of the area produced a lovely Pin-tailed Snipe that flew up, calling in flight, and showing its very dark underwing. Bingo!

Here the area becomes shady, and African Paradise Flycatchers take over the place. 5, 6 individuals chasing flies and other insects. Bulbuls were everywhere, but also 2 Hoopoes and 1 Eurasian Wryneck was moving along with them!

Finally arrived to the proper corner, and while explaining how to tell apart the call of the target here, some birds starting to chirring over our heads. And there were there, 7 Arabian Grosbeaks feeding right above our heads!!!

Well, little can be said to explain the emotion of the moment. We had 2 of them feeding at only 5 metres away. This is a scarce, extremely difficult bird to find, and we were granted with walk-away views on them! The birds were feeding in green berries, and for the 25 minutes that we spent with them, they never stopped feeding them!!

Arabian Grosbeak (Rhynchostruthus percivali), probably the most sought-after and difficult bird in Oman!
We were granted with amazing views on Arabian Grosbeaks!

Well, that was an amazing way to finish our first stop in the Dhoffar. It was only 10:30 in the morning!!!

Second stop of the morning, this time to explore a small coastal wetland, one of the many along the coast around Salalah. Not a huge amount of birds but still got our firsts views on Citrine Wagtails in the tour, plus 3 Pacific Golden Plovers, another Turkestan Shrike, several Western Reef Egrets and a majestic fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle, a scarce form of this wonderful raptor that shows creamy wing and body coverts, and that recalls a compact Tawny Eagle! But the best bird in this spot appeared in our way back to the van, when a superb Richard’s Pipit just came out the wady to stop on a branch some 20 metres away from us! After staying there for half a minute, it flew over to stop on hte top of a close cliff. Another bird that was really celebrated in the group!!

A “fulvencens” Greater Spotted Eagle. Always a wonderful bird to see!
This Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi) popped out in a rocky outcrop!

For our picnic, we went to a nearby wooded spot, where we had a pleasant brise and flocks of Abyssinian White-eyes moving around. It was warmer than usual in this season, so we agreed a short break in our accommodation and enjoy a good rest.

In the afternoon, we visited another wetland, one of the best around Salalah actually. There, in a lovely afternoon light, we enjoyed a long array of species. 200+ Glossy Ibises were feeding and moving in the river mouth. Around, small parties of waders (Ruffs, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Temminck’s Stints and Dunlins) were also feeding while 100+ Greater Flamingoes were lighting the river mouth with its colourful plomages. Among the Glossy Ibises we foung our only Intermediate Heron of the trip, and also a lovely juvenile African Spoonbill, a good ratiry in Oman!! About 40 Garganeys were also present, as so they were 3 Eurasian Wigeons and several Common Pochards. An accurate scanning of the area revealed 3 Ferruginous Ducks and 7 Cotton Pygmy Geese! In the shoreline, Terns and Gulls were starting to concentrate: Heuglin’s & Steppe Gulls mostly, but also 2 Caspian Gulls. We also got close views on Caspian Terns resting along with Slender-billed Gulls (always shocking to see that they are as big as these lovely gulls!), and 3 White-winged Black Terns + 2 Gull-billed Terns were also noted. It was already late afternoon, and dozens of House Crows and some hundreds of Common Mynas started to concentrate on its roosting site, a densed vegetated island in the river mouth. Without doubt a great way to end our first day in the Dhoffar!

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia) along with Slender-billed Gulls
African Spoonbill (Platalea alba). Another surprise!
Cotton Pygmy Geese (Nettapus coromandelianus)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax) at sunset

Day 5. Back to the desert. After a gorgeous 4th day, this day we faced an early start to explore the desert in search of the good specialities living in the oases. The day was ruff and cold (for the desert startards) with several clouds and some wind. A wind that will join us for the next days and make our journey a bit more difficult, and slightly less productive.

Our morning visit to Mudday was quite productive. Early in the morning, we enjoyed some potential Siberian Chiffchaffs, and at least 3 of them proved their identity by calling several times. The area was not so filled up with birds as other times, but we still had some views on 2 Lesser Whitethroats and 1 Bluethroat in a tiny muddy spot. Our main target here was the mythical Hypocolius, a bird that we had seen here twice in previous issues. But despite checking all the corners of the oases, we couldn’t find any this time… However, the area was really interesting and our short walks around produced excellent views on 2 Namaqua Doves male, Blackstarts, Arabian Bee-eater and 2 superb Eastern Imperial Eagles that made the effort worth it. A further scanning revealed 4 Desert Larks feeding on the ground.

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis) keeps small overwintering populations in Oman

But the morning was passing and we didn’t have sign of any Sandgrouse (another good reason to explore Mudday). The weather was cold and cloudy, so we decided to take the car a prove a different spot, some miles away. Here we had more luck, a got some small flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses flying around, and after some waiting, we got to see a gorgeous flock of 12 Crowned Sandgrouses coming to drink water into a tiny pond! Delighted after the views on the Sandgrouses (but at the same time surprised for the chilly weather and low occurrence of birds, we still moved further South.

There, we didn’t find any other Sandgrouse but 14 Sand Partridges moving in the desert that provided the group with good views while moving in the rocky slopes. A short walk around produced also our only 1 Nile Valley Sunbird of the trip feeding in Lobellias as well as an extra flock of Desert Larks!

Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis) during our morning in Mudday
Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronata)
Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aqula heliaca)
Blackstart (Oenanthe melanura)

Back to Salalah, we realised how windy was in the coast. During the coming days, the Dhoffar was going to be hit by a tropical (wind) storm, with speeds raising over 80kms/hour. A metheorological phenomenom really uncommon in this part of the world. Despite the situation, we decided to explore some areas around Raysut that, surprisingly, were sheltered against the wind.

A fast exploration around the Raysut landfill produced 100+ White Storks and close views on over 40+ handsome Abdim’s Storks. Moreover, the first Steppe Eagle of the trip just flew over the van when we were enjoying the Storks! But here was windy and unconfortable so we moved to the coast to explore another river mouth. Here, after locating a sheltered corner where to set up the scope, we got a unforgettable birding session.

The river mouth was filled up with waders. Up to 15 species of them, with special remarks on 10+ Terek’s Sandpipers feeding nearby and several Lessers & Greaters Sandplovers. Dunlins, Little Stints, Grey Plovers, Eurasian Curlews, Whimbrels, Kentish Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Greenshanks, Oystercatchers and Turnstones were all seen among other species. 5 Greater Spotted Eagles were sat at different corners, 1 of them quite close to us, and dozens of Gulls and Terns were in the river mouth itself. A bit beyond, a massive bird was resting in the shallow water: a Dalmatian Pelican!!! I seriously thought that we were the first to see this amazing bird (2nd for Oman?) but once in the hotel I saw that the bird was present since November…

Well, that was something to enjoyed, especially after the Pelican was moved by a Greater Spotted Eagle, and came closer to us!! We were still not recovered from this when a further scanning revealed an African Openbill in the river mouth! Gorgeous! Probably the same bird that we found here during our tour in October 2021!! It was really too good to be real. We spend quite a lot of time enjoying these birds and scanning the flocks of Terns and Gulls in search of any different species, but we only got 3 Common Terns and a flyby African Sacred Ibis (there is a tiny population of this bird nesting in Southern Oman. No scapes, but a natural expansion from Yemen and the Horn of Africa).

After some time, the dust in the air became a bit uncomfortable, so we decided to go back to our accommodation for a kind of early end of the day! Despite the wind, this was a wonderful 2nd day in the Dhoffar.

Obliging Abdim’s Stork (Ciconia abdimii)
Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) along with gulls & terns
African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus)

Day 6. This day our group went to explore the Dhoffar uplands. The day was still very windy, and this affected the number of birds along the day. Our first stop was to explore a well known corner in the uplands, about 800 metres high.

Here we got excellent views on Palestine & Arabian Sunbirds, but also Tree Pipits, African Paradise Flycatchers, Long-billed Pipits and really close views on a wonderful male Siberian Stonechat, a scarce overwintering bird in Oman. Here, the area is covered by large grasslands with large, scattered fig trees and small villages. The whole area is great for birds of prey and it didn’t take long before we had our firsts Steppe Eagles flying around. Soon after, 2 superb Eastern Imperial Eagles appeared in the sky followed by 1 Short-toed Snake Eagle.

Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis), one of the most wonderful African specialites living in Oman
Arabian Sunbird (Cinnyris hellmayri), already considered as a full species in some lists

Along our short walk we also had 12 Arabian Partridges, another endemic that sometimes can be hard to find. Our second stop of the morning produced Isabelline Wheatears but also lovely views on a pair of Arabian Wheatears. Here, massive cliffs hosts good populations of Fan-tailed Ravens, and we also got excellent views on Blue Rock Thrush. One of the goals to come to these cliffs is to look for Verreaux Eagle, a large eagle living in broken terrain that has in the Dhoffar a small population.

Unfortunately we could not find any Verreaux Eagle during our visit, but got proper views on a Long-legged Buzzard, another really sought-after bird of prey in this region.

Arabian Partridge (Alectoris melanocephala) & Arabian Wheatear (Oenanthe lugentoides), another 2 Arabian endemics

Early in the afternoon we went to explore the palm groves inmediatly around Salalah. This is a large area that also includes some interesting open corners. Again, the wind made our exploration a bit more difficult than usual but still we got excellent views on at least 3 Crested Honey Buzzards and 14 Spotted Thick-knees. En route, we also enjoyed 2 Greater Spotted Eagle and the only one Booted Eagle along the tour.

It was already bit late in the afternoon so we went back to the hills to explore a small, narrow valley. Full of hope to be sheltered against the wind, we arrived there at 16:30, and after enjoying the wonderful small gorge surrounded by a lovely decidous forest, our efforts were granted with good views on 4 Bruce’s Green Pigeons in a tree nearby. Happy after this rather unexpected reward, we moved up in the gorge until we reached a proper corner, really sheltered from the wind.

Here we all waited for the sunset, and some minutes later we were all enjoying wonderful views on 2 Arabian Scops Owls, a recent split from African Scops Owl (2004). Really happy after the a quite productive day, we went back to our accommodation for a good dinner and rest!

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)
Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
Arabian Scops Owl (Otus pamelae), a recent (2004) split from African Scops Owl

Day 7. After 3 days of strong winds, we finally woke up in a calm, very promising day! An early start was mandatory today to catch up with our offshore starting North from Salalah. But before arriving to the departing harbour, we did make a stop en route to check some superb reedbeds. Here, at raising, we enjoyed excellent views on 4 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas while feeding on the floating vegetation. 2 Whiskered Terns were patrolling the area, crossing in the air with the many Western Marsh Harriers leaving their roost. These reedbeds are not only refugee for the Harriers, but also for 3 Barn Swallows and hundreds of Common Mynas that were also leaving at that time. A carefully checking of the flocks revealed a Rosy Starling, then 2 more. Later a small flock of 6, 10, 14 and scattered individuals all along with Mynas! At the end, we estimated no less than 42 Rosy Starlings moving out from the reeds!!!

Well, went to the harbour, but had to do a last stop before arriving, an obliging Abdim’s Stork was having a short walk along the road itself, just a mile away from the harbour! Once by the boats, we enjoyed excellent views on Heuglins & Sooty Gulls, and close ups to Western Reef Egrets. The sea was calm, and beyond the typical views on the roosting Black-crowned Night Herons, this offshore provided as a starter magnificent views on a 60+ False Killer Whale pod, and got quite long and close views on these large dolphins!

Part of the False Killer Whale (Pseudoorca crassidens) pod during our offshore

On birds, we did have as many views on Masked Booby as never before. No less than 25 individuals were counted, mainly passing by but also on the water along with Sooty Gulls. Persian Shearwaters were not uncommon, and we all enjoyed really good views in passby birds. After a careful scanning, we finally found 2 Jouanin’s Petrels that, even if didn’t allow us close views, provided excellent comparitions with both Persian & Flesh-footed Shearwaters. When we were coming back, a Leatherhead Sea Turtle emerged in front of boat, allowing a short but good view.

In our way, a pod of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins provided really good looks, and a single Red-necked Phalarope was the perfect end for our pelagic!

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus). The only individual that we had during our offshore
Jouanin’s Petrel (Bulweria fallax) didn’t show for long this time, but well enough!
Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) along with Sooty Gull

Once on the ground, we came back to the hotel for an early lunch, and after a short break, we drove South to explore some wetlands. Our first stop was to see what we could find in a small river mouth. As usual, it was fithered with waterfowl: Greater Flamingoes, Eurasian Teals, Eurasian Curlews, Black-tailed Godwits, Wigeons but also 5 Eurasian Spoonbills, 17 Garganeys, 28 Greater White-fronted Geese, 5 Terek’s Sandpipers and 1 Red-knobbet Coot (the only one of the tour!).

A second stop was devoted to do some sea watching. It didn’t take long to see our first targets: large flocks of Socotra Cormorants emerged from the see, flying in dense formations towards South. 1, 2, 3, 4 flocks, each one numbering 100 to 200 individuals! Around, tens and tens of terns (Lesser Crested but also Greater Crested, Sandwich and Common) and 5-7 Brown Bobbies with some “close” views.

Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons)

To end the day, we drove inland all along a valley. Our purpose was to explore a small wady with some jewels living on them. Only a few minutes after arriving, a Hooded Wheatear appeared in the area, providing really good looks. For the next speciality we had to wait until sunset, but was worth it not only because of the caravans of camels in their way to their resting place, but also (and especially) because of the wonderful views on a hadsome Desert Owl that came out from the darkness. Very satisfied after such a great views, we still had a last surprise in the form of a Eurasian Stone Curlews that appeared under the lights of our van to end the day!!!

Our group enjoyed lovely views on Desert Owl (Strix hadorami)

Day 8. Our time in the Dhoffar was ending, and today we were facing a long transfer. But we still had some time for enjoying great birding. Our first stop was inmediatly West of the Dhoffar massif. Here, a short walk in desert like ambient allowed us to contact with two lovely Asian Desert Warblers, a bird that we were missing until that moment!

From there, we drove a bit until arriving to the first of two locations where to explore the wonderful grass fields in this part of the country. Our first stop didn’t produce much our of Yellow Wagtails until 1 male Amur Falcon just appeared in front of us!! This is an amazing falcon, quite similar to Red-footed Falcon. It nests in Central Asia and overwinters in Southern Africa. In Oman it is a scarce migratory and winter speciality, always pretty scarce!

Our second location, only 40 minutes away from the first one, offered us 3 Namaqua Doves, 2 Pallid Harriers, small flock of Bimaculated Larks and 4 Greater Hoopoe Larks.

After lunch, we just finished our transfer, reaching Duqm well before dinner.

Asian Desert Warbler (Curruca nana) took some time to show this year
This handsome male Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) was probably the most surprinsing bird of the tour

Day 9. This day was devoted to enjoy the massive tydal planes around Masirah Island. Here, a section of coast extending for more than 50 miles, it is thought to be the main wintering pole for waders in Arabia with 1 milion birds estimated!

But before reaching this Eden, we had to do a stop en route. A small wady, usually totally dry, had water! Stop and check. Desert Wheatear and Levant Shrikes were noted, also 3 Citrine Wagtails and an interesting flock of 23 Wood Sandpipers were feeding in the stream along with 6 Temminck’s Stints. While checking for something else, 4 flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses passed over us. Two of them stopped up in the stream, but we could not located on the ground.

This beautiful corner in the desert produced 23 Wood Sandpipers!

Almost two hours of road separate Duqm from our secret corner for Crab Plovers. When arrived, it was late morning. A large mudflat was in front of us, and large amounts of waders were feeding on it. Here we had many Curlew Sandpipers feeding along Little Stints, Dunlins and some Sanderlings. Both Lesser Sandplover and Greenshanks were common all along, with many Redshanks and Bar-tailed Godwits here and there. We took our time to check some flocks of gulls, but nothing interesting came out this time…

Steppe & Heuglin’s Gulls (Laurs fuscus barabensis & heughini) along with Sooty Gull and 1 Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) at the top left of the image

After some scanning, we finally found our first flock of Crab Plovers: 4 individuals appeared in the distance! After some waiting, more and more Crab Plovers were arriving, totalling 47 in the best of our accounts. We really had great views on these massive birds, walking in the mud or having small arguments with the very common Western Reef Egrets!

In the afternoon, we moved 30 miles to the South to check a different spot. There, again by the mudflats, we were surprised to find 4 Spotted Redshanks (our only 4 of the tour!), but also 4 handsome Saunder’s Terns fishing in front of us at close range, all of them showing the well defined outer black primaries. In the mud, 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers were found and allowed good views along with Dunlins and Curlew Sandpipers. But the very best of the stop were the 4+ Great Knots that were roosting along with Bar-tailed Godwits. Even if far away, the birds allowed good views on their unmistakable bill when one of them decide to have a look around.

Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola). Always a cracker!
A dream for many European birdwatchers: Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii) chasing a Terek’s Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)

Day 10. Last full day of the tour. A sunny, calm day to enjoy our last birding. During the morning we had a pair of stops expecting to improve the views that we had on Lappet-faced Vulture during the second day of the trip. Unfortunately, we failed to find out any of them. Instead, we had 3 Crested Honey Buzzards, Egyptian Vulture and lovely views on typical Northern species including Arabian Bee-eaters, Indian Rollers, Delicate Prinias and Indian Silverbills.

1st winter Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) male. The very last adding to our trip list!

Once in Muscat, we still had a pair of hours to explore Al-Qrm Park before going to the airport, so we enjoyed several White-eared Bulbuls, Bluethroat, Eurasian Whimbrels and Pallid Swifts in close views as they were coming down to drink water in a stream. But the real treat of the visit was a handsome male Yellow Bittern that appeared that showed up well inside a mimosa tree that was by the water. A wonderful addition to our list and a great way to end our tour to Oman.

After sunset, we still had time for a final stop by one of the most amazing, smart and surprising mosques in the city. A good way to say goodbye to this country, that hosts a gorgeous array of birdlife, and where every single stop can produce great surprises!

See full planing here: https://barcelonabirdingpoint.com/tour-por-pais/oman-link-between-two-continents-2/

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

Species of bird seen along the tour:

  • 1. Arabian Partridge (Alectoris melanocephala)
  • 2. Sand Partridge (Ammoperdix heyi)
  • 3. Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
  • 4. White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
  • 5. Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus)
  • 6. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • 7. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
  • 8. Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
  • 9. Pintail (Anas acuta)
  • 10. Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
  • 11. Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
  • 12. Northern Shoverler (Spatula clypeata)
  • 13. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  • 14. Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
  • 15. Tutfed Duck (Aythya fuligula)
  • 16. Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
  • 17. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)
  • 18. Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronata)
  • 19. Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)
  • 20. Feral Dove (Columba livia)
  • 21. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  • 22. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
  • 23. Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis)
  • 24. Bruce’s Gree Pigeon (Treron waalia)
  • 25. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  • 26. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  • 27. Red-knobbet Coot (Fulica cristata)
  • 28. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  • 29. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  • 30. Eurasian Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
  • 31. Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)
  • 32. Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
  • 33. Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola)
  • 34. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
  • 35. Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophaisanus chirurgus)
  • 36. Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
  • 37. Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
  • 38. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
  • 39. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
  • 40. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
  • 41. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
  • 42. Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)
  • 43. Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
  • 44. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
  • 45. Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
  • 46. Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
  • 47. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
  • 48. Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
  • 49. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
  • 50. Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
  • 51. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
  • 52. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
  • 53. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  • 54. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
  • 55. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  • 56. Terek’s Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
  • 57. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  • 58. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
  • 59. Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus)
  • 60. Sanderling (Calidris alba)
  • 61. Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
  • 62. Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
  • 63. Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
  • 64. Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
  • 65. Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris)
  • 66. Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
  • 67. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
  • 68. Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
  • 69. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
  • 70a. Heughlin’s Gull (Larus fuscus heuglini)
  • 70b. Steppe Gull (Larus fuscus barabensis)
  • 71. Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
  • 72. Palla’s Gull (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)
  • 73. Sooty Gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii)
  • 74. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
  • 75. Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
  • 76. Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis)
  • 77. Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
  • 78. White-cheeked Tern (Sterna repressa)
  • 79. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
  • 80. Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
  • 81. Saunder’s Tern (Sternula saundersi)
  • 82. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)
  • 83. White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
  • 84. Persian Shearwater (Puffinus persicus)
  • 85. Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes)
  • 86. Jouanin’s Petrel (Bulweria fallax)
  • 87. Abdim’s Stork (Ciconia abdimii)
  • 88. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
  • 89. African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus)
  • 90. Masked Booby (Sula dactylara)
  • 91. Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
  • 92. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  • 93. Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
  • 94. African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
  • 95. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • 96. African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)
  • 97. Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
  • 98. Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)
  • 99. Striated Heron (Butorides striata)
  • 100. Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
  • 101. Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)
  • 102. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • 103. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • 104. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
  • 105. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • 106. Intermediate Heron (Ardea intermedia)
  • 107. Western Reed Egret (Egretta gularis)
  • 108. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  • 109. Great White Heron (Agrodiaetus albus)
  • 110. Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
  • 111. Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
  • 112. Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)
  • 113. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos)
  • 114. Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
  • 115. Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
  • 116. Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
  • 117. Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
  • 118. Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)
  • 119. Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)
  • 120. Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
  • 121. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
  • 122. Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
  • 123. Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
  • 124. Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
  • 125. Arabian Scops Owl (Otus pamelae)
  • 126. Desert Owl (Strix hadorami)
  • 127. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
  • 128. Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
  • 129. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
  • 130. Arabian Bee-eater (Merops
  • 131. Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
  • 132. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  • 133. Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis)
  • 134. Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)
  • 135. Rose-ringed Parakeet (Pstittacula krameri)
  • 136. Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalensis)
  • 137. Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
  • 138. Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
  • 139. Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
  • 140. Levant Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis aucheri)
  • 141. African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis)
  • 142. White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)
  • 143. Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
  • 144. White-spectacled Bulbul (Pynonotus xanthopygos)
  • 145. House Crow (Corvus splendens)
  • 146. Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
  • 147. Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhidipurus)
  • 148. Greater Hoopoe-Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
  • 149. Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
  • 150. Arabian Lark (Eremolauda eremodites)
  • 151. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
  • 152. Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata)
  • 153. Pale Crag Martin (Ptynoprogne obsoleta)
  • 154. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  • 155. Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
  • 156. Delicate Prinia (Prinia lepida)
  • 157. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
  • 158. Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis)
  • 159. Plain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus)
  • 160. Hume’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)
  • 161. (Caucasian) Mountain Warbler (Phylloscopus sindianus lorenzii)
  • 162. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)
  • 163. Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
  • 164. Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus)
  • 165. Streaked Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)
  • 166. Asian Desert Warbler (Curruca nana)
  • 167. Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca)
  • 168. Eastern Orphean Warbler (Curruca crassirostris)
  • 169. Arabian Warbler (Curruca leucomelaena)
  • 170. Ménétriés’s Warbler (Curruca mystacea)
  • 171. Abyssinian White-eye (Zosterops abyssinicus)
  • 172. Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
  • 173. Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)
  • 174. Tristam’s Starling (Onychognathus tristamii)
  • 175. Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
  • 176. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
  • 177. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
  • 178. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
  • 179. Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
  • 180. Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
  • 181. Desert Wheatear (Onenanthe deserti)
  • 182. Blackstart (Oenanther melanura)
  • 183. Arabian Wheatear (Oenanthe lugentoides)
  • 184. Variable Wheatear (Oenanthe picata)
  • 185. Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)
  • 186. Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha)
  • 187. Persian Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)
  • 188. Nile Valley Sunbird (Hedydipna metallica)
  • 189. Palestine Sunbird (Cinnyris osea)
  • 190. Arabian Sunbird (Cinnyris hellmayri)
  • 191. Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)
  • 192. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
  • 193. Pale Rockfinch (Carpospiza brachydactyla)
  • 194. Rüppell’s Weaver (Ploceus galbula)
  • 195. Long-tailed Paradise Whydah (Vidua paradisaea)
  • 196. African Silverbill (Euodice cantans)
  • 197. Indian Silverbill (Euodice malabarica)
  • 198. Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
  • 199. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  • 200. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
  • 201. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
  • 202. Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
  • 203. Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis)
  • 204. Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi)
  • 205. Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
  • 206. Arabian Grosbeak (Rhynchostruthus percivali)
  • 207. Striolated Bunting (Emberiza striolata)
  • 208. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi)

List of mammals seen during the trip:

  • 1. False Killer Whale (Pseudoorca crassidens)
  • 2. Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus)

List of reptilians seen during the trip:

  • 1. Arabian Chameleon (Chamaeleo arabicus)
  • 2. Leatherhead Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
  • 3. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

List of amphibians seen during the trip:

  • 1. Arabian Toad (Bufo arabicus)
Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) was a good adding for our Omani list

OrnitoRepte calàbria agulla als Aiguamolls de l’Empordà

Una vegada més, ben d’hora al matí, un grup d’ornitòlegs es cita per tal d’encarar un OrnitoRepte. En aquest cas, als Aiguamolls de l’Empordà i amb l’objectiu de gaudir de la calàbria agulla!

Som ben bé 30 persones, amb un bon grapat de telescopis i càmeres de fotos. El dia ha sortit radiant, amb un sol que anuncia un altre dia dominat per l’anticicló que ha fet desaparèixer les precipitacions al llarg de l’hivern, deixant força ecosistemes en una situació precària. La jornada va gaudir d’un temps molt estable, amb només una mica de vent mentre estàvem a la platja. Però, comptat i debatut, no va ser res de l’altre món.

Foto del grup donant-ho tot per gaudir de les calàbries agulles als Aiguamolls. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.

El grup comença a caminar per la zona del Mas Matà i ben d’hora apareixen els primers ocells d’interès: En la distància, un estol de capons reials (Plegadis falcinellus) fa una aparició fugaç mentre els aligots (Buteo buteo) i arpelles comunes (Circus aeruginosus) aixequen el vol dels seus posaders preferits. El grup avança per una zona de canyissar, i no triguem en sentir el reclam característic de la boscarla mostatxuda (Acrocephalus megalopogon) a les tofes de canyís. Tot amb tot, aquest esquerp ocell no es va deixar veure gaire bé, i només va aparèixer en vol un parell de vegades. Quan tornàvem al camí principal, una xivita (Tringa ochropus) va fer acte de presència a la zona.

Arpella comuna mascle en vol. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.

Un cop als prats inundats del Mas Matà vam poder gaudir dels bons estols de territs variants (Calidris alpina) i dels molts becadells comuns (Gallinago gallinago) que s’hi alimentaven. Amb ells, fredelugues (Vanellus vanellus) i agrons blancs (Agrodiaetus albus) però també grassets de muntanya (Anthus spinolleta), xarxets (Anas crecca) ¡, cogullades comunes (Galerida cristata) i alguna simpàtica cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea). El nostre camí cap a la platja va tenir alguna parada per gaudir de la munió d’Anàtides a l’aguaït del bruel. Aquí, els estols de xarxets i ànecs cullerots (Spatula clypeata) tot just sortien dels canyissars a on havien passat la nit. Era d’hora al matí, però una parella de cabussons emplomallats (Podiceps cristatus) ja anava assajant la seva sincronització de cara a la primavera mentre els ànecs grissets (Anas strepera) s’ho miraven des dels canyissars.

Fredelugues, becadells comuns i territs variants al Mas Matà. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras.
Un dels cabussons emplomallats de l’aguaït del Bruel. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras
Ànec cullerots alimentant-se davant l’aguaït del Bruel. Imatge de Joan Oliver
Els xarxets mascles ja lluïen plomatge nupcial. Imatge de Domènec Anguera.

La resta del camí fins la platja no va tenir massa més espècies d’interès, fora de les oques comunes (Anser anser) que se sentien reclamar per les maresmes.

Un cop a la platja va arribar el moment de treure partit als telescopis. Les calàbries no ho van posar massa fàcil, però després d’uns minuts de recerca, 3 calàbries agulles (Gavia arctica) van aparèixer en la llunyania, una mica a contrallum. Mentre maldàven perquè tots els telescopis trobessin la seva calàbria, un gavot (Alca torda) també va reclamar la seva quota d’atenció, afegint una mica més de caos ornitològic al grup. Ambuna mica de sort, les calàbries agulles es van anar desplaçant cap al Nord, i la llum va millorar molt fins aconseguir unes observacions més que bones! Mentre hi gaudíem, un cabussó emplomallat i un corb marí emplomallat (Gulosus aristotelis) també van aparèixer, donant una bona oportunitat a tots per comparar formes, proporcions i comportament del corb marí, el gavot, el cabussó i les calàbries.

Aquest gavot va ser la sorpresa més celebrada al mar i va permetre bones comparatives amb les calàbries que es movien a prop. Imatge d’Enric Pàmies
Una de les 3 calàbries agulles observades al llarg de l’OrnitoRepte. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras

La platja tampoc estava lliure d’interès. Tot i que lluny, un petit estol de territs de tresdits (Calidris alba) es va deixar veure prou bé mentre un parell de pigres grisos (Pluvialis squatarola) els va passava volant per sobre. Mentrestant, unes poques baldrigues mediterrànies (Puffinus yelkouan) cavalcaven les onades mentre un estol d’unes 200 baldrigues (Puffinus sp.) descasaven a força distància. Els xatracs bec-llargs (Thalasseus sandvicensis), amb el seu característic reclam, van tancar la nostra estada a la platja!

A continuació vam desfer el camí fins a l’aparcament i, un cop als vehicles, uns vam dirigir a El Cortalet, a on vam fer una merescuda parada de servei abans d’explorar els hides més propers al Centre de Informació.

Corb marí gros poc després d’empassar l’esmorzar. Imatge de Domènec Anguera

Es podria dir que vam estar de sort, perquè des dels hides vam gaudir d’un bon estol de grues (Grus grus) que sembla haver fet hivernada a l’Empordà. Aquí hi havien força ànecs, destacant diferents ànecs blancs (Tadorna tadorna) però també una trentena d’ànecs xiuladors (Anas penelope) i fins i tot un xibec (Netta rufina) i una femella de morell cap roig (Aythya ferina). Un petit estol flamencs (Phoenicopterus roseus) posava la nota exòtica mentre una arpella comuna (Circus aeruginosus) s’alimentava d’un xarxet que havia caçat feia poc. A la maresma no es pot badar, i una cigonya blanca (Ciconia ciconia) estava ben a l’aguaït per si podia pispar-li una mica de xarxet al rapinyaire.

Algunes de les grues que vam poder gaudir al llarg de la sortida. Imatge se Josep Maria Torras
Una fotja comuna alça el vol i deixa veure els seus increïbles dits lobulats. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras
Un dels 3 pinsans mecs observats a les closes properes a El Cortalet. Imatge d’Enric Pàmies.
Grasset de muntanya en vol. Fixeu-vos en el supercili ben definit més enllà de l’ull i en le dues línies blanques al llarg de les cobertores alars. Imatge de Josep Maria Torras

Les closes que boregen l’Estany del Cortalet sempre són d’interès, i tot i que aquest cop hi havia molts pocs ocells, encara ens van oferir una última sorpresa: un mínim de 3 pinsans mecs (Fringilla montifringilla) alimentant-se al terra junt amb pinsans comuns (Fringilla coelebs). Aquesta fantàstica troballa li debem a la família Naspleda, que ens van assenyalar el primer dels mecs! Al llarg d’una bona estona tot el grup va gaudir de les anades i vingudes dels pinsans i, a la vegada, d’altres espècies com titelles (Anthus pratensis), bitxac comú (Saxicola torquata) i un mascle de tallarol capnegre (Sylvia melanocephala). Una bona forma d’acabar un altre OrnitoRepte existós, no sense abans sumar a la nostra llista un petit estol de mallarengues cuallargues (Aegithalos caudatus) acompanyades de mallarenga carbonera (Parus major) i un raspinell comú (Certhia brachydactyla).

Desitjant ja de gaudir del proper OrnitoRepte. Troba aquí el calendari complet: https://barcelonabirdingpoint.com/ornito-reptes/?lang=ca

Ànec cuallarg. Una de les 9 espècies d’Anàtides que vam poder observar al llarg de la sortida. Imatge de Joan Oliver