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

OrnitoRepte pela-roques (Tichodroma muraria), Novembre 2021

En un matí assolejat però freda, els participants en l’OrnitoRepte més agosarat ens vam trobar en un bar a prop de Balaguer per poder fer un cafè calent abans d’encetar la jornada.

Un cop en moviment, diferents rapinyaires van anar creuant la carretera, però no va ser fins arribar a prop dels espadats a on passaríem les primeres hores d’observació a on vam haver de fer una primera parada obligada. I és que una parella d’àguiles cuabarrades (Aquila fasciata) estaven volant força baix a la zona! Vam muntar telescopi i qui va voler va poder fins i tot gaudir d’una de les àguiles aturada al roquissar.

Una molt bona observació i una gran forma de començar la jornada ornitològica! Un cop vam aparcar els vehicles, el primer va ser fer un cop d’ull al riu que travessa la gorja en qüestió. Aquí un blauet (Alcedo atthis) va passsar fugiser, i una merla d’aigua (Cinclus cinclus) s’alimentava entre els còdols. Diferents voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus) volaven ja per la zona, i un xoriguer (Falco tinnunculus) va passar a tota velocitat per la cinglera, fent enmodir la corrua de pit-rojos, mallarengues, tallarols de casquest i cargolets que reclamaven als matollars i bosquines.

Part del grup gaudint del pela-roques. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Les mirades es van centrar ben d’hora en els espadats. Repassar les seves parets llises, forats, esquerdes i ondulacions a la cerca d’alguna forma o moviment sospitosos. Així vam trobar una llunyana merla blava (Monticola solitarius) que prenia els primers rajos de sol al capdamunt d’una cinglera. Passaven els minuts i el grup es disgregava per la gorja. Algun estol de mallarengues cuallargues (Aegithalos caudatus) i un parell de bruels (Regulus ignicapillus) van venir a saludar a una part del grup.

Al llarg de la propera hora van estar-nos en un parell de llocs estratègics, escorcollant les inmenses parets de roca al nostra voltants. Les àguiles cuabarrades, van tornar a aparèixer, i les seves voltes ens van fer entrar en escalfor! Al riu, una cuereta torrentera (Motacilla cinerea) va captar la nostra atenció per un moment quant de cop i volta algú advertí: “quin és aquest ocell que vola per sobre el riu?” Tothom mirada amunt per veure un pela-roques volant per sobre el meandre del riu!!! “Pela-roques, pela-roques”, va ressonar arreu! L’ocell va anar a aturar-se a dalt de tot d’un llunyà pollegó, però amb els telescopis el vam poder veure força bé!

Un minut després d’arribar un segon pela-roques va aparèixer al cel, i el primer Tichodroma va deixar el seu pollegó per fer fora el nou ocells, que va continuar riu amunt, sense aturar-se. Va ser el moment escollit per apropar-nos. Un dels pela-roques havia tornar al mateix pollegó, però força més baix. En atansar-nos el vam perdre vista, i al llarg de deu minuts ningú no va saber més del pela-roques… Però llavors uns quants afortunats el van veure sortir d’un forat a pocs metres de distància! L’ocell va volar al nostra voltant per finalment creuar el riu i aturar-se en una gran paret a on va romandre al llarg de ben bé mitja hora!

Pela-roques (Tichodroma muraria) en plena acció. Imatge de Begonya Torres

Allà tothom el va poder observar a plaer i treure força fotos (un xic desvirtuades per la distància), i observar el curiós comportament d’aquesta espècie d’hàbits tant extrems. Fins i tot el vam poder menjar, ja que en una de les seves excursions per dins de cavitats, va aparèixer amb una Macroglossum stellatarum al bec, el que va fer pujar l’exitació del grup a nivells estratosfèrics!!

Després de ben bé 20 minuts d’observació continuada del pela-roques, vam començar a desfilar cap als vehicles. Els voltors comuns ja volaven alt, com a per a dir adéu a tot el grup. A la sortida de la gorja, però , va ser necessari una nova parada. Desenes de tords ala-rojos (Turdus iliacus) reclamaven i voleiaven pels encontorns. Vam saltar dels vehicles i vam estar una bona estona mirant d’aconseguir una observació mínimament digna d’aquesta espècie. Grives (Turdus viscivorus) i algun tord comú (Turdus philomelos) es van deixar veure bé. Alguns afortunats sí que van poder gaudir d’una bona observació de tord ala-roig, però malauradament la majoria del grup es va haver de resignar a sentir-ne els reclams.

De tornada als vehicles, vam fer via cap al Sud, a la cerca d’una petita llacuna a on de feia unes setmanes s’estaven veient unes quantes Anàtides. Després d’un cafè recostituent, vam cobrir la petita distància que ens separava de la bassa en qüestió. Al poc d’arribar ja vam poder observar el principal atractiu de la bassa, un grupet de 3 morells xocolaters (Aythya nyroca) que nedaven amb la llum del migdia, oferint molt bones observacions. Aquesta és bàsicament una espècie de l’Est de l’Europa, que té a l’Europa Occidental petites poblacions reproductores. A la Península Ibèrica es calculen menys de 20 parelles anuals!

Fotges en primer terme, i morells xocolater en segon terme. Imatge: Carles Oliver

A la llacuna també vam poder gaudir d’una bona selecció d’espècies típiques d’aquestes zones com cabusset (Tachybaptus ruficollis), fotja comuna (Fulica atra), ànec coll-verd (Anas platythynchos), xarxet comú (Anas crecca), ànec cullerot (Spatula clypeata) i morell de cap roig (Aythya ferina). La bassa bullia de vida, i també ho feien els camps que l’envoltaven: Hi havien estols de cruixidells (Emberiza calandra) i aloses comunes (Alauda arvensis), cogullades comunes (Galerida cristata) i passerells (Liniaria cannabina) junt amb cornelles (Corvus corone) i grans estolls d’estornells (Sturnus sp.).

Les Arpelles comunes (Circus aeruginosus) i algun aligot comú (Buteo buteo) anaven repasant els estols d’ocells a la cerca d’alguna presa fàcil mentre els insectívors més petits, com els bitxacs comuns (Saxicola rubicola) no badaben davant l’oportunitat d’enxampar algun insecte. A la llunyania, algunes fredelugues (Vanellus vanellus) van assenyalar el camí per escrutar els camps més detingudament, i el nostre esforç va trobar la recompensa en un petit estol de daurades grosses (Pluvialis apricaria) que, si bé no es van deixar veure massa estona a terra, sí que ens van deixar gaudir amb els seu vol.

Amb aquesta última observació i alguns repicatalons (Emberiza schoeniclus) que ja passaven volant cap al canyissar des dels camps a on s’havien estat alimentant, vam acabar un matí ben profitós que va deixar a tothom ben content, i amb ganes de molts més OrnitoReptes!!!

Podeu consultar els propers OrnitoReptes ací: https://barcelonabirdingpoint.com/ornito-reptes/?lang=ca

Oman Birding Tour 2021 Trip Report

Dates: October 26th to November 4th

Number of participants: 3

Species seen: 205

In the falll of 2021 it looked like the Covid-19 pandemia was at its end, or at least that it was giving us a well deserved truce. Several countries had relaxed their restrictions, and many reopened to tourism, even if still requiring specific tests or documents to go beyond their borders.

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos), a common sight in some Omani wetlands. All images in the post by Carles Oliver unless otherwise indicated

In this context, we arranged with a small group of clients a trip to Oman. This tour was delayed from January 2021, but circumstances forced them to choose the end of October to visit the country, even when probably the best season to explore this unique nation goes from mid-November to January. The option proved really productive and interesting despite the rather high temperatures (from 21 to 34ºC), and some windy afternoons, especially in the North of the country.

Day 1, October 26th. The group arrived in stages during the day before (October 25th) to meet during the evening in the inmigration checkpoints at Muscat International Airport, and we all transfer for a welcome dinner in our nearby hotel.

After enjoying the Omani food, our first day was devoted to explore some wetlands inside Greater Muscat. Our first stop was at Al Ansab wetlands, a small area of ponds and reedbeds recently recovered by the local water company. But even before arriving to our first spot, we got a first good surprise in the way of a 1st winter Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) right in front of our hotel. We didn’t know at that moment, but that was our only Woodshrike of the whole tour!

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis), a common bird in Northern Oman.

Al Ansab was starting to get the winter visitors. There we got good numbers of Eurasian Teals (Anas crecca), Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata), Gadwalls (Anas strepera), Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax), Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola), Little Stints (Calidris minuta), Common Snipes (Gallinago gallinago), Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) and Temminck’s Stints (Calidris temminckii). A flock of 5 Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca) was a nice surprise, and the group enjoyed very much the good and different views on Marsh Sandpipers (Tringa stagnatilis) along the lagoon. Here we also had first views on some common species in the area: Purple Sunbirds (Cinnyris asiaticus), Delicate Prinias (Prinia lepida) and Indian Silverbills (Eudice malabarica) were showing all around while flocks of White-eared Bulbuls (Pycnonotus leucotis) were noisily feeding in the tamarisks around. Some dizzing up in the sky announced the presence of some Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola) in the area, moving to the extensive grasses where flocks of Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis) were feeding. In the distance, the distinctive call of a flock of Grey Francolins (Francolinus pondicerianus) pointed us to the correct corner, and allowed us all good views on them.

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) in Al Ansad lagoons.

A short walk exploring the area produced a good number of other species. In the reedbeds and scrubs we got good views on Clamarous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus) and on a fast-moving Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides). The extensive canopies around had 2 abietinus-like Common Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) and at least 1 Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis) answering to the calls + a very vocal Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), and the first of a long list of Spotted Flycatchers (Muscicapa striata) along the tour. The channels around were full with Great White Egrets (Agrodietus albus) and Western Reef Egrets (Egretta gularis) + 2 Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and one 1st winter Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea). Small flocks of Arabian Green Bee-eaters (Merops cyanophrys) & Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters (Merops persicus).

In the way out, we still had a chance to enjoy 5 Garganeys (Spatula querquedula), 1 male Wigeon (Anas penelope) and our first Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga) patrolling the wetlands and showing usperbly, but probably the best bird was a male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka) showing well in our way out of this hotspot.

Garganeys (Spatula querquedula) at sunset

Our second move was to explore some coastal areas, where we had first views on several common waders but also the very firsts Greater Sand Plovers (Charadrius leschenaultii) and Lesser Sand Plovers (Charadrius mongolus) of the tour. Here we also got good views on a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers (Pluvialis fulva), sometimes showing side by side with Lesser Sands. In the sea side we had also good views on Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bangalensis) and good comparition with Greater Crested Terns (Thalasseus bergii) and Common Terns (Sterna hirundo). A fast seawatch revealed here 1 Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus) and 3 Common Gulls (Larus canus) moving along with 2 Caspian Gulls (Larus cachinnans).

Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) and Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)

After some rest we moved to Al Qrum Natural Park for an evening birding. Despite being a bit quiet if compared with other visits, especially when talking about passerines, the area still produced excellent views on Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer), Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola), Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus), Purple & Striated Herons (Butorides striata), the first Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) of the tour while it was being harrased by a flock of House Crows (Corvus splendens) , several Indian Rollers (Coracias benghalensis) and a rather surprising Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispanoliensis) male!

Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
Indian Rollers (Coracias benghalesis) are common during winter in Northern Oman, but they keep being a rarity in the Southern part of the country

Day 2. Early morning start to explore some of the wonderful inland landscapes in Northern Oman. A short transfer from Mascate allows a substantial change in the landscape, and the impressive Al Harar Mountains show up. This morning we enjoyed some gullies and open, dry plains with scattered thornbush. It is a wonderful landscape and prove to be full of birdlife.

A combination of short walks soon prove to be really productive. The firsts Lesser Whitethroats (Sylvia curruca) were soon seen, some of the singing. Here they all look like from halimodendri, with evident black lores and absence of supercillium. A small flock of Sand Partridges (Ammoperdix heyi) were feeding around, but only allowed short views as they were running away. As we got inside the gullies, we found some normal birds for this landscapes including Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius), Plain Crag Martin (Ptynoprogne obsoleta) and our firsts Persian Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia) and Levant Grey Shrikes (Lanius excubitor aucheri) of the tour + a rather distant Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha). The areas with some vegetation concentrated several Purple Sunbirds, and along with them Lesser Whitethroats but also 1 Wood Warbler and, at least, 1 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida). Here we were also delaighted with close views on 2 Arabian Babblers (Turdoides squamiceps), a species often difficult to find! While enjoying these wonderful birds we got a bird sitting in a bush, and turned out to be a Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus). Now the group split into two, with some people admiring the Shrike, while others trying to get good shots in the nervous Babblers. But the party was no over, because right there a pair of Levant Scrub Warblers (Scotocerca inquieta) just showed out in the same scrub where Shrike was shinning out! This was a brilliant moment of the tour, with three top birds showing simultaniously!

Obliging Persian Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia) during our exploring the Al Harar Mountains
Arabian Babblers (Turdoides squamiceps), a bird that keeps expanding its range in Arabia
The first of 2 Brown Shrikes (Lanius cristatus) during the tour appeared at the same time & bush than Arabian Babbler, Levant Scrub Warbler and Sand Pratridge!
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)

The sun was already really high, and it was getting warm so we started to move towards our lunch stop. After a good rest and food in the shade, we move to our afternoon location. During the next hours we were to explore one of the many huge gorges in the area. Here we were expecting to find the poorly-known Omani Owl (Strix butleri), but our chances were really decimated due to the strong wind. Even inside the gorge, the wind and the dust made birdwatching quite difficult and uncomfortable. We explored some oasis like corners in the gorge, and despite the difficult conditions, we got good views on Hume’s Wheatears (Oenanthe albonigra), Striolated Buntings (Emberiza striolata), Palestine Rock Dove (Columba livia palaestinae) and a single Plain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus). We spend some time scanning the cliffs, despite the poor visibility due to the dust in the air, but we got no sign of the owls. Still, our perseverance was granted with good views on a single Arabian Tarh (Arabitragus jayakari)!

Purple Sunbirds (Cinnyris asiaticus) are extremely common in Northern Oman
Palestine Rock Doves (Columba livia palaestinae) in a large gorge in Al Harar Mountains

Day 3. Early morning transfer to Liwa, the Western patch of mangroves holding a pair of very interesting species. Our hope was to connect with the endemic & scarce race of Collared Kingfisher (Alcyon chloris kalbaensis) living here. The area is also noted for herons and waders. Here we got some Striated Herons & Western Reef Egrets along with Clamorous Reed Warblers, but got no sign of the Kingfisher. Still, the area was filled up with migratory birds. Here we got the only Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) and the only Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) of the trip. Here we also got first views on Desert (Oenanthe deserti) and Isabelline Wheatears (Oenanthe isabellina). We counted 8 Indian Rollers feeding in the wires around, and minimum of 2 Pied Wheatears (Oenanthe pleschanka) moving in the same area. The large scrubby plains around the mangroves also produced excellent close up into Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana), and 2 Eastern Black-eared Wheatears (Oenanthe melanoleuca) feeding along with a flock of Tawny Pipits (Anthus campestris) and Crested Larks (Galerida cristata)!

Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis), a common in Oman
Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe melanoleuca)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), the commonest Lark in Oman. Amazing how distinctive they are from Iberian Crested Larks!

In our way back to Mascate we did a stop in a golf course, enjoying flocks of Ruffs feeding in the short grass and being joined by Citrine & Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava). Here we also got some Common Snipes, Lesser Sand Plovers, a single Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and flyby male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) before going back to our accommodation.

Day 4. This was the day of our transfer between Mascate and Salalah. And despite the long driving, it was also a great birding day. A number of selected stops produced a really interesting list of birds.

In the North, we enjoyed some birding in the stonnny planes beyond Al Harar Mountains, where we were lucky enough to have intimate views on Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles linchtensteinii) just by the lane! Here we also Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) and Indian Silverbills.

Lichtenstein Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii) male in the stony desert
Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

For our picnic time, we enjoyed a small garden where a Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) seemed to be waiting for us. Here, already quite in the South, we got our firsts Abyssinian White-eyes (Zosterops abyssinicus) and intimate views on Spotted Flycatchers (Muscicapa striata). In the afternoon we had some time to explore some grass farms along the road, despite having another windy afternoon. It can be said that we arrived at the right time, as the fields were filled up with Greater Hoopoe-larks (Alaemon alaudipes), Isabelline Wheatears and Tawny Pipits. It always fascinated me how these areas, surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of desert, can hold such a wonderful birdlife!

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), a scarce bird in Oman during winter
1st winter Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), putative sarudnyi race

The fields were full of birds, and a minimum of 2 Pallid Harriers and 3 Montagu’s Harriers (Circus pygargus) were hunting in the area along with 10+ Common Kestrels. Here we also counted 10+ European Rollers (Coracias garrulus) & Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides). The place was covered with Larks. Beyond the very common Crested Larks, we were surprised by a flying flock of Greater Short-toed Larks (Calandrella brachydactyla) that never stop in the short grass in front of us, but a pair of minutes later we got a small flock of 4 larks stopping close to the fields, and we were all happy to see that they were Arabian Larks (Ammomanes eremodites), formerly considered conespecific with Dunn’s Lark (Ammomanes dunnii), and a scarce bird in Oman!

Crowned (left) & Spotted Sandgrouses (right) in flight
Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)

Back to the road, we still had a last detour, this time to enjoy some Sandgrouses. Just in time, we were granted with several flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses (Pterocles exustus) flying around us and stopping in the desert, while flocks of both Spotted (Pterocles senegallus) and Crowned Sandgrouses (Pterocles coronata) were also offering excellent flight views! A wonderful way to end our birding time. Only one hour after this we arrived to our accommodation in Salalah to get some rest and comment all the excellent birds that we got along the day!!

Day 5. Our first day in Salalah was one of the most wonderful that I remember in this area. We had an early start and covered the short distance between our accommodation and the first location of the day, and area of open woodland mid way up to the Dhoffar plateau.

Here we were soon enjoying a long list of specialities. The area was fullfilled with Cinnamon-breasted Buntings (Emberiza tapahisi), small flocks of Rüppells Weaver (Ploceus galbula) and some African Silverbills (Eudice cantans). The firsts Palestine Sunbirds (Cynniris osea) were also seen feeding in the highest part of the fig trees while the whistles of Tristam’s Startlings (Onychognatus tristamii) announced the arrival of some of flocks of them.

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tapahisi)
Arabian Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegallus percivalis)

2 Brown-headed Kingfishers (Halcyon leucephala) were perched in low branches, trying to locate one of the large locustes that they predate on, while the always nervous African Paradise Flycatchers (Tersiphone viridis) looked like concentrated around a small pound nearby. A short walk around the area soon allowed us to find the first of 4 Arabian Warbler (Sylvia mmemelanea) seen that morning while feeding in some dense thickets. This individual was moving along with a Lesser Whitethroat, and allowed a good comparisition of size, structure and behaviour. One bush away, a Isabelline Shrike was also a good find, and a fast check in the thickets below it revealed a wonderful pair of Arabian Black-crowned Tchagras (Tchagra senegallus percivali) and our first Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis). The morning was being wonderful but it took better was a distant pale Shrike was seen. When landed, the Shrike described a cercle with its tail, and that meant only one thing! We fast moved closer and enjoyed good views on a 1stw Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus), a pretty scarce migratory bird in Oman! The bird was quite nervous and didn´t allow any close ups.

African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis)
Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca) type blythi
1st winter Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus), a scarce migratory bird in Oman

Back to the denser area we then found a wonderful mixed flock moving in the thickets: Here there were 2 Tchagras, 2-3 Arabian Warblers, some Abyssinian White-eyes, 4 Lesser Whitethroats, 1 African Paradise Flycatcher and 2 handsome Eurasian Wrynecks (Jynx torquilla) that gave excellent views! Just beside them, but not really moving along, we also got excellent views on one pair of Blackstars (Oenanthe melanura). Another great adding to our wonderful morning list! We then decided to explore better the stream nearby. Here we had good numbers of Buntings, African Silverbills, Laughing Doves and White-eyes that were coming down for a bath. Here it was also a handsome Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and 2 Green Sandpipers (Tringa ochropus). Suddenly, a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) landed in a nearby tree. But the most exciting of that corner was the flock of 4 Arabian Grosbeaks (Rhyncosthrurus percivali) flying over us and briefly landing on a tree, some 50 metres away from us. Two o the tree clients got good but brief views on them, but one of the members of the group could not connect with them. We spent quite a long time trying to relocate them, but we got nothing at all. Instead, we got our only Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) along with Spotted Flycatcher, Turkestan Shrike and a minimum of 6 African Paradise Flycatchers feeding in a lovely corner!

Blackstart (Oenanthe melanura)
Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

After such a wonderful start of the day we moved into a small gorge having a wonderful stream with rich swamp vegetation. Despite the heat, we also got an excellent selection of birds here: 2 Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) were hunting in the area (one of them hovering for almost 1 minute!), a large flock of 40 Pallid Swifts were also feeding in the skies. Down in the stream, a flock of 4 Wood Sandpipers were a good start. Citrine Wagtails were calling around and some Western Reef Egrets were feeding. Bird activity was low due to heat, but butterflies and dragonflies were at its best! We still spent some time by the stream, and our persistance was finally granted when a Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) flew from a patch of reeds to the next, showing well, but briefly.

Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucephala)
Pearl Emperor (Charaxes varanes)
African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus) at Raysut, 2nd record for Oman

After some rest, we went to spend the afternoon in the Raysut river mouth. Here we got a long list of specialities, but probably the most unexpected bird was an African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus) resting along ith Grey Herons! It turned out to be only the 2nd record of this species for Oman!

The areas was as good as always about birding. Here we got our first full adult Baltic Gull (Larus fuscus fuscus) of the trip. Also a minimum of 7 Terek’s Sandpipers (Xenus cinereus) that were really celebrated. Largo flocks of gulls (mainly Heuglin’s) were in the shore along with a flock of Greater Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus). Around, several waders that included Lesser Sand Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea), Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii) and several Greenshanks (Tringa nebularia). A flock of Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) was flying around, trying to decide where to stop. A nearby Greater Spotted Eagle seemed really interested in the flock, while the 3 Western Ospreys (Pandion haliaetos) in the area were concentrated in the rocky outcrops. Several species of terns were around, including 4 White-winged Black Terns (Chlidonias leucotos), 1 Black Tern (Chlidonias niger) and several Lesser Crested Terns.

Terek’s Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)

The last stop of this exciting day was in some sea cliffs South of Salalah. Here, the sea was fullfilled with Gulls and Terns. There were literally thousands of Terns, mainly Lesser Crested and Greater Crested, but here we also got Sandwich & Common Terns and at least 12 Bridled Terns (Onychoprion fuscata). Still, the most celebrated bird of the stop was one pretty close Persian Shearwater (Puffinus persicus) that all the tour participants got in the scopes! A wondeful way to end a extremely productive day!

Day 6. A new early start, this time to go back to the desert in search of some of the most iconic species living in Oman. We arrived to the location soon after the sun raising and soon had good views on Blackstarts and a confiding Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). This oasis is a particularly good place for Grey Hypocolius (Hypocolius amberinus), although it was a bit early in the season for them. We spend some time scanning different corners of the lush vegetation in search of this wonderful bird.

Sand Partridges (Ammoperdix heyi) were singing in the desert around, and a small walk allowed us to have good views in a male singing from the top of a small cliff. When coming back to the oases, a pair of Desert Larks (Ammomanes deserti) stole the show and gave us excellent views, and good photo chances. Back to the oases, 2 Lesser Whitethroats were calling in the trees right at the same moment that the first flock of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses arrived calling and passed over us in search of water. Only a pair of minutes later we had the only Nile Valley Sunbird (Hedydipna metallica) of the tour, as one male showed briefly in the top of one of the trees. Almost at the same time, a flock of 18 Crowned Sandgrouses landed in a nearby plateau. We walked up but, unfortunately, we couln’t refind them on the ground… It was already mid-morning, and hundreds of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses were flying around the oases, providing amazing flight views that the whole group enjoyed very much. From our advantatged point, we also found a Bar-tailed Lark (Ammomanes cinctura) feeding in the bare soil. Here we also enjoyed the best views on Arabian Green Bee-eater (Merops cyanophrys) along the tour. We still spend some more time in the area, trying to find any Hypocolius, but we couldn’t not find any of them and the only remarkable addings to our list were a pair of Desert Wheatears and a distant Turkestan/Isabelline Shrike.

Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)
Nile Valley Sunbird (Hedydipna metallica)
Arabian Green Bee-eater (Merops cyanophrys)
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses (Pterocles exustus)

Back to Salalah for lunch and some rest, we spent the afternoon visiting a pair of hotspots around Raysut. Our first stop was to visit a water compound, where we got some European Rollers and a good set of waders including some Marsh Sandpipers and the only Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius). Still, the most remarkable in this site was the flock of 27 Abdim’s Storks (Ciconia abdimii) that were resting around the compounds. This was a very awaited bird for the tour participants, and the presence of 2 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) made a perfect combination to compare sizes and bills.

Then we moved inland to explore a gorge. In our way, an African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) flew over the car: another extra adding!

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
Ruffs, Stilts, Marsh Sandpipers, Greenshanks & Little Stints at the Raysut compound
Abdim’s Storks (Ciconia abdimii), a very localised bird in Oman

Once in the wady, we enjoyed some good views in 1 male Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha) while flocks of Sand Partridges were flying all around. It was a really quiet afternoon, and the songs of some Striolated Buntings helped us in our wait to the sunset. Big rock boulders were scattered in the way, and we had good views on a Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis) moving in the rocky terrain. Once the night arrived, it didn’t take long until some “hooloes” came out of the cliffs around, and a pair of minutes after that we got horrific views on 1 Desert Owl (Strix hadorami) calling from different places around us in a magical moment that was considered for most of the tour participants and the best moment of the tour!

Desert Owl (Strix hadorami)

Happy after such a wonderful sight, we came back to our accommodation for a great dinner and rest.

Day 7. After enjoying a good breakfast we lived our hotel and drived North to enjoy a wonderful offshore in search of the good specialities living in the Arabian Sea. It was a pleasant and calm day, a bit warm but excellent to go into the sea. Our short transfer was not free of excitement because along the way we enjoyed the first Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) of the tour and an intimate view on Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos) when arriving to the harbour.

Once in the getting out of the harbour, we got good views on Striolated Heron before getting out to the Ocean. Only a few minutes after leaving the harbour we got the first bird of interest as 2 Persian Shearwaters flew quite close to our boat. There were several Sooty Gulls around, with some Great Crested Terns passing over and Heuglin’s and Steppe Gulls in the move. A pair of Green Sea Turtles () were seen as getting away from the continent, but they didn’t allow any photo. Only some hundreds of yards away a black silhouette was seen flying over the water: The first Jouanin’s Petrel (Bulweria fallax)!

Striolated Heron (Butorides striata)
1stw Steppe Gull (Larus fuscus barabensis)

During the next 2 hours we enjoyed a minimum of 12+ Jouanin’s Petrels, with some really close views. This was, by far, the best offshore for Jouanin’s of all our trips to Oman. The calm day also allowed us to have good views on 4+ Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes), 7 Masked Boobies (Sula dactylora), 2 Red-necked Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) and a distant Bridled Tern.

3 images of the Jouanin’s Petrels (Bulweria fallax)
Persian Shearwater (Puffinus persicus)

Back to the continent, we headed to the impressive plateaus of the Dhoffar Mountains. In our way up, we found an Arabian Chameleon (Chamaeleon arabicus) and forced up to stop our way up. Once in the upper areas, we soon were enjoying good views in some large flocks of Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhidipurus) that were concentrating in large fig tree along with Tristam’s Starlings. The wires around proved to be producive and time to time a Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus) was sitting on them, providing some great views. Our next target was the rather enygmathic Yemen Serin (Crithagra menachensis). We first tried at the typical place, but got nothing out of a nesting Blackstart and 2 Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis). Then we drove some miles away to a place that worked really well during our last tour. Soon after parking we saw that the place was full of birds. Here we had 5+ Red-throated Pipits, 2 Tawny Pipits, 1 Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana) flying over, 1 Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis) showing superbly in a stone wall, 2 Singing Bush Larks (Mirafra cantillans) feeding on the ground and a wonderful Yemen Serin that appeared in the same stone wall by one abandoned house. This was again one of the top moments of the tour, as confidence in finding this bird was low among the tour participants. The place was even more productive than that: 4 European Rollers, 1 Montagu’s Harrier and the first Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) of the trip were an awesome complement to this site list!!

Arabian Chameleon (Chamaeleon arabicus). Image by tour participant Josep del Haro
Yemen Serin (Crithagra menachensis). This time we only found 1 individual!
Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis)
Arabian Wheatear (Oenanthe lugentoides)
Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
Tristam’s Starlings (Onychognatus tristamii)
The misty ambient in the Dhoffar plateau

We kept riving North to arrive to some stunning cliffs overlooking the coastal plain and the ocean. In our way, several Isabelline Wheatears were seen along with Tristam’s Starlings and Common Kestrels. Once in the cliffs, we soon had good views on Arabian Wheatears (Oenanthe lugentoides) and Blue Rock Thrushes (Monticola solitarius) plus distant views on 1 Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii).

It was still early afternoon, so we drove back to Salalah to explore some areas in the palm tree orchads. Here we got excellent views on 10+ Spotted thick-knee (Burhinus capensis), Indian Pond Heron (Squacco grayii), 3 Shining Sunbirds (Cinnyris habessinicus), 1 Crested Honey Buzzard and 2 Arabian Chameleo. The sunset was close, so a new short transfer brought us to small gorge where we enjoyed some wonderful owling.

only a few minutes after our arrival we started listening the typical ouling of the Arabian Eagle Owls (Bubo milesi). Formerly considered conspecific with African Spotted Owl (Bubo capensis), this is now a new Arabian endemic and a much sought-after speciality. There were some birds calling around. 3, 4? Difficult to know. They all appeared to be quite high in the cliffs until one bird sunddenly started to call from only 150 metres away from us, in a large tree. We moved close to the tree, trying to locate the bird while was still calling, but got nothing. Fortunately, a 2nd individual appeared in the sky, flying over us and stopping in the same tree! That was a lucky sight!!

Very happy after such a great sight we then concentrated in the many Arabian Scops Owls (Otus pamelae) calling around. It didn’t take long before we were all enjoying a wonderful Scops Owl right in front of us. Another magical moment to add in this tour!! Little Owl (Athene noctua) was also noted calling in the clifffs, despite we never arrived to see it.

Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)
Arabian Scops Owl (Otus pamelae)

Day 8. This day we started to have a last visit to the open Euphorbia habitats inmediatly South of Salalah. Here we had excellent views on both Steppe and Eastern Imperial Eagles. We were in search of better views on Arabian Grosbeak, but never got them. Still, we did get 1 Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius pallidirostris) and a 1 “lucionensis” Brown Shrike (3rd official record for Oman if accepted)!

Adult Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
1st winter Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
Arabian Warbler (Curruca leucomelaena)
Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius pallidirostris)
Putative adult “lucionensis” Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus lucionensis) at Ayn Harar, Dhoffar.

After this good start, we then drove all the way to the sewage farms beyond Thumrait. There we got some excellent birding despite the intense heat. When arriving, we got 2 males Pallid Harriers having a nap in a small shade. Such a gorgeous sight took most of the group by surprise since they were resting right by the lane! Once inside the farms we were surprised by 4 Namaqua Doves (Oena capensis) flying over the grassy fields. The number of birds was low, but of top quality. Here we found 1 Pied Wheatear, 2 Siberian Stonechats (Saxicola maurus), 1 Eurasian Wryneck and 2 Rose-coloured Starlings (Pastor roseus) that were really celebrated in the group! Here we also got some Tawny Pipits, White Wagtails and a good number of Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps) and Crested Larks, the only larks that afternoon.

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellinus)
Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Rose-coloured Starting (Pastor roseus)
Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
Male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus). Image by tour participant Josep de Haro

Day 9. After enjoying a wonderful breafkast in our hotel in Duqm we drove North to explore the massive mudflats around Masirah Island. Our main target for that day was to locate some Crab Plovers (Dromas ardeola), a large black-and-white wader specialised in feeding on crabs and other hard-shield arthropodes. Desite their large size, they can be surprisingly hard to find, especially in the vasts tidal plains around Masirah Island. Fortunately we had a good place from previous years, so we headed directly to that place.

This very extensive mudflat concentrates around 1 milion waders in winter, so it is always a great place to visit. Here we had Tereks Sandpipers, Lesser & Greater Sand Plovers, Curlew Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Ruddy Turnstones, Little & Temminck’s Stints and also 7+ Broad-billed Sandpipers (Limicola falcinellus), some of them moving in mixed flocks with several other species. We arrived soon after high tyde, so many waders were really close to the shores when we arrived. In the bush around 1 Clamorous Reed Warbler was calling, and 2 Red-throated Pipits were also in the move. Still, the most interesting passerine was being harrased by a Dunlin in the beach. I first thought that it was a Sparrow, but fastly I found myself screaming to everybody since we were having a Turkestan Short-toed Lark (Alaudala heinei) right in front of us! We were lucky because everybody had good views on the bird before the Dunlin became really agressive and defitanely expulsed the lark away from the algae! Excellent!

Tydal plains around Masirah Island, a paradise for waders
Broad-billed Sandpiper (left) & Greater Sand Plover (center,up) feeding along with Dunlins and 1 Little Stint
A pair of images of Crab Plovers (Dromas ardeola)
Heuglin’s Gull (Larus (fuscus) heuglini)
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
juvenile Sooty Gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii)

We were right comenting this rather unexpected adding when they appeared. At the beggining only two of them. Distant. Adult and a 1st winter still asking for being fed. Always great to see one of the most spectacular waders in the world! After almost half an hour more Crab Plovers appeared. Extremely far away, but they were coming every time a bit closer until we got excellent views on a small flock of 5 that provided more than decent views and allowed some shots. At the end of the morning we counted some 55 of them!

Here we were also scanning for Terns and Gulls. Still far from the gull concentrations in winter, we were delighted with several close ups to Heuglin’s Gull, with some Steppe & Caspian Gulls in the middle. A rather Saunder’s Tern (Sternua saundersi) showed up for us, and some further scanning produced 1 Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) harrasing Slender-billed Gulls. After some more views in the Crab Plovers, we moved to our accommodation for some afternoon rest after 3 very intense days!

Day 10. Very last day of the tour. In our way to Mascate from the East coast we still had time to stop and have some proper birding. In the way North there are a pair of reliable stops for raptors. We didn’t have a lot of time but in our visit to a small recicling place we saw 5+ Lappet-faced Vultures (Torgos tracheliotos) and 27+ Egyptian Vultures (Neophron percnopterus) along with some Brown-necked Ravens (Corvus rufisollis) and 2 Steppe Eagles!

Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos trachelietos)
Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

Happy after such a great stop we decided to have a last stop in some meadows near Mascate. Here we were again granted with some good surprises, since we got views on Jack Snipe (Lymnocriptes minumus) first and on 1 Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura) later! Here we also got Marsh Sandpipers and a female Pintail (Anas acuta) as the very last species appearing in the tour before covering the short distance to the airport for a late afternoon flight back to Europe!

List of species seen along the tour:

  1. Sand Partridge (Ammoperdix heyi)
  2. Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
  3. Gadwall (Anas strepera)
  4. Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
  5. Pintail (Anas acuta)
  6. Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
  7. Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
  8. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
  9. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
  10. Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
  11. Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
  12. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus)
  13. Crowned Sandgrouse (Pterocles coronata)
  14. Spotted Sandgrouse (Pterocles senegallus)
  15. Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse (Pterocles lichtensteinii)
  16. Feral Dove (Columba livia)
  17. Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
  18. Laughing Dove (Streptopelia senegalensis)
  19. Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis)
  20. Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
  21. Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
  22. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
  23. Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  24. Spotted Thick-knee (Burhinus capensis)
  25. Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
  26. Crab Plover (Dromas ardeola)
  27. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
  28. Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
  29. Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
  30. Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva)
  31. Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
  32. Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
  33. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
  34. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
  35. Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)
  36. Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
  37. Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
  38. Pin-tailed Snipe (Gallinago stenura)
  39. Jack Snipe (Lymnocriptes minimus)
  40. Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
  41. Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
  42. Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
  43. Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
  44. Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
  45. Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
  46. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
  47. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
  48. Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
  49. Terek’s Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
  50. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
  51. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpress)
  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. Broad-billed Sandiper (Limicola falcinellus)
  58. Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
  59. Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
  60. Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
  61. Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
  62. Heuglin’s Gull (Larus heuglini)
  63. Lesser-black backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
  64. Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
  65. Sooty Gull (Ichthyaetus hemprichii)
  66. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
  67. Greater Crested Tern (Thalasseus bergii)
  68. Lesser Crested Tern (Thalasseus bengalensis)
  69. Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
  70. Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
  71. Saunder’s Tern (Sternula saundersi)
  72. Bridled Tern (Onychoprion fuscata)
  73. Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hydridus)
  74. White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
  75. Persian Shearwater (Puffinus persicus)
  76. Flesh-footed Shearwater (Ardenna carneipes)
  77. Jouanin’s Petrel (Bulweria fallax)
  78. African Openbill (Anastomus lamelligerus)
  79. Abdim’s Stork (Ciconia abdimii)
  80. White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
  81. Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra)
  82. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  83. African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)
  84. Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  85. Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis)
  86. Striated Heron (Butorides striata)
  87. Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
  88. Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)
  89. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  90. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  91. Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
  92. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
  93. Western Reef Egret (Egretta gularis)
  94. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
  95. Great White Egret (Casmerodius albus)
  96. Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
  97. Lappet-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos)
  98. Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetos)
  99. Crested Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
  100. Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
  101. Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
  102. Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
  103. Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)
  104. Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)
  105. Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
  106. Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
  107. Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus)
  108. Arabian Scops Owl (Otus pamelae)
  109. Desert Owl (Strix hadorami)
  110. Arabian Eagle Owl (Bubo milesis)
  111. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
  112. Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)
  113. Eurasian Roller (Coracias garrulus)
  114. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
  115. Grey-headed Kingfisher (Halcyon leucephala)
  116. Arabian Green Bee-eater (Merops cyanophrys)
  117. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
  118. Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
  119. Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
  120. Alexandrine Parakeet (Psittacula eupatria)
  121. Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
  122. Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalensis)
  123. Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
  124. Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
  125. Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
  126. Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
  127. Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)
  128. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
  129. Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius pallidirostris)
  130. Levant Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor aucheri)
  131. Arabian Babbler (Turdoides squamiceps)
  132. African Paradise Flycatcher (Tersiphone viridis)
  133. White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)
  134. Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus afer)
  135. White-spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus xanthopygos)
  136. House Crow (Corvus splendens)
  137. Brown-necked Raven (Corvus ruficollis)
  138. Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus rhidipurus)
  139. Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
  140. Greater Hoopoe-lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
  141. Turkestan Lesser Short-toed Lark (Alaudala heinei)
  142. Desert Lark (Ammomanes deserti)
  143. Arabian Lark (Ammomanes eremodites)
  144. Black-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)
  145. Singing Bush Lark (Mirafra cantillans)
  146. Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
  147. Sand Marting (Riparia riparia)
  148. Pale Rock Martin (Ptynoprogne obsoleta)
  149. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  150. House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
  151. Levant Scrub Warbler (Scotocerca inquieta)
  152. Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
  153. Delicate Prinia (Prinia lepida)
  154. Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
  155. Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus tristis)
  156. Plain Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus neglectus)
  157. Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
  158. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)
  159. Savi’s Warbler (Locustella luscinioides)
  160. Clamorous Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus stentoreus)
  161. Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
  162. Asian Desert Warbler (Curruca nana)
  163. Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca curruca)
  164. Arabian Warbler (Curruca leucomelaena)
  165. Abyssian White-eye (Zosterops abyssinicus)
  166. Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)
  167. Rose-coloured Starling (Pastor roseus)
  168. Tristam’s Starling (Onychognatus tristamii)
  169. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
  170. Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
  171. Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
  172. Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
  173. Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
  174. Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
  175. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
  176. Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
  177. Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe melanoleuca)
  178. Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
  179. Blackstart (Oenanthe melanura)
  180. Arabian Wheatear (Oenanthe lugentoides)
  181. Hume’s Wheatear (Oenanthe albonigra)
  182. Hooded Wheatear (Oenanthe monacha)
  183. Persian Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)
  184. Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
  185. Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
  186. Nile Valley Sunbird (Hedydipna metallica)
  187. Palestine Sunbird (Cinnyris osea)
  188. Shinning Sunbird (Cinnyris habessinicus)
  189. Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)
  190. Rüppell’s Weaver (Ploceus galbula)
  191. African Silverbill (Eudice cantans)
  192. Indian Silverbill (Eudice malabarica)
  193. Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
  194. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
  195. White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
  196. Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
  197. Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
  198. Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis)
  199. Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)
  200. Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
  201. Water Pipit (Anthus spinolleta)
  202. Yemen Serin (Crithagra menachensis)
  203. Arabian Grosbeak (Rhyncostrurhus percivali)
  204. Striolated Bunting (Emberiza striolata)
  205. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (Emberiza tahapisi)

Other wildlife (Mammals)

  1. Rock Hyrax (Procavia capensis)
  2. Arabian Tahr (Arabitragus jayakari)

Other wildlife (Reptilians)

  1. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  2. Desert Monitor Lizzard (Varanus griseus)
  3. Arabian Chameleon (Chamaeleon arabicus)

Other wildlife (Butterflies)

Coming soon

OrnitoRepte sisó (Tetrax tetrax), abril de 2021

Participants: 22 Guies: Sergi Sales i Carles Oliver

El dia va començar amb un cel quasi ras i temperatures fresques. A trec d’alba els participants van anar arribant al punt de trobada vora Tàrrega, i força abans de l’hora acordada ja hi èrem quasi tots. Hi havia força ganes de tombar i de retrobar-nos amb la natura i els amics després de força setmanes amb la mobilitat força reduïda degut als diferents confinaments.

Aquesta sortida, enmarcada en la sèrie d’OrnitoReptes que impulsem junt amb la Fundació Plegadis i Birding Catalunya, pretèn apropar espècies emblemàtiques o poc conegudes a ornitòlegs de tots els nivells.

Blat espurnejant als Secans de Belianes. Imatge: Enric Pàmies

Un cop recordat el protocol anti-Covid, ens vam dirigir als vehicles. Alguns van quedar aparcats per tal de fer la corrua més sostenible. Uns pocs quilòmetres van ser prous per contactar amb les primeres espècies. Alguna arpella vulgar (Circus aeruginosus), cogullades vulgar (Galerida cristata), els omnipresents cruixidells (Emberiza calandra) i vols esporàdics de grives (Turdus viscivorus) entre els ametllers, que ben ràpidament van deixar pas al complexe cant de la calàndria (Melanocorypha calandra), amb bones densitats a la zona.

La primera parada del matí va servir per observar algunes espècies de força interès. L’ambient era força agradable i la llum, perfecta. Les calàndries emplenaven el cel amb els seus cants mentre un llunyà esparver cendrós (Circus pygargus) mirava de trobar algun talpó despistat als guarets plens de flors. Mentre resseguíem l’esparver el primer sisó (Tetrax tetrax) es va fer notar a les nostres oïdes. Un mascle cantava no massa lluny, als guarets. Poc després en vam sentir un segon, i després encara un tercer. Abans i tot que els poguéssim trobar, el típic so de les ales d’un mascle va imposar-se als cants de les calàndries, i tot el grup va gaudir del primer de molts vols de sisons.

Val la pena recordar, que els mascles de sisó disposen d’una adaptació a les seves plomes de vol. Unes poques d’elles presenten un perfil asserrat que, en vol, produeix el típic “siseig” que dóna nom a l’espècie.

Mascle de sisó (Tetrax tetrax) als secans de Belianes. Imatge: Enric Pàmies

Al llarg del següent quart d’hora vam gaudir de tot un seguit d’observacions de sisons en vol i aturats en diferents guarets. Hi havia força activitat de mascles marcant els seus territoris de festeig, alhora que sortien a perseguint altres mascles, considerats “intrusos”. Entre aquestes observacions val la pena destacar la de 3 mascles perseguint a una femella en vol. Quan no ens miràvem els sisons, anàvem repassant els aligots (Buteo buteo) i arpelles vulgars que tombaven per la zona cercant alguna cosa d’esmorzar. La nostra petita caravana de vehicles va continuar explorant la zona, i poc després es va veure forçada a aturar-se, ja que en Sergi Sales va trobar un mussol banyut (Asio otus) aturat a un arbre a una banda de la pista. Ràpidament vam fer sortir tothom i, un cop enfocat el mussol amb els telescopis, tots els participants van poder gaudir d’una bona observació d’un adult de mussol banyut!

Aquesta troballa va provocar força somriures. El dia començava força bé: repte assolit amb fantàstiques observacions de un mímim de 6 sisons (encara en vindrien més) i un mussol banyut…

El nostre periple pels guarets ens va portar llavors fins a un punt elevat des d’on poder gaudir d’un extens camp ple de flors. Aquí vam trobar una parella de torlit (Burhinus oedicnemus) que segurament tenien el niu a la zona. Una mica d’espera va ser prou perquè al mateix guaret aparegués un mascle de sisó cantant, seguit uns minuts després per una femella de la mateix espècie, en actitud d’exhibició! Cua aixeca, passos curts i mesurats, ales a voltes un xic caigudes… Semblava la típica actitud que precedeix l’aparellament. La femella va passar un parell de vegades amb la cua aixecada i parcialment oberta a tant sols un parell de metres del mascle, aturant-se ara i adés. Però, increïblement, el mascle no va arribar a mostrar cap tipus d’interès per la femella… Llàstima, perquè una còpula de sisó no és una cosa que es vegi cada dia!

Abans de marxar d’aquest punt encara va aparèixer una perdiu roja (Alectoris rufa) al mateix guaret, poc abans que una terrerola vulgar (Calandrella brachydactyla) i una piula dels arbres (Anthus trivialis) passesin pel damunt del cap dels guies, reclamant.

Abellerols a tocar de la seva colònia de cria a Ivars. Imatge: Carles Oliver

La temperatura començava a pujar de forma notable. La previsió metereològica alertava de temperatures altes per l’època de l’any; no es va equivocar. La última parada a la zona de conreu de secà va ser per visitar una zona de cria de xoriguer petit (Falco naumanni). De camí, però, un parell de bitxacs rogencs (Saxicola rubetra) en migració va fer les delícies del grup! Un cop arribats als encontorns de la colònia, els xoriguers petits no van fallar, i tot el grup va poder apreciar alguns dels atributs que permeten diferenciar l’espècie del força més abundant xoriguer comú (Falco tinnunculus), com la coloració de cap, ales i pit del mascle; la llargada de les ales respecte de la cua; els seus singulars reclams…

La comparació amb altres rapinyaires passavolants com milà negre (Milvus migrans), aligot comú (Buteo buteo) o esparver cendrós (Circus pygargus) potser també va ajudar a establir relacions de mides. Qui sap!

Des d’aquí vam començar a sortir dels secans, tot gaudint del vol d’alguna puput (Upupa epops), algun estol de gralles (Corvus monedula) o les corredisses d’alguna perdiu roja a tocar de la pista. Però tot es va aturar en aparèixer el primer gaig blau (Coracias garrulus). Amb tothom fora dels vehicles, vam poder gaudir d’un bon espectacle mentre un parell d’aquests increïbles ocells feia els seus acrobàtics vols nupcials, tot deixant veure el blau elèctric de les seves ales. Tot un espectacle de color d’una espècie que ens regala la seva presència només al llarg de 4 mesos i escaig, de començaments de maig, a començaments de setembre.

Un cop sadojats de gaig blau i de secans, ens vam dirigir al proper Estany d’Ivars. La temperatura ja quasi havia deixat de ser agradable, i ens enfrontàvem a uns dels primers dies de calor de la temporada.

Un curt desplaçament en vehicle va ser prou per fer-nos arribar a un punt d’observació privilegiat sobre l’estany. Només sortir del vehicle vam poder sentir els cants de rossinyols (Luscinia megarhynchos), tallarols capnegres (Sylvia melanocephala) i algun esporàdic oriol (Oriolus oriolus). Mentre disposàvem els telescopis, un conspicu teixidor (Remiz pendulinus) va aturar-se ben a prop, permetent una molt bona observació. També es va deixar veure una bosqueta comú (Hippolais polyglotta) que cantava ben a la vora i que gentilment es va acabar exhibint a dalt de tot d’una figuera. Amb els telescopis va ser una observació excel·lent.

Part del grup gaudint de les vistes i els ocells a l’Estany de Ivars i Vila-Sana. Imatge: Enric Pàmies

El punt d’observació de l’estany permet una bona visibilitat de la llàmina d’aigua i de les abundoses zones de fanguissar que l’estany deixava veure, fruit d’una assecada total que pretén eliminar diferents espècies invasores (tant sols el temps dirà si amb èxit, o no). Diferents estols de cames llargues (Himantopus himantopus) aprofitaven aquesta circumstància, i força d’ells ja estaven niant, o amb actitud de fer-ho properament. També hi havien força cabussons emplomallats (Podiceps cristatus), així com importants contingets de gavina riallera (Chroicephalus ridibundus) i gavià argentat de potes grogues (Larus michahellis). Amb ells, un estol de 8 fumarells carablancs (Chlidonias hybridus) acompanyats per un solitari fumarell negre (Chlidonias niger) que van fer les delícies dels participants.

El sol picava una mica, i mentre el Sergi anava explicant la història recent de l’estany, hom aprofitava per anar repassant els limícols presents als fanguissars. Corriols petits (Charadrius dubius) i grans (Charadrius hiaticula), un parell de territs variants (Calidris alpina) i un estol de 7 fredelugues (Vanellus vanellus). Però la sorpresa va arribar quan el Carles Oliver va trobar un territ gros (Calidris canutus) en plomatge estival alimentant-se a la zona. Cares de sorpresa, també de incredulitat. No era pas per menys; aquesta suposava la 1a cita d’aquesta espècie a l’estany. Però és que el territ gros es movia, ni més ni menys, que amb un territ de tres dits (Calidris alba), una espècie també excepcional a l’Estany. La reacció no es va fer esperar: tothom als telescopis!

Només un parell de minuts després de la troballa del territ gros, en Sergi Sales cantava un tètol cuabarrat (Limosa lapponica), una espècie terriblement escassa a Ivars! La cosa estava força interessant, i mentre continuàvem repassant la zona, anàvem gaudint dels estols de cigonyes blanques (Ciconia ciconia) i els voltors comuns (Gyps fulvus) que s’anaven remontant per sobre l’estany, amb l’aparició també d’un falcó peregrí (Falco peregrinus) que de ben segur s’havia sentit atret per l’abundància de preses potencials.

El gaig blau (Coracias garrulus) no es va deixar apropar massa aquest cop. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Les polles blaves (Porphyrio porphyrio) es deixaven veure a la vora dels canyissars mentre anàvem mirant de trobar algun altre limícol de interès. Unes quantes valones (Tringa glareola), un estol de 8 gambes roges vulgars (Tringa totanus) i 2 territs menuts (Calidris minuta) van engrossar la llista, fins que el plomatge negre i blanc d’un remena-rocs (Arenaria interpres) va aparèixer alimentant-se de bracet amb el territ gros! Un altre limícol amb comptadíssimes observacions a l’Estany d’Ivars. El remena-rocs, no podia ser menys, va originar noves cues als telescopis!

Després de gaudir moltíssim des d’aquest punt d’observació, ens vam apropar a l’estany per fer una exploració a peu i de més a prop. El curt trajecte va trobar un grup d’abellerols (Merops apiaster) com a companys de viatge que va fer les delícies dels fotògrafs del grup. Un cop arribats a peu d’estany els cants dels rossinyols bords (Cettia cetti), rossinyol comuns (Luscinia megarhynchos), boscarles de canyar (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) i balquers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) van col·lapsar les nostres oïdes amb el seu fantàstic paisatge sonor. Des de la nostra nova posició vam revisar un altre cop les zones a on es concentraven els limícols, trobant-les totes, però malgrat ser-hi més a prop, el poc angle entre la vegetació va dificultar una mica l’observació.

Bosqueta comú (Hippolais polyglotta) ens va dedicar un bon concert des de un dels miradors de l’Estany d’Ivars. Imatge: Carles Oliver

Deixant de banda els limícols, ens vam endinsar al bosc de ribera, a on vam poder gaudir de bones observacions de rossinyol, i de rapinyaires passa volants com milà negre o àguila marcenca (Circaetus gallicus). Les boscarles de canyar es van deixar veure unes quantes vegades, mai massa estona, però sí que vam gaudir força en trobar un niu d’aquesta espècie, típicament ancorat a dues tiges de canyissar.

Això va ser ben bé la cirereta final d’un matí d’allò més espectacular, amb un balanç d’espècies força complert i variat, fins i tot per a l’època!

Una forma prou espectacular d’enllestir el primer de molts OrnitoReptes! Consulta el calendari aquí i escull quin és el que més t’interessa!

Cape Town 2019 Birding Tour. Trip Report

Start Date: August 15th, 2019

Number of species seen: 247

Group size: 4

All images by Carles Oliver

Day 1. During August 14th the tour participants arrived to Cape Town. The lovely accommodation where we were hosted welcomed them or organised a transport from the airport, and we all met in the next morning, when an early start was mandatory to catch up with our boat. Yes, today was offshore day! So, before raising we all met, and drove the short distance to the harbour. Our small boat was there waiting for us and during the short chating with our experienced captain we really saw the firsts birds of the tour. Harbault’s Gulls were really common, and the harbour had some Kelp (Cape) Gulls flying around. In a close dek we had a small flock of Ruddy Turstones, and a flyby Grey Heron pointed the right direction to connect with the first flock of Cape Cormorants having some rest in the outer dek.

Once the last details were ready, we sailed off in a really calm ambient. The raising light produced some epic views on the bay, while our boat was gaining distance from the coast. We didn’t have to wait long until we saw our first speciality; as usual, one or two Subantarctic Skuas were soon wondering around, to lose interest after some seconds. Our boat kept its way while enjoying flocks of Cape Cormorants flying low over the sea, and some African Penguins close to a small bay, probably getting in the ocean from a nearby colony. Soon after we got the firsts Sooty Shearwaters of the day, a sign of being close to leave the Bay, and soon as meeting the waves of the open ocean we contacted with the first of many White-Chinned Petrel. Some of these lovely birds were flying around along with a pair of Sooty Shearwaters when we got the first unexpected sight as 1 Flesh-footed Shearwater appeared along with the Sooties to do a pair of fasts flybies and go back into the sea!

Shy Albatross (Thalassarche cauta) during our offshore from Cape Town. Image by Carles Oliver

That was a very fortunate encounteer since this species is normally easier to see in the North-east of South Africa. We were just chating about when the captain informed us of some whales around. The boat change the direction from South to West, and a pair of minutes later we were enjoying 2 Humpback Whales right in front of us. Humpback’s are often found around the boundary of the continental platforms, so this was the rights place for them to be. Happy after such a nice sight we turned South to keep exploring the ocean. 3 Shy Albatrosses pointed us the right way, even if they were not really close. We got some 15 minutes of rude sea, and after that the ocean appeared as calmed as the Aegean Sea in a summer day! More White-Chinned Petrels appeared and inmediatly after we got a very close Shy Albatross that landed some metres from our boat. One of the tour participants spotted the first Black-crowned Albatross of the tour while the captain adviced us about 3 Wilsons’s Storm Petrels in the back! Personally, I was concentrated in a majestic Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross coming from the front of the boat. I was enjoying the view when second bird appeared behind, clearly bigger and greyish than the Sooties Shearwaters around. It didn’t take long to see that it was a massive Southern Giant Petrel that came really close to the boat to fly around and stop on the sea. We spent some 10 epic minutes enjoying all of these species. Unfortunately the Wilsons’s Storm Petrel (the only ones of the tour) never came really close but some really close Pintado (Cape) Petrels were a good consolation for all tour participants.

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) just South of New Hope Cape. Image by Carles Oliver

For some time we were having Shy, Black-crowned & Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses flying around plus Cape & White-Chinned Petrels passing close to the vessel. We moved half a mile just to explore a bit beyond and there we got a superb Northern Giant Petrel that directly came to our boat to pass by extremely close before stopping and harrasing an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albratross.

We were all delighted of being so lucky when our captain got a message: a fish carrier was close. These massive boats fish in the deep water South of the Good Hope Cape and can wonder for weeks in large areas of the ocean.

Even 2 miles away from the boat the massive concentration of wildlife was evident. Thousands of sea birds were following it, including all the species that we saw before but also the firsts Cape Gannets of the trip. There were also an important number of South African Fur Seals  and tens and tens of Albratrosses of different species. We approached a bit more and a carefully scanning revealed at least two Antarctic Prions, a scarce species that was really celebrated by the tour participants. For some time we were trying to keep track on these small, lovely petrels to try to get some shots, but it was really impossible to get them close in the mess of 100s of Sooty Shearwaters, Cape Gannets, Antarctic Skuas and Albatrosses around.

Adult Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri).

Subantarctic Skua (Catharacta antarctica)

Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)

 

Even when approaching we realise that there were some major species among the long queue of birds following the carriers. And now that we were close we could confirm at least 7 Southern Royal Albatross following the carrier. These authentic giants cover enormous distances to feed. It is known that they can come to Southern Africa to feed for some days from their nesting colonies in New Zealand!

The movement of the birds was constant, with waves and waves of birds getting in and out. And then, along with 3 Southern Royal Albratross we saw at least 2 Northern Royal Albatross, a really scarce species in these trips and something we never expected to see in our tours to South Africa! All tour participants enjoyed good views and photos on the birds, and we were about to go back to Cape Town when a last surprise was still waiting for us: Our captain found 1 Spectacled Petrel just passing by us along with White-Chinneds!! This was the perfect way to start our way back to the coast.

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

This was our only one Spectacled Petrel (Procellaria conspicillata), a species not very common in the area.

Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora)

A mess of South African Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) moving along with Sooty Shearwaters (Ardenna griseus), Cape Gannets (Morus capensis), White-chinned (Procellaria aequinoctialis) & Cape Petrels (Daption capense), Kelp (Cape) Gulls (Larus dominicanus vetula) , Subantarctic Skuas (Catharacta antarctica) plus Shy (Thalassarche cauta) & Black-browed Albatross (Thalassarche melanophris).

Back in the Bay, we still had a pair of stops to have close views in both Bank & Crowned Cormorants. Both species are endemic to Southern Africa, and globally endangered. We all had good views along with South African Fur Seals having a good sun bath.

Back on ground we had a moment to sit and enjoy some extra meal. The sandwiches on the boat were great, but it was also nice to enjoy some food on the ground, actually! After a passionate chating on seabird conservation efforts, we moved to our next location. Still time to visit two spots, both really close to our accommodation.

Crowned Cormorant (Phalacrocorax coronatus), an endemic near threatened of Southern Africa.

As anyone coming to Cape Town, it is always mandatory to enjoy some one of the African Penguins colonies around the city. African Penguins started to colonise some beaches in the Greater Cape Town about 25 years ago in a natural process of expansion. Our time in the African Penguin colony not only produced excellent views in this highly especialised birds, but also served as a first contact for the group with some common species such as Cape Wagtail, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul, African Oystercatcher, Cape Turtle Dove, and Yellow Canary. We also enjoyed good views on Yellow Mongoose and Cape Hyrax, both endemics of Southern Africa and a good adding to our mammal list!

African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) really close to Cape Town.

The last stop in this long, intense, and incredible first day was to explore a small marshy patch really close to our accommodation. This small wetland is just under a rocky slope, providing a good mixt of species, from the hills to the reedbeds. A first look in the area allowed us to locate the firsts Blacksmith Lapwing of the tour, feeding in the short grasses around the pond along with 2 Crowned Lapwings. The water level in the pond was surprising low but stil supporting some birds including several Cape Teals, some Yellow-billed Ducks, African Black Duck, 1 Hottentot Teal, Malachite Kingfisher and 2 Red-knobbed Coots; Grey Heron and Little Egret were fishing around while a colony of Cape Weaver were busy preparing the nests. A lovely song came down from the rocky slope and soon were all enjoying a Cape Rock Thrush singing from the small ridge. A bit lower in the slope we found the 2 firsts Cape Spurfowls, while a Common Fiscal was overlooking the area in search of the last prey of the afternoon. The group withdrew to the van, that was parked by some Common Starlings & Red-eyed Doves. Happy after such a great day, we came back to our accommodation for a deserved dinner & rest!

Common Fiscal (Lanius collaris)

In this small pond we got the only 2 Red-knobbed Coots (Fulica cristata) of the tour.

Day 2. The second day of the tour was devoted to explore False Bay Eastern side. Here we were to explore a pair of spots expecting to find some of the specialities living in the famous fynbos and rocky areas around. Always with the Ocean as a background, we first explored a small plain with some rocky outcrops. The group didn’t move from the van when we found the first Cape Grassbird of the tour, along with Red-winged Starlings and a gorgeous male Orange-breasted Sunbird. Great start! In front of us, a short walk along a beautiful, open fynbos with a large rocky slope to the left, that soon produced Cape Bunting, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cloud, Zitting & Pipping Cisticolas (or Neddicky, its wonderful local name), Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Yellow Bishop, and some Cape White-eyes. A pair of White-necked Ravens provided excellent views both in flight and on the ground.

The morning had been sunny and warm until that far, until a cold fog came front the Ocean. We kept on for a further exploration revealing one of the main targets of the stop, as after some scanning we located a Ground Woodpecker perched on a rock. We all enjoy great views on what soon turned up into two individuals. They were really active, moving from a pair of big boulders to the ground to feed, and then back to the boulder to rest. This is a endemic species of woodpecker living in areas without trees. They nest on banks, where they do excavate a tunnel as a kind of bizarre Kingfisher. As we were enjoying the bird, the only one Cape Siskin of the tour just flew over and stopped for some time in a dead branch! This is another endemic, and sometimes a hard target!!

Ground Woodpecker (Geocolaptes olivaceus) male providing excellent views.

Cape Rockjumper (Chaetos frenatus) was one of the main targets in the tour.

We were clearly in the good way. A pair of Rock Kestrels came to the sky just by the time that a Sentinel Rock Thrush started singing. It was being a great morning, but even improved when a whistle came from the slope. It took us quite a lot of scanning but we finally found out 2 Cape Rockjumpers moving on the grouns while calling each other. We could enjoy over 5 minutes of these birds moving in the slope, appearing and disappearing in the rocks. Mid way beetwen a Wallcreeper and Roadrunner, these birds are really worth to see!!

Back into the car, we had a short drive until our next stop, a small Botanical Garden by the hills carpeted with fynbos. In here we had a first contact with common species living in woodlands or tall scrubs such as Olive Thrush, Southern Masked Weaver, Laughing Dove, Brimstone Canary, Cape Robin Chat but also enjoyed great views in a small flock of Swee Waxbills and the only views on Cape Sugarbid and Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher of the trip!

Glad after this great morning, we had a small lunch break in a lovely road restaurant. After enjoying some local cuisine, we still had one stop before driving back to Cape Town. A close coastal wetland provided us with a different set of species. The wetland is surrounded by a rich grassland where we enjoyed Cape Spurfowl, African Pipit, Plain-throated Martin, African Stonechat, Bokmakierie and Jackal Buzzard.

Swee Waxbill (Coccopygia melanotis)

Kittlitz’s Plover (Charadrius pecularius).

Once in the marshy area, a general look into the area revealed large flocks of Hartlaub’s Gulls roosting in different islands and, along with them, a small flock of 3 Antarctic Terns. This is again a scarce species so we were really glad to enjoy them.

The vast salt lagoons and marshes were also having small flocks of Kittlitz’s Plovers as well as several Greater Flamingoes and Pied Avocets. A distant juvenile African Fish Eagle being harrased by a African Marsh Harrier female was also a great sight, Back in the car park, our 3 firsts Levaillant’s Cisticolas were singing around, allowing good views.

It was time to go back to Cape Town, were we would spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the wonderful False Bay Nature Reserve. Due to a traffic jump, we did arrive to the False Bay NR a bit later than expected. Despite that, the birding was stunning. In the lagoons around it was a complete set of the ducks living in the area including several Cape Teals & Shovelers, Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-billed Teals plus the most sought-after species: Southern Pochards (30+) and Maccoa Ducks (12+). We also got two flying Spur-winged Geese, a Purple Heron plus flocks of Cattle Egrets and Glossy Ibises. The ponds were also having small numbers of Little, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, all of them with nesting populations in the tip of Africa.

Southern Pochard (Netta erythrophthalma) in False Bay Nature Reserve at sunset.

A short walk around provided first views on Black-shoulded Kite and the endemics Grey-winged Francolin & Cape Sparrow. It was some gorgeous patches of reedbeds, and there we found our only 3 African Swamphens of the tour along with Black Crakes, a nice Little Bittern (African race), Lesser Swamp Warblers and flocks of the very soiny Little Rush Warbler. A really sought-after African Rail called a pair of times but, despite our hopes, never appeared in the out…

It was already time to go back to the car. Pied Kingfishers and Great White Egrets were hurring to catch a last fish when we discovered a small flock of Spotted Thick-knees in a plouged area. Back to car, we still had at least one more African Rail calling… No time for more, time to enjoy a nice local wine and have some dinner!

Day 3. The weather became stormy during the last evening, and during the whole night we were having a heavy rain in Cape Town. This day we were supposed to spend most of the day in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. When we did arrive the weather was even worst, with some strong wind. So we did a second coffee and wait for some time. After some wait we managed to spend 90 minutes of birding in Gardens, always with some rain and poor visibility. Still, we got good views in 2 Sombre Greenbuls, Common Chaffinches (introduced here by the British), Cape Batis, 4 Forest Canaries, Familiar Chats, 1 flyby Lemon Dove and several Cape Robin-chats. A lovely Knysna Warbler was singing in the undergowth but despite our efforts it was not possible to see this elusive bird. So, after some time in the gardens, it was clear that the weather was not going to improve so we decided to start moving to our next area to explore.

But before we could enjoy 2 Spotted Eagle Owls roosting in one of the largest trees in the Botanical Garden! It was really a pity that we had to cancel the wonderful walk we had in mind.

Spotted Eagle Owl (Bubo capensis) roosting in Cape Town Botanical Gardens.

Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) female, one of the commonest birds in the area.

Cape Robin-Chat (Cossypha caffra), one of the many endemics to enjoy.

The rain was still heavy, so we moved a bit earlier than expected to the West Coast National Park, a coastal area inmeadiatly North of town. The weather in that area was clearly better, with only some high clouds and a really comfortable temperature. Our first stop was to do a walk in a small open area. Here, with the dense scrubland surrounding the dense scrubland, we had first views on really common species living in this dry fynbos such as Karoo Scrub Robin, Bokmakierie, Karoo Prinia and Grey-backed Cisticola. A short walk around also produced Speckled & Red-faced Mousebirds, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, African Hoopoe, Ant-eating Chat and Cape Clapper & Karoo Larks. Small herds of Bontebock and Eland were feeding along with Common Ostriches and flocks of  Pied & Wattling Starlings. This was a really enjoyable place but time was running and we had to check a different corner. 

Karoo Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas coryphoeus), one of the most conspicuous birds living in the Karoo bushland.

Cape Shoveler (Spatula capensis) female.

Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler (Sylvia subcaeruleum)

South African Shelduck (Tadorna cana).

Stenbook (Raphicerus campestris), one of the mammals we could enjoy at West Coast National Park.

A small pond in the middle of the karoo beyond provided with other interesting birdlife. Here we got Black Crake, 2 Cape Shovelers and Little Rush Warblers while a small flock of Common Waxbills were drinking water. In the short walk to pond we got the first of many Black Harriers flying over the karoo in a majestic image. In the water, a pair of the endemic South African Shelducks were really celebrated. But the best was to come. After a while checking the pond, a call came from the swamp, barely few metres from us; a Red-chested Flufftail! No movements allowed and after a pair of minutes of wait, a Flufftail just runned in front of us!! Great!! In the way to car we still enjoyed more Black Harriers but it was already a bit late so we drove to our accommodation close to the National Park but we still had a last stop in an open area close to the B&B, where good views on 2 Fiery-necked Nightjars flying around, singing and performing a beautiful display!

Glad after this wet but incredible day, we had a good dinner and better rest.

Day 3. Early morning breakfast in our small sea-side accommodation, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from a small cliff. This day was calm and bright but it was a ruff sea out there! From our terrace we enjoyed some Rock Martins flying around but also sometime far more special. Distant in the sea we got at least two Southern Right Whales breathing under the waves. Not every day you enjoy some whales while having your first coffee!

After breakfast we went back to the North Coast National Park, to concentrate in a walk in the limit of the dense fynbos and a large grassy patch. The karoo was full of birdlife and we enjoy great views on Levaillant’s Cisticolas, Karoo Larks, Karoo Scrub Robins singing. The walk was extremelly productive. In a short time we got all 3 species of Mousebirds living here: Red-faced, Speckled and the endemic White-backed). Temperature was extremely pleasant and that favour small birds to show including Protea Canary, Bar-throated Apalis, a gorgeous Malachite Sunbird displaying and the really sought-after Layard’s-Tit Babbler in a great view at short range!

Bar-throated Apalis (Apalis thoracica).

Karoo Lark (Calendulauda albescens), endemic to South Africa.

The also endemic White-backed Mousebird (Colius colius).

The amazing display of Malachite Sunbird (Nectarinia famosa).

Southern Black Korhaan (Afrotis afra), another sought-after endemic.

Wonderful meadows at West Coast National Park.

A short incursion in the seaside provided with excellent views on African Oystercatchers (Haematopus moquini)

One of the many Black Harriers (Circus maurus) that we saw at West Coast National Park.

Once inside the grasslands, we enjoyed the songs of Bokmakierie mixing with the ones from Cape Longclaws and Cloud Cisticolas singing in flight, with a small herds of Elands feeding here and there, and Common Ostriches suddenly appearing from the karoo. An close, explosive song announced the first Southern Black Koorhan of the tour. This is another really sought-after endemic!

We were really lucky as the Koorhan was lekking close to us for some time, and all tour participants had amazing views on this bird. A further scanning soon reavealed some Cape Spurfowl (they had been noisy the whole morning) but also a flock of its more scarce relative, the Grey-winged Francolin, feeding by the end of the grass. A Cape Capped Lark just flew from our feet at the same moment that one of the tour participants found the first pair of Blue Cranes of the tour! What an amazing birds… The birds in this area look like endless! An African Hoopoe showed up in a dead tree, and soon was joined by a different bird; a lovely Acacia Pied Barbet!

Our next stop was to explore a shore of the main lagoon in the National Park. This big lagoon, mainly salty, has several patches of reedbeds due to small springs coming from the subsoil. Here we got lovely views in both Greater and Lesser Flamingoes but also Hadeda Ibises, several Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocet plus close views on a pair of Cape Longclaw nesting in the grass by the path. Here we also got Cape Teals, Crowned Lapwings and our only one Common Sandpiper of the tour. Among the several Cape Wagtails we were greeted with a Yellow Wagtail, a rather unexpected sight!

The lagoon itself was having some waders including Eurasian Curlews, Grey Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Eurasian Whimbrels, Greenshanks, Common Ringed Plovers, Dunlins and 20+ Curlew Sandpipers. But probably most eyes were concentrated in some close African Oystercatchers. Around the bank we had some Western Reef Egrets and Grey Herons but also 1 Squacco Heron and Purple Heron. In the distance, we enjoyed 7 White-fronted Plovers moving along 2 Wood Sandpipers. Flocks of Great White Pelicans were moving over the lagoon, towards the depeer areas, mixing with the many Caspian & Gull-billed Terns that were pratolling it. In this location we also got 1 Black-tailed Goodwit, a really scarce species in the area…A really good bird for South Africa with most of the locations concentrated in this same lagoon!!!

Back to the fynbos, we headed to our next stop. We did some haults in the way to enjoy some Bonteboks appearing here and there. This beautiful antelopes were really close to extinction and by 1830 only 22 remained. Black Harriers were also stopping our way as we got not less than 6 of them in a short drive, including some close views. Once parked, we did a short walk in the area, a dry fynbos with some sandy open areas, and we soon had excellent views on our main goal, a Cape Long-billed Lark moving in the open area. But this corner was about to produce a bigger surprise. A small flock of birds was moving, mainly Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, but it also appeared our only Grey Tit of the tour, another sought-after endemic. And when we were about to go back to our van, a wonderful male Dusky Sunbird appeared in the vegetation to provide us with a short, but terrific view! This species, is normally referred to live in Northern areas, but it has been expanding the range in recent years.

We then had a stop for our picnic enjoying some great views on the central lagoon, with large flocks of Cape Cormorants getting in and out from the sea. For us it was time to leave this National Park and drive inland to the karoo areas. The 90 minutes long drive proved to be extremelly productive. Along with several large flocks of Southern Red Bishop along the way, we had two stops in our way. Still close to the coast, we spend some time in a farm land, where we found several African Pipits, at least 2 Nicholson’s Pipits (a recent split from Long-billed Pipit due partly to allopatric distributions and sedentary habits of both populations) along with them, 3 Capped Wheatears, some Red-capped Larks  and Malachite Sunbirds.

Next stop was already close to Ceres. Here, close to a mountain pass, we were surprised by 2 magnificient Verreaux’s Eagles and joined in the sky by 1 Peregrine Falcon. Here we also had first views for the tour on Alpine & African Black Swifts flying low at incredible speed!

Nicholson’s Pipit (Anthus nicholsoni).

Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxii), another majestic bird of prey for the tour!

Beyond Ceres and the hills around, the landscape faces a dramatic change. An inmense desertic plain extends in an endless way. This is the karoo, an incredible ecosystem for wildlife, and especially for birds. Due to the limitations of time in this pre-tour, we only had some hours in the afternoon to explore the area. In future tours, we will dedicate one day and a half to explore this amazing place!

Even with our limited time, we can say that we did pretty well. A first stop in a small valley surrounded by mild bushy hills produced a number of goodies. Here we enjoyed more endemics such as Cape Penduline Tit, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Long-billed Crombec, Mountain Wheatear and Karoo Thrush. But probably the most celebrated bird in this stop was a wonderful male Black-headed Canary superbly perched in a small reedbed. Unfortunately the bird didn’t stay there for long before it came back to the plains beyond the small valley.

During the next hour, a combination of road birding and some selected stops provided with some good addings like Lark-like Bunting, Rufous-eared Warbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Fairy Flycatcher, Karoo Chat and larks including Large-billed, Karoo Long-billed & Karoo Larks. A last stop was made in a dry stream and there we could enjoy good views on 1 male of the also endemic Namaqua Warbler that was singing in a really active way.

After such a nice (but unfortunately rather short) exploration of the karoo, we drove to our next accommodation beside Bontebok National Park, where we did arrive a bit beyond sunset.

Day 4. Bontebok NP & De Hoop Nature Reserve After a nice breakfast we drove the few miles into Bontebok NP, a small but really interesting protected area. Here we spent 3 hours in the morning, that were really productive!  & De Hoop Nature Reserve. Some drive into the reserve produced excellent views on Bontebok, Cape Mountain Zebra, Grey Rhebok and Red Hartebeest.

A fast scan in the grasslands of the park from an advantage point produced the first of several Denham’s Bustards during the morning. Here we had some Red-capped Larks singing and we were surprised by a Secretary Bird flying over us, stopping in the grasslands and feeding not far from Denham’s. A further stop to enjoy some distant Cape Mountain Zebras was even more surprising since we found a Karoo Korhaan just beyond them, moving in the tall grass!

Southern Masked Weaver (Ploceus velatus)

This Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) was rather unexpected, and really celebrated!

Grey Rhebok (Pelea capreolus), a wonderful antelope living in small herds.

The Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra), a very endangered endemic.

Denham’s Bustard (Neotis denhami) at Bontebok National Park.

Duets of Bokmakierie (Telophorus zeylonus) can be listened in nearly every thick bush.

Levaillant’s Cisticola (Cisticola tinniens)

We still some more time driving in the area, adding 2 Southern Black Korhaans displaying and 1 rather unexpected Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk going for Levaillant’s Cisticolas in the grasslands. After this driving we explored the evergreen vegetation along the Breerivier. Here we got excellent views on Southern Tchagra, Bokmakierie, Pied Acacia Barbet, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, White-backed Mousebird, Bar-breasted Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Grassbird, Greater-double Collared Sunbird & Pin-tailed Whydah among many others.

We enjoyed a nice picnic by the Breerivier before driving to the coast for an afternoon exploration of the De Hoop Natural Reserve. In the between both natural sites we enjoyed many flocks of Blue Cranes feeding on the farming areas, many times around the water holes  but most of the times feeding in the fields, many times really close to the lane. Along with them several Capped Wheatears and African Pipits. Here we also enjoyed a pair of small flocks of Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark. Surprinsigly the only sight of the species during the tour. Around the ponds there were plenty of Egyptian Geese and Spur-winged Geese.

Once we arrived to De Hoop Natural Reserve we didn’t have to wait long until we got our first good bird since we had a stop by the lane to enjoy a small flock of Cape Vultures feeding in a carrion! Cape Vulture is an endemic species with decreasing populations. In Western Cape there is only one colony left, inside the De Hoop Natural Reserve. There were 8 birds and we even were granted with a massive Martial Eagle joining them in the carrion!

Blue Cranes (Anthropoides paradiseus), another endemic to enjoy during the tour.

Agulhas Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda brevirostris), a Lark only living around the Agulhas Cape.

Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres). There is only one colony left in the this South African province.

Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus), a superb endemic antelope living in South Africa.

Cape Spurfowl (Ptermistis capensis).

We went throught grasslands and fynbos with scattered herds of Elands, Bontebok and Red Hartebeest while driving towards the sea. In our way we got good views in a number of birds but nothing really special out of 2 Southern Black Korhaan displaying. Once by the ocean, we concentrate in locating the main goal for the late afternoon; to find some whales.

All the coast East from Cape Town has become really famous since host good densities of Southern Right Whales that come here from June to December. The can be seen all along the coast but there are some areas wheere the whales can come especially close to the coast.

After some scanning enjoying African Oystercatchers, Antarctic Skuas and Kelp Gulls we were able to locate up to 3 Southern Right Whales, two of them really close to the beach. It was a female and her calf that spent half an hour feeding and playing only 40 metres away from the sandy beach!

We were lucky and could enjoy the whales for long before driving to our accommodation in the De Hoop Natural Reserve.

Day 5. Knysna & Garden Route. This day we drove East to explore the famous Garden Route and its impressive montane broad-leave forests, the Southernmost of the Afromontane ecoregion! This can be considered as a small adding for our clients that year, and something not planned to do in futures issues of the tour, since we will broadly cover this ecosystem in our main tour exploring South Africa.

After leaving Bontebok early in the morning, we drove for a pair of hours until the Garden Route. During the way we had some nice birds as we got some Black Saw-wings here and there, and some Forest Buzzards along the way. Even some miles before arriving to Knysna the change in the habitat is evident with some wonderful corners covered by a gorgeous broad-leave forests and large Yellowwoods (Afrocarpus & Podocarpus) just by the road.

Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) is restricted to the coastal Afromontane forest in South Africa and a small patch inside Kruger National Park.

Grey Cuckooshrike (Coracina caesia).

White-starred Robin (Pogonocichia stellata).

Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus)

Our first stop in the morning was a short walk North of town. In a 90 minutes short-walk we enjoyed a good number of specialities including large flocks of Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler normally joined by some Cape Batises. Terrestrial Brownbuls & Sombre Greenbuls were also common and their calls filled the moist atmosphere. After some walk we were granted with great views on one of the targets that morning, as a Chorister Robin-Chat showed up by the path; a bird that was really celebrated for everybody in the group. Some monumental trees were along the path, with some Outeniqua Yellowwood (Afrocarpus falcatus) growing above 40 metres tall!

More and more Yellow-throated Woodland Warblers were showing in mixed flocks with Cape White-eyes and lovely Collared Sunbirds, but not far from one of these flocks we got 2 Southern Black Tits, the only ones during the tour! With little time to enjoy them as they were moving fast, a superb Grey Cuckooshrike appeared from the undergrowth to show superbly for a couple of minutes while moving in the branches. But the most celebrated species in this stop was the Knysna Turaco, another beautiful South African endemic. In our way back to the van we still enjoyed great views in 1 male White-starred Robin while moving in the low strate of the forest.

After a short driving we arrived to the second spot to explore the moist forest. A lovely path that partially runs along a small stream. Here we got some good birds even before getting in the forest. In a clearing by the van, some Amethyst Sunbirds were feeding around us. Once inside the forest, we were surprised by the 2 Lemon Doves taking off at close range. The birds flew into the forest and took us really long to relocate them! Some Knysna Turacos appeared in the while, and provided again excellent views. Some Red-billed Wood-Hoopooes were also moving high in the canopies. After such a nice start we decided to walk a bit more. Activity was low but we were granted by finding a lovely Knysna Dwarf Cameleon in the path!!!

Happy after such a great finding we kept a bit more inside the forest. And we were granted with some nice birds, at the end! A small flock of Black-headed Orioles were moving up the trees, calling and singing and we got nice views on them. Suddenly, a Greater Honeyguide appeared right in front of us, while a Klaas’ Cuckoo was calling deep in the forest. We moved a bit closer to the Cuckoo and then the Orioles started to move, and along with them we got 3 Grey Cuckooshrikes, 1 Olive Woodpecker and 1 Scaly-throated Honeyguide!

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba).

After some lunch we drove some miles to a salty wetland to look for different specialities. Here, our main target was the rather scarce Chestnut-banded Plover. And after some scanning we found at least 14 of them feeding in the salty marshes. The area was plenty of Curlew Sandpipers and Pied Avocets, and some Little Stints were also present.

Lesser & Greater Flamingoes provided gorgeous views in sunset light. Here and in the fresh water lagoons around we got good views on African Spoonbills, Whiskered Terns and the only Goliath Heron of the tour!

Day 6. Garden Route – Cape Town. Last morning of birding around the Garden Route. This time we choosed an open land with some old trees. The landscapes resembles the acacia thornbush even if the forest is really close. The area proved to be extremely productive!

Red-necked Spurfowl (Pternistis afer).

Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus).

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis).

Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata).

Burchell’s Coucal (Centropus burchelli).

Southern Tchagra (Tchagra tchagra).

Pale Chanting Goshawk (Melierax canorus).

We enjoyed a good mixed of open land, woodland & scrubby areas. Emerald-Spotted Dove, Fork-tailrd Drongo, Yellow Weaver, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Southern Boubou, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Burchell’s Coucal, Cape Longclaw, Red-necked Spurfowl, African Hoopoe, Southern Tchagra and Capy Glossy Starling to name a few, but the most celebrated bird of the last morning of the tour was the Knysna Woodpecker, again an endemic with a small range that appeared after a long scanning in a open woodland by the savannah open space

Really happy to enjoy all of these birds, we started the drive back to Cape Town where evening flights were waiting for all the tour participants, and the guides!

Please, take an eye to all our birding tours here: Barcelona Birding Point

Thanks for reading us!

Cape Turtle Dove (Streptopelia capicola).

 

 

 

Field ID: Thekla versus Crested Lark

Larks constitute a Family of birds normally living in open countryside with most of the species related to dry lands, grasslands and semi-arid countryside. Africa is the continent with the higher number of species of Larks, with a wide variety of them also living in Asia, Australia and Europe. Only a reduced number of Larks are present in the Nearctic.

Since most of Laks are adapted to live in semi-arid countryside, they are mostly terrestrial and normally have brown upperparts, often with stripes in both the upper side and the underside.

Chestnut-headed Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix signatus) female in a lava field. Affar Region, Ethiopia. November 2016. Image by Carles Oliver.

It is because of this that Larks are often seen as one of the most difficult groups of passerines for many birdwatchers. In Europe, probably one of the most trikky species to tell apart are Thekla & Crested Larks. Even local birdwatchers with a long experience in the field, show evident problems to tell these two species apart from each other.

Here we will try to help a bit in this sense, remarking some interesting differences between both species.

Many, many field guides remark some general differences between Thekla & Crested Lark. Some of the most important field marks to point out a Thekla Lark from a Crested are its shorter crest, and its rather shorter, heavier bill. Well, despite these remarks can be useful in many cases, we should not try to identify these species only based on the length of the bill or the crest. This is not only because of young Crested Larks tend to show shorter bills and crests, but also because of intraspecific differences in the length of the bill inside the same species, gender differences and also because appreciation of these characters in the field can be difficult depending on the light, the distance to the bird and the angle of observation.

In the next lines we will try to point out some interesting tools for a correct field identification of the European races of these species:

COLORATION & STRUCTURE,

The general coloration of Thekla Lark is grey to dark brown, while Crested Larks are normally close to be sandy colorated. Always being light brown. Structurally, Thekla Lark is slightly smaller, but also more compact and shorter tailed than Crested Larks are. Its winds are also shorter, and the general sensation of the bird when flushed out is of a “large Woodlark”. Crested Lark shows longer “hands”, and the sensation of the bird in flight is “diffuse”. Still, these differences can be difficult to notice in the field when not used to dealing with Larks.

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Crested & Thekla Larks ringed by Sergi Sales in Lleida Steppes, Catalonia. Image by Josep Martínez Ortiz.

UNDERWING,

Underwing is one of the most useful remarks to tell apart both species. Crested Larks always show creamy, brownish underwing while Thekla Lark shows whitish underwing covers. This is useful in all plomages and all ages, at least for the European races of both species.

BREAST MARKINGS,

The most useful remarks to identify correctly these species in the field are, by far, the facial and breast markings. About the breast, Crested Larks show a fine streaked, and this delicate pattern clearly expands to the flanks in all plomages. The markings have a diffuse end in the breast. Compared with those in Cresteds, breast markings in Thekla Larks appear heavy, being more a dropping than a barring. In fact, many people compare the breast pattern of these two species with that in Eurasian Sparrowhawk versus Northern Goshawks, being Crested Lark the closer to the fine  streaked Sparrowhawk, and Thekla Lark the one with heavy dropping resembling Northern Goshawk. Moreover, breast markings in Thekla Larks show an abrupt end, and you easily can draw an imaginary line that separates the markings from the really white belly. This is not possible to do with Crested Larks since their diffuse barring does not show a clear border. Its extension to the flank makes this even more evident.

FACIAL MARKINGS,

One of the things we must think about when dealing with these species is to pair attention to the facial markings. Thekla Lark presents a really complex facial pattern if compared with those in Crested Lark. Thus, Thekla shows evident complete eye-ring; a well defined, long supercilium that; almost complete malar stripe and a even (but not always), with some barring in the ear covers (unstreaked in Crested), and a white dot just behind the submoustachial stripe. Most of these patterns are absent or are really diffuse in Crested Larks. Most Crested Larks show a supercilium, but are also not well defined and barely extend beyond the eye.

When looking at the head of a Thekla Lark, all of this produces the sensation of treasuring a lot of information, and thus it contrasts a lot with the head of a Crested Lark, giving the sensation of emptiness or lack of information.

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Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) in Lleida Steppes, Catalonia. May 2020. Image by Carles Oliver

BILL,

Crested Lark shows a longer, thinner bill than Thekla Lark, with a noticeable hooked tip in the upper mandible. Be aware about young Crested Larks, that often show shorter bills.  A close view with good light in a Crested Lark, it should be possible to see the darker tip of the bill (absent in Thekla Lark).

TAIL,

Thekla Lark’s tail is slightly shorter than Crested’s. Regarding ringing bibliography, tails in Thekla Lark males rank from 54 to 62mm, while in Crested Larks go from 59 to 69mm. This difference links perfectly with what was explained about the structure of both species, as Thekla Larks is clearly more compact in flight, and can recall a much shorter tailed species. The longer tail in Crested Larks tends to make this species somehow bigger.

But beyond the length, tail coloration can be also a good point to tell these species apart. Again Thekla Lark shows a more contrasted pattern, with brown to orangish outer tail feathers and upper-tail coverts. The tail also shows a strong contrast between these feathers and two blackish central bands. All of this is again reproduced in Crested Larks, but they lack the rusty tinge in the upper-tail covers. Moreover, the contrast between the outer feathers and the inner bands is poor, and in many worm birds it tends to disappear!

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Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) in Lleida Steppes, Catalonia. March 2019. Image by Carles Oliver

HABITAT SELECTION,

In Europe, these two species coexist in Mediterranean areas, and many times we can find them in areas with a large fragmentation of habitat as a result of human activity or environmental factors. Thus, we often find both species living side by side whether because their habitats are mixed or because they touch each other. But even if in most cases we cannot trust only in habitat selection to identify these birds, is still a useful tool that can help us in the fields.

  • Thekla Lark is a specialist that can be only found in areas of natural steppe and semi-desert vegetation. The bird can be found in plains and ondulations as long covered by natural steppe or semi-desert vegetation. In addition, Thekla Lark is also found in hillsides with low scrubby vegetation (even if it is quite dense) with some sparse trees.
  • Crested Lark is a generalist species. It has successfully adapted to live in farming areas, but also in periurban and industrial soils, where they find excellent conditions based on bare soils. Crested Lark tends to avoid any hills or mountains, but in low densities can be found in small patches of proper habitat inside hilly areas (even tiny farmed valleys inside a large hilly area can support some Crested Larks).

As many hillsides and steppe areas are just surrounded by farming areas, both species can be detected in several locations almost at the same time. Moreover, Thekla Larks living in hillsides with dense scrubs, may use the surrounding farm lands to feed, even if they keep using the hillsides to nest.

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Crested & Thekla Larks complex spatial distribution due to habitat selection in a Los Monegros. Aragón, Spain. June 2016. Image by Carles Oliver

Last but not the least, both species are resident. However, they tend to do small winter movements. Crested Larks tend to associate with large mixed flocks of other Larks and Finches in winter, while Thekla Lark is less likely to do so.

As a general conclusion, the best way to tell apart Crested from Thekla Larks is to take in count different aspects including face patterns and general coloration. Tail & wing lenght are also important, but probably some experience is required for a correct identification if only using this features. Underwing and tail pattern are the best way to tell them apart, since they are constant in all ages and plomages, but many times to see these details is not easy in the field. Habitat selection can be also used, but it is necessary to be aware on how close both species can be found in the field.

I hope that these tips may help you on the trikky world of larks ID. Now it is time to test your new skills in the field!

Bibliography: Demongin L. (2016) Identification Guide to Birds in the Hand. Beauregard-Vendon.

Pyrenees Winter Break (+ Ebro Delta), 2020 Trip Report

Number of days: 6

Tour participants: 5

Dates: February 6th to 11th, 2020

All images along the tour by Brian Buffery, Giovanni Grieco and tour leader Carles Oliver.

The tour participants to the tour flew into Barcelona prior the tour started. We met the next morning in their hotel neat the airport for an early morning transfer to the Pyrenees. Temperature was high as a result of several days of high pressures, and temperatures escalating above 20C in the days before the tour started.

Day 1. Once in the Pyrenees, we drove up until 1600 metres high and spent some time in a rocky slope with small cliffs. There, we got good views on Rock Buntings, singing and showing up really well. European Crested Tits were also noted, but we didn’t have any other good bird. From there, the lovely lane brought us throught Mountain forests with small flocks of Mistle Thruses and Common Crossbills. Once the forests end, the lane crosses some alpine meadows show. Due to the long period of high temperatures, the snow was few, and concentrated in a certain slopes. We spent some time scanning, with little success. Only a few Eurasian Griffons were moving in the sky, joined by 1 Common Raven.

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), a common but always wonderful flycatcher to see.

We spent some time scanning the snowed slopes with little luck, and we were about to leave when 3 Snowfinches flew from a spinned slope, really high up in the mountain. Despite teh birds were extremelly far away we decided to spend some time scanning the slope.  But nothing. Sowe drove half a mile, and scan again. And now we were more lucky as a nice flock of about 25 Snowfinches showed in the sky, flying from a close slope. The birds we actually doing some short flights to inmediatly reland in the slope, so we got excellent views on the birds walking on the snow, feeding and preening. Unfortunately all birds were a bit far up in the slope, so not really excellent chances for photography. We spent about half an hour waiting for the birds to eventually come down the slope and have closer views. Unfortunately the birds never came really closer.

Happy after the enjoying a species I was not expecting to find, we kept our way and came back to the mountain pass. There, there was a good number of Eurasian Griffons passing by, producing some really good views. Here we also got excellent views on a flock of Alpine Chough flying over, calling, and playing in the sky as only a Chough can do.

Only a pair of minutes after the Chough did its show, a large raptor was seen along with Eurasian Griffons. Moving slowly above the slope, an impressive adult Lammergeier was moving to our position. Everybody connected with the bird of prey way before the bird was close, so everybody enjoyed excellent views on the bird approaching us… The majestic bird just passed over us, the snow reflecting on the underwings so we all enjoyed the details of the axiles, the underwinds and its iconic moustache. The bird was around for some minutes, and we still had a second Lammergeier passing by before we moved to our accommodation for some rest.

We got our first views on Lammergeier (Gypaetos barbatus) in the first morning of the tour.

After some resting, we still had time to explore a wooded slope in search of some new species. The area was full of Common Crossbills, some of them singing. A lovely Iberian Green Woodpecker was a celebrated spot in the group. The area was full of birds: Eurasian Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Rock Bunting, Shorttoed Treecreeper and Crested Tit were also noted. Big flocks of migratory Common Chaffinches were around. We did a number of stops along the lane, and among them 2 Citril Finches passed over our heads, calling. Unfortunately only one tour participant had a view in these birds.

The afternoon was going away and as the night came we moved to a proper spot for the most difficult of the Owls in Europe. We didn’t have to wait long because soon after sunset we had a Tengmalm’s Owl singing quite close to our van! The bird started singing about 80 metres away so we just walked inside the open woodland, trying to find the small owl. We enjoyed a wonderful listening but despite our efforst, we never so this scarce owl!

Sunset is to arrive to the Pyrenean subboreal forest.

Day 2. After a good rest, we just started our second day by spending some time in the same lane where we were the last afternoon. Our goal was to have better views on Citril Finches. But that morning we were no lucky about them. After this we spent the rest of the morning in a mountain pass closeby. A huge flock of above 70 Red-billed Choughs was feeding on the greenish slopes that were supposed to be snowed. High temperatures for 15 days in a row right before the arrival of the group had been meltering the snow, and despite our efforts we were uncapable to find any Alpine Accentor, the main goal of the morning.

Crag Martin (Ptynoprogne rupestris) showinfg the tail markings.

After lunch we drove to the steppes for some afternoon birding. Our first stop was to check some corners looking for one of the most sought-after species in this habitat. Meanwhile, we enjoyed very much to find a large flock of over 150 Eurasian Tree Sparrows. Several other species were recorded around including Eurasian Reed Bunting, Corn Bunting, European Stonechat, Eurasian Skylark, Northern Lapwing, Common Kestrel, Crested Lark, Common Buzzard, Meadow Pipit and several more!

To spot Little Bustards (Tetrax tetrax) out of the nesting season can be difficult.

In our second stop we were more lucky, and after some scanning we found 12 Little Bustards in a nearby field. They were hiding in a filed with tall vegetation and we could only count them after a long wait and search of the small neck appearing above the grass. While enjoying them, we got other good birds around including 1 Great White Egret, Grey Heron , Mistle Thrush and Zitting Cisticola.

But a good surprise was to come. In a nearby field, a large flock of over 150 European Golden Plovers was resting. It look like the typcical large premigratory flock. While trying to count the Bustards, Gio was scanning the plovers and he was lucky enough to find out a 1st winter Eurasian Dotterel right in the center of the flock! What a nice spot!!!

Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus) in a flock of Golden Plover close to Linyola.

After such a great spot we just moved to a nearby wetland for the last stop of the day. The large fresh water lagoon is placed in the middle of a large plain, and attracks good number os Western Marsh Harriers that roost in the reedbeds. We counted no less than 23 of them! Eurasian Teals, Northern Shovelers, Common Snipes, Reed Buntings, Water Rail, Northern Lapwings, Redcrested Pochards and big numbers of Great Cormorants and Western Jackdaws were all enjoyed, but probably the best birds for most of the tour participants were the Western Swamphens showing in the reedbeds, and noisily calling as the sunset approached. A wonderful end of the day!

During the afternoon we found this roosting place with +150 Eurasian Tree Sparrows (Passer montanus).

Day 3. This day we drove up a long valley, into the a Catalan shire called Pallars, to look for some Pyrenean especialities. Our first stop was in a huge gorge. There, we hope for the most wanted bird for many birdwatchers visting the Pyrenees in winter, the Wallcreeper. During a pair of hours we walked and scouted the rocks all around, hoping for any movement in the cliffs. Whitebellied Dippers were singing, very active in the river, and we counted 4 in single corner of the river! Some Eurasian Griffons were also moving in the sky, and didn’t take long until the massive silouhette of 1 Lammergeier appeared from the massive cliffs. Red Kite and Rock Bunting were also enjoyed.

After a long search, we finally found an extremelly distant Wallcreeper in a big, plain rock face. Only 1 tour participant saw the bird, so we all spent a lot of time trying to refind the bird. Some minutes passed away, and nobody was having the Wallcreeper…but suddenly a something moved in the rocks really close to us, inmediatly at the other side of the river: Wallcreeper!

Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), always a challenging bird!

We were having a Wallcreeper right there, and this time everyone in the group found the bird without difficulties! We spent a pair of minutes enjoying of the bird moving in the rock face, beside a huge cavity. As always, it was great moment for anyone in the group!! After taking photos and recording videos we were enjoying the bird until it moved away from the rock face… and then came the typical question, was that the same bird that we were looking for extremely high up, or was it a different one? Who knows…

In this stop we still enjoyed a pair of other good birds before going for a coffee stop as Shorttoed Treecreeper and Eurasian Crag Martin showed really well in our way to the car.

After our pic-nic stop, we spent a pair of hours exploring a wooded lane, a wonderful spot for Citril Finches. Again, Common Crossbills were common and active. There were flocks of Eurasian Goldfinches and Common Chaffinches and, while scanning the flocks looking for something different, we enjoyed 2 superb Lammergeiers flying ove us in beautiful light. After a long, long scanning, 2 Citril Finches were seen when driving down the lane so we inmediatly stopped, with the finches calling around and moving in the trees for a some seconds before they moved away as they seemed associated to a huge flock of Common Chaffinches. We scanned over and over the flock but we were uncapable to refind them. Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Hawfinch were noted in the while.

One of the 4 Lammergeiers (Gypaetos barbatus) seen during that day.

The last stop of the day was to look for Eurasian Black Vulture. The Catalan Pyrenees holds a small population of about 50 individuals, concentrated in a pair of valleys but expanding in range and numbers. The whole day had been poor in raptor activity and, when we did arrive to the observation place, the raptor activity was minimal. Still, there were some Eurasian Griffons flying and after some hard scanning we found at least three distant Eurasian Black Vulture circling along with them. Another Lammergeier was also found, by the way. Here we also enjoyed some small birds including Cirl Bunting, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Sardinian Warblers. After this stop we drove back to our accommodation for a good dinner and rest.

Day 4. Early morning start to explore the steppes. After a transfer we did arrive to the dry lands where most of the specialities are to be found. Unfortunately the weather was not good at all, as it was extremelly windy… Windy days can be terrible in the steppes, being quite easy to miss most (or all) the good birds in such a conditions.

But we were confident so our first stop was in a corner were Sandgrouses use to feed in early morning. A first look to the area revealed no activity at all. Only 1 or 2 Calandra Larks were flying, almost no songs in the sky. A distant Red Kite was the most notiable… We moved slowly along the lane, carefully scanning the fields that were hurt by the wind. It took us a good while until we found the first Blackbellied Sandgrouse on the ground. A male. Did an effort to get the scopes out so everybody could enjoy despite the really strong wind. Some minutes later, a small flock of 5 Pintailed Sandgrouses moved from a nearby filed, coming closer to us. It took some time to put everybody in the birds as they mild so well even if it was so few grass! Our happiness was complete when we realised that there were also some Blackbellied Sandgrouses on the ground, only few metres away from the Pintailed’s!! So, at the end, we had both species together side by side, feeding, preening and enjoying the hard morning weather!

Due to very strong winds, this is the best image we got on a Pin-tailed Sandgrouse.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) during one of the last tours to Morocco. No images during this tour…

A short drive in the area around provided us with good views on Thekla, Calandra & Sky Larks. Also Little Owl, Iberian Grey Shrike and Redbilled Chough. Due to the wind it was again little movement of raptors in the sky, or that is what it looked like until 4 Golden Eagles appeared in the sky at the same time! Two adults and 2 juveniles playing long time with the wind at short range.

This obliging Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) was the first of the 5 seen during the day!

After a coffee stop we still had time to enjoy some good views on Lesser Shorttoed Larks before changing the habitat to explore some cliffs nearby.

The short drive to the clay cliffs produced several White Storks, some of them in their nests, Spotless Starlings, and Common Buzzards. Once arrived, we were suprised by a bird moving in the cliff.A Wallcreeper!!! Amazing. It is not normal to see a Wallcreeper so low, and it is even more strange to see it in a clay cliff which is not especially in the middle of the plains! Again everybody enjoyed the bird while moving up. Higher, a Blue Rock Thrush was also really showy. After a pair of minutes enjoying the bird we lost it and spent some time looking for the Black Wheatears living in this spot. After some minutes we had a pair of Black Wheatear moving in the broken slope. Here we also got the firsts Black Redstarts and Common Chiffchaffs of the tour.

This Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) was totally unexpected, and shared cliff with Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheatear.

After such a wonderful stop, we faced our transfer to Ebro Delta, a pair of hours of driving with several surprises in the way. The area between Lleida Steppes and Ebro Delta is a complex, hilly area crossed by Ebro river. It is good nautral border and a natural corridor that many birds use between the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees. The afternoon was sunny and calm and soon we realised that it was a good number of birds of prey migrating. After a pair of stops we had 1 Short-toed Snake Eagle, 1 Black Kite, 1 Northern Goshawk, several Common Buzzards and a few Eurasian Sparrowhawks moving North.

Once in Ebro Delta, we spent the rest of the afternoon in the Northern Bay, where we enjoyed good views on a long list of species. Slender-billed & Audouin’s Gull were the most celebrated but the list also included Whiskered, Caspian & Sandwich Terns, Black-necked Greve, Red-crested Pochard, Kentish Plover, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Knot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Common Redshank, big flocks of Greater Flamingoes and Mediterranean Gulls plus ruff views on a female Bluethroat that showed shortly due to the strong wind! After such a great end of the day, we drove to our accommodation for a good rest and plentiful dinner. 

Day 5. After enjoying our breakfast we went out to take a fast look to a small pond just by our hotel. There, we had a good surprise as a male Little Bittern moved in the reeds providing good looks. Cetti’s Warbler and Little Egret were also seen there!

But our first serious stop of the day was by the largest fresh water lagoon in the delta, called l’Encanyissada. A pair of stops were enough to catch with some of the most sought-after species. While flocks of Greater Flamingoes were passing over, we enjoyed wonderful views on Western Swamphens. In the lagoon there were flocks of Blacknecke Grebes but out attention was focused in the reedbeds. Cetti’s Warbler was showing well in some small plants by the reeds and 2 Water Pipits were seen in a nearby channel along with Green Sandpiper. But all alarms went on when a “tak-tak” came from the reeds. There was a Moustached Warbler just along the edge of the reedbed, calling and moving really low in the brown steems. It didn’t take long until all tour participants were enjoying good views on this shy species!

But the bird spectacled kept going. A flock of 5 Wood Sandpipers flew over right at the same time that 1 Whitespotted Bluethroat male called from the reedbed. A bit of scan was required before all tour participants enjoyed excellent views on this bird. The male was actually quite showy and it was calling a pair of times as it was moving along the shore of the channel. A further scan along different channels revealed at least 5 Bluethroats, 2 of them being males in full summer plomage.

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) in typical winter habitat.

After such a successful stop we decided to move on to explore some salt marshes. The area is an important nesting place for several species, including Audouin’s Gull, and we could see that many of them were already back in the area. At least 80 Audouins’s were there along with Caspian Terns, Grey Plovers, Kentish & Common Ringed Plovers, 100s of Dunlins and at least 7 Little Stints in the middle.

Audouin’s Gulls (Ichthyaetus audouinii) already busy in their colony.

From there we end the morning by exploring a sand bar facing South. This is a good place where to enjoy waders, Terns and Gulls. Several Great Crested Grebes were on the sea, as the sand bar protects a large inner bay. Along with them, 4 Blackthroated Divers were fishing and offering great views, but the best was to discover 1 Great Skua resting on the sea, far away but still offering a god view. Closer, flocks of Dunlins & Kentish Plovers were really appreciated by the group, along with the Slenderbilled Gulls side by side to Mediterranean Gull. A good way to walk the path of telling them apart. Northern Gannet and Ruddy Turnstone were also enjoyed in this stop.

Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) has become a common view in Ebro Delta.

To enjoy our picnic we went inside a wooded hide. From the hide, it didn’t look like a lot of birds, but we were having a good fun with the nice views on Western Swamphens and Cetti’s Warbler while a Booted Eagle was circling. Suddenly, a Great Spotted Cuckoo crossed the lagoon to stop right beside the hide! Wonderful!! This species of cuckoo arrives really early in the season and by the end of February you can expect some of them moving around, but due to the few time we had in the steppes, I was not expecting to see them at all!

Slim numbers of Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata) overwinter in Ebro Delta.

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is a scarce migratory bird in Ebro Delta itself.

During the afternoon we drove up along a lane to explore a mountainous areas some 30 miles away from Ebro Delta. It is extremelly windy and we had to drive up and down the lane a pair of times before we succeed, but finally we got what we were looking for and 2 Alpine Accentors were seen in the lane, right in front of the car!!! The birds were just feeding by the lane despite the extremelly strong wind but unfortunately they flew off down the slope before we could take any image of them…

Spanish Ibex (Capra hispanica) in a typical view.

Really happy about this spot, we moved to our final stop. A lovely Mediterranean gorge hosts some really good specialities. Weather conditions were hard so bird activity was really low. Still, we got good views in a female Spanish Ibex and we were about to leave when a call came from high up the cliff and a wonderful male Bonelli’s Eagle came down to inmediatly display over the valley. It called again just when dramatically dived in the sky to come back to the cliffs in a fast movement!!! What a incredible sight to end the day!!!

Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) displaying in late afternoon.

But this was not all. After dinner we just went out to the hotel grounds, were the tour participants enjoyed wonderful vews on 1 Eurasian Scops Owl that is actually nesting in a nest box right there!!!

Eurasian Scops Owl (Otus scops) already at nest at the end of February!

Day 6. Our last day of the tour we spent the morning in the delta. In our first stop we were scouting a large marshy area: big flocks of Blackwinged Stilts and Pied Avocets were resting there along with Northern Shovelers, Pintails, Blacktailed Godwits, Common Kingfishers, Shelducks and other goodies. Beyond this spot, the paddy fields around provided good birding and an accurate scan we enjoyed good views on 30 or more Ruffs but also Dunlins, European Golden Plovers, huge flocks of Glossy Ibises, obliging Lesser Shorttoed Larks and 1 Peregrine Falcon (probably a calidus race).

Young Greater Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus roseus) love to feed in the paddy fields.

It was time to head back to the airport but we still had time for a pair of fast stops around Barcelona. Our picnic stop by the airport reported Water Pipit. The afternoon was rainy and cold but we still tried to get the impressive Red-billed Leiothrix, an alien species living in some well forested areas in Greater Barcelona. By the time we did arrive, the temperature was low but we still managed good views on Firecrest as well as Monk Parakeet, Coal, Longtailed and European Crested Tits.

Ans this was the end of this wonderful tour to the Pyrenees, despite the really high temperatures!! Already ready for our next adventure, happening very soon.

Do you want to join us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding Trip Report. Gàmbia, Desembre del 2019

Dates: Del 8 al 14 de Desembre del 2019
Número de participants: 3
Número d’espècies: 270

Totes les imatges del report són obra del tour leader Sergi Sales

Dia 1: Aquest primer dia ens aixequem amb tranquilitat per gaudir d’un abundós esmorzar. És un dia assolejat, amb 20ºC i gens de vent. El dia anterior, el grup ha arribat a l’hotel a l’hora de sopar després d’un vol directe des de Barcelona i els habituals endarreriments aeroportuaris a l’arribar a Gàmbia. Un cop recuperats després d’un bon descans i un abundós esmorzar, ens trobem amb el nostre guia local al lobby de l’hotel per començar a gaudir dels ocells de la zona!
La primera parada del tour serà la a zona de Kotu, una barreja d’ecosistemes amb manglars, zones agrícoles i petites restes de selves litorals. La
parada que fem a un pont sobre els manglars és espectacular amb Giant, Pied, Blue-
breasterd, Malachite Woodland Kingfishers: 5 espècies espectaculars al mateix
sector!

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis).

Lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor).

També estan presents un bon assortit de limícols i ardèids. Apareixen els primers Long-
tailed Cormorant del tour. Un grupet de Blue-cheeked Beeaters sobrevola la zona i
cacen insectes des dels cables de la llum.
Comencem a endinsar-nos per zones agrícoles amb petites clapes selvàtiques on veiem
Senegal Coucal cantant i Western Red-billed & African Grey Hornbills. La sorpresa en
aquests moment va ser l’observació d’un ocell pujant per un tronc deixant-se observar
a plaer, ni mes ni menys que un Lesser Honeyguide envoltat de Beautiful Sunbirds i Western Square-tailed Drongos.

Finalment arribem a unes bases de depuració amb bons grups de White-faced
Whistling Ducks i diferents espècies d’ardeides, African Jacana, la subespècie
africana de Black-winged Stilt i un bon nombre d’actives Spur-winged Lapwings.
De tornada veiem African Pied Hornbill, l’abundant Western Plantain-eater i les
primeres Wattled Lapwing.
Ens dirigim cap a una zona de platja privada on dinem extradionariament be arrant de
platja alhora que gaudim de les primeres vistes de xatrac & gavines del tour.

Després d’un breu descans, prospectem una nova zona on escoltem i veiem
Double-Spurred Francolin i Green Woodhoopoe. A una petita bassa gaudim de la
tàctica de pesca de la Black Heron, amb els seus espasmòdics moviments obrint i tancant les
ales per fer ombra a l’aigua i atreure els peixos. Tornem al cotxe tot veient a plena llum
del dia un Pearl-spotted Owlet, al mateix arbre per on es movia un White-breasted
Cuckooshrike!!

Pearl-spotted Owlet (Glaucidium perlatum)

Acabem la jornada gaudint de noves espècies i aprofitant les oportunitats que brinda els
jardins del nostre hotel per poder fotografies d’una bona varietat d’ocells.

Dia 2: Aquesta segona jornada ens dirigirem cap zones de Selva Litoral on encara hi ha
sectors ben conservats. Una bona caminada ens proporciona cites molt interessants
d’espècies que després seran difícil a la resta del tour, entre elles destaquen Levaillant’s
& Klaas’s Cuckoos, Black Scimitarbill, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Red-Shouldered
Cuckooshrike i els primers de molts Yellow-fronted Canary al llarg del tour.

Violet Turaco (Musophaga violacea).

Però sens dubte uns dels moments més emocionats van ser les diverses observacions
de Guinea & Violet Turacos.
Cap el migdia arribem a una zona humida que malauradament s’ha assecat molt en els
darrers dies, baixant una mica les expectatives de les espècies que pensaven detectar.
Tot i això, mai decep i veiem Intermediate Egret, Pink-backed Pelican, Black crake &
African Darter.

Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia).

Una volta posterior per finalitzar el dia ens van donar les primeres observacions de
gran rapinayies, Long-crested Eagle, Lizzard Buzzard, African Harrier Hawk i especialment Beaudouin’s Snake-Eagle, una de les espècies més celebrades de la jornada!

Dia 3: Aquesta fou la jornada de internada a l’interior del país, cal llevar-se una mica d’hora i conduir pels fantàstics hàbitats més sabanoides i secs de l’interior, amb un bon nombre d’espècies típiques d’aquests hàbitats que
només podríem observar en aquesta jornada. Però sens dubte la gran estrella era la
recerca del Egyptian Plover, molt escàs i localitzat i per això sempre molt cobejat entre els observadors d’aus de tot el món!
Al llarg del viatge gaudim de rapinyaires com Dark Chating Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk,
Grassphopper Buzzard, Abyssinian Roller & Great White Pelican.
Una breu aturada ens permet fer recerca i detectar un parell d’impressionants
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill!!!

Abyssian Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus abyssinicus).

Al llarg del trajecte anem fent aturades treballant el màxim d’hàbitats possibles, en
una de les incursions detectem Brown-rumped Bunting, Sahel Bush Sparrow,
Northern Anteater & White-fronted Black-chat, mentre que en una zona agrícola abandonada veiem les úniques Black-headed Lapwing del tour.
Finalment arribem a unes petites basses on sense sortir del cotxe veiem un Egyptian
Plover a molt curta distància. Gaudim d’una observació fantàstica, però malauradament una persona espanta amb la seva caminada l’ocell. Fins a quatre vegades el tornem a detectar però ja més lluny.

Egyptian Plover (Pluvianus aegyptius).

L’entorn d’aquestes bassetes conformen un lloc espectacular, ple d’ocells on
destaquen els vistosos plomatges dels Exclamatory Paradise-Whydah, compartint
arbre amb Cut-throat Finches, Bishops, Queleas i altres espècies…
Una bona decisió del guia local va ser fer pícnic amb vistes a una bassa enmig de la
sabana on hi havia una continua entrada i sortida d’ocells atrets en aquesta època seca
per la zona humida.  Un gran número d’ocells s’atansen a la bassa per veure aigua, i una mica de paciència i concentració permeten descobrir dues sorpreses: la presencia de Chestnut-back Sparrow-lark & de Gosling’s Bunting.

Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark (Eremopterix leucotis).

Gosling’s Bunting (Emberiza goslingi).

Ja de tornada anem fent parades per cercar amb èxit African Golden Oriole, Bruce’s
Green.pigeon, Brubru com també Yellow-biled i Woolly-necked Storks.
Bon nombre de rapinyaires observats entre els que destaquen White-backed Vulture,
Gabar, Brown & Banded Snake-eagles. Arribem cansats de la llarga jornada però molt
satisfets amb el resultat aconseguit.

Dia 4: Matí de visita a una comunitat local on mantenen una reserva natural, amb varis
hides amb punts d’atracció per ocells on pots observar un gran nombre d’espècies
típiques d’aquests ambients de selva litoral, entre ells African Green Pigeon, Blue-spotted &
Black-billed Wood-dove, Greater Honeyguide, Brown-throated Wattle-eye, Yellow-
breasted Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Grey-headed Bristebill i fins a cinc espècies de Sunbird! Però el lloc es famós perquè tenen localitzats depenen el moment i l’any
vàries espècies de mussols (Greyish-eagle, Verreaux’s & African Wood Owls), alhora
que també els increïbles Long-tailed & Standart-winged Nihtjars.

Greyish Eagle Owl (Bubo cinerascens).

Long-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus climacurus).

Standard-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus longipennis).

Per la tarda visitem les grans piscifactories properes, amb molts ocells en aquelles que
mantenen aigua, força limícols però també African Sacred Ibis, African Spoonbill &
Quailfinch.

Dia 5: Després d’un abundant i variat esmorzar, sortim a prospectar altres zones de
selva litoral per tal d’intentar especialitats d’aquest hàbitat.
Visitem un mosaic de zones agrícoles, taques de selva i zones properes a nuclis rurals
on fem bones observacions d’espècies com: Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Northern
Puffback, Sulphur-breasterd Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Greenbul i fugaces observacions de l’espectacular Oriole warbler.
Aprofitem per fer fotografies de varies espècies com Red-necked Falcon, Black-winged
Kite & Little bee-eater.
Finalment acabem la visita, com molt altres llocs fent un descans a un Jungle-bar on
prenent una beguda fresca pots espera alguna de les espècies que freqüent els punts
d’aigua. Allà vàrem gaudir de les visita de els dues espècies de Turaco, African & Black-
headed Flycatchers i els únics Western Bluebill del tour.

Western Bluebill (Spermophaga haematina).

Per la tarda visitem la famosa zona de Tanji a la cerca de gulls & terns, però encara és
més interessant la zona dunar amb taques de vegetació que concentren gran quantitat
de passerines i altres espècies d’ocells com per exemple Four-banded Sandgrouse,
Fanti Sawwing, Pied-winged Swallow & Stone Partridge.

Four-banded Sandgrouse (Pterocles quadricinctus).

Dia 6: Aquest dia gaudim d’un canvi radical d’hàbitat, visitant una zona humida litoral, Kartong Wetland, on es conserven bones extensions de canyissars i a on hi ha un centre d’anellament i
investigació.
Un dels objectius era la African Collared Dove, la qual no tardem a detectar entre un
grups mixtes de tòrtores i coloms. Al ser una de les darreres zones amb aigua,
concentra encara un bon nombre d’ànecs (incloent Spur-winged Goose), limícols i
ardèids. Als canyissar s’escolten vàries espècies de boscarles. Però sens dubte, l’estrella
del matí va ser un mascle de Greater-painted Snipe, que desprès de molta estona de
scouting, es va deixar veure, immòbil al marge d’un camp!

Greater painted Snipe (Rostratula bengalensis).

Dinem a un lloc extraordinari amb vistes a un manglar que limita amb Senegal, allà
continuem amb bones observacions de varies espècies de manglars, entre les que
destaca un Brown Sunbird.
Finalment fem un nou intent caminant per una paradisíaca platja a la recerca de dues espècies; Kelp Gull & White-fronted Plover. El limícol es deixa veure en solitari o petits grups a la
pròpia sorra de la platja.

Yellow Penduline Tit (Anthoscopus parvulus).

A la distància veiem un gran grup mixte de gavines i xatracs, on podem apropar-nos i
escanejar bé. Entre Grey-headed, Lesser-backed i 1 Yellow-legged Gulls (!!)
aconseguim detectar 2 1st winter i 1 sub-adult de Kelp Gull. A més, un grup de vaques que descasen a la sorra de la platja ens proporciona una bona oportunitat per fer bon un bon reportatge de Yellow-billed Oxpecker alimentant-se activament. Gran dia amb un total de 131
espècies observades!

Dia 7: El darrer dia el fem visitant la famosa reserva d’Abuko, on fem els darrers
intents per certes especialitats que encara no hem trobat o que hem observat breument. Una de les estrelles eren el Collared & Scarlet-chested Sunbird, els quals vàren ser vistos mirant
amb atenció els sunbird de les zones amb flors. També veiem Diderick Cuckoo,
Senegal Eremomela, Green-backed Camaroptera & Yellow-breasted Apalis.

Finalment tornem aviat a l’hotel per preparar la tornada fen la darrera volta als jardins
dels hotel amb la millor observació del viatge de Oriole Warbler!!

Gran final per un viatge amb una llarga llista d’espècies observades. Un sincer agraïment a la gran feina del nostre guia local i a la seva extansa xarxa de contactes al país.

Cocodril del Nil (Cocodrylus niloticus).