It's still not on the birding map yet but Saudi Arabia ticks a lot of boxes for us birders. Firstly and most importantly, there's a great variety of birds to find including a number of Arabian endemics mixed in with an interesting mix of African species and some great migrants. Most of the best birding sites are concentrated in the far south-west of the country, thus eliminating an excessiver amount of driving. The infrastructure is good, food is good and there's decent birding opportunities all year round. Add to this, direct flights from the UK and you have a perfect birding destination. Zoothera is one of the first bird tour companies to offer a tour to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and what an exciting destination this truly is.
Our tour begins and ends in Riyadh. The desert to the north of the city is home to one of the most prized and little-known birds in the Middle East - Arabian Lark. There's also chances of Cream-coloured Courser, Thick-billed Lark and White-crowned Wheatear, whilst both Desert Owl and Pharaoh Eagle-Owl are present in nearby wadis. A short flight to Abha will take us to the far south-west of the country and is the gateway to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in all of Arabia. Here, we will look for Philby's Partridge, Arabian Woodpecker, Buff-breasted Wheatear, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler, Asir Magpie, Arabian Golden Sparrow, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Serin, Yemen Serin, Yemen Linnet and Arabian Grosbeak. There's a fine assortment of habitats to explore and it's not just all mountains, with deep valleys, reservoirs, lakes, farmland, parks and woodland hosting a fine supporting cast such as Arabian Partridge, Gabar Goshawk, Arabian Scops-Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, Abyssinian Nightjar, Dusky Turtle-Dove, Olive Pigeon, White-browed Coucal, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Rufous-capped Lark, Arabian Wheatear, African Stonechat, Arabian Babbler, Black Scrub-Robin, Palestine Sunbird, Arabian Sunbird, Long-billed & African Pipits, Brown Woodland Warbler, Little Rock-Thrush and many more. Heading south we will visit the fantastic birding site of Jazan Dam Lake where Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, both Plain & Nubian Nightjars and many other great birds reside. Fields to the south are home to Harlequin & Small Buttonquails, Helmeted Guineafowl, Greater Painted Snipe, Spotted Thick-knee, African Swamphen, Abyssinian Roller, Singing Busklark, Black Scrub-Robin, Nile Valley Sunbird and others can be found. And then there's the fantastic coastal birding at Al Birk and Jazan where species such as Lesser Flamingo, Goliath Heron, Crab-Plover, White-eyed Gull, White-cheeked and Saunders's Terns, Mangrove White-eye, Mangrove Reed Warbler & more can be found. And that's our tour in a nutshell. So Saudi Arabia - why not?