DAY 1 ARRIVAL IN SALALAH - 12th January 2023
Following an daytime flight from London via Doha we will arrive early early evening into Salalah and transfer to a nearby hotel where we will have dinner and discuss the exciting possibilities of the week ahead.
DAYS 2 - 8 SALALAH 13th - 19th January
We are in for a very busy stay here in Salalah! Just what we do and where we go each day will vary on what species we are targetting. There are a number of specialities to find and there's plenty of great general birding to be had, with a species mix comprising birds from the Afrotropical, European and Oriental regions all meeting here. Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak will possibly be our No.1 target and we will visit a series of wadis that have streams running through them and so have some green and lush habitat in this desert environment. The Jabal Al Qara escarpment has habitat comprising lightly wooded slopes and grassland where Arabian specialities such as Arabian Partridge, Arabian Wheatear and Yemen Serin can all be found. And one morning we will undertake a pelagic out of Mirbat, just under an hour's drive from Salalah. This could be very interesting as few people have undertaken a pelagic out into the Arabian Sea at this time of year. We should see Masked and possibly Brown Booby, Socotra Cormorant, White-cheeked Tern, Sooty Gull, and hopefully something rarer! There's chances of Persian Shearwater and Jouanin's Petrel, but they are much scarcer at this time of year. One of the highlights of our week will be our owling excursions, looking for Desert Owl, Arabian Eagle Owl and Arabian Scops Owl.
The list of other potential species is a mad-mix and we should see quite a sizable portion of the following species: Yellow Bittern, African Openbill, White & Abdim's Storks, Lappet-faced Vulture, Pallid Harrier, Verreaux's, Greater Spotted, Eastern Imperial, Steppe, Bonelli's and Booted Eagles, Crested Honey Buzzard, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser & Greater Sandplovers, Temminck's Stint, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse (rare), Slender-billed, Caspian, Steppe & Heuglin's Gulls, Diederik Cuckoo, Bruce's Green-Pigeon, Namaqua & Laughing Doves, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Roller, Black-crowned Tchagra, Pale Crag-Martin, Singing Bushlark, Turkestan & Isabelline Shrikes, Desert & Isabelline Wheatears, Blackstart, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Red-breasted Flycatcher, White-spectacled Bulbul, Common Whitethroat (icterops), Arabian Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Abyssinian White-eye, Tristram's Starling, Palestine Sunbird, Arabian Sunbird (split from Shining Sunbird) , Long-billed Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Fan-tailed Raven, Rüppell’s Weaver, African Silverbill and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.
On one day we will leave early and head inland to the remote village of Mudday, which is not too far from the border with Yemen. The main prize here is a small, wintering flock of Hypocolius that can be seen in a couple of spots around the village. Other great birds to look for here include Sand Partridge, African Collared Dove, Blackstart, Desert and Bar-tailed Larks, Hooded Wheatear and Nile Valley Sunbird. Nearby, there is a remote wadi where large flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse come to drink, and usually there are some Crowned Sandgrouse visiting as well. This is a great site and there's a high chance of getting a few other different species or even a rarity. On one of the four tours we have done in the past year, a Jacobin Cuckoo appeared.
Once we are finished here, we will head to what is becoming one of the best hotspots for rarities in southern man - Shisr Fields. On our Nov 22 tour a flock of Sociable Lapwings were present and should hopefully be spending the winter here. The irrigated fields have proved to be a rarity magnet with species such as Arabian Lark, Red Collared Dove and Wattled Starling being seen, whilst in Nov 22 we had a flock of over 140 Rosy Starlings. Groups of White Storks feed here, and the huge flocks of House Sparrows attract a variety of raptors including Long-legged Buzzard, Pallid Harrier, and various eagles. The surrounding desert is also good for Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark and this would be our best chance of finding a Cream-coloured Courser. It's an exciting site and we are pretty much guaranteed to have a number of unusual sightings.
During our full day around Thumrayt we will explore the desert areas if Dunn's Lark hasn't been seen yet, and there's several irrigated farms that are worthy of exploration as they prove attractive to species such as Sand Partridge, Cream-coloured Courser, Sociable Lapwing, Chestnut-bellied and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, African Collared Dove, Desert Lark, Hooded Wheatear and Nile Valley Sunbird amongst others. We will spend two nights in Thumrayt.
DAY 9 END OF TOUR 20th January
Transfers to Salalah International airport and end of an exciting tour. Or why not add a few days and join us on our quick recce of SW Saudi Arabia as we search for more Arabian endemics: Philby's Partridge, Arabian Woodpecker, Asir Magpie, Yemen Warbler, Yemen Thrush, Buff-breasted Wheatear, Arabian Golden Sparrow, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Serin and Arabian Linnet. Ask our office for details.