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OMAN

Friday 3rd November - Sunday 19th November 2017

Hannu Jännes

Grey Hypocolius (Hannu Jännes)

Grey Hypocolius (Hannu Jännes)

Birdquest’s tenth Oman & Bahrain tour proved yet again a success for many reasons. We recorded a respectable total of 238 taxa and 52 Birdquest ‘diamond’ species (regional specialities), saw some fantastic migrants and interesting seabirds. The highlight of this tour were perhaps Oman’s special owls species. Again we saw Omani Owl, a species only a handful of tour groups have seen before, and most of these were travelling with Birdquest! We also recorded the newly described Desert Owl, Pallid and Arabian Scops Owls, Little Owl, and ‘Arabian’ Spotted Eagle-Owl (a potential split from Spotted Eagle-Owl). You might not think a country comprising of mostly of rock and sand would be a great place for owls, but of the seven species sighted on this tour, three occupied the first, second and third place in the ‘Bird of the Trip’ vote! The mix of Middle Eastern specialities and sought-after migrants encountered on the tour, included Arabian Partridge, Persian Shearwater, Jouanin’s Petrel, Masked and Brown Booby, Red-billed Tropicbird, Verreaux’s Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Red-knobbed Coot, Crab-plover, Long-toed Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Sooty Gull; White-cheeked Tern, Spotted, Lichtenstein’s and Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Oriental Turtle and African Collared Doves, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Forbes-Watson’s Swift, Sooty Falcon, Steppe Grey Shrike, Fan-tailed Raven, Grey Hypocolius, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, White-spectacled Bulbul, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Plain Leaf and Green Warblers, Arabian Babbler, Asian Desert Warbler, Ménétries’s Warbler, Abyssinian White-eye, Tristram’s Starling, Blackstart, Hume’s, Variable, Red-tailed & Arabian Wheatears, Nile Valley, Palestine and Shining Sunbirds; Rüppell’s Weaver, Indian Silverbill, Yemen Serin, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak and Striolated Bunting. We also added Shikra, Yellow-billed Kite and Black Stork to the Birdquest Oman List. The Kingdom of Bahrain weighed in again with a wonderful pre-roost gathering of around 160 Grey Hypocolius, plus Socotra Cormorant and Egyptian Nightjar. A very good line-up worth the small detour across the Gulf!

Oman remains the safest country in the Middle East with stunning landscapes, a great road network, generally good food and accommodation throughout and a warm welcome for tourists. It was also good to see that Bahrain is back to ‘normal’ with peace and quiet restored after the turmoil of 2011’s ‘Arab Spring’. Our wonderful host, Abdullah, made our stay in Bahrain a very special one as always. It is such a shame that many people are influenced by events in the rest of the Middle East and never get to experience traditional Arabian hospitality!

Sooty Falcon (Hannu Jännes)

Sooty Falcon (Hannu Jännes)