The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Indian Ocean Islands

COMORO ISLANDS

Monday 20th September – Wednesday 29th September 2021
Leader: Birdquest leader to be announced
10 Days Group Size Limit 8

Birdquest’s Comoro Islands birding tour explores an endemic-rich but rarely-visited part of the world. Our Comoro Islands birding tour is a comprehensive survey of the many interesting Comoros endemics found on all of the main islands in the group.

This exciting tour focuses on the seldom-seen endemics of the Comoro Islands. The Comoro Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands lying between Madagascar and Africa. Known by early seafaring Arabs as ‘The Islands of the Moon’, the Comoro Islands are currently politically divided into two entities, the Union of Comoros (a sovereign state comprising Grande Comore, Anjouan and Mohéli) and Mayotte (an ‘overseas collectivity’ of France).

Originally colonized by people of Malay-Polynesian origin, the islands were later colonized by waves of African, Arab and Shirazi (Persian) colonizers. Each of the islands has a very different character and there is a wonderful expression in the Comoros which says: “Mohéli sleeps, Anjouan works, Mayotte plays and Grande Comore complains!”

The Comoro Islands have been very much neglected by the ornithological world and very few birders have visited these islands in recent times, in spite of the fact that there are already as many as 26 endemic bird species (and perhaps well over 30 in the future after further research). The islands underwent a period of political turmoil in the 1990s, but have since recovered and are now political stable. This exciting tour is certainly one that should appeal to those with the spirit of adventure and a desire to see some of the planet’s least-known birds.

During our visit to the Comoro Islands we will visit all four of the major islands and we have an excellent chance of finding just about all their endemic birds, which include several globally threatened species.

Among the endemics are Comoros Olive, Comoros Green and Comoros Blue Pigeons, Mayotte, Anjouan, Mohéli and Karthala Scops Owls, Grand Comoro and Mohéli Bulbuls, Mayotte, Crested and Grand Comoro Drongos, Comoros Thrush, Humblot’s Flycatcher (a bird in its own genus), Comoros Blue Vanga, Anjouan, Mohéli and Grand Comoro Brush Warblers, Mayotte, Kirk’s and Karthala White-eyes, Mayotte, Anjouan, Humblot’s and Grand Comoro Green Sunbirds, and Comoros Fody.

Birdquest has operated Comoro Islands birding tours since 2008.

In 2021 this tour can be taken together with: SEYCHELLES, MAURITIUS & RÉUNION or REMOTE MADAGASCAR

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or at least medium standard in most locations. On Anjouan and Moheli the hotels are fairly basic. For one night on Grande Comore, those who wish to look for Grand Comoro Scops Owl and Mount Karthala White-eye will have to camp out in tents. Road transport is by minibuses (passenger vans), cars or 4×4 vehicles and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our Comoro Islands birding tour is mostly easy, but there are several moderate grade walks. Those wishing to look for Grand Comoro Scops Owl and Mount Karthala White-eye will have to make a fairly strenuous uphill hike in order to do so.

Climate: Rather variable. Many days at lower altitudes will be hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes overcast and rainy. At higher altitudes the weather is similar but temperatures are cool to warm. It may be humid at times.

Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our Comoro Islands birding tour range from worthwhile to fairly good.


COMORO ISLANDS BIRDING TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees. Our tour prices also include all flight costs and all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately €700. Flights included in the Comoro Islands are: Moroni (Grande Comore)-Mohéli, Mohéli-Anjouan and Anjouan-Dzaoudzi (Mayotte).

Deposit: £360, $470, €410.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates and deposit amount)


2021: provisional £3390, $4290, €3750. Moroni (Grand Comoro)/Dzaoudzi (Mayotte).

Single Supplement: 2021: £330, $420, €370.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Euros. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

COMORO ISLANDS BIRDING TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 1  Our tour begins this evening at Moroni on the island of Grande Comore, where we will stay for a three nights. (There are frequent international connections into Moroni via Nairobi.)

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Days 2-3  Grande Comore (or Grand Comoro), otherwise known as Ngazidja, is the largest and westernmost of the Comoro Islands. During our three days on the island we will explore various areas in the highlands, concentrating on the area around Mount Karthala, which has the largest crater of any of the world’s active volcanoes!

Grand Comoro single island endemics that we should find during our exploration of the island include the critically endangered Grand Comoro Drongo, Grand Comoro Bulbul (now treated as a separate species from the bulbuls on Mohéli), the interesting Humblot’s Flycatcher (the sole representative of the genus Humblotia), Grand Comoro Brush-Warbler, Kirk’s White-eye (split from Madagascar) and the iridescent Grand Comoro Green Sunbird (now sometimes split from Malagasy Green).

Those who are able to make the trek up to the top of the mountain can camp out on the slope of the volcano for one night to search for the endemic Karthala (or Grand Comoro) Scops Owl and the endemic Karthala White-eye, both of which we should find.

We will also have another chance to see a number of shared endemics including Comoros Olive Pigeon, the attractive Comoros Blue Pigeon, Comoros Cuckooshrike (the endemic Grand Comoro subspecies), Comoros Thrush (a species which surely merits a three way split), the attractive Humblot’s Sunbird, and Comoros (or Red-headed) Fody, again of an endemic Grand Comoro subspecies.

In addition we will look out for the Grand Comoro forms of Frances’s Sparrowhawk, Lesser Vasa Parrot, Malagasy Spinetail, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher and African Stonechat (another potential split). Malagasy Harrier is surprisingly common on the island, and around the coast we should find the Comoros endemic subspecies of Striated Heron and Malagasy (or Malagasy Malachite) Kingfisher.

The Comoros are also home to a number of introduced species such as Ring-necked (or Cape Turtle) and Tambourine Doves, Grey-headed Lovebird, Bronze Mannikin and House Sparrow.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 4  After some final birding on Grande Comore we will take a flight to the island of Mohéli for a two nights stay. Once we have arrived on the island we will make our way to our accommodation for a two nights stay.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 5  Mohéli, also known as Mwali, is home to four single island endemics, as well as three others that are shared with Grande Comore. During our visit we will explore the remnant montane forest of the central spine of the island where we should find the uncommon endemic Mohéli (or Benson’s) Brush Warbler, the endemic Mohéli Bulbul (a recent split) and the endemic Comoros Blue Vanga (a recently proposed split from Blue Vanga and the sole representative of this family outside of Madagascar). With just a little luck we will come across the rarely observed Comoros Green Pigeon (split from Madagascan), which is endemic to the Comoros in general. After dark, we will try for the recently described endemic Mohéli Scops Owl, which we have an excellent chance of seeing as well as hearing its weird screaming calls.

In addition, we should also find the local forms of Humblot’s Sunbird, Comoros Thrush (the distinctive local form is probably a good species) and, with luck, the rare Mohéli form of the Comoros Cuckooshrike (split from Ashy). Other species we may well encounter include the Mohéli forms of Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Malagasy White-eye, Malagasy Green Sunbird and Comoros (or Red-headed) Fody.

Off the coast, we are likely to see Lesser Frigatebirds and attractive Masked Boobies, and we also have a good chance of seeing the endemic temptator form of the Persian (or Arabian) Shearwater.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 6  After a final morning on Mohéli, we will take a flight to Anjouan for a two nights stay. In the evening, if time permits, we will have our first opportunity to look for the rather elusive endemic Anjouan Scops Owl.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 7  Anjouan, also known as Ndzuwani or Nzwani, is the easternmost of the three islands which make up the Union of Comoros and is home to three single-island endemics. Two of these, Anjouan Sunbird (split from Souimanga) and Anjouan Brush Warbler (split from Malagasy) are easy to find, and even occur in the town. Sadly, the natural vegetation on Anjouan had been devastated, and it is difficult to find any decent forest. Much more time will be spent tracking down the endearing Anjouan Scops Owl, which may well prove a little challenging as it seems to require reasonable habitat!

Other species we will be looking for include the scaly Anjouan form of the endemic Comoros Thrush (another likely split), as well as the Comoros form of the Greater Vasa Parrot and the Anjouan forms of Cuckoo-Roller, Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher, Malagasy White-eye and Comoros Fody. We will also hope to see the scarcer endemic island taxa, including the Anjouan forms of Frances’s Sparrowhawk (which may already be extinct!) and Crested Drongo.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 8  This morning we will take a flight from Anjouan across to Dzaoudzi, the capital of Mayotte.

Situated at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between Madagascar and Africa, Mayotte (officially known by the title ‘The Departmental Collectivity of Mayotte’) is an Overseas Territory of France consisting of two main islands (Grande-Terre or Mahoré, and Petite-Terre or Pamandzi) and several islets. The territory has been politically separate from the rest of the Comoros since the 1970s.

On arrival, we will travel by ferry across to Grand Terre and on the short distance to our accommodation for a two nights stay. En route we are likely to find the endemic Mayotte White-eye (split from Malagasy), and will call in at a park where we may well find the endemic Mayotte form of the Comoros (or Red-headed) Fody.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 9  Our time on Grande Terre will largely be spent exploring the slopes of Mont Combani (480m). Here our time will be devoted to finding the three additional endemics that are restricted to Mayotte, as well as some other more widespread Comoro Islands endemics. We will take a jeep track up the mountain to search for the endemic Mayotte Drongo and endemic Mayotte Sunbird (both of which should be relatively easy to find) and after dark we will search for the endemic Mayotte Scops Owl (split from Rainforest) which is common and easy to see. We should also find two more widespread Comoros endemics; namely Comoros Olive Pigeon and the gorgeous Comoros Blue Pigeon.

With the current trend in splitting, especially of small island forms, we will be on the lookout for all of the endemic taxa throughout the Comoros, and here on Mayotte these include the Mayotte forms of Frances’s Sparrowhawk and Malagasy Paradise Flycatcher.

Other species we may well encounter include Malagasy Turtle Dove and Cuckoo-Roller (the latter, curiously, of the mainland Madagascar form).

Off the coastline, we may turn up both Sooty and Bridled Terns, and Brown Noddy.

Comoro Islands Birding Tour: Day 10  This morning we will travel back to Petite-Terre (where Dzaoudzi is situated), spending some time looking around Pamandzi Lagoon. Elegant White-tailed Tropicbirds breed on the island and the lagoon often holds the superb Crab-Plover (the sole member of its family) as well as a good selection of other species, including Peregrine, Greater Crested Tern and the Comoros forms of Striated Heron and Malagasy Swift.

Our tour ends this afternoon at Dzaoudzi airport on Mayotte island.

COMORO ISLANDS & REMOTE MADAGASCAR TOUR REPORT 2018

by János Oláh

View Report

COMORO ISLANDS & REMOTE MADAGASCAR TOUR REPORT 2014

by Dani López-Velasco

View Report

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