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2024 Saudi Birding Tours

Winter 2024

The first consideration when planning a birding trip to Saudi is when to visit. No matter which season you ultimately decide upon, there are invariably tradeoffs. A summer visit means more difficult conditions for desert birding, making encounters with Arabian, Temminck's, "Lesser Short-toed", Greater Hoopoe-, and Thick-billed Larks all the more challenging. Some regional specialties, particularly in the northwest, can only be found or can be found more easily during the winter. In addition to the above-mentioned larks, these include See-see Partridge, Desert Owl, Kurdish Wheatear, Sinai Rosefinch, and Syrian Serin among others. Recent visitors to the Kingdom may have passed up an opportunity to target these species due to the timing of their visits or the limited duration of their stay. For this reason, I am offering a seven-day tour of Saudi's northwest in February 2024. For those keen on also seeing the endemics, in November 2024 I am offering a two-week tour inclusive of the southwest as well. Participants in the February tour might also decide to join me for the southwest summer tour in June 2024. See below for details on these other tour offerings.

The winter tour will run from February 17 to February 23, 2024. It will begin in Sakaka, in the Al Jawf region, where we will try for See-see Partridge and a range of interesting desert species, including highly sought-after larks. From there we will cross the Great Nafud Desert to Hail. Here we will being visiting sites of both archaeological and avian interest. We'll then spend two days in Al Ula, a beautifully situated town in the ancient center of Nabatean culture on the Arabian Peninsula. Here we will target Desert Owl, Kurdish Wheatear, and Sinai Rosefinch. Finally, we'll wrap up the tour in Tabuk, from where we'll visit Jebel Al Lawz, the highest mountain in the region and only known spot to find wintering Syrian Serin, a regional specialty with an estimate global population of only around 4,000 birds.

Trip Targets

In addition to a range of Western Palearctic migrants and other winter residents, the following will be our primary targets during the March tour: See-see Partridge, Chukar, Sociable Lapwing, Pharaoh Eagle-Owl, Desert Owl, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Arabian Lark, Temminck's Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Greater Hoopoe-Lark, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark, Turkestan Short-toed Lark, Asian Desert Warbler, Ruppell's Warbler, Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Arabian Babbler, Tristram's Starling, Finsch's Wheatear, Basalt Wheatear (?), Kurdish Wheatear, Hypocolius, Sinai Rosefinch, Olive-rumped Serin, Syrian Serin

Check out a more complete list of the regional specialties we may encounter HERE.

Details in Brief

Dates: February 17 - 23, 2024 (TBC)

Arrive: To Jeddah no later than 3:oo PM or Riyadh no later than 1:00 PM on February 16

Depart: Via Jeddah no earlier than 11:30 PM or Riyadh no earlier than 10:00 PM on February 23

Transport: Economy SUVs or minivan depending on the number of participants and space requirements

Itinerary: Al Jawf (day 1); Al Jawf to Hail (day 2); Hail to Al Ula (day 3); Al Ula (day 4); Al Ula to Tabuk via Wadi Disah (day 5); Jebel Al Lawz region (day 6); Tabuk (day 7)

Climate: The deserts and mountains of the northwest can be fairly chilly in the morning, so layers and light gloves recommended. There can even be snow on top of Jebel Al Lawz. The afternoons will be pleasant with the temperature around 75° F (24° C). There could also be the odd rain shower or two.

Physical demands: There will be light to moderately strenuous walking at most of our birding stops

Participants: Min 3; max 9

Cost: TBD based on group size; single-room supplement applies

Deposit: 30% to reserve your spot

 
Summer 2024

Following the success and excitement of this summer's tour, I am offering an eight-day tour of Saudi's southwest in June 2024. Spaces are sure to fill up fast, so secure your spot now!


The tour will run from June 14 to June 21, 2024 and cover the sand-gravel deserts, sandstone jebels, and wetlands around Riyadh; the highlands of the Sarawat Range from the Al Bahah Region to the Asir Region; as well as the foothills, wetlands, and coastal hotspots of the Tihama lowlands of Jazan. Following this rough itinerary, we will stand an excellent chance of encountering all of the Arabian endemics as well as most, if not all, of the near-endemics.

Trip Targets

While there's the potential of racking up a hefty trip list, brimming with lots of really interesting birds, particularly in the Jazan region with its abundance of Afrotropical species, the following will be our primary targets, most of which are endemic or near-endemic to the Arabian Peninsula: Helmeted Guineafowl, Arabian Partridge, Philby's Partridge, White-eyed Gull, Arabian Scops-Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, Arabian Green Bee-eater, Arabian Woodpecker, Black-crowned Tchagra, Asir Magpie, Arabian Lark, Rufous-capped Lark, "Mangrove" Reed Warbler, Basra Reed Warbler, Yemen Warbler, "Mangrove" White-eye, Arabian Babbler, Tristram's Starling, Yemen Thrush, Buff-breasted Wheatear, Arabian Wheatear, Arabian Sunbird, Arabian Golden Sparrow, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Grosbeak, Olive-rumped Serin, Yemen Serin, Yemen Linnet


Check out a more complete list of the regional specialties we may encounter HERE.

Details in Brief

Dates: June 14 - 21, 2024 (TOUR FULL)

Arrive: King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh by 3:00 AM the morning of Friday, June 14

Depart: Leave via Riyadh late evening Friday, June 21 or the following morning

Transport: Economy SUVs or minivan depending on the number of participants and space requirements

Itinerary: Riyadh (1 day); Riyadh to Al Bahah (day 2); Al Bahah to Tanomah (day 3); Tanomah to Muhayil (day 4); Muhayil to Jizan (day 5); Jizan (day 6); Jizan to Abha (day 7); Abha to Riyadh (day 8)

Climate: While the coastal plains along the Red Sea coast can be hot and humid with a heat index during the day reaching around 110° F (43° C), the weather in the highlands will be cooler and much more pleasant with the temperature rarely exceeding 86° F (30° C). There will also be the chance of heavy mist and thunderstorms. Expect hot but dry days around in the central region of Riyadh.

Physical demands: There will be light to moderately strenuous walking at most of our birding stops

Participants: Min 3; max 9 (TOUR FULL)

Cost: TBD based on group size; single-room supplement applies

Deposit: 30% to reserve your spot

 
Late Fall 2024

In November 2024 I will be offering two back-to-back tours for those who might be interested trying for species only found in the far northwest of the Kingdom on top of the endemics and near-endemics of the southwest!

The tour will run from November 9 to November 22 and follow the same rough itinerary as the summer 2024 tour during the first week. Those who have signed up for the northwest tour will then fly to the charming and historic town of Al Ula, from where we will head west to Hail, then north to Sakaka, and finish off our northwest adventure in Tabuk.

Trip Targets

The timing of this tour offering is such that, on top of our primary endemic, near-endemic, and regional targets, we can also see an interesting and diverse cast of late migrant and wintering species. For those who sign up for both tours, the following will be our primary targets: Helmeted Guineafowl, See-see Partridge (NW), Arabian Partridge, Chukar (NW), Philby's Partridge, Sociable Lapwing (NW), White-eyed Gull, Arabian Scops-Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, Desert Owl (NW), Arabian Green Bee-eater, Arabian Woodpecker, Asir Magpie, Arabian Lark (NW), Temminck's Lark (NW), Thick-billed Lark (NW), Rufous-capped Lark, Mediterranean Short-toed Lark (NW), Turkestan Short-toed Lark (NW), Yemen Warbler, Asian Desert Warbler (NW), Ruppell's Warbler (NW), Eastern Subalpine Warbler (NW), "Mangrove" White-eye, Yemen Thrush, Buff-breasted Wheatear, Arabian Wheatear, Finsch's Wheatear (NW), Kurdish Wheatear (NW), Persian Wheatear (NW), Hypocolius (NW), Arabian Sunbird, Arabian Golden Sparrow, Arabian Waxbill, Sinai Rosefinch (NW), Arabian Grosbeak, Olive-rumped Serin, Yemen Serin, Yemen Linnet, Syrian Serin (NW)

Check out a more complete list of the regional specialties we may encounter HERE.

Details in Brief

Dates: November 9 - November 22, 2024 (TBC)

Arrive: King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah by 3:00 AM the morning of Saturday, November 9

Depart: Leave via Jeddah late evening Friday, November 22 or the following morning

Transport: Economy SUVs or minivan depending on the number of participants and space requirements

Itinerary:

  • Jeddah to Al Bahah (day 1); Al Bahah to Tanomah (day 2); Tanomah to Muhayil (day 3); Muhayil to Jizan (day 4); Jizan (day 5); Jizan to Abha (day 6); Abha to Jeddah (day 7)

  • Jeddah to Al Jawf (day 8); Al Jawf (day 9); Al Jawf to Hail (day 10); Hail to Al Ula (day 11); Al Ula (day 12); Al Ula to Tabuk via Wadi Disah (day 13); Jebel Al Lawz via Tabuk (day 14)

Climate: The weather in central region of Riyadh will be quite pleasant with the possibility of a rain shower. The temperature shouldn't exceed 90° F (32° C). It will be cooler in the highlands and desert and mountains of the northwest. Temperatures will be at their warmest along the Red Sea coast.

Physical demands: There will be light to moderately strenuous walking at most of our birding stops

Participants: Min 3; max 9

Cost: TBD based on group size; single-room supplement applies

Deposit: 30% to reserve your spot

 

If you're interested in joining one of the tours, click HERE and scroll down to complete the booking form.


Happy Saudi Birding!




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