This tour visits some of the best winter birding areas in two friendly countries in the Middle East. We'll enjoy excellent desert and wetland birding with many seldom-seen Palearctic winter specialties. These are fascinating places to visit, unlike anywhere else, and, unusually for Middle Eastern destinations, both are safe and indeed welcoming for tourists.
Rich in oil and gas reserves, the UAE seems to be giving little thought to sustainable development. Vast, green irrigated areas dot the desert, using fossil water reserves or desalinated seawater for totally inappropriate vegetation. Strange as it all is, the result is an oasis for birds that might otherwise perish in these vast arid lands. Migrant and vagrant species that would normally be pushing hard to get through the desert now find verdant golf courses and wetland habitats that may support them through the winter.
In the desert sultanate of Oman, we'll visit spectacular dry wadis and mountains (jebels) and enjoy some excellent desert birding. The north in winter is the best place to see a number of difficult species such as Variable (Eastern Pied), Hume's, Hooded, and Red-tailed wheatears and Plain Leaf-Warbler. The Gulf coast is good for sea and shorebirds such as Persian Shearwater, White-cheeked Tern, and Socotra Cormorant. And the Qitbit desert oases are home to wintering migrants such as Long-legged Buzzard, Lesser Whitethroat, Bluethroat, and flocks of Spotted and perhaps Crowned sandgrouse.
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