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Iran

15th - 29th April 2018

 

Leader: Carlos Bocos

 
Max group size: 8

Full itinerary not yet available. Please contact us for further details.

Iran, for so long off the birding radar for political reasons is now accessible and welcoming visitors. Finely positioned on the edge of the Middle-east and Central and South Asia, a variety of habitats mean that over 300 species breed in the country, with a vast number migrating through from Africa to the Palearctic.
Though the number of new species for the well-travelled are few, there are a number of real megas, including the enigimatic, endemic Pleske’s Ground Jay and near-endemic Caspian Tit and such restricted-range species as Sistan (Afghan) Scrub Sparrow (only found here and Afghanistan!), Sind Woodpecker, Basra Reed Warbler, Afghan and Iraq Babblers, Caspian Snowcock, Black-headed Penduline Tit, Plain Leaf Warbler, Hypocolius, Caspian Snowcock, and a variety of wheatears including Hume’s.

Working clockwise around the country, starting in the south-east of the country, in Baluchistan, from the city of Bandar Abbas we bird in rocky, open terrain. This area is home to the enigmatic Sind Woodpecker, which favours the small, remaining orchard groves, Hume’s Wheatear, Streaked Scrub Warbler (now a monotypic family), Upcher’s Warbler, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Crowned Sandgrouse and the range-restricted Afghan Babbler. Along the shores of the Straits of Hormuz we have a chance of White-cheeked and Saunder’s Terns, Sand Lark, Crab-plover and even an outside chance of Sooty Gull.
Khuzestan, bordering Iraq is next up, the once vast Mesopotamian marches are now very much reduced in this corner of Iran, but small pockets of marsh hold breeding Basra Reed Warbler, Iraq Babbler, Dead Sea Sparrow, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and White-tailed Lapwing. The more vegetated, drier areas hold breeding Ménétries’s Warbler, Hypocolius, Egyptian Nightjar and ‘Mesopotamian Crow’ (a paler race of Hooded Crow to elsewhere), while at this time of year massive numbers of migrants pass through, who knows what we might see!
Transiting in Tehran we then head to the scenically spectacular Elburz Mountains. Driving up through the lush fields and steppes provides a distinctly European-flavour to the tour – Corn Buntings, Black-headed Bunting, Whinchat, Lesser Grey Shrike, Common Quail and Ortolan Bunting all breed here. In the higher Oak Forest we go in search of the near-endemic Caspian Tit while the rocky meadows above the tree-line hold Caspian Snowcock, Radde’s Accentor, Red-fronted Serin, Horned Lark and Finsch’s Wheatear.
A brief foray along the shores of the Caspian Sea is one of the few reliable spots left anywhere for Black-headed Penduline Tit, before heading back into the foothills for White-throated Robin, Pale Rockfinch, Plain Leaf Warbler and Red-headed Bunting.
Finally, we finish the tour with Iran’s single endemic, the enigmatic Pleske’s Ground Jay in the vast Touran Wildlife Refuge, home to Asia’s last population of Cheetah. As well as this ground-dwelling Corvid, we search for Grey-necked Bunting, Persian Wheatear, Bar-tailed Lark, Macqueen’s Bustard and Asian Desert Warbler.