Wednesday, 16 November 2022


I know it's a bit last-minute but i'm currently in Southern Oman at Salalah and I have to tell you the birding is fantastic. I really think it is worth doing a full 7 days birding in January, staying at one hotel arriving on 13th January. There's a Qatar flight for just over £500 and it gets you into Salalah via Doha at around 4.15am, so you get a full day's birding on the first day! I have done 4 trips here over the past year and found the 1st Banded Martin, the 1st Grey-tailed Tattler, 7th Blyth's Reed Warbler, 4th Dalmatian Pelican and tomorrow i'm hoping to see the 2nd Buff-breasted Sandpiper for Oman. Oh and this evening we found a very rare Black Stork and saw a Pheasant-tailed Jacana that was literally surrounded by a load of Citrine Wagtails. And yesterday we found a Small Pratincole 15 minutes from our hotel.....

So there you have it. I will be posting the full info on my website very soon, but in the meantime please email if you want to reserve your spot. It is going to cost £1925 per person for 8 nights full-board, travelling in 2 SUV's. There's not too much driving involved as most sites are within an easy 30-40 minutes from our hotel, but we will do a longer journey of just under 2 hours to visit our site for Hypocolius & Nile Valley Sunbird, and to view the sandgrouse drinking pools where hundreds of Chestnut-bellied and a few Crowned Sandgrouse visit. A little further away there is an agricultural area where 6 Sociable Lapwings are currently over-wintering. 

So, we stay at a nice hotel where we have breakfast and dinner, with picnic lunches out in the field every day. It is going to be pleasantly hot (around 30 degrees centigrade) so bring your shorts! 

And on to the birding. It's truly fantastic! We target the Arabian specialities: Arabian Partridge, Arabian Wheatear, Arabian Scops-Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, Desert Owl, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak and Yemen Serin. But there's so much more to our birding here. We should also see Socotra Cormorant, Sand Partridge, Abdim's Stork, Red-knobbed Coot, Verreaux's, Eastern Imperial, Bonelli's & Steppe Eagles, White-cheeked, Gull-billed, Lesser Crested, Greater Crested, Whiskered, Caspian and White-winged Terns, Caspian, Heuglin's, Steppe & Slender-billed Gulls, Masked & Brown Booby, Bruce's Green-Pigeon, Isabelline & Desert Wheatears, Blackstart, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Abyssinian White-eye, Tristram's Starling, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and so much more.

It's a crazy mix of Asian, African and Western Palearctic species that all meet up here in Southern Oman. So why not see what the buzz is about and join us for some good, old-fashioned birding in the Middle East?

If anyone wants to join me after this in Saudi Arabia for a quick-fire visit to look for Arabian Lark, Philby's Partridge, Arabian Woodpecker, Asir Magpie, Yemen Warbler, Yemen Thrush, Buff-breasted Wheatear, Arabian Golden Sparrow, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian Serin & Yemen Linnet then please let me know.

Here's a link to the full tour info: Southern Oman Birders Special

Here's a few photos from my current Oman tour in Nov 2022:

Eastern Imperial Eagles

African Paradise Flycatcher

Arabian Partridge

Arabian Warbler

Abdim's Stork

Arabian Eagle Owl

Arabian Scops Owl

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

Greater Spotted Eagle

Rosy Starlings

Short-toed Eagle

Small Pratincole

Spotted Thick-Knee

Turkestan Shrike

Desert Owl could well be the icing on the cake

You just never know what you will find here. So let's go birding!

Tuesday, 11 October 2022


I'm always trying different angles for new tours and this time have come up with something rather unique as we sail on a fully working cruise ship from Santiago, Chile around Cape Horn to Buenos Aires, Argentina.......... This gives us the advantage of utilising a luxury liner to navigate these southern oceans and the stability to use our scopes on deck to view the multitudes of albatrosses, skuas, shearwaters, petrels, prions and other seabirds that inhabit these bird-rich waters. 

Our home for 2 weeks - Sapphire Princess

Ok so it's not a dedicated expedition ship and this tour isn't for everyone but there are many plus points. I think if you do have a tendency for sea sickness and have been put off from doing some of those pelagics in the southern oceans until now, then the stability this ship provides could well be the answer. With a fully working cruise ship you also have numerous benefits of food and drink 24/7, swimming pool, cinema, casino, numerous bars & restaurants, and all this adds up to a very comfortable experience. 

Seabirds are a major feature with Black-browed Albatross,  Salvin's Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Antipodean (Wandering) Albatross, Snowy Wandering Albatross (photo above), Chatham Albatross (rare), Grey-headed Albatross,  Westland and White-chinned Petrels,  De Filippi's and Juan-Fernandez Petrels, Stejneger's Petrel,  Pincoya Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, Pink-footed Shearwater, the rare Subantarctic (Little) Shearwater, Chilean Skua, Slender-billed Prion, Southern Fulmar, Cape Petrel, and we can always hope for something mega such as Kerguelen Petrel, Cook's or Mottled Petrel, or even a Spectacled or Parkinson's Petrel.

In addition we have 7 shore excursions where we have made our own arrangements to try and find as many special birds as possible. The first stop at Puerto Montt will see us speeding off to Alerce Andino National Park for species such as Chilean Hawk, Green-backed Firecrown, Chilean (White-crested) Elaenia, the skulking Black-throated Huet-huet, Des Mur's Wiretail, Ochre-flanked, Chucao and Ochre-flanked Tapaculos, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner and Patagonian Sierra-Finch.

The 2nd excursion is at Punta Arenas where we will be looking for Silver Teal, Red-gartered and White-winged Coots, Red Shoveler, Flying Steamer-Duck, Upland, Ashy-headed and hopefully the scarce Ruddy-headed Goose, Imperial and Rock Cormorants, South American Tern, South American Snipe, Lesser Rhea, Cinereous Harrier, Magellanic Oystercatcher & Correndera Pipit. One of the main targets of today’s outing is the odd-looking Magellanic Plover, and there’s also chances of Tawny-throated and Rufous-chested Dotterels, Two-banded Plover and Least Seedsnipe. Interesting passerines also occur here and we will look for specialties such as Common Miner, Austral Canastero, Austral Negrito, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Chocolate-vented Tyrant and the stunning Black-throated Finch. 

The 3rd excursion is at Ushuaia and we will head into Tierra Del Fuego National Park for the stunning Magellanic Woodpecker amidst some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. There's also Kelp and Ashy-headed Goose, Great Grebe, Dolphin Gull, South American Tern, White-throated, Southern Crested and Chimango Caracara, Austral Pygmy-Owl, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, White-throated Treerunner, Black-chinned Siskin and Patagonian Sierra-Finch.

The 4th excursion is Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands where a dash across the moorland to Volunteer Point where up to 2,000 King Penguins (photo above) breed and this will surely provide one of the most memorable highlights of the tour. There is also a colony of Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins here to keep us entertained along with Imperial Cormorant, Snowy Sheathbill, Falkland Steamer-Duck, Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, and hopefully White-bridled Finch.

The 5th excursion is at Puerto Madryn where we will be birding amidst the wild steppe landscape looking for Lesser Rhea, Elegant Crested-Tinamou (photo above), Common Miner, the endemic Patagonian Canastero, Lesser Shrike-Tyrant, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail ,White-throated Cachalote, the endemic Rusty-backed Monjita, Patagonian Mockingbird and Short-billed Pipit can be found. We will also make a visit to a Southern Sea Lion colony which harbours our best chances of seeing a Snowy Sheathbill, whilst there are also Southern Elephant Seals along the shore, along with Imperial and Rock Cormorants, Blackish Oystercatcher, Cayenne Tern and others. 

The 6th shore excursion is at Montevideo will see us visiting several interesting wetlands for species such as Black-necked & Coscoroba Swans, Brazilian and Silver Teals, Chiloe Wigeon, Giant Wood-Rail, Plumbeous Rail, Rufous-sided Crake, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Red-gartered, Red-fronted and White-winged Coots, various shorebirds, Yellow-billed and Snowy-crowned Terns, Dark-billed Cuckoo, White and White-spotted Woodpeckers, Glittering-bellied Emerald, White-throated and Gilded Hummingbirds, Wren-like Rushbird, Sulphur-throated, Spix’s and Stripe- crowned Spinetails, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Sooty Tyrannulet, Bran colored Flycatcher, Spectacled Tyrant, Austral Negrito, Gray and White Monjita, White-rumped Swallow, Black-and-Rufous Warbling-Finch, Long-tailed Reed-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Great Pampa-Finch, Dark-throated and Rufous-rumped Seedeaters, Brown-and-Yellow Marshbird and Chalk-browed Mockingbird.

And the 7th and final excursion will be at the famous reserve of Costanera Sur in Buenos Aires which could give us some great species to round things off nicely. 

And there's a pre-tour extension in Chile and a post tour extension in Argentina, which will add to the interesting species mix.

For the full tour info and prices see: Cape Horn Cruise

Friday, 16 September 2022

Red BoP's, Tricky Pittas and Islands.....

So how to follow yesterday’s Wilson’s BoP extravaganza? With another BoP displaying of course and this morning’s entertainment was provided by some male Red Bird-of-Paradise darting around their display tree in a crazy manner. A totally different experience this one as we were sat on benches out in the open gazing up at a tall tree maybe 70m away and watching this extraordinary species darting around the branches in maniacal fashion. It really was a superb display and my photos just don't do this bird justice at all.

Red Bird-of-Paradise

Whilst watching this, a pair of Hooded Butcherbirds began feeding right in front of us and we enjoyed fine looks at this endemic. 

Hooded Butcherbird

We then spent the rest of the morning wandering along the old logging track looking for Western Crowned Pigeon, occasionally taking side trails or heading inside the forest but we didn’t get a sniff. All we had to show for this morning’s efforts were Papuan Drongo, another Pale-billed Scrubwren and a Green-backed Gerygone. 


At lunch I decided we needed a change of scenery and to take a boat out to some islands, and what a great decision this proved to be. 

The Gang....

New birds came thick and fast and spending an hour cruising in a boat wasn’t the worst experience either. On the way out we had fantastic close views of a White-bellied Sea-Eagle, some distant frigatebirds which were mainly Greater but there was at least one Lesser Frigatebird as well. 

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Lesser Frigatebird

Once ashore on what was for all intents and purposes a typical tropical paradise island we were greeted immediately by a Beach Kingfisher

That's William watching the kingfisher

We hadn’t walked more than 20m when some Violet-necked Lory’sscreeched by and we eventually had decent perched views of this stunning species. In a nearby large leafy tree we saw Olive Honeyeater, Arafura Fantail, Variable Honeyeater, and a nice Island Whistler

Island Whistler

Nearby some Moluccan Starlings seemed to be nesting in a dead palm tree and as we scoped them an Eastern Hooded Pitta began calling. Usually I find this species not too difficult to track down, but this individual was very tricky and we ended up spending way too long trying to get everyone on to it, which we did in the end. So we left here and headed to another island to look for Spice Imperial-Pigeon, but arrived too late and only saw lots of Pied Imperial-Pigeons and some White-breasted Woodswallows, although the sight of hundreds of huge Flying Foxes setting out to hunt against the setting sun made for a pretty spectacular end to the day.

Amazing sunset tonight.....

Thursday, 15 September 2022


So this was it. THE day. The day when we would get to see the incomparable Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise. If anyone has ever asked you what’s the ‘best bird’ you’ve seen or some similar awkward question, well look no further! It was almost an hour’s drive to the start of the trail and we did it in the dark of course (another 4.30am start) and then a short and very easy 15 minute walk to the large hide. We were inside by 5.45am and then waited impatiently for dawn to break, but could hear the Wilson’s BoP’s calling almost as soon as we arrived. With the light seemingly taking an inordinate amount of time to do it’s one job we could see several birds moving around and eventually could make out bright scarlet or crimson backs of at least 4 Wilson’s BoP’s. Anyway, over the next hour and a half we had the most incredible views of what has to be THE most beautiful of all Birds-of-Paradise…. The males danced around their vertical display spikes just a few inches above the ground, whilst several females watched on rather unamused I thought. It was one of those magical sights I’ve dreamed about for years. I mean, the males look like they have glowing blue brains exposed to the world, a bright scarlet mantle, shining green underparts, and curly tail wired that look like they are made out of velvet. Just look at these photos man!

The one, the only........... Wilson's Bird-of-Paradise

I could go on with the superlatives but at the risk of you throwing up! SO how to follow that little episode……? Well a Papuan Pitta began calling and it took a bit of effort but eventually everyone had decent looks at this most-wanted bird as well. 

Always in the gloomiest part of the forest...... Papuan Pitta

What a start to the morning, with numerous Common Paradise-Kingfishers calling all around we walked back to the waiting cars and had breakfast. We were definitely on a roll as a pair of Raja Ampat Pitohui’s showed quite well right next to us before we drove a bit further along the former logging track. We then began walking, trying to find Western Crowned Pigeon but I wasn’t enthused by our chances as the local guides didn’t seem that bothered in my opinion. So instead we just birded and had a successful couple of hours along a side trail with Common Paradise-Kingfisher, Frilled Monarch, Black Berrypecker, several Tawny-breasted Honeyeaters, Northern Fantail, Pale-billed Scrubwren and Fairy Gerygone.


After lunch back at the resort we returned to the same forest and this time had good views of the rare Brown-headed Crow, as well as Puff-backed Honeyeater, and repeated views of many of the same species as this morning. But it was rather slow going, with a Papuan Frogmouth seen on telegraph wires as we drove back to the resort. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Sorong - Waigeo

We had the morning to check out the nearby mangroves where a pair of Brown-backed Honeyeaters were nest-building quite close to our parked cars. We walked along a road between the mangroves and had a Collared Imperial-Pigeon fly slowly overhead, brief Little Kingfisher, an Orange-fronted Fruit-Dove teed up in the scope, whilst overhead Uniform Swiftlets and our one and only Barn Swallow were screamed at by some supersonic Coconut Lorikeets. A short, sharp shower stopped us in our tracks as we tried to get a view of a Buff-banded Rail walking through a grassy area. So we hopped in the cars and drove a short distance and at this section of mangroves we had a party of Little Bronze Cuckoos moving through. As we watched them a Large-billed Gerygone appeared, and then a Blue-black Kingfisher called. After several flyby’s we eventually managed a decent perched view of it nestled in a dense patch of mangrove before it flew away. There was also a Sacred Kingfisher at the same spot and a Black Butcherbird to keep us entertained before we decided to drive to an area of low hills above Sorong. 

Pacific Baza

Several Blyth’s Hornbills flying past indicated that this must be a good forested area and we also had White-bellied CuckooshrikeBlack-browed TrillerEclectus ParrotNew Guinea FriarbirdRufous-bellied Kookaburra and a pair of Yellow-faced Mynas but the only new bird was a Pacific Baza. So we returned to the hotel with plenty of time to pack and have lunch before catching the 2pm ferry to Waigeo.


This was a fast ferry and the journey was only maybe 2.5 hours, during which time we saw 3 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels, distant Great Frigatebirds and a Great Crested Tern. Upon arrival we were met by our 3 cars and drove to a lovely resort where we’d be spending the next 3 nights, seeing a group of Singing Starlings along the way.


Monday, 12 September 2022

More BoP Action in the Arfak Mountains

We had a big chunk of the morning to catch up with a few things, so whilst most of the group began birding along the road with Royke, getting a surprise Bicoloured Mouse-warbler and Papuan King Parrot, I went with William to the Superb BoP hide. It was only a short walk of maybe 15 minutes down to the hide but I was a little surprised to see it was a feeding station about 30m down below us. Well, in about an hour and a half here we saw at least one male and two female Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise coming in to feed. 

Arfak Catbird

Vogelkop Superb Bird-of-Paradise

Apparently males display on the large fallen tree in front of the feeding station, but maybe due to the rain they didn’t fancy it this morning. But we were both content with decent, prolonged views of a male. An Arfak Catbird came in to feed and remained for several minutes, a few female Western Parotias appeared as well, a Crinkle-collared Manucode appeared, and there were several pairs of Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise to round off a truly stunning stint in the hide. 

Crinkle-collared Manucode

Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise

The photos aren’t so great but I was happy to get a few record shots, especially to sort out which manucode it was. So we left and got back up to the road just as the group arrived, with Colin & Pete heading down to the hide to catch up with this new Superb BoP split – having seen it in PNG some years before. 


Whilst waiting for Colin & Pete we walked along the road and amazingly came across a group of Masked Bowerbirds with a stunning male being absolutely mind-blowing. My initial reaction was absolute joy for a nanosecond, followed by a ‘Oh f%$k’ as two of us weren’t here and I knew how much everyone wanted to see this stunner. Well, we followed the group of bowerbirds and had repeated views, also seeing Black and Black-bellied Cicadabirds as well as a few commoner species before Colin & Pete arrived. Just about now there was an intense period of sustained activity with a distant calling Magnificent Riflebird we couldn’t locate, a Glossy-mantled Manucode below us, Red Myzomela, a cracking Papuan King Parrot and another Ashy Thornbill. As the flock moved along the slope below us we followed and picked up a group of Hooded Pitohui before amazingly, a male Masked Bowerbird flew across in front of us and followed the treeline beside the road giving everyone a chance to connect with this superb creature. It even had Peter running!! 

Masked Bowerbird

So by now it had passed 10am and we had a flight to catch so drove back down to Manokwari and caught the short flight to Sorong, where we took full advantage of hot showers and cold beers at a great hotel!