Monday 2 November 2009

27 October – A day of endemics

Ulf and Niklas woke up early and did seawatch from the hotel terrace before breakfast. The sea was calm and several hundreds of Persian Shearwaters passed by or foraging offshore.

After a nice breakfast outside the hotel we drove slowly westwards along the coast. The whole coastline was flat with golden beaches and small fishing boats just offshore. Then we drove inland towards the mountains with stops now and then. As we reached higher altitudes the numbers of Dragon Blood Trees increased. We stopped at a place with several trees of different ages. The youngest was over hundred years old and the oldest over several centries. Ahmed told us very interesting things about the Dragon Blood Tree, for example, it’s in fact a herb (like the Banana Tree), its medicinal effects and that a few snail species live only on this tree.

We continued through a dramatic and breathtaking landscape. At 10:30 we reached an area named Diksam, which had been impossible without 4WD and good drivers. The first endemic of the day was a single Socotra Starling followed by Socotra Sparrows. A Socotra Sunbird appeared and the photographers disappeared chasing the bird. A (Socotra) Buzzard took off from a cliff and a minute later Ahmed spotted two Socotra Buntings. Everyone (even Göran), rushed to the buntings and soon all of us had seen these beautiful birds. We enjoyed the birds for nearly half an hour. Ahmed took us to another place not far away and soon discovered a Socotra Warbler and within a minute we saw two more as well as several Socotra Buntings and sunbirds. Everyone was happy, but there was more to come. Several Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeaks appeared, a Peregrine chasing a Roller, Forbes-Watson’s Swifts over our heads and Abyssinian (White-breasted) White-eyes here and there. Then all of us were in need of food and a siesta. Ahmed and Yousuf served a nice picnic buffet, which also attracted a gang of Egyptian Vultures. In late afternoon we drove back to Hadibo and made a stop for seawatching, which produced about thousand Persian Shearwaters.

Endemics and numbers: Socotra Starling (10), Socotra Sunbird (12), Socotra Warbler (15), Socotra Sparrow (numerous), Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak (3) and Socotra Bunting (25).

That’s all for today.

The Yemen party in shade of a Dragon Blood Tree. Photo: Ahmed Saeed.
Socotra Bunting. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Male Socotra Sparrow. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Socotra Sunbird: Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Socotra Warbler. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
'Socotra' Buzzard. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Forbes-Watson's Swift. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Socotra Starling. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Female Somali Starling. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
From left: Alf, curious Egyptian Vultures and Göran. Photo: Niklas
Hello there! Photo: Ulf Ståhle.

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