Sunday 25 October 2009

25 October - Taizz to Aden

Started with an early visit to Jabel Sabir (2860 m), a mountain close to Taizz, where it was so cold that Kjell-Åke even wore gloves and a cap! We stod there waiting and suddenly a bird started to sing. It was the Arabian Accentor, and soon more and more accentors began to sing. We had wonderful observations and close-ups of at least ten individuals. There were also several Yemen Trushes showing off. Then back to the hotel for late breakfast and after that we left the busy town of Taizz and headed southeast for Aden. On our way we made a stop at Wadi Dhabab to search for Arabian and Zebra Waxbill. We found not only them, also a beautiful Masked Shrike and a Dark Chanting Goshawk. After that we decided that we would skip lunch and head directly for the Aden Marshes. And that turned out to be a wise decision, the Aden Marshes is an Eldorado for birdwatchers! From the fantastic birdwatching-tower we had wonderful views of Sacred Ibises, Black-headed Herons, Pacific Golden Plovers, Collared Pratincoles, hundreds of Flamingos and many other species. Add to this hundreds of hundreds of waders, gulls and terns of many species. We stayed at the Marshes until dusk and went to our very luxury hotel for dinner and a good nights sleep.

By the way we also saw four Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse on our way to Aden.

Tomorrow we will leave for Socotra!

No need for words. Arabian Accentor. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.

One of several Yemen Thrushes (at the same spot as the accentors). Photo: Ulf Ståhle.Zebra Waxbill at Wadi Dhabab. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.Steppe Eagle. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.

24 October - Al Hudeidah to Taizz

After a nice breakfast with (at last) strong coffee we left Al Hudeidah at seven o’clock and drove southwards along the coast. We did several stops before we reached Khowkha. A lovely place with a small hotel facing the sea. It was low tide and shorebirds just tripping in front of the hotel. Adult Crab Plovers and begging juveniles 30 metres away from us. Greater and Lesser Sandplover everywhere. A single Pacific Golden Plover. White-eyed and Sooty Gulls were passing by as well as Saunder’s, Swift and Lesser Crested Terns. A delicious lunch of tasty and spicy fish and rice was served. And then we had coffee and tea in the garden. We spent five hours at this site and then continued to Al Mukha, the famous port from where the excellent Yemeni coffee once upon a time was exported to Europe. Now, the city was more or less in ruins. Sadly. As the wind was hard with sand we headed straight to Taizz instead. On our way we saw lots of raptors such as Egyptian Vulture (25), Booted Eagle (2), Steppe Eagle (11), Buzzard (20) and a single Kestrel. Four Chesnut-bellied Sandgrouses not to be forgotten.

At 16:45, an hour before sunset, we reached Taizz and its huge garbage dump. Immediately we spotted about ten Abdim’s Storks on a roof! An unhealthy smoke from the dump filled the air. Imagine the peoples faces when drove through the smoke into the dump and disappeared. On the other side we found a hill and fresh air. Perfect for our activities. The air was filled with Black Kites and mixed up with White Storks and Steppe Eagles. A Hobby passing by as well as a flock of 100 Glossy Ibis. When we left the dump in the dusk we found about 50 Abdim’s Storks roosting in two big trees.

Tomorrow we’ll get up very early.

Cheers from an exhausted, but happy birders in Yemen.

Göran, Heidi and Kjell-Åke scanning the bay at Khowkha. Photo: Niklas Holmström.
Ulf photographing a not too distant... Photo: Niklas Holmström.
Yes, of course, a lovely Crab Plover! Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
One of at least 16 Terek Sandpipers at Khowkha. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
Saunder's Tern at Khowkha. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.
A very tasty lunch and good spirits. Photo: Niklas Holmström.
Birding and phtotgraphing at the dump in Taizz. Niklas Holmström.
One of about 50 Abdim's Storks at the dump in Taizz. Photo: Ulf Ståhle.