Birdwatching tour to South-West Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a country with vast land covering 2.15 million square kilometres. The southwest of the country holds most of the endemics. Its zoogeography is Afrotropical, and most of the breeding birds of south and southwest Arabia are shared with the Afro tropics. Arabia is home to eighteen endemic birds, especially in the south and west.

In this tour, we will be targeting the eighteen endemics where possible and the birds that are not regular or hard to find in the Western Palearctic, of which some are of African and/or Oriental origin. Hence, we will be targeting all these species which are listed with photographs at the end.

Page updated 21/01/2024

Habitat of the endemics

22-30/04/2024 Birding Saudia Arabia. Price USD2200. (spaces available)


Day 1:

We will welcome the tour participants at the King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, after which we’ll transfer to the hotel for an overnight stay. If people arrive earlier, we can do some birding in Jaddah and the surroundings if time allows.

Day 2:

We’ll be kicking off our day bright and early at 5 am, setting off towards Al Bahah. Our journey will be dotted with numerous breaks. We’ll first hit the road on Route 80 before switching to Route 298. Our first stop will be at Wadi Thee Ghazal, approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes into our trip. We’ll then continue our adventure towards Maysaan, a further 1 hour and 50 minutes drive. After that, we’ll traverse route 205 to get to Jebel Ibrahim, approximately an hour drive. Our final stretch will be the 1 hour and 15 minutes drive to Al Bahah. Given these factors, we estimate a total driving time of about 6 hours and 25 minutes. At each of these stops, we plan to spend roughly an hour for birdwatching and exploring each site. This way, we’ll dedicate around 7 hours to birding, along with time for lunch and rest. We’ll conclude our day with a peaceful night’s rest in Al Bahah.
Expected Species include Black Streaked Scrub Warbler, Arabian Bee-eater, Arabian Warbler, White-spectacled Bulbul, Tristram’s Starling, Nile Valley Sunbird, Namaqua Dove, Little Swift, African Palm-Swift, Pale Crag Martin (Rock Martin), Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Rüppell’s Weaver, African Stonechat, Arabian Wheatear and Laughing Dove.

Day 3:

On day three, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of birdwatching in Al Bahah and its adjacent areas. Once done, we’ll commence our journey to Al Namas, which is approximately a 2 hour and 40-minute drive away, to explore diverse bird species further. We’ll cap off the day with a peaceful overnight stay in Al Namas.
Possible birds to be seen are, apart from the birds from yesterday, we expect Arabian Sunbird, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Babbler, Buff (Red)-breasted Wheatear, Scrub Warbler, Little Rock Thrush, Arabian Serin, Yemen Thrush, Hamerkop, Gambaga Flycatcher, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Arabian Waxbill, Long-billed Pipit, African Pipit, Brown Woodland-Warbler, Fan-tailed Raven, Brown-necked Raven, Violet-backed Starling, Abyssinian White-eye, Diederik Cuckoo and if we are lucky Arabian (Golden-winged) Grosbeak.

Day 4:

We will continue our birdwatching journey at different locales in Al Namas and Tanomah. The day will conclude with a restful overnight stay in Al Namas.
We expect to find Air Magpie, Yemen Linnet, Gambaga Flycatcher, Palestine Sunbird, Dusky Turtle Dove, Graceful Prinia, Yemen Thrush, Palestine Sunbird, Arabian Partridge, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Waxbill, White-browed Coucal, Rufous-capped Lark, African Paradise-Flycatcher and Yemen Serin.

Day 5:

We’ll embark on an early morning journey to Abha, a drive of approximately 2 hours, engaging in birdwatching at several locations. The day will culminate with a comfortable overnight stay in Abha.
A birds that are possible to add to our list are African Grey Hornbill, Philby’s Partridge, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Rufous-capped Lark, Arabian Scops Owl, Arabian Eagle-Owl, Arabian Woodpecker and, if we are lucky, Arabian Serin and probably Arabian Waxbill.

Day 6:

We’ll set off for Sabya, about 2 hours and 15 minutes, to engage in birdwatching across various farms. Our day will end with an overnight stay in Jizan.
As we go down from the Asir mountains, we expect low-altitude birds. These include Arabian Sunbird, Nile valley Sunbird, African Silverbill, Desert Lark, African Collared Dove, Abyssinian Roller, Abdim’s Stork, Grey-headed Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, Pied Cuckoo, Blackstart, Arabian Tchagra, Helmeted Guineafowl, Zitting Cisticola, Horsfield’s Bush Lark, and if lucky Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse.

Day 7:

Kick off the day with some birdwatching in Jizan and along its shoreline. Spend the night in Jizan.
Striated Heron, Tibetan Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Crab-Plover, Sooty Gull, White-eyed Gull, Terek Sandpiper, Pink-backed Pelican, Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Brown Booby, Lesser and Great Crested Tern, and Mangrove Reed Warbler.

Day 8:

Embark on another captivating day of birdwatching at Al-Sad Lake and surrounding farms and wetlands. Cap off this wonderful tour with a peaceful overnight stay in Jizan, marking our final night.
We will target Nubian and Plain Nightjar, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk and, if we are lucky, Dark Chanting Goshawk and Arabian Golden Sparrow.

Day 9: 

Embark on an 8-hour journey to King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah for a flight back home. To save time, a direct domestic flight from Jizan to King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah will take 1 hour and 30 minutes is possible.


Price for Tour: $2200.00 (price in US dollars)

Single room supplement: $400.00

Deposit: $300.00

Group Size: Minimum number for the tour to go ahead is Four, and the maximum is Ten.

After booking, you must confirm by paying a non-refundable deposit of $300.00. Instruction on how to pay the deposit will be sent by email.

Terms and Conditions:

Included in the price:
  • Accommodation in twin-bedded rooms. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.
  • Light lunch, water, tea, coffee, and refreshment during the daytime.
  • Entrance fees to reserves and professional bird guidance.
  • Ground transport in 4WD, and also transport from and to the airport.
Not Included in the price:
  • Air travel tickets, travel insurance, passport costs, entry visa fees, and excess baggage charges.
  • Telephone calls, laundry, room service, snacks, and anything of a purely personal nature.
Physical Requirement:

The tours involve moderate walking distances, but in one or more sites, we may walk on steep hills.

Tour Cancellation:

I reserve the right to cancel any tour for which there are insufficient reservations (less than 6) 60 days before the tour begins.

Cancellation and refund:

You may cancel your tour and get your deposit refunded back to you as long as it is 90 days before your tour begins.

Endemic birds according to IOC taxonomy version 13.1, except the Arabian Tchagra, considered full species only by CSNA:

  1. Arabian Partridge Alectoris melanocephala
  2. Philby’s Partridge Alectoris philbyi
  3. Arabian Scops Owl Otus pamelae
  4. Arabian Eagle-Owl Bubo milesi
  5. Arabian Woodpecker Dendrocoptes dorae
  6. Arabian Tchagra Tchagra percivali
  7. Asir Magpie Pica asirensis (E Saudi only)
  8. Yemen Warbler Curruca buryi
  9. Yemen Thrush Turdus menachensis
  10. Buff-breasted Wheatear Oenanthe bottae
  11. Arabian Wheatear Oenanthe lugentoides
  12. Arabian Waxbill Estrilda rufibarba
  13. Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali
  14. Arabian Serin Crithagra rothschildi
  15. Yemen Serin Crithagra menachensis
  16. Yemen Linnet Linaria yemenensis
  17. Arabian Lark Eremalauda eremodites
  18. Arabian Sunbird Cinnyris hellmayri

Near Endemics:

  1. White-eyed Gull Ichthyaetus leucophthalmus
  2. Arabian Green Bee-eater Merops cyanophrys
  3. Arabian Warbler Curruca leucomelaena
  4. Arabian Babbler Argya squamiceps
  5. Arabian Golden Sparrow Passer euchlorus
  6. Rufous-capped Lark Calandrella eremica
  7. Tristram’s Starling Onychognathus tristramii

Endemics subspecies:

  1. Mangrove Reed Warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus avicenniae
  2. African Pipit Anthus cinnamomeus eximius
  3. Streaked Scrub Warbler Scotocerca inquieta buryi
  4. Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris abyssinicus
  5. Black-crowned Tchagra Tchagra senegalus percivali
  6. Rufous-capped Lark Calandrella eremica eremica
  7. Horsfield’s Bush Lark Mirafra javanica simplex
  8. Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei arabica
  9. Sand Partridge Ammoperdix heyi intermedius

Birds of Afrotropical origin:

  1. Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris
  2. Nubian Nightjar Caprimulgus nubicus
  3. Plain Nightjar Caprimulgus inornatus
  4. African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
  5. White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus
  6. Diederik Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius
  7. African Olive Pigeon Columba arquatrix
  8. Dusky Turtle Dove Streptopelia lugens
  9. African Collared Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea
  10. Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata
  11. Bruce’s Green Pigeon Treron waalia
  12. Sooty Gull Ichthyaetus hemprichii
  13. Abdim’s Stork Ciconia abdimii
  14. Hamerkop Scopus umbretta
  15. Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens
  16. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
  17. Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar
  18. Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates
  19. African Grey Hornbill Lophoceros nasutus
  20. Abyssinian Roller Coracias abyssinicus
  21. Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala
  22. White-throated Bee-eater Merops albicollis
  23. African Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone viridis
  24. Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis
  25. Fan-tailed Raven Corvus rhipidurus
  26. Brown Woodland Warbler Phylloscopus umbrovirens
  27. Abyssinian White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus
  28. Black Scrub Robin Cercotrichas podobe melanoptera
  29. Gambaga Flycatcher Muscicapa gambagae
  30. Little Rock Thrush Monticola rufocinereus
  31. African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus
  32. Blackstart Oenanthe melanura
  33. Nile Valley Sunbird Hedydipna metallica
  34. Palestine Sunbird Cinnyris osea
  35. Rüppell’s Weaver Ploceus galbula
  36. African Silverbill Euodice cantans
  37. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting Emberiza tahapisi
  38. Violet-backed Starling Cinnyricinclus leucogaster

Birds hard to find in the Western Palearctic:

  1. Lesser Flamingo Phoeniconaias minor
  2. Crab-Plover Dromas ardeola
  3. Tibetan Sand Plover Charadrius atrifrons
  4. Greater Sand Plover Charadrius leschenaultii
  5. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus
  6. Pied Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus
  7. Little Swift Apus affinis
  8. Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii
  9. Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis
  10. Striated Heron Butorides striata
  11. White-spectacled Bulbul Pycnonotus xanthopygos
  12. Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis
  13. Striolated Bunting Emberiza striolata
  14. Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
  15. Shikra Accipiter badius
  16. Namaqua Dove Oena capensis
  17. Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus
  18. Desert Lark Ammomanes deserti
  19. Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix nigriceps
  20. Crested Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus

We will be targeting the following species, but these usually are difficult to find:

  1. Harlequin Quail Coturnix delegorguei arabica
  2. Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus
  3. Klaas’s Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas
  4. Common Buttonquail Turnix sylvaticus
  5. Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis
  6. Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala
  7. Goliath Heron Ardea goliath
  8. Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
  9. Dark Chanting Goshawk Melierax metabates
  10. Collared Kingfisher Todiramphus chloris abyssinicus
  11. Arabian Lark Eremalauda eremodites
  12. Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus percivali