Birdwatching

Yemen is a stop-over region for many varieties of migrating fowl. Many of visitors, bird watchers, come to Socotra because of the great number of species recorded here. The birdlife of the island is incredibly diverse, out of 320 bird species recorded here of which 48 are known, or supposed, to breed on the island. Among the land birds, at least 8 species are endemics not found anywhere else the world, such as the Socotra Starling Onychognathus frater (Socotra Sparrow or Socotra Grackle), the Socotra Sunbird Chalcomitra balfouri, Socotra Sparrow Passer insularis and Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak Rhynchostruthus socotranus, Socotra rock Banting (Emberiza socotran), Socotra Cisticola (Cisticola haesitata), Socotra Starling, Socotra Sunbird (Nectarinia balfouri) and Socotra Warbler (Incana). And about 11 are endemic sub-species for instance, Socotra Buzzard (Buteo buteo ssp). As well as more than 45 species of birds breeding on the island such as Forbes-Watson’s Swift, Somali Starling, Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Palm Doves (Streptopelia senegalensis), etc.

The birdlife provides a large number of migrant birds arrive to the island during winter and summer of which waders and other coastal birds make up a significant proportion like Greater Flamingoes (Phoenicopterus rubber), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Sooty-Gulls (Larus hemprichii), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), etc. Unfortunately, there is not enough data in regard to the migrant species.

Where and which places can you watch the birds of Socotra?

It would be necessary to visit some sites. However, in one week most birders should be able to explore all the better birding sites on the island and in doing so contribute to the understanding of the distribution of Socotra’s birds, about which much is still to be discovered.  Those with limited time should concentrate on wadi Ayhaft National Park, Deham and Dixam plateau.

Some birds can be watched in wadi Hazafaq (wadi Denegen) such as Socotra Sunbird and Socotra Sparrow which are common in this area, and Golden-winged Grosbeak and Socotra Starling are both present, though the latter is well-outnumbered by the ubiquitous Somali Starling.

Wadi Shoq, lying to the east of the Qrahan plain, has a number of date palm plantations, which are a good locality for Socotra Scops-Owl. Some of the taller palms hold wintering Black-crowned Night Heron, a relatively scarce species on Socotra. This excellent and verdant wadi lies about an hour’s drive from Hadibo. The habitat contains good numbers of large trees, and this is easily the best locality we visited for finding Golden-winged Grosbeak, and well as Socotra Sunbird in good numbers. Socotra Bunting is sometimes recorded from higher sections of the track. The road terminates at a small settlement, around which Socotra Warbler can be found, Socotra Starling is also present in the area

On the Dixsam plateau is the stronghold of the rare and localized Socotra Bunting, which is, without doubt, the most difficult of the endemics to locate. This is also the stronghold of the Socotra Starling, which is relatively common here.

Qaryah is the largest lagoon on Socotra Island, sometimes attracting good numbers of ducks and waders. The road from Hadibu is paved. A rough track branches off the main South Coast road about six kilometers before Quryah, and continues to the village where it eventually crosses the khor on a low causeway. Scanning the two arms of water to the south may reveal ducks if present. Walking through the palm plantations leads to the eastern side of the khor where extensive flats are exposed at low tide.

We have birding guides available who are familiar with the island and the location of the different species of birds. We can tailor a bird watching tour just for you Unexplored Socotra tours offers great programs that surely will captivate you in every sense and we shall guide you to make your bird watching unforgettable in your life. Socotra Island is the ultimate in tourist expeditions! You will never
forget your visit, and you will come again.

Do not forget to bring your birdwatching equipment with you.