18th to 25th October 2022 - Socotra & Abd al-Kuri, Yemen

 I don't really remember how I ended up choosing this trip a year ago but I am extremely glad that I did.  Socotra is an island around 380km off of Yemen, who it belongs to and it has multiple endemic species - a third of its flora is endemic!  A quick 2 hour flight from Abu Dhabi with Air Arabia and we landed in Hadiboh, the largest town on Socotra.

Somali Starling

Dragon Blood Trees

We spent the rest of the arrival day and the full next day travelling to different spots on the island, starting our list to try and cover the 10 or so endemics.  The first bird I spotted coming out of the airport was an life lister - Somali Starling! With that great start we proceeded to rack up the list including Socotra Sparrow, Socotra Bunting and after dark, Socotra Scops Owl

Socotra Sparrow
Socotra Scops Owl
The third day was the day we headed onto the small fishing boats to travel across open sea to the second largest island in the archipelago, Abd al Kuri.  The trip took about 7 hours and I am still bruised from how bumpy it was!  Abd al Kuri is so beautiful and despite my absolute hatred for camping, I did rather enjoy camping on the unspoiled beach and waking up to the sea.  I also thoroughly enjoyed how nosey the crabs were, you'd turn around at dinner and have one a foot behind just staring.  

The fishing boats to take you to Abd al Kuri
Camping on Abd al Kuri

The trip to Abd al Kuri was to see a specific bird - the Abd al Kuri Sparrow.  We didn't find it at the supposed normal spot but as we headed into another village, there were quite a few hopping around!  A flock of nearly 100 was seen later so that's excellent news.  As it's a very under birded location, plenty of unreported birds were seen and logged over the couple of days we were there, including my first and second Ortolan Bunting - the second hopping onto the tent in front of me as I was resting later that day. My kind of birding.  

Abd al Kuri Sparrow
Abd al Kuri Sparrow having a little jump
First ever Ortolan Bunting

Second Ortolan Bunting of the day (and of my life)

Yet another gecko?

The boat trip there and back (when I wasn't being distracted by trying not to be thrown out of the boat) was a great opportunity to increase my very small seabird list and I added quite a few, including Swinhoe's Storm Petrel, Masked Booby and Jouanin's Petrel.

Masked Booby stalking the boat and catching flying fish

 Masked Booby buddies

For the last couple of days, we continued on with our pursuit of a full Socotra endemics list, adding Socotra Sunbird and not an endemic but one I had really been looking forward to seeing - Bruce's Green Pigeon.  Still annoyed I didn't manage to get a decent picture as they're beautiful birds.  

Trip Lifers: 44 

Some sort of gecko

First Antlion I've ever seen and it was HUGE - Palpares inclemens maybe?
Another gecko

Great Grey Shrike (maybe to become a Socotra endemic?)
Dragon Blood Trees


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