Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Fairly Intensive with long hours in the field and some long drives

Group Size:

Seven plus leaders

Asian Desert Warbler Black-headed Penduline Tit White-throated Robin Grey-necked Bunting Caspian Tit Great Thick-knee Sind Pied Woodpecker

Iran - Spring in the Persian Gulf

Date: 30th April - 14th May 2019
Leaders: Ali Aliesalam and Dominic Mitchell



Fly London/Tehran via Istanbul on the afternoon flight. 
We arrive in Tehran early in the morning. Once we clear customs, we meet our local guide before transferring to the domestic airport at Mehrabad for our internal flight to Bandar Abbas which is situated on the shores of the Persian Gulf in the south of Iran. Habitats consist of stony out washed plains with scattered vegetations and bushes, almond and pistachio woodlands and cliffs. Upon arrival, we will visit the coastal areas of the city to see Indian Sand Larks and shorebirds that could include Greater Sandplover, Great Knot, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Grey and Kentish Plovers, Common Greenshank, Temminck’s Stint, Green Sandpiper and other commoner species. We should also encounter Caspian Tern and Eurasian Spoonbill. In the late afternoon, we drive one hundred kilometres to Minab, where we will stay for three nights.
Overnight Tourist Inn Hotel Minab.
We start our day with an early morning drive along the road towards Jask, where palm gardens and local orchards create an ideal habitat for many woodland birds. Oriental Honey Buzzard, Spotted Owlet, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian Roller, Laughing Dove, Chestnut-shouldered Sparrow, Isabelline Wheatear, Purple Sunbird and the rare and regional endemic Sind Pied Woodpecker. Further inland, the habitat consists of scattered vegetations and bushes. 
These oriental regions are habitat to Graceful Prinia, Little Green Bee-eater, White-eared Bulbul, Turkestan and Bay-backed Shrikes, Pallid Swift, Pale Crag Martin, Indian Silverbill, Afghan Babbler, Variable Wheatear and Eastern Orphean Warbler. In afternoon we will drive shortly to reach mangrove forests south of Minab where we will be birding in the intertidal areas and mangrove. Important birds to expect are Indian Pond Heron, Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Thick-knee and with luck a few Crab Plovers will still be present. A wide variety of herons and Oriental Whit-eye can also be expected before we return to Minab.
Overnight Tourist Inn Hotel Minab
Early morning birding north east of Minab. We will visit an area of open plateau with scattered bushes that are ideal for Grey Francolin, Chestnut-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Upcher’s Warbler, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and hopefully Grey-necked Bunting. We return to Minab for lunch and a short rest before visiting the local river mouth for more shorebirds and water birds.
Overnight Tourist Inn Hotel Minab.
We drive to Bandar Abbass for a flight to Ahwaz and transfer directly to our hotel, birding en route if time permits. 
Overnight Hotel Oxin Ahwaz
During these two days, we will explore the areas north of Ahwaz where the two major rivers of Dez and Karkhe creates ideal and important habitat for Iraq Babbler, Grey Hypocolius, Mesopotamian Crow, Egyptian Nightjar and Menetries Warbler. Another primary target here is the range restricted Basra Reed Warbler and we should also encounter Dead Sea Sparrow and Black-winged Kite. We will also encounter large numbers of Red-winged Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, Collared Pratincole and Eurasian Turtle Dove, while we have an outside chance of Pied Bushchat and Namaqua Dove. Time permitting; we will also explore the Shadegan lagoon where we hope to see White-cheeked Terns and Marbled Duck though these can be distant.
Overnights Hotel Oxin Ahwaz
Today we have a long day with a morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Tehran. Upon arrival; we will be picked up by our 4 x 4 vehicles for the direct drive to Kelardasht, a small town located in northern slopes of the Alburz mountain range. Here it’s a totally different world! To reach the area, we will drive on a beautiful scenic mountainous road connecting the barren slopes of the southern Alburz to the lush broad-leaf forest of the northern Alburz and Caspian Sea coastal areas. En-route we can stop briefly at the three thousand metre high mountain pass to see Rock Sparrow, before we continue on to Kelardasht for a three night stay at modest local hotel. 
Overnight Hotel Maral, Kelardasht
Today will mostly be dedicated to finding the little known Caspian Tit. We will drive dirt roads in the northern faces of Alburz Mountains surrounding Kelardasht where the oak and scattered hawthorn trees occur in altitudes above two thousand metres. This creates the best habitat for this enigmatic little bird and we will make full use of our 4 x 4 vehicles to reach the beautiful upper forest habitats. Other birds to expect are Eurasian Wryneck, Green Woodpecker, Sombre and Long-tailed Tits, Ortolan Bunting and Lesser Whitethroat. In the afternoon, we return to Kelardasht in time for dinner.
Overnight Hotel Maral, Kelardasht.
Today our principal target is Caspian Snowcock. This majestic bird lives in very high altitudes on the north faces of Alburz and parts of Zagros Mountains. There is a healthy population at the four thousand metre peaks of the Alam Kooh Mountains. During the morning we will drive slowly along a bumpy, dirt road to reach high altitude where we have a very good chance to see the birds on the ridges of the mountains around us, with their eerie curlew like calls echoing all around us. Other species we can expect as we climb to the highest points are Golden Eagle, Black Redstart, Radde’s Accentor, Persian and Pied Wheatears, Red-fronted Serin and Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. 
Overnight Hotel Maral, Kelardasht
Morning drive to the eastern coastal regions of Caspian Sea near Babolsar to visit several small ponds on the shoreline among the rice fields where we have a chance to see Black-headed Penduline Tits busy weaving their fantastic hanging nests in local willow trees before we continue on to Sari; the capital of Mazandaran province. 
Overnight Hotel Badeleh, Sari.
Morning drive to Touran National Park via Kiasar and Shahrud. We are going to spend the next two nights in a local house in Qale Bala village which is located in the Biosphere Reserve. Touran consists of a huge steppe, semi arid desert and arid mountains with the Artemisia steppes in the north, which is the main habitat for the endemic Pleske’s Ground Jay, and also Asian Desert Warbler. Other species we expect to see here include Black-bellied and Crowned Sandgrouse, Desert, Bar-tailed and Crested Larks, Trumpeter Finch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Macqueen’s Bustard, Scrub Warbler, Desert Wheatear, Masked Wagtail, Desert Finch, See See Partridge,  Eastern Rock Nuthatch, and with luck Hooded Wheatear and Cream-coloured Courser. Common migrants here should include Green Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and possibly the rare Onager, a species of wild ass.
Overnights in local houses in Qale Bala.
We leave Touran and drive all day westward to reach the capital. En route, we will make stops around Parvar Protected Area to look particularly for White-throated Robin, Pale Rock Sparrow and Trumpeter Finch.
Overnight Hotel Bozorg Tehran.
Depending on flight times, we will have time at leisure before driving to the airport for the onward journey home. The tour will conclude in London later the same day.


Additional Information


Return flights London/Tehran, all internal flights, thirteen night’s accommodation in 3 &4 star hotels and local homes, one overnight on board the aircraft, meals from in flight meal on day one to breakfast on day sixteen including in flight meals, minibus and 4 x 4 transport and support vehicle, boat trips in mangrove forest, local taxes, service of leaders, visa support letter and reserve entrance fees.
Transport to/from London airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, Iranian visa [approximately £100.00], meals other than those stated, drinks [Iran does not tolerate alcohol], gratuities and any personal items.