12 days holiday exploring different habitats and cultural sites in search of Jordan's butterflies and birds

Jordan's Butterflies, Birds and Culture

Tuesday 26th March - Saturday 6th April 2019

Jordan is one of the smallest Middle East countries but nevertheless it offers excellent birding. It is surprisingly underlooked compared with its neighbor Israel which is a hugely popular birdwatching destination. Situated at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba, on a crossroad between three continents, JordanпїЅs birds and wildlife is well worth a visit.
Our tour goes there when the local birds are at the peak of their breeding activity. However, at this time of the year they are joined by huge numbers of migrants returning, or on the way to their breeding grounds further north. Exploring different habitats we will be looking for the local specialties пїЅ Sinai Rosefinch, TristramпїЅs Serin, Sand Partridge, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Basalt and other wheatears and many larks species. Raptors, both local and on passage will be also in the focus of our tour including Barbary and Sooty falcons.
Being underlooked Jordan can always surprise a birdwatcher with some real rarity, for example White-eyed Gull. The country is also blessed with ancient history and several outstanding cultural sites.
The ancient capital Petra we will visit is awe-inspiring monument of the human civilization and our visit there is a well worth, moreover it is also a home to some of our target birds.Together with Turkey, Jordan is also the safest and friendliest country to visiting birders in the whole Middle East.

ITINERARY

Day 1  Arrive at Amman late in the evening and transfer to a hotel for a two night stay.

Day 2 After a late start we will visit Jerash, As Salt, Mahis and Aljub, just north of the capital, which we will explore at our leisure. Highlights today will be Southern Swallowtail, Eastern Steppe Festoon, False Apollo, Cleopatra, Crimson Tip, Blue Pansy, Levantine Marbled White, Turkish Meadow Brown, Pomegranate Playboy, Mediterranean Tiger Blue, Dark Grass Blue, The Arabian Sapphire, Grave's Zephyr Blue, Loew's Blue, Aegean Skipper, Tesselated Skipper, False Marbled Skipper.
Highlights today will be mainly warblers - Spectacled, Rupell`s, Eastern Orphean and Bonelli`s, the local race of the Jay and many migrants. At Zarqa river we will have a look for the Long-billed Pipit. Second night in Amman.
 
Day 3  Today we drive east to Azraq oazis and Shaumari Wildlife Reserve. On the way we will pass Qasr Amra and some desert and scrub habitats. Here we will find many larks and wheatear species - Temnicks Horned Lark, Desert Lark, Hoopoe Lark, possible Dunnes and Thick-billed Larks; Desert Finch, Desert and Red-rumped Wheatear, Cream-colored Courser, Bluethroat, Blackstart and Egyptian Nightjar. Already in Azraq we will explore the wetland and shall record Broad-billed Sandpiper and many other waders, waterfowl Black-winged Pratincole, White-tailed Plover, Greater Sand Plover, many warblers etc. Two nights in Azraq.

Day 4 Today we will explore the surroundings and also unique Basalt Desert (As Safawi), situated north of Azraq. Among the species from previous day here occurs also Persian Fritillary. Here is the home of the local morph of the Mourning Wheatear - the Basalt Wheatear. Other species we will look for are Bar-tailed Desert Lark, Temminck`s Horned Lark, Thick-billed Lark, Desert Wheatear and Trumpeter Finch. In the evening return to Azraq for our second night here.

Day 5 Today we drive north-west to Ajlun. On the way we will pass Qasr Amra and some desert and scrub habitats. Here we expect Eastern Steppe Festoon, Large Salmon Arab, Cleopatra, Plain Tiger, Levantine Marbled White, Lesser Fiery Copper, Tesselated Skipper. One night in Ajlun.

Day 6 In the morning we will leave the area and head west, towards the Dead Sea. On the way we shall visit Ghawr Kabid, Deir Alla, Mount Nebo, Wadi Midjub and Dead Sea area. Highlights today will include Dead Sea Sparrow, Palestine Sunbird, White-cheek Bulbul, Little Green Bee-eater, Mourning Wheatear, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Babbler, Sand Partridge, Hoopoe and Dunn`s Larks, Blackstart and many more. Possible species here are Eastern Steppe Festoon, False Apollo, African Caper White, Green-striped White, Levantine Marbled White, Dark Grass Blue, Pygmy Skipper, Turkish Meadow Brown, Pomegranate Playboy, African Babul Blue, Millet Skipper. Two nights at Dead Sea hotel.

Day 7  Today we will explore Zarqa Ma-in and Al Mujib Nature Reserve. Here we expect Desert Bath White, Greenish Black Tip, Sooty Orange Tip, African Caper White, Desert Fritillary, Levantine Marbled White, Mediterranean Skipper, Pygmy Skipper, Millet Skipper, Turkish Meadow Brown, African Ringlet, Lederer's Cupid, Loew's Blue, False Marbled Skipper.

Day 8 Today we drive further south and will explore Al Karak, Ghor as Safi and Wadi Dana reserve. Here we expect Mediterranean Hairstreak, Greenish Black Tip, Levantine Marbled White, Blue Spotted Arab, Golden Arab, Mediterranean Tiger Blue, African Babul Blue, Lederer's Cupid, Mediterranean Skipper, Pygmy Skipper and we  expect Tristrams Serin, Chuckar and raptors including Bonelli`s Eagle, Barbary and Sooty falcon, Griffon Vulture etc., too. One night at Dana.

Day 9 Short drive to Petra - a unique momument of the human civilization. Being an ancient trading capital of the Nabataean people it was latter abandoned and rediscovered again in 1812. It is also a wonderful site for birding and here we shall look for the Sahara Swallowtail, Jordan Dappled White, Egyptian White, Greenish Black Tip, Sooty Orange Tip, Southern Comma, Pomegranate Playboy, Dark Grass Blue, False Baton Blue, Alfiers Blue, Grave's Zephyr Blue, Loew's Blue. for the Sinai Rosefinch, Fan-tailed Raven, Brown-necked Raven, Tristram`s Starling or Grackle and many raptors including the Steppe Eagle. In the evening we will also look for the elusive Humes Tawny Owl. One night at Petra.

Day 10 Today we will drive to and explore Wadi Rum. Here we expect Sahara Swallowtail, Sooty Orange Tip, Scarce Green-striped White, Desert Fritillary, Verreaux`s Eagle, Sooty Falcon, Sinai Rosefinch, Tristrams Starling, White-crowned Weatear, Mourning Wheatear, Hooded Wheatear, possibly a House Bunting and many more.  Two nights in Aqaba.

Day 11 Explore Aqaba town mainly for rare migrant species. We will also visit the area in search of Blue Spotted Arab, African Caper White, Greenish Black Tip, African Migrant, Plain Tiger, Desert Fritillary, Pomegranate Playboy, Black-striped Hairtail, Mediterranean Tiger Blue, African Babul Blue, Velvet Spotted Blue.  Explore Aqaba town for warblers and passerines. We will also visit the sewage works as it is a huge attraction to various waders, gulls and waterfowl as well as the Red Sea coast for White-eyed Gull and possibly Brown Booby.

Day 12 Drive to Amman with few stops on the way. We arrive at the airport late afternoon for our flight back home.