Winter birding on Qeshm Island, Iran | Dec 2019

Aktualisiert: 31. Okt 2020

Qeshm Island lies in the Persian Gulf in the Province of Hormozgan, just across the city of Bandar Abbas in Iran. It is an desert island with few trees and bushes around villages, dams and wadis. Despite being dry and barren, the landscape is stunning. To proctect this geological heritage, Qeshm was given the title Geopark by the UNESCO.

This was my second trip after a visit in February 2016. Our aim was to perform research on Lesser Whitethroat | Klappergrasmücke (Sylvia curruca ssp.) and taking part in an environmental education program carried out by the Qeshm Environmental Conservation Institute (QECI) and their partners. Both projects were generously support by the German Ornithological Society (DO-G) and the Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME) respectively. It was a great success with many avian highlights and generally a great travel destination.

An annotated checklist of the birds on this trip can be found here: L. Khil & M. Suanjak: Qeshm, Iran Dec 2020. Trip report.



A camel in the desert. Qeshm, Iran.
A camel in the desert. Qeshm, Iran.

Landscape. Qeshm, Iran.

Anabasis setifera, a typical plant in the desert. Qeshm, Iran.


Surprinsingly, we encountered a good amount of rain which resulted in parts of the desert being flooded. Qeshm, Iran.

Orange rock patterns in the Salt Cave. Qeshm, Iran.


Typical landscape view with lush green gardens and barren hill slopes in the background. Qeshm, Iran.


View of a wadi with a few trees. Qeshm, Iran.

Chakooh Canyon, one of the main tourist sites of the Ecopark. Qeshm, Iran.

Gulls at low tide in the harbour of Dulab village. Qeshm, Iran.

Surinse over the desert. Qeshm, Iran.

Red Fox | Rotfuchs (Vulpes vulpes). This island form of red fox is particularly pale and small. Qeshm, Iran.

Afghan Babbler | Langschwanz-Drossling (Argya huttoni). Qeshm, Iran.

Long-billed Pipit | Langschnabelpieper (Anthus similis) sometimes occurring together with Tawny Pipits alowing a good comparison of these two surprisingly similar pipit species. Qeshm, Iran.
Long-billed Pipit | Langschnabelpieper (Anthus similis) sometimes occurring together with Tawny Pipits alowing a good comparison of these two surprisingly similar pipit species. Qeshm, Iran.

Hume's Warbler | Tienshan-Laubsänger (Phylloscopus humei). This small Central Asian leaf warbler winters in small numbers on Qeshm Island, Iran.
Hume's Warbler | Tienshan-Laubsänger (Phylloscopus humei). This small Central Asian leaf warbler winters in small numbers on Qeshm Island, Iran.

White Wagtail | Bachstelze (Motacillca alba ssp. personata). Compared to the common subspecies alba, this individual showed broad white fringes on the greater coverts and a lot of black on the necksides, both features of the Central Asian subspecies personata. Qeshm, Iran.

Desert Lark | Steinlerche (Ammomanes deserti ssp. iranica)

Eurasian Siskin | Erlenzeisig (Carduelis spinus). These birds are part of a flock of at least 23. Such large flocks are rare on the southern border of the species' distribution range. Qeshm, Iran.

Asian Desert Warbler | Wüstengrasmücke (Sylvia nana). This amazing Slylvia species is only a winter guest on Qeshm, nevertheless it can be quite common in sandy habitats. Qeshm, Iran.

Laughing Dove | Palmtaube (Streptopelia senegalensis). Qeshm, Iran.

Green Bee-eater | Smaragdspint (Merops orientalis ssp.beludschicus). Qeshm, Iran.

Greater Crested Tern | Eilseeschwalbe (Thalasseus bergii) and Lesser Crested Tern | Rüppellseeschwalbe (Thalasseus bengalensis). Greater Crested Terns can be distinguished from the smaller Lesser Crested Terns by a shorter and more orange bill. Qeshm, Iran.

Steppe Gulls | Heringsmöwen (Larus fuscus ssp. barabensis). Large Gulls are common along the Qeshm coast. Their identification is very tricky, but most are Steppe- with a few Heuglin's Gulls inbetween. Qeshm, Iran.

Steppe Gulls | Heringsmöwen (larus fuscus ssp. barabensis). Huge flocks of gulls are attracted by fish drying factories. Qeshm, Iran.

Redshanks | Rotschenkel (Tringa totanus) with one Greenshank | Grünschenkel (Tringa nebularia). Qeshm, Iran.

Common Sandpiper | Flussuferläufer (Actitis hypoleucos). Qeshm, Iran.
Crab Plover | Reiherläufer(Dromas ardeola). This iconic species is common in the large mangrove (Harra) forest. Qeshm, Iran.

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse | Braunbauch-Flughuhn (Pterocles exustus). The only species of Sandgrouse I have found on Qeshm, Iran.

Egyptian Vulture | Schmutzgeier (Neophron percnopterus) juvenile. Qeshm, Iran.

Egyptian Vulture | Schmutzgeier (Neophron percnopterus) adult. Qeshm, Iran.

Egyptian Vulture | Schmutzgeier (Neophron percnopterus). This globally endangered Vulture species is common around towns where it scavanges in the rubbish. Qeshm, Iran.

Pallid Scops Owl | Streifenohreule (Otus brucei). One of biggest rewards Middle-Eastern desert birding has to offer! Qeshm, Iran.

A typical Qeshm beach scene with Steppe Gulls | Heringsmöwen (Larus fuscus ssp. barabensis), two Pallas's Gulls | Fischmöwen (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus), and singles of Western Reef Heron | Küstenreiher (Egretta gularis) and Great White Egret | Silberreiher (Ardea alba)

Grey Heron | Graureiher (Ardea cinerea). Qeshm, Iran.

Western Reef Heron | Küstenreiher (Egretta garzetta). Juvenile of the pale moph. Qeshm, Iran.

Western Reef Heron | Küstenreiher (Egretta garzetta) dark morph. Sometimes, when Herons and Egrets fly only short distances, they keep their neck stretched (to confuse birders?). Qeshm, Iran.


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