سقطرى | Socotra

SUB-REGION
Horn of Africa

SIZE
Socotra is the largest island in an archipelago of four islands, including Abd al-Kuri, and three islets in the north-western Indian Ocean with a total land area of 3,974 km²

BIRDS AND BIRDING

SPECIES
Diversity

A blend of Middle Eastern and African components in the avifauna
Approximately 230 recorded species, including vagrants

Socotra Bunting (Tasso Leventis)
Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak (Tasso Leventis)

Endemics (E)
Jouanin’s Petrel (breeding) (NT)
Socotra Buzzard (VU)
Socotra Scops Owl (LC)
Socotra Cisticola (NT)
Socotra Warbler (LC)
Socotra Starling (LC)
Socotra Sunbird (LC)
Abd al-Kuri Sparrow (VU)
Socotra Sparrow (LC)
Socotra Golden-winged Grosbeak | Socotra Grosbeak (LC)
Socotra Bunting (NT)

Socotra Scops Owl (Tasso Leventis)
Socotra Warbler (Tasso Leventis)
Socotra Starling (Tasso Leventis)

Birds best found on Socotra but occurring more widely (BT), including endemic subspecies (ESS)
Forbes-Watson’s Swift (ESS berliozi)
Socotra White-eye

Birds best found in two territories of the ABC region but occurring in more (B2)
Persian Shearwater (persicus)

Socotra Cormorant (Tasso Leventis)
Nubian Nightjar (Yoav Perlmann)

Other taxa of interest, including ESS
Harlequin Quail (arabica)
Nubian Nightjar (ESS jonesi)
White-browed Coucal
Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse
Laughing Dove (ESS sokotrae)
Bruce’s Green Pigeon
Red-knobbed Coot
Black-winged Stilt
Kentish Plover
Cream-colored Courser
Brown Noddy (pileatus)
Sooty Gull
Saunders’s Tern
Bridled Tern (antarcticus)
Red-billed Tropicbird (indicus)
Masked Booby (melanops)
Brown Booby (plotus)
Socotra Cormorant
Striated Heron (brevipes)
Osprey
Egyptian Vulture
Common Kestrel (archeri)
Peregrine Falcon
Great Grey Shrike (ESS uncinatus)
Brown-necked Raven
Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark (melanauchen)
Pale Crag Martin (arabica)
Somali Starling
Long-billed Pipit (ESS sokotrae)
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting (ESS insularis)

MAIN HABITATS
Arid scrubland, mountains

BIRD AREAS
Socotra Endemic Bird Area (EBA)
22 Important Bird Areas

BIRDING SITES
Wadi Ayhaft and Dixam Plateau on Socotra Island for endemic landbirds
Abd al-Kuri Island for the endemic sparrow
Between Socotra and Abd al-Kuri Islands for breeding seabirds including Jouanin’s Petrel and Persian Shearwater as well as Red-necked Phalarope on passage and Wilson’s Storm Petrel in summer
Khors and beaches for non-breeding migrants including Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Spotted Crake, Common Moorhen, Greater Flamingo, Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Tibetan Sand Plover, Eurasian Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Ruff, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Jack Snipe, Pin-tailed Snipe, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Black-headed Gull, Caspian Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (fuscus/heuglini/barabensis), Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, Greater Crested Tern (velox), Lesser Crested Tern (bengalensis), Sandwich Tern, Sooty Tern, Common Tern, White-cheeked Tern, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Yellow Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Western Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, Little Egret and Western Reef Heron (schistacea)

TIMING (Nov, Apr-May)
Best when most birds breed, during and after the rains (Oct-Dec, Apr-May)
Forbes-Watson’s Swift is absent Sep-Feb
Seabirds breed May-Sep

RESOURCES
Apps

Birds of the Middle East (in English and Arabic)

Field guides
Birds of the Horn of Africa by Nigel Redman, Terry Stevenson & John Fanshawe (2011)
Birds of the Middle East by Richard Porter & Simon Aspinall (2010), which is also available in Arabic
Birds of Eastern Africa by Ber Van Perlo (2009)
Fauna of the Socotra Archipelago: Field Guide by Wolfgang Wranik, O S Al-Saghier, S Aspinall, R F Porter & H Rösler (2003)

Further reading
Socotra’s Special Birds by Richard Porter (2023)
Checklist of the Birds of the Socotra Archipelago by Richard Porter & Ahmed Saeed Suleiman (2020)
Yemen & Socotra, a trip report compiled by Niklas Holmström & Ulf Ståhle (2009)
The Lost World of Socotra: Yemen’s Island of Bliss by Richard Boggs (2009)
Socotra: a Natural History of the Islands and their People by Catherine Cheung & Lyndon DeVantier (2006)
Important Bird Areas in the Middle East compiled by M I Evans (1994)
Articles in Sandgrouse, Bull. ABC, etc.

Websites
Socotra Archipelago – UNESCO World Heritage List
The Socotra Archipelago Project

ORGANISATIONS

There is currently no BirdLife Partner in Yemen, which Socotra is politically part of

Bird or conservation organisations active on, or associated with, Socotra include –
The Socotra Wildlife Association (SWA)
Friends of Soqotra (FOS)
Yemen Society for the Protection of Wildife (YSPF)


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