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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Steere's Pitta

    A stunning Steere's Pitta in Rajah Sikatuna National Park on the island of Bohol in the Philippines by Dubi Shapiro.

    ASIA and THE MIDDLE EAST

    The destinations listed and linked below are the ones we believe are the best in Asia and The Middle East. They have been chosen very carefully and for a multitude of reasons, but mainly based on personal experience of some of them and on dreams of visiting the rest, dreams resulting from what we have heard, read or seen.

    It is our intention to update this list regularly as we add destinations and it was last updated in April 2018.

    If there are any other destinations you think should be on the list below then please feel free to Email us.


    The destinations are listed alphabetically with very brief, usually one-line, summaries for those linked to more detailed pages (to reach these pages click on the destination name). Those not linked to more detailed pages are described in a bit more detail here, in italics.

    For more information see ...
    The Best (100) Birds in the World,
    The Best (100) Wildlife in the World and
    Best (50) Other Natural Wonders.

    Destinations

    The first and arguably most important destination to consider is a Local Patch, somewhere a short walk from home where it is possible to see a wide range of birds and other wildlife any day of the year.

    A

    Ambon
    See Moluccas, below.

    Arctic Russia
    The richest tundra in the world, and birds such as Siberian Crane and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

    Armenia
    Landlocked Armenia is dominated by the lofty Lesser Caucasus mountains which rise to 4090 m (13,420 ft) at Mount Aragats although there is also some semi-desert and a large area of fish ponds at lower elevations. Situated at the junction of Europe, the Middle East and Asia there is a superb selection of birds to be seen in a very small area just a quarter the size of England, including Pygmy Cormorant, Marbled and White-headed Ducks (Armash fish ponds), Lammergeier, Levant Sparrowhawk, Caspian Snowcock (Gndasar Mountain), Caucasian Grouse (Tsaghkunyats Mountains), White-tailed Lapwing (Armash fish ponds), Armenian Gull, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Bimaculated and (Caucasian) Horned/Shore Larks, White-throated Robin, Finsch's and Red-tailed Wheatears, Blackstart, (Western) Rock and Eastern Rock Nuthatches, Green, Menetries's, Moustached and Upcher's (a late arriving summer visitor) Warblers, Rose-coloured Starling, Radde's Accentor, Crimson-winged Finch and Grey-necked Bunting. During the autumn, especially early September, large numbers of Demoiselle Cranes pass through Lake Sevan. Mammals include the Bezoar Ibex which occurs in the Yeranos Mountains. More than 230 species of butterfly include Caucasian specialities and there is a chance of seeing 80 species during the last week of June including Kurdish Copper and Persian Fritillary. The best time for birds is late May to the middle of June.

    Photograph of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

    Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters nest in Armenia. Image by Michael McKee.

    Azerbaijan
    This small country supports a long list of specialities including Caucasian Grouse, Caspian and Caucasian Snowcocks, Black Francolin, See-see Partridge, Shikra, Black-winged Pratincole, (Caucasian) Great Spotted Woodpecker, Güldenstädt's Redstart, Finsch’s and Persian Wheatears, Green, Ménétries' and Upcher’s Warblers, Mountain Chiffchaff, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Caspian Tit, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Radde's Accentor, Pale Rockfinch, (Caucasian) Twite, Great Rosefinch, Asian Crimson-winged Finch and Grey-necked Bunting, while other birds present include Chukar, Pygmy Cormorant, Lammergeier, White-tailed Lapwing, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-throated Robin, Rosy Starling, Red-fronted Serin, and Mongolian and Trumpeter Finches. These birds are best looked for from mid-May to mid-June and the best areas are Hyrcan National Park (Caspian Tit), the High Caucasus (Caucasian Grouse and Great Rosefinch (Mount Shahdagh)), and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchiva (Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Persian Wheatear, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Radde’s Accentor and Pale Rockfinch). During the winter birds include Greater and Lesser White-fronted Geese, Marbled and White-headed Ducks, Dalmatian and Great White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorant, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Little Bustard (thousands in and around Aggol National Park), Grey-headed Swamphen and Great Black-headed Gull. Many species pass through on migration as well and there is a bottleneck on the the narrow coastal plain below the rock of Besh Barmag less than 100km north of the capital Baku where over a million birds have been recorded during the autumn/fall including waterbirds, raptors, rollers and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. Mammals are less prominent but aerial maps of Azerbaijan even in the mid-2010s showed the presence of great tracts of near-pristine forest where Brown Bears, Wolves and even Leopards still lived.

    B

    Babar
    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    Bacan
    See Moluccas, below.

    Banggai Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Beidaihe and Happy Island, China
    One of the best places to experience bird migration on the planet, just 280 km east of Beijing. The passage migrants, many in summer plumage during spring, include many species which are rarities in Europe and Alaska, notably cuckoos, pipits, thrushes, flycatchers, warblers and buntings, some of which turn up in astonishing numbers when there has been a fall (for example, 250 Siberian Blue Robins in one day on Happy Island!). Regular other species include Chinese Egret, Schrenck’s Bittern, Pied Harrier, Amur Falcon, Baillon’s Crake, shorebirds such as Asian Dowitcher and Grey-tailed Tattler, Relict and Saunders’s Gulls, White-throated Needletail, Black-capped Kingfisher, Black-naped Oriole, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Chinese Nuthatch, Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous-tailed and Siberian Blue Robins, Forest Wagtail and Chinese Grosbeak. A lot of good habitat is being destroyed around the expanding seaside resort of Beidaihe, which is not as good as it used to be, but Happy Island, about 4 km by 2km and accessible via a 20-minute ferry ride, is still an exciting place to bird, and arguably the best to find many of the most exciting migrants. The first half of May is the peak time for species diversity during spring but spring passage begins in March when four species of crane pass over. The peak time in autumn is late September-early October although the cranes pass over south from mid-October to early November.

    Bhutan
    Where Golden Langurs and so many brilliant birds are part of the Gross National Happiness.

    Borneo - Malaysia
    Orang-utan, Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Gibbon and many top birds make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Burma
    See Myanmar, below.

    Buru
    See Moluccas, below.

    C

    Cambodia
    Irrawaddy Dolphin, Yellow-cheeked Gibbon and rare South East Asian birds like Giant Ibis.

    China - Beidaihe
    See Beidaihe and Happy Island, above.

    China - Central
    Golden Snub-nosed Monkey and a slim chance of Giant Panda in the wild.

    China - Eastern (Poyang Hu)
    The 'Birds of Heaven', that is cranes, lots of wintering cranes, including Siberian.

    China - Hong Kong
    Thousands of summer-plumaged shorebirds possibly including Spoon-billed Sandpiper in April.

    China - Sichuan
    Many superb birds, not least colourful pheasants and Firethroat, and a good chance of Red Panda.

    Photograph of White-browed Tit Warbler

    A beautiful White-browed or Severtzov's or Stoliczka's Tit Warbler at Kanda Shan, a mountain pass in Qinghai province adjacent to Sichuan in China by Dubi Shapiro.


    China - Yunnan
    Black-crested Gibbon, Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey and lots of superb birds and flowers.

    Christmas Island
    Million of migrating Red Crabs in November-December, giant Coconut Crabs, and seabirds.

    D

    Damar
    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    G

    Georgia
    Caucasian Grouse, Caucasian Snowcock, Guldenstadt's Redstart and Caucasian Great Rosefinch.

    Goa, India
    Goa is India’s smallest state, just 130 km (80 miles) from north to south and 80 km (50 miles) wide. Situated on the tropical west coast, the white, palm-fringed beaches are a major tourist attraction, but the state is also a great place for birds, from the coast where the lakes, marshes, mudflats and mangroves support a wide range of waterbirds to the foothill forests of the Western Ghats at the eastern end of the state where it is possible to see over 30 of Southern India's endemic and near-endemic species. Water and open-country birds along the coast include Oriental Darter, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles, Indian Peafowl, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Small Pratincole, Greater Painted Snipe, Great Black-headed Gull, Plum-headed Parakeet, Black-capped and Stork-billed Kingfishers, Little Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Wire-tailed Swallow, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Orange-headed Thrush and Long-tailed Shrike. To see the specialities however it is necessary to spend at least a few days in the Western Ghats, at places such as the famous Backwoods Camp for example, where it is possible to see Southern Indian endemics such as Grey Junglefowl, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar (Crimson-fronted) and White-cheeked Barbets, Flame-throated (Black-crested) Bulbul, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher and Malabar Whistling Thrush, near-endemics shared with Sri Lanka, including Blue-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Orange (Scarlet) Minivet and Indian (White-browed) Scimitar Babbler, and other spectacular species such as Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Indian Pitta (also possible elsewhere), Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Forest Wagtail, Golden-fronted Leafbird (also possible elsewhere), Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. The best time to look for birds is during the northern winter and in two weeks it is possible to see well over 250 species.

    Photograph of Brahminy Kite

    Brahminy Kite. One of the many spectacular birds easily seen at Goa. Image by Michael McKee.

    H

    Halmahera (and Sulawesi) - Indonesia
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Hange Tham - Nepal
    Himalayan forests where Red Panda is probable not possible!

    Hong Kong - China
    Thousands of summer-plumaged shorebirds possibly including Spoon-billed Sandpiper in April.

    I

    India - Goa
    See Goa, above.

    India - Northern
    Tiger, Asian Elephant, Gharial and many birds including Sarus Crane make this A Top Ten Destination.

    India - Northeastern
    Indian Rhinoceros, Hoolock Gibbon and many stunning birds including Himalayan Monal, Grandala, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Beautiful Nuthatch.

    Photograph of Grandala

    The beautiful Grandala, one of a flock which these birds usually occur in, by Jon Hornbuckle.


    India - Northwestern
    The best place in the world to look for Snow Leopard, high up in the high mountains of Ladakh.

    India - Southern
    Gaur, Lion-tailed Macaque and endemic birds like Black-and-orange Flycatcher.

    India - Western
    Lion, Wild Ass, Blackbuck, thousands of Demoiselle Cranes and other birds such as Hypocolius.

    Photograph of Indian Courser

    The handsome Indian Courser is most likely to be seen in Western India. Image by Simon Colenutt.


    Photograph of Bali Myna

    Bali Myna in Bali Barat National Park by Dubi Shapiro.

    Indonesia - Bali
    The numerous top birding destinations of Indonesia include the island of Bali, just across the narrow Bali Strait to the east of Java, where the very rare and very beautiful white Bali Myna or Starling is being reintroduced (not very successfully) to Bali Barat National Park, where remnant open lowland deciduous forest and coastal habitats also support Black-winged Myna, Great-billed Heron, Javan Plover and Banded Pitta.

    Indonesia - Java
    Javan Gibbon, leaf monkeys and lots of endemic birds including a trogon and a cochoa.

    Indonesia - Komodo
    Komodo Dragon, rich coral reefs with Green Turtles and birds such as Yellow-crested Cockatoo.

    Indonesia - Lesser Sundas
    See Lesser Sundas, below.

    Indonesia - Sulawesi and Halmahera
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Indonesia - Sulawesi's satellites
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Indonesia - Sumatra
    Orang-utan, Siamang, White-handed Gibbon and endemic birds including Sumatran Cochoa.

    Indonesia - West Papua
    Fantastic birds-of-paradise including Wilson's, and the richest coral reefs in the world!

    Iran
    Iran is a largely hot, dry and barren country but the Zagros Mountains rise to 12,000 ft (3600 m) and the highest peaks are permanently snow covered. The many great birds include the endemic Pleske's Ground Jay which can be seen in the Dasht-e-Kavir Desert in the northeast. There are also a few regional endemics and specialities such as Socotra Cormorant (south), Sind Pied Woodpecker (southeast), Grey Hypocolius (southwest), Mesopotamian (Hooded) Crow (southwest), Afghan (Common) (south) and Iraq (southwest) Babblers, Caspian (Sombre) Tit (north), Black-headed Penduline Tit (north) and Basra Reed Warbler (southwest), plus White-headed Duck, Indian Pond Heron, Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Crab Plover, White-tailed Plover, Great Thick-knee, Cream-coloured Courser, Indian Roller, several larks and wheatears, White-throated Robin, Eversmann's Redstart, Bay-backed Shrike, Asian Desert, Menetries's and Streaked Scrub Warblers, Radde's Accentor, Purple Sunbird, Dead Sea Sparrow and Crimson-winged Finch, as well as a chance of Asian (Macqueen's) Houbara Bustard. The best time to look for birds is April-May. Mammals include Asian Wild Ass (northeast), Mouflon, Ibex (Wild Goat), Golden Jackal, Goitered Gazelle, Chinkara (Indian Gazelle), Indo-Pacific Humpback (Plumbeous) Dolphin (from boat trips to and from Hormoz Island in the Persian Gulf) and Black Finless Porpoise. About fifty (Asiatic) Cheetahs are thought to survive in the deserts, mainly around Dasht-e Kavir in the northeast, but like (Persian) Leopard, Caracal, Striped Hyaena, Wolf and Sand Cat they are rarely seen by visitors. The 'flower fields' near Chelgerd with their vast swathes of wild Crown Imperials are famous amongst botanists as are the country's colourful Dionysias and irises, amongst a fine flora best viewed during the middle two weeks of April.

    Israel
    A migration bottleneck, especially for raptors and storks, plus some localised landbirds.

    Photograph of Masked Shrike

    The smart Masked Shrike is a regular spring migrant in Israel. Image by Michael McKee.

    J

    Japan
    ‘Snow Monkey’ (Japanese Macaque), Steller’s Eagle and Red-crowned Cranes ‘dancing’ in the snow.

    Java
    Javan Gibbon, leaf monkeys and lots of endemic birds including a trogon and a cochoa.

    Jordan
    Like Israel to the west Jordan lies on a migration bottleneck which sees the passage of an estimated 500 million birds of about 300 species, especially raptors, storks and passerines, and supports some localised landbirds and Western Palearctic rarities such as Sand Partridge, White-eyed Gull, Namaqua Dove, Hume’s Tawny Owl (most likely at the famous ancient city of Petra), Blackstart, Desert, Hooded, Mourning, Red-rumped and White-crowned Black Wheatears, Arabian Babbler, Bar-tailed, Greater Hoopoe and Temminck’s Horned Larks, Masked Shrike, Arabian and Streaked Scrub Warblers, White-spectacled Bulbul, Tristram’s Starling, Palestine Sunbird, Desert Finch, Dead Sea Sparrow, Tristram’s (Syrian) Serin, Sinai Rosefinch and Striolated Bunting, with a chance of Brown Booby, Pharaoh Eagle Owl and Cyprus Pied Wheatear, as well as more widespread birds including Spur-winged Plover, Little Crake, Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher, Little Green Bee-eater, Pale Crag Martin, Graceful Prinia, Moustached Warbler, and Brown-necked and Fan-tailed Ravens. Mammals include Nubian Ibex. Spring bird migration usually lasts from March to May and peaks from mid-March to early April which also happens to usually be the best time for most flowers including the national flower the Black Iris. Actually there are five black Irises, as well as Blue, Purple and White ones, and other spectacular flowers include blue and lilac-pink Lupins.

    K

    Kai Islands
    See Moluccas, below.

    Kamchatka (and the Kuril and Commander Islands) - Russia
    Whales, Brown Bear and zillions of seabirds possibly including Short-tailed Albatross.

    Kazakhstan
    Ibisbill, White-browed Tit Warbler, Black and White-winged Larks, and Great Gerbil.

    Komodo - Indonesia
    Komodo Dragon, rich coral reefs with Green Turtles and birds such as Yellow-crested Cockatoo.

    Korea - South
    See South Korea, below.

    Kuwait
    This tiny land of sand lies on a migrant flyway where the passage of birds usually peaks from mid-March to early May (especially early April) and in November and can be good enough at least as far as passerines are concerned during the spring to rival more famous destinations for observing migrating birds such as Eilat in Israel. In addition, Kuwait is situated at the south-eastern extremity of the Western Palearctic and, depending on the season, the best place in the region for Western Palearctic listers to look for the likes of Socotra Cormorant (spring), Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian Roller (winter), Basra Reed Warbler (spring), Afghan Babbler and Grey Hypocolius (winter, when there are regular roost sites or pre/post-roost gatherings). Introduced species, also beloved of listers, include Red-vented Bulbul, Ruppell’s Weaver and some species of myna. During the spring it is also possible to see Levant Sparrowhawk, Shikra, White-cheeked Tern, Egyptian Nightjar, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Dunn’s Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Menetries’s and Upcher’s Warblers, Semi-collared Flycatcher, Pale Rock Sparrow and Cinereous Bunting. During the winter there are usually good numbers of waterbirds in Sulaibikhat Bay including Greater Flamingo, Crab Plover, Broad-billed and Terek Sandpipers, and Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, while in the desert some ‘oases’ such as Jahra Pools Reserve support Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Grey-headed Swamphen, White-tailed Lapwing, Great Black-headed (Pallas’s) Gull, Pied and Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfishers, Oriental Skylark, Red-tailed (Persian) Wheatear, White-eared Bulbul, and Clamorous Reed and Moustached Warblers. Unfortunately it is necessary to obtain permission well in advance to visit some of the best sites, something best organised by a local, and a lot of people shoot birds, particularly during spring and autumn. June to August is not a good time to visit, the summer being uncomfortably hot.

    Kyrgyzstan
    This landlocked country to the south of Kazakhstan dominated by the Tien Shan mountain range rising to 7439 m (24,406 ft) supports Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Ibisbill, Hill Pigeon, White-winged Woodpecker, White-tailed Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Eversmann’s and Güldenstädt's Redstarts, Blue Whistling Thrush, White-browed Tit Warbler, Sulphur-bellied and Sykes’s Warblers, Rufous-naped, Songar and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Wallcreeper, Alpine, Altai and Black-throated Accentors, Rosy Starling, White-winged Grosbeak, Red-mantled Rosefinch, Mongolian Finch, Brandt’s and Plain Mountain Finches, and Grey-necked, Red-headed and White-capped Buntings. The best time for birds is the northern summer and the best birding sites include Ala-Archa National Park, the May-Saz Valley area and Arslanbob.

    L

    Ladakh - Northwestern India
    The best place in the world to look for Snow Leopard, high up in the high mountains of Ladakh.

    Lesser Sundas (Nusa Tenggara)
    East of Bali, the islands of Komodo (where the world's largest lizard lives), Flores, Sumba and Timor in Wallacea support more than 80 endemic bird species, including Sumba Buttonquail (Sumba), Citron-crested (Sumba) and Yellow-crested Cockatoos, Wallace's Hanging Parrot (Flores), pigeons, fruit doves, owls, Sumba Hornbill (Sumba), Cinnamon-banded and Glittering (White-rumped) (Flores, Sumbawa and Lombok) Kingfishers, Elegant Pitta, Chestnut-backed, Chestnut-capped and Orange-banded (Timor and Wetar) Thrushes, flycatchers including the very handsome Black-banded (Timor), Bare-throated Whistler (Flores and Sumbawa), Buff-banded Bushbird (Timor), Russet-capped Tesia (Flores and Sumbawa), dark-eyes, white-eyes, flowerpeckers, Apricot-breasted (Sumba) and Flame-breasted Sunbirds, Tricoloured Parrotfinch and Timor Sparrow (Timor). More widespread spectacular species include Lesser Frigatebird, Green Junglefowl, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Javan and Malaysian Plovers, Black-naped Tern, Rainbow Bee-eater, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Pygmy Cupwing (Wren Babbler) (subspecies on Flores and Timor). The best time to look for birds is mid-August to October.

    At the far eastern end of the Lesser Sundas not far from Australia are the Tanimbar Islands where the 14 endemic birds include a scrubfowl (most likely on a small satellite island), a cockatoo, Blue-streaked Lory, Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Pied Bronze Cuckoo, a boobook, a monarch, a triller, Charming Fantail, a flyrobin, Fawn-breasted and Slaty-backed Thrushes, a bush warbler, a starling, a friarbird and an oriole. Australasian (Lesser) Masked Owl also occurs. The main island Yamdena is accessible by air from Ambon. Moving west through the Banda Sea the island of Babar has an endemic race of Southern Boobook, Cinnamon-tailed Fantail and Banda Myzomela, the island of Damar has its own flycatcher, as well Black-banded Fruit Dove, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Banda Sea Monarch, Banda Sea Gerygone and White-tufted Honeyeater, and the tiny island of Leti supports an endemic subspecies of Southern Boobook, Banda Sea Fantail and Grey (Kisar) Friarbird. The much larger island of Wetar has six endemics; a ground dove, a scops owl, two honeyeaters, a figbird and an oriole, as well as several species shared with Timor to the south; Iris, Marigold and Olive-headed Lorikeets, Jonquil Parrot, Black Cuckoo Dove, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Timor Nightjar, Timor Stubtail, Timor Warbling Flycatcher, Fawn-breasted Whistler and Orange-sided Thrush. To the west Alor has Timor Grasshopper Warbler and an undescribed myzomela, and Pantar supports Alor (Southern) Boobook and Alor (Wallacean) Cuckoo Shrike, as well as Broad-billed Monarch, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Black-fronted Flowerpecker. The waters these islands lie in and those of the Flores Sea support Brown and Red-footed Boobies, Bridled and Sooty Terns, and Brown Noddy, as well as cetaceans such as Blue, Bryde’s and Sperm Whales, and Bottlenose, Risso’s and Spinner Dolphins, and the snorkelling is great.

    Photograph of Black-banded Flycatcher

    Black-banded Flycatcher by Lars Petersson.

    Leti
    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    M

    Malaysia - Borneo
    Orang-utan, Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Gibbon and many top birds make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Malaysia - Malay Peninsula
    A chance of Malayan Tapir, Siamang and White-handed Gibbon, and many lovely birds.

    Photograph of Green Broadbill

    A fabulous Green Broadbill at Danum Valley in Borneo by Nigel Voaden, one of several spectacular broadbills which may be seen on mainland Malaysia and/or in Borneo.


    Maldives
    Whales and dolphins, Whale Sharks and Manta Rays, and fanastic fish.

    Moluccas (Maluku)
    There are more than 80 endemic bird species in the Moluccas, of which about 40% occur on the island of Halmahera and 60% on Ambon, Seram, Buru and the Kai Islands. North of Halmahera is the island of Morotai which has three potential endemic birds; a drongo, a white-eye and a friarbird, as well as endemic subspecies of Chattering Lory, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Paradise-crow and Dusky Myzomela, and other birds on the island include Violet-necked Lory, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Drab Whistler, Halmahera Golden Bulbul and Halmahera Flowerpecker. South of Halmahera lies the island of Obi, accessible by ferry from Ternate, where the total of two endemic birds is likely to rise to at least seven if the taxonomic trend to split everything on islands continues, with Carunculated Fruit Dove and Obi Golden Bulbul being joined by ‘distinctive’ forms of a whistler, a drongo, a fantail, a white-eye and a paradise-crow. However, Obi’s star avian attraction for many is Obi Woodcock which is known only from Obi and a single specimen collected on the adjacent island of Bacan. North Moluccan endemics present on Obi include Chattering and Scaled (Violet-necked) Lories, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, 'Bacan Myzomela' and North Moluccan Leaf Warbler, and other species on the island include Beach, Blue-and-white, Moluccan Dwarf and Common Paradise Kingfishers, Blyth’s Hornbill and Moluccan (Red-bellied) Pitta. Bacan supports two potential endemics; a drongo and a white-eye. To the south of Obi the forested island of Buru, accessible by ferry from Ambon, supports more than 20 endemic bird species including a racquet-tail parrot, a green pigeon, a dwarf kingfisher, a monarch, a cuckoo shrike, two fantails, a warbling flycatcher, a golden bulbul, a friarbird and an oriole. The rare ones are in the mountains as usual and include a mountain pigeon, a thrush, a grasshopper warbler, a leaf warbler, a honeyeater and a myzomela, as well as Australasian (Lesser) Masked Owl, a boobook which is probably endemic and three of the least known species in the whole of Indonesia; Black-lored Parrot, Buru Lorikeet and Madanga Pipit (formerly Rufous-throated Dark-eye). In addition, the island supports a form of Red-bellied Pitta sometimes split as Buru Pitta. To the east of Buru is the long island of Seram, accessible by ferry from Ambon. The island's well-forested mountainous spine within the Manusela National Park supports the vast majority of the 15 endemic birds including the rare Salmon-crested Cockatoo, the rare Purple-naped Lory, Seram Imperial Pigeon, Streak-breasted Fantail, Grey-hooded White-eye (Heleia), Rufescent Dark-eye (Heleia), Seram Honeyeater, Seram Oriole, Seram Friarbird and Seram Golden Bulbul, as well as potential new species such as Seram (Red-bellied) Pitta, Seram Grasshopper Warbler and Seram Leaf Warbler while other species present on the island include Lazuli Kingfisher, Blyth’s Hornbill and Long-crested Myna. The satellite island of Boana has a very rare endemic monarch as well as an endemic race of Common Paradise Kingfisher and Seram Fantail, and there are other islands off Seram with Forsten’s Scrubfowl and the possible nomadic Olive Honeyeater. The small mountainous island of Ambon next to Seram is the regional hub for the southern Moluccas. It supports one near-endemic, a white-eye, as well as Red Lory, Seram Fantail, Seram Golden Bulbul and Seram Flowerpecker, with one of the best protected breeding sites for Moluccan Scrubfowl on the adjacent island of Haruku. At the southeastern corner of the Moluccas west of the Aru Islands near New Guinea are the Kai Islands where most of the six endemic birds occur in remnant forest patches on the island of Kai Kecil including a coucal, a boobook, a monarch and a white-eye. Also present on this island is Papuan Pitta. Another white-eye as well as a leaf warbler live on the island of Kai Besar. The peak time to look for the birds of the Moluccas is August.

    Mongolia
    One of the last wild places, with Relict Gull, Oriental Plover and Great Gerbil.

    Morotai
    See Moluccas, above.

    Myanmar (Burma)
    Myanmar (Burma) has eight endemic bird species not including Gurney's Pitta which is almost extinct in Thailand; Burmese Collared Dove, Burmese Bushlark, Naung Mung Wren Babbler, White-throated Babbler, Hooded Treepie, Jerdon's (White-bellied) Minivet, Davison's (Pale-eyed/Stripe-throated) Bulbul and White-browed Nuthatch, ten including Burmese (Black-browed) Bushtit and Ayeyawady/Irrawaddy (Streak-eared) Bulbul. The lark, minivet, babbler and treepie occur on the plains along the banks of the Irrawaddy River (‘the road to Mandalay’) near Bagan (along with the rare White-rumped Falcon), and the tit and nuthatch not far away in Natmataung (Mount Victoria) National Park near Kanpetlet in the Chin Hills, steep mountains which form a southern extension of the Himalayas, where other birds very difficult to see elsewhere include Buff-breasted (Black-throated) and Spot-breasted Parrotbills, Mount Victoria (Chinese) Babax, Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Chin Hills (Long-tailed) Wren Babbler, Assam, Blue-winged, Brown-capped and Striped Laughingthrushes, Crimson-faced Liocichla, Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Grey Sibia, White-bellied Redstart, Grey-sided Thrush, Black-bibbed Tit, Crested Finchbill and Brown Bush Warbler, and more widespread goodies occur, such as Hodgson's Frogmouth, Black-eared, Black-headed and Green Shrike Babblers, Himalayan Cutia, Red-tailed Minla, and Fire-tailed and Gould's Sunbirds. In the east the virtually endemic Burmese Yuhina can be seen near Kalaw in the hills of Shan State along with Black-tailed Crake, Pin-tailed Green-pigeon, Slender-billed Oriole, Sapphire Flycatcher, Black-breasted Thrush, Martens’s Warbler, Dark-backed Sibia and Collared Myna while Jerdon's Bushchat and Chinese (Rufous-rumped) Grassbird (Babbler) occur by the huge, 45 square mile, shallow Inle Lake. Down south it is possible to see Spoon-billed Sandpipers on their wintering grounds; most of the remaining population (perhaps less than 200) probably winters on the Myanmar coast. Another very rare bird, Gurney's Pitta, occurs in Tenasserim in the far south, along with (Malayan) Banded, Blue-winged and Garnet Pittas, and Plain-pouched Hornbill. The best time to search for pittas is mid-March to mid-April when they are normally at their most vocal but seeing them will involve a organising a mini camping expedition from the coastal town on Myiek. Back in Yangon there is a roost of half a million or so Asian Wrinkle-lipped Bats at the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda. The best time for most birds 'up north' is November to March.

    N

    Nepal
    Indian Rhinoceros, Gharial, many amazing birds and the fantastic Himalayas.

    Nepal - Hange Tham
    Himalayan forests where Red Panda is probable not possible!

    O

    Obi
    See Moluccas, above.

    Oman
    Crab Plover, Sooty Falcon and a chance of Hypocolius in some splendid desert scenery.

    P

    (Western) Pacific Odyssey
    An incredible selection of seabirds including Short-tailed Albatross and New Zealand Storm Petrel.

    Pantar
    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Peleng
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Philippines
    Dugong, Manta Ray, Whale Shark, fabulous fish and around 200 endemic birds.

    Poyang Hu - Eastern China
    The 'Birds of Heaven', that is cranes, lots of wintering cranes, including Siberian.

    R

    Russia - Arctic
    The richest tundra in the world, and birds such as Siberian Crane and Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

    Russia - Kamchatka, and the Kuril and Commander Islands
    Whales, Brown Bear and zillions of seabirds possibly including Short-tailed Albatross.

    S

    Sangihe
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Saudi Arabia
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on a migratory flyway and serves as an important resting and refueling stopover for birds moving between Europe, Asia and Africa. In the east spring migration occurs between mid-February and mid-May usually peaking in April and autumn migration occurs between mid-August and early November but is less heavy than the spring migration. In the southwest ten of the eleven Arabian endemic bird species are present; Arabian (Red-legged) and Philby's Partridges, Arabian Woodpecker, Arabian Wheatear, Yemen Thrush, Yemen Warbler, Arabian Waxbill, Arabian and Yemen Serins, and Yemen Linnet, all of which may be seen in the Abha area of the Asif mountains, connected by air to both Jeddah and Riyadh. The one remaining species restricted to southwest Arabia, Arabian Accentor, occurs only in Yemen. Also present in this region are Arabian Scops Owl and Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, as well as (Arabian) Green Bee-eater, the endemic asirensis race of Eurasian Magpie and many Afrotropical species such as Hamerkop, Spotted Thick-knee, Sooty Gull, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Kingfisher, White-throated Bee-eater, Abyssinian Roller and African Paradise Flycatcher. Also present along the Red Sea coast of the southwest are Crab Plover, and Saunders’s and White-cheeked Terns, while Black Bush Robin, Blackstart, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Golden Sparrow, and Nile Valley and Palestine Sunbirds occur inland.

    Seram
    See Moluccas, above.

    Sichuan - China
    Many superb birds, not least colourful pheasants and Firethroat, and a good chance of Red Panda.

    Singapore
    Singapore is an island city and country, the second most densely populated (behind Monaco) on the planet and yet it is possible to see some very good birds in this metropolis. Changi International Airport is a massive transit point for people travelling between Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Australasia and any birders with more than a couple of hours to spare may wish to consider visiting Pasir Ris Park and the Botanic Gardens. Pasir Ris is a small park with a mangrove boardwalk and bird-viewing tower where it is possible to see, in season, Mangrove Pitta, Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Laced Woodpecker, Asian Glossy Starling and Copper-throated Sunbird. The botanic gardens are usually very busy with people but it is still possible to see birds such as Red-legged Crake, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Lineated Barbet, as well as Yellow Bittern, Pink-necked Green Pigeon and Crimson Sunbird. Not far from the botanic gardens is Bukit Batok Nature Park where Straw-headed Bulbul occurs. In order to leave the airport during transit passengers will need (i) to request a landing card on-board and present it to immigration on arrival, and (ii) some Singaporean dollars to pay for taxis, trains and so on. Many birders stay longer, to visit Panti Forest Reserve, 90 minutes or so north in peninsular Malaysia, lowland dipterocarp rainforest which supports Rail-babbler, as well as Blyth’s Frogmouth, Malaysian Eared Nightjar, malkohas, Whiskered Tree Swift, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, trogons, hornbills, woodpeckers, Korean (Yellow-rumped) Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, babblers, broadbills, bulbuls, White-handed Gibbon, and Banded and Dusky Leaf Monkeys.

    Socotra
    This island in the Arabian Sea off the Horn of Africa supports some superb dragon tree forests in spectacular scenery where 43 bird species are known to breed, nine of which are endemic; a buzzard, scops owl, cisticola, warbler, sparrow, starling, sunbird, bunting (Dixcem Plateau only) and golden-winged grosbeak. Other special birds which occur on and around the island include Jouanin’s Petrel, Persian Shearwater, Socotra Cormorant, Cream-coloured Courser, Sooty Gull, Saunders’s Tern, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Nubian Nightjar, Forbes-Watson’s Swift, Abyssinian (White-breasted) White-eye, Somali Starling and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, but in March 2018 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all travel to Yemen, including all islands which include Socotra.

    South Korea
    This small country - slightly smaller than England - is almost as exciting for birds during the cold winters as Japan to the east what with such rare and range-restricted species as Swan Goose, Falcated and Mandarin Ducks, Baikal Teal (not always present but sometimes in huge flocks), Scaly-sided Merganser, Oriental Stork, Steller's Sea Eagle, Hooded, Red-crowned and White-naped Cranes, Solitary Snipe, Relict and Saunders's Gulls, Spectacled Guillemot, Ancient and Long-billed Murrelets, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese Wagtail, Red-throated Thrush, Varied Tit and lots of buntings including Pallas's Reed. The best area for cranes is at Cheorwon where the vast majority forage in the Civilian Control Zone, an area used for farming only and accessible only with local guides or on local organized tours since it is next to the completely undeveloped Demilitarized Zone on the border with North Korea. During the summer, after late May-early June, it is possible to see Fairy Pitta in South Korea.

    Sri Lanka
    Blue Whale, Leopard and some terrific birds, not least Pied Thrush and about 30 endemics.

    Sula Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, below.

    Sulawesi and Halmahera - Indonesia
    Tarsier, Bear Cuscus and spectacular birds such as Wallace’s Standardwing, Ivory-breasted Pitta and Knobbed Hornbill.

    Photograph of Ivory-breasted Pitta

    The amazing Ivory-breasted Pitta at Foli on the island of Halmahera by David Beadle.


    Sulawesi's satellites
    The largely deforested island of Sangihe lies between Sulawesi and the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Accessible via ferry from Manado, it supports an endemic hanging parrot, a scops owl and a sunbird which are widespread but it is necessary to climb Gunung Sahendaruman to stand a chance of seeing the very rare endemic Cerulean Paradise Flycatcher (actually more closely related to monarchs), as well as the endemic shrike thrush, the critically endangered Sangihe Golden Bulbul and the virtually unknown endemic white-eye. Distinctive races of Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher and Hooded Pitta also occur on this island along with Ruddy Kingfisher and the tiny mammal Sangihe Tarsier. To the east is the island of Talaud, accessible by air from Manado, where there are four endemics; Red-and-blue Lory and Talaud Kingfisher are relatively easy to see but the endemic bush-hen and rail are extremely shy and elusive. Other species present on this island are Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, Blue-backed, Blue-naped and Great-billed Parrots, Grey Imperial Pigeon, the inspeculata race of Red-bellied Pitta and Rufous Paradise Flycatcher.

    At Bunta on the north coast of Sulawesi’s ‘middle arm’ it is possible to charter a boat out to the island of Batudaka, the largest of the Togian (Togean) Islands, where it is possible to see the endemic boobook and white-eye, as well as a potential new taxon of Cyornis flycatcher, Great-billed Kingfisher, Knobbed Hornbill and Ashy Woodpecker.

    The island of Peleng in the Banggai Islands south of Sulawesi’s ‘middle arm’ is accessible by boat from Luwuk, reached by air from Makassar (Ujung Pandang) at the south end of Sulawesi. Birds present on this island include Banggai Crow, as well as Sula Scrubfowl, Sula Hanging Parrot, a ‘black pigeon’, Banggai (Maroon-chinned) Fruit Dove, a scops owl, Sula Pitta, Slaty Cuckoo Shrike, Red-and-black Thrush, an undescribed leaf warbler and Helmeted Myna, and other interesting species include a subspecies of Black-billed Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Ivory-backed Woodswallow, Henna-tailed Jungle Flycatcher and the tiny mammal Peleng Tarsier. On Peleng it is possible to charter a boat to get to the well-forested island of Taliabu in the Sula Islands, the westernmost of the Moluccas. This island shares many endemics with the Banggai Islands but also supports Meyer’s Goshawk, Sula Fruit Dove, the virtually unknown Taliabu Masked Owl, the sulaensis form of Moluccan Scops Owl, Sula Cicadabird, an undescribed form of Island Thrush, ‘Taliabu Bush Warbler’ (high mountains), ‘Taliabu Leaf Warbler’ (high mountains) and Bare-eyed Myna. The peak time to visit the islands above is mid-November to mid-December.

    Sumatra - Indonesia
    Orang-utan, Siamang, White-handed Gibbon and endemic birds including Sumatran Cochoa.

    T

    Taiwan
    This small, mountainous, subtropical island, less than 400 km (250 miles) long and 150 km (100 miles) wide, in the South China Sea, supports 20-30 endemic bird species and rising as taxonomists continue to split island forms of widespread species into full species and on Taiwan there are about fifty more endemic subspecies! Some of the most spectacular endemics are Mikado and Swinhoe’s Pheasants, Red (Maroon) Oriole, Taiwan Blue Magpie, Yellow Tit, Taiwan Cupwing, Black-necklaced and Taiwan Scimitar Babblers, Steere’s Liocichla, White-eared Sibia, Flamecrest and Collared Bush Robin, while endemic subspecies include Eurasian Nutcracker (owstoni), Golden Parrotbill (morrisoniana), Collared Finchbill (cinereicapillus) and Little Forktail (fortis). Other notables are headlined by the beautiful Fairy Pitta (in the western lowlands) but they also include Malayan Night Heron (which like the pitta is easier to see on Taiwan than anywhere else, even in Taipei Botanical Gardens), Chinese Egret, Black-faced Spoonbill (hundreds winter in the lowland wetlands of the southwest and many stay on until April) and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher (most likely on the island of Lanyu). Mammals such as Taiwanese (Rock) Macaque, Taiwan Serow, and Indian Giant Flying and Red-and-white Flying Squirrels are also possible, and other natural wonders include Taroko Gorge, a narrow chasm with vertical marble walls. The peak time to visit is the second half of April when newly-arrived Fairy Pittas are most likely to be located although rain and mist are to be expected at this time of the year. July is the peak time to try and see the endangered Chinese Crested Tern in the Matsu Archipelago accessible by air from Taipei. Due to the rapidly increasing popularity of bird photography across Asia, be prepared to see some birds in zoo-like conditions, at photographers' 'stake-outs' often complete with screens and many photographers.

    Photograph of Fairy Pitta

    The rare Fairy Pitta near the village of Huben on the island of Taiwan by Lars Petersson.


    Tajikistan
    This landlocked country, the smallest in central Asia, lying north of Afghanistan, dominated by the Pamir mountain range and rising to 7495 m (24,590 ft) is sprinkled with spectacular anemones, irises, tulips and so on during the first half of April, not the best time for birds which is late May to early June when it is possible to see Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Hill Pigeon, White-winged Woodpecker, Streaked Laughingthrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, White-tailed Rubythroat, Blue-capped, Güldenstadt’s and Plumbeous Redstarts, Variable Wheatear, White-browed Tit Warbler, Large-billed Reed Warbler (riparian scrub along Panj River near Khorog, the main town in the Pamir mountain range), Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Black-breasted and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, Great Rosefinch, Plain Mountain Finch, White-winged Grosbeak and White-capped Bunting. Good birding sites include Iskender Kul, a large alpine lake at 2195 m (7200 ft) north of the capital Dushanbe in the Fann mountain range. Farther afield the Pamirs are home to Markhor, Marco Polo Sheep, Ibex, Urial Sheep and Snow Leopard which is most likely to be seen during the winter when they venture lower down.

    Talaud
    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    Taliabu
    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    Tanimbar Islands
    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Thailand - Northern
    Northern Thailand is different from the rest of the country. Mountain ranges support a more Himalayan avifauna and montane specialities at sites such as Doi Ang Khang, Doi Inthanon and Doi Lang include Hume’s Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch, as well as Rufous-throated Partridge, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted and White-headed Bulbuls, Silver-eared, White-browed and White-necked Laughingthrushes, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spot-throated Babbler, Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler, Spectacled Barwing, Dark-backed Sibia, Striated Yuhina and Spot-breasted Parrotbill. There is even a chance of Black-tailed Crake, Hodgson's Frogmouth and Green Cochoa, with some of the shyest species such as Rusty-naped Pitta possible at feeding stations. Other spectacular species present include Collared Falconet, Black-headed Woodpecker, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Common Green Magpie, Slaty-bellied Tesia, White-crested Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, Himalayan Cutia and Gould's Sunbird, while in the lowlands the specialities include the rare Green Peafowl (at the Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Project). December to March is the best time to visit, when resident species are joined by wintering birds from northeast Asia.

    Thailand - Southern
    White-handed Gibbon, many fabulous birds such as Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo and wintering shorebirds which include Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

    Photograph of Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo

    An extraordinary Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo in Khao Yai National Park, Southern Thailand, by Spider.

    Tibet
    Wild Ass, Tibetan Gazelle and birds like Tibetan Sandgrouse in phenomenal scenery.

    Togian (Togean) Islands
    See Sulawesi's satellites, above.

    Turkey
    Some of the most exciting birding in the Western Palearctic, but Turkey is a huge country and to see all of its best birds it would be necessary to travel hundreds of miles, so most visitors opt to cover certain areas. The Bosphorus, especially in September, is a great place to watch the visible migration of tens of thousands of raptors including Lesser Spotted Eagles and Levant Sparrowhawks, along with huge numbers of White Storks and some Black Storks, on their way from Eurasia to Africa. The narrow strait between Europe and Asia is also regularly traversed by Yelkouan (Balearic) Shearwaters. In southwest (as well as southern and eastern) Turkey it is possible to see the likes of Dalmatian Pelican (Lake Karine near Bafa), Spur-winged Plover, Smyrna (White-throated) Kingfisher (scarce in the Dalyan Delta), Finsch’s Wheatear (Pamukkale area), White-throated Robin, Olive-tree (Pamukkale area), (Eastern) Orphean and Ruppell's Warblers, Sombre Tit, Kruper's and Rock Nuthatches, Masked Shrike, Black-headed, Cinereous (Pamukkale area) and Cretzschmar's Buntings, and Red-fronted Serin (Gulubeli Pass, east of Dalaman). The south coast is famous for the (Western) Brown Fish Owls at Oymapinar Barrage/Reservoir near Antalya and the chance of seeing the very elusive 'Lilford's' White-backed Woodpeckers at Akseki. East from there is where most of the regionally-endemic (or breeding-endemic) Western Palearctic specialities are though, including Caspian Snowcock, Radde's Accentor and (Asian) Crimson-winged Finch at Mount Demirkazik (along with Wild Goat (Bezoar Ibex) and Asia Minor Souslik). Caspian Snowcock and Caucasian Grouse occur in the far northeast near Sivrikaya and to the south it is possible to see Grey-necked Bunting and Mongolian Finch at Dogubeyazit.

    In April 2017 the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued to advise against all travel farther southeast, specifically to within 10 km of the border with Syria and to the city of Diyarbakir, and against all but essential travel to the remaining areas of Sirnak, Mardin, Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, Kilis and Hatay provinces, as well as Siirt, Tunceli and Hakkari. This region includes the Birecik area, a well-known birding hotspot where Pygmy Cormorant, See-see Partridge, Pallid (Striated) Scops Owl, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Menetries's Warbler, Iraq Babbler, Desert Finch, and Dead Sea, Pale Rock and Yellow-throated Sparrows occur (along with a feral colony of Northern Bald Ibises), with Red-wattled Lapwing near Batman to the east. The best time to look for most birds in Turkey is May.

    Photograph of White-throated Robin

    A singing male White-throated Robin at Seki in Turkey by Michael McKee.


    Turkmenistan
    This country of mainly black sand desert east of the Caspian Sea between Kazakhstan to the north and Afghanistan and Iran to the south, supports Pander’s (Turkestan) Ground Jay and Zarudnyi’s (Desert) Sparrow (both in the Turkmenabat region), as well as Caspian Snowcock, See-see Partridge, Lammergeier, Macqueen’s Bustard, White-tailed Lapwing, Black-winged Pratincole, Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Pallid Scops Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-winged Woodpecker, Pied Bushchat, Finsch’s, Red-tailed and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Asian Desert, Ménétries’s, Plain Leaf and Sykes’s Warblers, Cinereous Tit, Black-headed and White-crowned Penduline Tits, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Bimaculated Lark, Radde’s Accentor, Rosy Starling, Saxual Sparrow, Pale Rockfinch, White-winged Grosbeak, and Grey-necked and Red-headed Buntings. May is a good time for birds and some of the best sites are the Karakum (Black Sand) Desert, the Amu-Darya, Murgab and Tejen river valleys, the Kopet Dag ('Many Mountains'), and the Kugitang Mountains in the Tien Shan.

    U

    United Arab Emirates
    A midwinter trip to the city parks, dairy farms, fodder fields, deserts, rocky mountain ridges, coastal mudflats and beaches of this safe, accessible Middle Eastern country offers a fine selection of birds that includes Arabian and Sand Partridges, Socotra Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Crested Honey Buzzard, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Grey-headed Swamphen, White-tailed Lapwing, Crab Plover, Cream-coloured Courser, Great Knot, Great Black-headed (Pallas's) and Sooty Gulls, Chestnut-bellied and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses, Pallid (Striated) Scops Owl, Desert (Pharoah) Eagle Owl, Egyptian Nightjar, ('Arabian' kalbaensis) Collared Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Bar-tailed, Bimaculated and Greater Hoopoe Larks, Oriental Skylark, Pale Crag Martin, Hooded, Hume’s, Red-tailed (Persian) and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Plain Leaf Warbler, Arabian Babbler, Long-billed Pipit and Striolated Bunting with a chance of Grey Hypocolius. During the 'summer', mainly April to August, Persian Shearwater, and Bridled, Saunders's and White-cheeked Terns may be seen.

    Uzbekistan
    The desert, steppe, many Mulberry trees (used to feed silkworms and produce silk on the ‘Silk Road’), mountain meadows and slopes covered in junipers and coniferous forests below the snow-capped peaks of Uzbekistan support Pander’s (Turkestan) Ground Jay (in the Kyzyl-Kum Desert), as well as Marbled Duck, Macqueen’s Bustard, White-tailed Lapwing, Little (Hutton’s) Owl, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, White-winged Woodpecker, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Pied Bushchat, White-throated Robin, Blue-capped Redstart, Finsch’s and Variable Wheatears, Streaked Scrub Warbler, Asian Desert, Ménétries’s, Moustached, Sulphur-bellied, Sykes’s and Upcher’s Warblers, Black-breasted, Rufous-naped, Turkestan and Yellow-breasted (Azure) Tits, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Steppe Grey Shrike, Hume’s Lark, Desert Finch, and Red-headed and White-capped Buntings. Good birding areas include the Chatkal range of mountains (outliers of the Tien Shan near of the capital Tashkent), the Kyzyl-Kum Desert and wetlands around Bukhara. Mid-May is the peak time to look for birds.

    V

    Vietnam
    Some of the world's most beautiful primates, including Buff-cheeked Gibbon, and endemic birds.

    Photograph of Bar-bellied Pitta

    The best place in the world to see the beautiful Bar-bellied Pitta is Vietnam, where this image was taken by Lars Petersson.

    W

    Western Pacific Odyssey
    An incredible selection of seabirds including Short-tailed Albatross and New Zealand Storm Petrel.

    West Papua - Indonesia
    Fantastic birds-of-paradise including Wilson's, and the richest coral reefs in the world!

    Photograph of Victoria Crowned Pigeons

    New Guinea is not all about birds-of-paradise. The numerous other spectacular endemics include three species of huge crowned-pigeons including Victoria Crowned-Pigeon which inhabits the northern lowlands where this fantastic image was captured by Nigel Voaden at Nimbokrang in West Papua.


    Wetar
    See Lesser Sundas, above.

    Y

    Yunnan - China
    Black-crested Gibbon, Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey and lots of superb birds and flowers.