Jordan November 5 - 14 1999

My name is Jimmy Mc Donnell from Dublin, Ireland. The following is a birding summary of a ten day trip I took to Aqaba, Jordan – the main focus of the trip was Scuba diving. If you’d like more details drop me a line at


Petra is situated between Amman and Aqaba (2 –3 hour drive from Aqaba). It is an ancient Nabatean city carved from the cliff faces of a series of gorges and mountains. It is well worth spending at least a day there – not necessarily for the birding. The place is breathtaking literally – so take an extra lung along! The High Place is apparently the best place for BOPs and in general the higher ground throughout Petra proved more rewarding for birding – possibly connected to the fact that fewer people made the effort to climb.

Black Redstart 1
Desert Lark – common
Fan-tailed Raven – common
Yellow Vented Bulbul 6
Chaffinch 6
Rock Martin – common
Great Grey Shrike 1
Golden Eagle 1 – seen over ‘The High Place’ – late in day , four large BOP’s seen by other members of the group in same place.
Scrub Warbler 2
Mourning Wheatear 1

Aqaba is a port town situated on the Red Sea. It offers little in the way of good birding habitat. I tried to get to the border crossing with Israel but was unable to get clearance from the local authorities – apparently this area does contain more suitable habitat for migrant passerines and waders. Nonetheless the area running alongside the promenade has some cover and had good numbers of Willow Warblers. Indian House Crow, Tristrams Grackle and White Wagtails are very common throughout Aqaba. There are also other areas of cover towards the Israeli border but outside the military zone.

In truth the main concern of my holiday was Scuba Diving and I did not devote a lot of time to birding in the Aqaba area. The diving is typical of the Red Sea with pristine coral and abundant tropical reef fish. The water was warm (24C) but given the duration of our dives (up to 95 mins) I found the long johns of my 7mm semi-dry just about right. The diving is easy with superb visibility and not many other dive groups about. Jordan has only 15km of coastline so it’s a well preserved treasure. The food in the resort is good ( I’d recommend the Yacht Club) – not for local atmosphere but for excellent food.

West of town Centre (towards Israeli border)
Arabian Warbler
Pied Flycatcher
Collared Dove 2
Sparrowhawk 1

Castle/Promenade Area
White Wagtail – plentiful
Indian House Crow – plentiful
Laughing Doves
Black Redstart 1
Yellow Wagtail
Yellow vented Bulbul

Wadi Rum

Wadi Rum is less than an hour from Aqaba. This is the land of Lawrence of Arabia and the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It is desert scenery at its most breathtaking and is well worth the visit. This was Day 2 of a two day break from diving at Aqaba (the first spent at Petra). Ii you’ve only one day to spare in Jordan choose Petra. The birds are well scattered and not so numerous but if you’re quiet and just sit there its surprising what you’ll see.

Sinai Rosefinch
Barbary Falcon
White crowned Wheatear 4
Rock Martin 1
Vulture spp 4 – very distant