With a land surface of 1,648,184 sq.km, the Islamic republic of Iran is divided into 28 provinces and inhabited by almost 80 million people. One of these provinces is the Hormozgan with 68,475 sq.km and 1 million people. In the Hormozgan, temperatures are normally not below 5 degrees C in winter. The best seasons for trips to this region are winter and spring, while in summer one should try to avoid these parts of the country because of high temperatures of up to 50 degrees C. The national language is Farsi - only a few people speak English. Travelling must be done by public transport or organized tours, since car rental is almost impossible and traffic is dangerous. Ecotour-iran (http://www.ecotour-iran.com/) is the only tour and travel agency in Iran promoting nature trips with well-educated and english-speaking guides.
Hormozgan province is situated in the south of Iran, along the coastal area stretching from the Naiband protected area on the border of Bushehr province to the border of Baluchestan in the east. Bandar Abbas is a major harbour town (and the center of Hormozgan province) on the shores of the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.
We have now very definitely left the palearctic proper and are in the desert fringes of the Oriental Region. The star attraction here is the Sind Pied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos assimilis), a species endemic to Iran and Pakistan.
There are four internationally important wetlands and these sites can be characterized as intertidal areas with extensive mudflats, lagoons and creeks, some with extensive mangrove vegetation. These sites are of major importance to breeding, wintering and migrant water birds.
Many herons breed, including great white egret (Egretta alba) western reef heron (E.gularis), indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii) and small flocks of goliath heron (Ardea goliath) in Khalathi creek near to Jask town.
Crab plover (Dromas ardeola) in Hara protected area (Khure-khuran situated between Qeshm island and Khamir harbor town) and great stone plover (Esacus recuvirostris) also breed here. The numbers of migrant water birds (mainly waders) is huge and includes dunlin (Calidris alpine), terek sandpiper (T.cinereus), greater sandplover (C. ieschenaultii), lesser sandplover (C. mongolus), kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), grey heron (Ardea cinerea) redshank (Tringa totanus), greenshank (Tringa nebularis), marsh sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis), bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) and curlew (Numenius arquata).
Flocks of dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus cripus) spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) and greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) and eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) winter here. Hormozgan appears to be of invaluable importance for broad-billed sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus ).
Shidvar international wetland is a small island c.2 km due east of the eastern tip of Lavan island and c.9 km off the mainland coast in the central Persian gulf. This island supports the largest known breeding colony of terns in Iran (294,000 terns, Hamidi -Nader 2004). The biggest breeding colony is white-cheeked tern (Sterna repressa), second biggest colony is bridled tern (S. anaethetus) along with much smaller numbers of swift tern (Sterna bergii) and lesser crested tern (Sterna bengalensis). There is also a small breeding colony of western reef heron (Egretta gularis) on this island.
Another important bird area is Geno protected area encompassing Kuh-e-Geno, a single and isolated mountain and associated ridges rising above the Persian gulf coastal plain 30 km north-northwest of Bandar Abbas. A road winds up the an isolated mountain rising to 2370m. The spectacular winding road up the mountain takes visitors through a variety of vegetation zones until one ends up in scattered junipers not far below the summit. There are several unique endemic plants in this mountain such as A. wendelboi and Pistacia khinjuk, Dionslia revolute, and Rosularia modesta. Birds here include imperial eagle (winter migrant), common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), see-see partridge (Ammoperdix griseogularis), chukar (Alectoris chukar), desert lark (Ammomanes deserti), white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys), red-rumped swallow (Hirundo daurica), long-billed pipit (Anthus similes), hume's wheatear (Oenantha alboniger), blue rock thrush (Moniticola solitarius, winter visitor), scrub warbler (Scotocerca inquieta), upcher's warbler (Hippolais languida), eastern rock nuthatch (Sitta tephronata), bay-backed (Lanius vittatus) and isabelline shrikes (Lanius isabellinus), house bunting (Emberiza striolata), grey hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus), syrian woodpecker (Dendrocopus syriacus) and common babbler (Turdoides caudatus).
Another important birds area is Jegin woodland (N 25 ,44 E 58 ,12) in the south east of Hormozgan province (east of Jask town) fed by the Jegin river. This woodland support several interesting plants include Acacia spp, Prosopis spp, Capparis spp, Salvadora spp, Ziziphus spp. Stands of tall Tamarix forest line the Gaz river bank. This woodland support a typical Baluchi avifauna (Indomalayan) including sind pied woodpecker (Dendropos assimilis), chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus), yellow-throated sparrow (Petronia xanthocollis), menetries warbler (Sylvia mystacea) and desert warbler (Sylvia nana).
In the coastal lowlands around Minab town and Bandar Abbas city species include black kite (Milvus migrans), shikra (Accipiter badius), grey francolins (Francolinus pondicerianus), red-wattled lapwing (Holopterus indicus), eurasian collared (Streptopelia decaocto) and laughing doves (Streptopelia sengalensis), spotted owlet (Athene brama), pallid swift, white-throated kingfisher, little green bee-eater (Merops orientalis), indian roller (Coracias benghalensis), indian sand (Calandrella raytal) and crested larks (Galerida cristata), african rock martin (Ptyonoprogne fuligula), barn swallow, white-eared bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys), rufous bush robin (Cercotrichas galactote), graceful prinia (prinia gracilis), booted warbler (Hyppolais caligata), common babbler, purple sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica), great grey shrike (Lanius excubitar), house crow (Corvus splendens), brown-necked raven (Corvus ruficollis), indian silverbill (Euodice malabarica) black-headed bunting (Emberiza melanocephala, spring visitor) and isabelline wheatear (Oenamthe isabelina).
Another important bird area is Tarom and Tashkouiye plain (N 27, 49 -28 , 27 E 55 , 13 - 56, 20) situated in the north of Hormozgan province (near to Hajiabad town). This site is of major importance to wintering houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulate) and common crane (Grus grus). Other interesting birds at this site are black francolin (Francolinus francolinus), finsch's wheatear (Oenanthe finschii), woodchat shrike (Lanius senator) and long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus) .
Brown Fish OwlKetupa zeylonensis semonowi
On 8th April, 2 adults and 1 juvenile were observed near to Gaz River between Minab and Jask town This was the first breeding record in Iran after 50-100 years. Co-ordinate: N26 26 52 E 57 12 21
Spotted OwletAthene brama albida
On 9th May, 2 adults and 3 juveniles were observed in a date garden near to Minab town. Co-ordinate:N 27 11 48 E 56 57 39
Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo nikolskii
On 3rd June, 1 adult was observed on a cliff along the Rishgir river near to Hajiabad town
Sind Pied Woodpecker Dendrocopos assimilis
This species is a scarce and local species with a very restricted in south-east Iran (specially in around Minab and Jask town in Hormozgan province) and a small part of Pakistan. It seems to be declining in part of its range. There are several reasons for this decline; it is usually observed around water and the rate of rainfall in the distribution range has been very low during the previous seven years; this species is nesting and feeding in the south east of Iran just on Prosopis cineraria and Acacia spp and Palm trees and some times on Tamarix; recent records in the south-east have decreased in comparision with ten years ago.
My recent records of sind pied woodpecker around Hormozgan province include: On the 9th May, 2 records around Jegin woodland. In the east of Jask town (N 25 44 E 58 12) there is a very good woodland with a lot of Prosopis spp, tamarix spp, Ziziphus sina christi and Acacia spp trees. This woodland is one of the best places for this woodpecker. On the 29th April, 2 records between Gaspir and Miski area (N: 26 8 2/4 ,E 57 15 24/4) .The Palm gardens around of Minab area are another good place for sind pied woodpecker. On 25th April, 1 male in a palm garden mixing with prosopis trees in kuwei village. On the 22nd May in a palm garden (N 27 11 48 E 57 57 39)
Indian Silverbill Euodica malabarica
On 2nd June, 3 adults were observed on agricultural land near to Hajiabad town (Tarom and Tashkouie plain) Co-ordinate: 28 10 49N 55 44 40E.
On 29th October 3 mourning wheatears were observed near Jagin river
I am grateful to DR. Derek Scott and Hamid Amini for their assistance.
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Van der Have T.M, 2000 Searching for Slender-billed Curlews in Iran Jan-Feb 2000
Davis, T.J 1994. The Ramsar Convention Manual. A Guide to the convention on wetlands of International importance especially as waterfowl habitat. Ramsar convention Boreu, Glaud/Switzerland
Evans, M.I 1994. Importand Bird Areas in the Middle East, Birdlife International. UK .
Mullarney Killian, 1999. The most complete field guide to the birds of Britain and Europe.