Sunday 21 September 2014

Baleed Park, Salalah

On late Thursday afternoon, I made my first visit to Baleed Archaeological Park. It consists of a crescent shaped Khawr with undisturbed flat land near-by. Although part of the site is landscaped, the other part is arguably better for birds than my normal local patch at East Khawr simply because it is more private and unapproachable by cars.

Quite remarkably I saw six birds which I hadn't previously seen in my three weeks in Oman despite the superficial similarity in habitat with East Khawr.

Indian pond heron with grey heron

One of these was an Indian pond heron. I actually found it quite different to a squacco heron. It almost looked just two tone. Either the colour was white or dark brown.There didn't seem to be many intermediate shades. I understand this distinction is not so simple in winter.

closer look at Indian pond heron

The dark loral stripe, present on the pond heron but not on a squacco heron, was obvious too. In short it was easy to identify.

grey heron

The birds seem very relaxed at this site. I particularly liked the attitude of the grey heron.

Purple heron

The two juvenile purple heron which were present weren't shy either.

sooty gull bathing

I don't think that you will find as many sooty gull on fresh water in many other places lie at Baleed.

close up of sooty gull

The sand bar and near-by marsh areas that separate khawrs from the sea are often among the most interesting areas on these types of sites.

Heuglin's gull with sooty gull and greater crested tern

Some of the Heuglin's gull seen flying WSW of East Khawr a couple of days before didn't make it too far before landing. There were six seen at Baleed.

gull billed tern with Pacific golden plover and collared dove

At the end of the khawr near the sand bar were many birds including a single gull billed tern, my first in Oman.

First winter Saunders's tern

There were Saunders's tern there and also all along the Khawr. Strangely there were no adults only first winter birds. This was another first for me in Oman.

Pacific golden plover

I solved the mystery about where the big flock of Pacific golden plover went which were seen at East Khawr. It looks like they moved just 3 kilometres down the coast to Baleed.

Greater sand plover

Baleed was also the first place I saw a greater sand plover in the country. 


Moorhen didn't have the water to themselves. Five little grebe were seen, yet another first. 

little grebe

One bird wasn't a country first but it was still a notable bird. There was a spotted thick-knee sitting calmly under a palm tree as I walked past.

Spotted thick-knee

Elsewhere on the land was a red-backed shrike. This was final country first of the visit.

red backed shrike

This male caught itself a big fat spider.

Turkestan shrike

The only red-tailed shrike was yet another Turkestan shrike. They are clearly much more common here at least at this time of year than Daurian shrike.

Male shining sunbird

There is a rudimentary botanical garden in the park. It was here that I observed a pair of shining sunbird.

female shining sunbird

After leaving the park, I walked part way back to my home through plantations. I suspect if I were to spend some time in the banana and coconut areas I might see some different but from the side of the road it was more African silverbill, Ruepells weaver, rose ringed parakeet and house crow.

Ruepells weaver

Some (but my no means all) of the weavers look like they are starting to loose their breeding plumage as the khareef season ends.

house crow

I birded both Friday and Saturday. I'll blog about that next. 

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