Sunday 30 November 2014

First visit to West Khawr

It has been nearly three months since I arrived in Salalah and yet Friday was my first visit to West Khawr. The only reason I have for not going there sooner is that it is a little bit more complicated to get to as it can be approached only by a minor road.

I liked the habitat. It is the only khawr with substantial mangroves and somehow the water level is slightly tidal. I presume the sea water applies pressure through the separating land bar.

The mangroves have potential as a haven for birds. 

pheasant-tailed jacana

Once again I easily found a pheasant-tailed jacana even though there is little floating vegetation.

pheasant-tailed jacana looking back

In one corner of the khawr there was a cluster of some of the larger birds. The jacana was part of that cluster. Others included four great cormorant, three cattle egret and a little egret.

great cormorant

The nucleus of the group though was formed by about 20 flamingo though they were in the water next to the bank.


I am starting to think about target species. I chose west Khawr with black-necked grebe and cotton teal in mind.

adult little grebe

Neither were there although there were several little grebe. I inspected them all.

first year little grebe

There was evidence through the young birds that little grebe breeds here.

common coot

Red knobbed coot definitely does breed here. However the one coot I did see was a typical Eurasian coot. The sharp shape of the black feathers cutting into the bill is one easy way of separating them.

 common sandpiper

The muddy banks in the mangroves and around them are good habitat for waders. Temminck's stint was common as were common sandpiper and green sandpiper.


Lesser numbers of dunlin and wood sandpiper were also present.

wood sandpiper

Common moorhen though was arguably the most abundant bird of them all at the khawr but they were quite secretive and had plenty of mangroves to hide in.

My best find at the khawr came very late on in my visit. I had gone down a side section of the khawr which was very muddy when I heard a noise I recognised from this summer's birding in Kurdistan.  

red wattled lapwing

I had stumbled across five red-wattled lapwing. They are apparently very common in the Muscat area but should'nt really be down here at all despite winter dispersal.  My regional guide's map has them falling about 400 kilometres short of this area.

three red wattled lapwing

My visit to West Khawr was only two hours long and that was my only birding of the day.

The next day which was Saturday was full on birding from dawn until an hour before dusk. It was also a special birding day as I will disclose in the next blog.

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