Starting just after dawn on Friday I birded the small town of Haima itself. There is a lot of civic tree planting and a small park. Most of my birding was in or near the park.
The bougainvillea and trees present in the park is an excellent mix for Menetries's warbler which likes low level bushes and small trees in a park setting. I noted this when I visited Azadi Park in Sulaymani, Iraqi Kurdistan last July.
Sure enough there were wintering Menetries's warbler there.
This was the first one I had seen in Oman and became bird 257 on my country list.
Menetries's warbler profile
This one seemed to be eating fruit although I can't rule out whether there was a grub in there.
Menetries's warbler head first in fruit
Actually, I ended up seeing five Menetries's warbler in the town and hearing two or three more.
The only other warblers observed there were chiffchaff.
The park was by far the best area for me. I managed to flush a snipe which completely unexpected. There was a single greater-short toed lark on one of the lawns.
greater short toed lark
There was textbook male Turkestan shrike there too.
There was no problem identifying this bird unlike some in the Salalah area.
second view of Turkestan shrike
A local resident aucheri Asian grey shrike was on a wire not far away.
Asian grey shrike
Not a single desert wheatear was seen in the town but two Isabelline wheatear were in the park and one more was seen resting under a tree in one of the planted avenues.
The most common resident birds in the two by far were house sparrow and Eurasian collared dove though I was surprised to see common myna at this inland location.
Eurasian collared dove
I had not intended to drive as far as Haima. My original plan was to stay over at Qatbeet and bird back to Salalah from there.
However the hotel is very expensive for a 1 star hotel with no restaurant or even soap. Furthermore the gardens are being drastically cut back at the moment and I don't want to encourage this. Finally I had to wait 15 minutes for someone to turn up at reception ahead of me deciding on the spot to move on.
In contrast, my very pleasant 3 star hotel in Haima which is called Arabian Sands was 33% cheaper and highly recommended.
The vanishing gardens at Qatbeet
On the way to Haima I did find time to stop off at Muntasar Oasis before dusk.
It wasn't too exciting this time.
The lone cattle egret I saw a month before was still there.
There were signs of Isabelline wheatear passage. Two were observed. I can't recall one last time.
There are signs that the number of wintering desert wheatear are thinning out in southern Oman but one was still present at the oasis.
On the way back from Haima I added more birds to my Oman list. The next two blogs will cover the journey back to Salalah.