Saturday 7 March 2015

The road to Haima

On Thursday afternoon,  I drove a mammoth distance to arrive at Haima mid way between Salalah and Muscat. This was my first visit there. I then spent all day Friday making my way back birding gardens, farms and Oases.

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.

Menetries's warbler

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.

Turkestan shrike

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.

Isabelline wheatear

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

The town also had hoopoe. There may have been more species but I had plenty of places to cover during the day and so left at about 8.15 am.


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. 

cattle egret

The lone cattle egret I saw a month before was still there.

Isabelline wheatear

There were signs of Isabelline wheatear passage. Two were observed. I can't recall one last time.

Desert wheatear

There are signs that the number of wintering desert wheatear are thinning out in southern Oman but one was still present at the oasis.

yellow wagtail

Six assorted yellow wagtail were present. Two were male black-headed wagtail which doesn't winter in Oman as far as I know.

brown-necked raven

The last birds I saw before moving on towards Haima were a pair of brown-necked raven.

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.


  1. Duha,
    Thank you. It's hard work but it is appreciated when I get positive feedback. Rob

  2. Why is the owner of the motel in Qatbit cutting back the gardens? Aren't birders an important part of his customer base?

    Looking forward to the next instalment - never heard of the farms you visited next.

  3. It's overpriced at 30 riyals a night (70 euro) and there is no restaurant on site. The rooms have no soap and aren't the cleanest. The restaurant at the pit stop off the main road can be used but the quality and choice is grim. The gardens are being degraded too. Compare that with Ghaftain rest house which may be part of the same chain? Its excellent.

  4. 30 riyals is shocking for such basic facilities. You should have asked him if he was 'avin' a laugh!