Monday 16 March 2015

The road to Shisr

The area around Salalah has some very well known birding strengths. There are plenty of Afro-tropical and Indo-Malay migrants not found together elsewhere. There are huge numbers of waders and water-loving birds There is a wide cross-section of residents including some of the Arabian endemics. It has a fairly strong autumn passage too.

However I have been disappointed this spring so far by the mainstream passage of Western Palearctic birds returning from Africa. It seems that while they can take a scenic route through Salalah in the autumn, the biological imperative to go direct to breeding grounds is by-passing this corner. In short Salalah is not on the main route.

It's too early to be sure yet.

Either way it looks like my best hopes of seeing birds not yet on my Oman list such as European bee-eater, barred warbler, marsh warbler, European nightjar, ortholan bunting and many more is in the desert farms to the north. These birds are seen in Salalah but rarely.

On Friday, I decided too late to leave Salalah and head north. However I did manage some time at Qaroon Hariti, Wadi Rabkout and on to the closest desert farms at Shisr. There was not enough time to get lucky.

At Qaroon Hariti on top of the plateau before the decent into the desert, I found few migrants including a very shy common nightingale keeping company near a bluethroat.

long billed pipit

Otherwise, it was mainly resident birds including Ruepell's weaver, Abyssinian white-eye and the upland long-billed pipit which dominated.

desert lark

Wadi Rabkout down in the desert was very hot and it was the wrong time of the day to be there. Birds were restricted to desert lark, white spectacled bulbul and aucheri Asian grey shrike.

aucheri Asian grey shrike

On the road to Shisr, I am know having no difficulty finding bar-tailed lark on each trip.

bar-tailed lark

This one was accompanied by a male black-crowned sparrow lark just to confuse.

black-crowned sparrow lark again

There was no sign of my nemesis bird, Dunn's lark.

bar-tailed lark casts a shadow

It was already getting late as you can tell by the fact the bar-tailed lark is casting a shadow.

two hoopoe

At Shisr, I went more or less directly to a wooded area pointed out to me by Bart De Schutter. On the way I noticed a couple of hoopoe, tens of European collared dove, a pied wheatear in a field and a Menetries's warbler in a bush.  

European collared dove

The wooded area was an obvious migrant trap. It was thick with flies and there were some fruiting and flowering bushes.  I must go back when I have more time.

I was battling the loss of daylight. However I counted at least 7 Menetries's warbler in bushes and other warblers in a line of trees.

Menetries's warbler

The warblers in the trees included chiffchaff, lesser whitethroat and common whitethroat.


The hoped-for barred warbler was not seen.

chiffchaff again

In the end it was a frustrating day but I have now another good site to bird at. Looked at another way, the day was an investment in the future.


  1. Nice to see you blogging again. I was missing my daily fix. That spot you described sounds very promising - worth checking out for warblers, and much closer than the other desert farms.

  2. Andrew, the wooded spot might even give me white throated robin or semi collared flycatcher. You have got to dream! Rob