I now have a backlog of blogs to post but some good birds in places to report.
The first one is from a week ago Friday when I was still in the Muscat area. I decide to head south to the hills on the Nizwa road but there was little activity in those hills. it was simply too hot even in the morning.
Salalah not only has the monsoon (khareef season) but is also cooler for most of spring and autumn too. The temperatures up in the north were a real shock.
I finally found some reasonable birding about 50 kilometres outh of Muscat in a small holding where there was some shade created mostly by palm trees and inside was a water channel. In intense heat, the adage is "where there is water there are birds"
A very young Hume's wheatear had been attracted to the shade.
young Hume's wheatear
It was very tame as is often the case with very young birds that haven't met a noisy human or aggressive animal like a cat yet.
young Hume's wheatear 2
Hume's wheatear 3
young house sparrow
These included the house sparrow which were around.
Indian silverbill were some of the first birds to arrive.
House sparrow came too.
white spectacled bulbul
A white spectacled bulbul drank from the end furthest from me.
There is one place on the Nizwa road which is always cool and that is Jebel Akhbar. However access to the higher areas is now restricted to 4x4s which I had not rented. I may rent one for a day the next time I am in the area.
I made the decision to abort the birding south of the city and headed to the west end instead. It was more than an hour's journey back. It was all part of me finding out how to bird in the north.
I ended up at Suq al Seeb on the western outskirts of Muscat. This was more interesting. There is a fresh water lagoon separated from the sea by a sand bar. Indeed it looked like a classic khawr however I have no idea whether the fresh water source was natural as it is in Dhofar.
Two red-wattled lapwing were the first birds i saw as I got out of the car.
I soon flushed a grey francolin but there aren't as tame as they appear in UAE and it immediately ran.
By contrast the moorhen were relatively confiding.
great white egret
dark morph western reef heron
One of the sad things I noticed at several sites were a number of clearly ill gulls which had been left behind when their flocks migrated back.
ill looking slender-billed gull
The slender-billed gull above was one of the least ill looking. Some were much worse.
seven red-wattled lapwing
Towards the sand bar were the highest concentration of birds as is often the case at a Dhofari khawr too. I counted 14 red-wattled lapwing clustered together.
As I walked over the sand bar to look at the sea, I walked straight into a large number of terns which had been hidden by the bar.
They included great crested tern, sandwich tern and white-cheeked tern (see picture above).
The most numerous were white-cheeked tern.
However two were paler and had lighter, redder bills. These were common tern.
Two small terns which I had originally thought were Saunders's tern breeding were also present. Thanks to Andrew Bailey for alerting me to the possibility they might be little tern. Thanks to Oscar Campbell and correspondents on Bird Forum who identified them as little tern.
It was simply too hot to continue before 1 pm and so I went back to the car and finished for the day. This was not before I managed to photograph part of a ruddy turnstone group on the fresh water side of the sand bar.
In the end the day wasn't bad with enough diversity to interest me and an addition to my country list too. The next day, Saturday, I went a little further west to Ras As Sawadi. Not only was it a bit cooler but I made an unexpected addition to my Oman list. I will blog about that next.