Saturday, 3 October 2015

Ras As Sawadi

Last Friday I moved on from Buraimi and headed north east to Ras As Sawadi. I aimed to reach there by late morning. 

As time was tight, I only made one short stop before reaching Sawadi. This was at a small farm.

Indian roller

Birds at farm included Indian roller, common myna, red-wattled lapwing and grey francolin. Many birds were Indo-Malay.

When I finally arrived at Ras As Sawadi the tide was in and so the place was an island. A short boat trip later and I was there.

The view from Ras As Sawadi

On the beach as I landed I noticed a western reef heron.

western reef heron

However the reason for trip to Ras As Sawadi was not to see western reef heron but to find sooty falcon.

I had been told that the north face of the island gave the best chance of spotting the bird while the beach is on the south side.

first sooty falcon 

The path from the beach climbs the south side. I had only climbed half way up when I heard a screaming noise. I looked up and there was a sooty falcon sitting at a peak on the north side but visible from the south. I had been on the island barely five minutes and I had got my target bird.

Sooty falcon became number 297 on my Oman list but it wasn't a lifer. I had previously seen several on the Farasan Islands in Saudi Arabia in 2014.

second sooty falcon

Over the next hour, I saw five sooty falcon in total. Though they spend much of their time to the north of the island where the cliffs are shear, they would fly over the central plateau from time to time.

sooty falcon in flight

I observed only adult birds.

little green bee-eater

Elsewhere on the island, birds were sparse. I reckon there are only three residents: little green bee-eater, house sparrow and white eared bulbul.

grey heron

Birds did pass over while I was there though. Three grey heron flew right over.


An osprey lingered a lot longer before moving on.

lesser whitethroat 1

The bushes and trees which line the path are known to be good places to see plain leaf warbler in winter but I was there too soon.

Only two migrants were seen. These were a lesser whitethroat and a spotted flycatcher.

lesser whitethroat 2

The lesser whitethroat was quite tame. It needed to be much more furtive come the evening when the sooty falcon are on the prowl.

By the time I had returned to the mainland by boat it was nearing 1pm. This meant the rest of the day was almost continuous driving, This was so I could get as far south as possible to allow time for a large amount of desert birding on last Saturday. In fact I reached Haima for the night. I will blog next about what on saw on the Saturday between Haima and Salalah.

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