Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ain Razat

Ayn Razat is one of two closest places to me in the hills north of Salalah. I went there for the first time yesterday.

It is partly turned into a leisure area for families but hasn't lost its essential character.

I started out by birding the area around the leisure area which luckily for me was not busy. This is because Omanis tend to stay at home on Friday mornings. My only human company to begin with were four Indians swimming in the water. This by the way is a dangerous thing to do as the water has the snails which host bilharzia.  There are plenty of signs in Arabic and English warning people not to go in the water. I'll come back to the snails later.

The birding started very well. I quickly came across another dideric cuckoo. This was one of two seen during the day.

Dideric cuckoo

However it wasn't long until I realised the habitat was very similar to Wadi Darbat the weekend before and the bird life reflects that. However I persisted in the area and decided to walk up the wadi.

Arabian warbler (a.k.a) Red sea warbler)

Just as I had decided this was a bad idea, I came across an Arabian warbler. Again this was one of two seen during the day. It was also the only addition to my Oman list near the Ayn.

second view of the Arabian warbler

Birds in the area were otherwise mostly laughing dove, white spectacled bulbul, Ruepells weaver, blackstart and cinnamon breasted bunting. Though the occasional rufous bush robin was also seen.

the landscaped part of the Ayn

I returned to the landscaped area after about two hours.

fish in the Ayn

Common sandpiper were indeed common and judging by my photograph doing their bit to keep the snail population down.

common sand piper

The same could not be said for the cinnamon breasted bunting.

cinnamon breasted bunting

Ruepell's weaver nests can be almost anywhere with tall enough bushes but their density is always higher close to water.

male Ruepell's weaver

Contrary to my first opinion, I now know categorically that they are still breeding. There breeding season in Dhofar (Salalah region) seems to coincide with the Khareef.

Grey headed kingfisher

There is an ornamental garden next to the landscaped part of the Ayn. Certain birds were only found in it or next to it. These were shining sunbird, Bruce's green pigeon and Eurasian collared dove. Grey headed kingfisher was seen elsewhere but was easiest to see there.


The most common bird in the garden was cinnamon breasted bunting. However it looked a bit strange to see blackstart on the paths and common sandpiper on the lawns.

Laughing dove

Laughing dove was everywhere.

Rufous bush robin

I have a little more to say about snails before I finish the blog! I doubt the snails I was seeing on the bushes are the same as in the water. Nevertheless the climate clearly encourages their growth. One strange thing I noticed while watching rufous bush robin in the Ayan Razat area was that they seemed to land on bushes with these snails on.

Rufous bush robin having moved

Finally a reminder that there are always other species seen on my trips.

two mating butterflies

After finishing at the Ayn (spring), I walked down into some drier scrubby area with less bushes and trees.  This turned out to be a good decision because I saw three birds for the first time in Oman including a lifer. I will blog about this next.

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