Sunday, 7 September 2014

East khawr in Salalah

On 1st September, I visited East Khawr, Salalah for first time. There are a string of khawrs east of the city with an excellent reputation for birding. I can now see why even though I have only visited one for a couple of hours late in afternoon.

East khawr was packed with members of the heron family including two great white egret.

great white egret

There were at least 12 squacco heron spending most of their time near the sand bank that separates the lagoon from the sea.

squacco heron

There were also two grey heron, one purple heron and a few little egret seen.

grey heron

However there were some more far interesting members of the heron family present too.

purple heron

Firstly, the most common family member was actually glossy ibis. I counted over 25.

glossy ibis

Four Eurasian spoonbill added more interest but the star sighting was another bird which was associating with them.

Eurasian spoonbill

It was an African sacred ibis which is a rare bird in Oman.

African sacred ibis

The most common bird of all at the site was white winged black tern.

white cheeked tern and white winged black tern

Some of these were still in part or all of their summer plumage.

white winged black tern in part summer plumage

In among the terns were a group of ruddy turnstone including a juvenile.

ruddy turnstone

Many of the birds were very tame especially the resident birds. This is a sign of minimal disturbance and I have yet to see a gun pellet or hear a gun. However I find that redshank are inherently skittish. I struggled to reach them and photograph them once again.

redshank (front)

There were plenty of Kentish plover about. This was one of the few birds which ventured on to the sand bar separating the khawr from the sea. some were also seen in the khawr too including here with some sanderling.

Sanderling with a kentish plover

The most common wader on the day was actually ruff. Some of the taller grass at the seaward end of the khawr was just their height.


As we returned towards the car we noticed that common sand piper had joined the other waders.

common sandpiper

Some other observations included seeing common moorhen brazening swimming in the water without a concern for us. This was another sign of the birds feeling of safety.

common moorhen

On the sand bar near the car two or three sooty gull joined the Kentish plover.

sooty gull with Kentish plover

Virtually all my attention on this visit had been on the water birds. Noticeable exceptions were the ubiquitous Ruepell's weaver and the ever present sound of graceful prinia. These could hardly be missed.

Ruepells weaver

Since this visit, I have further explored the environs of Salalah and have a large backlog of observations to report. These include a walk round my district, a trip to Wadi Darbat and a return to East Khawr. On these trips, I added another 28 species to my new Omani list and four lifers. I'll blog about these events in the next few days. 


  1. 4 lifers? That's impressive, considering how many visits you've made to SW Arabia. Can't wait to hear what they were!

  2. Andrew, Should blog again tomorrow all being well. BTW 2 of the birds were ones I searched hard for in KSA!

  3. Forgot to add that the 4 aren't in tomorrow's blog