Wednesday, 10 September 2014

East Khawr revisited

On Saturday, I returned to East Khawr, Salalah. I really didn't know whether many of the birds would have changed compared with my previous visit five days before. I resolved beforehand that would at least try to get better pictures of those that were there.

I kept to that resolution but in the end there were 13 additional species seen either there or walking to and from home to the khawr. One was a lifer too.

African sacred ibis with Eurasian spoonbill

The single African sacred ibis was one of those of which I achieved better photos and it was still associating with the Eurasian spoonbill.

This view came about half way through my visit. However starting at the beginning, I elected to bird the west bank at the inland end, head towards the sea and then bird the east side up into the wadi back inland.

The khawr looking towards the sea

The first sign of anything different from the previous visit came with a view of four greenshank well inland and at the reeds edge.


I then continued walking towards the seaward end. I managed to accidentally flush a little bittern which flew right across the water into reeds at the far side. These two were new birds for me in Oman and I had hardly started.

glossy ibis

Suddenly in the distance a flock of 25 glossy ibis took to the air and headed right next to the sand bar at the far end of the lagoon. I am pretty sure I wasn't the cause of their movement.

displaying moorhen

As I moved on towards the sea I passed  a common moorhen which I assume was displaying.


I could see a duck swimming with moorhen in the distance and right at the far seaward end of the Khawr. It was a garganey.

garganey with moorhen

Much of the change in the cast of birds was actually seen when I reached the seaward end of the Khawr especially among the waders. All the ruff from a few days previous were gone.

lesser sand plover

New replacements included several lesser sandplover.They were behaving aggressively chasing some common sandpiper and little stint off.

ringed plover

The Kentish plover and common ringed plover seemed to be more accepted.

little stint

Little stint were not seen on my last visit.

Black-tailed godwit

There were three singleton birds representative of their species. One was black tailed godwit still in most of its breeding plumage.

Greater crested tern

Another was a greater crested tern (a.k.a. swift tern).

Common tern

A juvenile medium sized tern looks much more like a common tern than white cheeked tern of which a few were which still present. 

Eurasian spoonbill

The number of Eurasian spoonbill had increased from 4 to 6 over the week.

Squacco heron

Several squacco heron were still present but no sign yet of any of the very similar Indian pond heron which apparently visit in the winter months.

common snipe

Another difficult pair to separate for identification purposes in this part of the gulf are common snipe and pin-tailed snipe. My first snipe since I arrived in the country was a common snipe.


The walk back inland on the eastern bank started out quite uneventful with the flock of glossy ibis being the main attraction though I did see my first green sandpiper in the Salalah area in a small cluster of waders.

However two fly-overs on the land directly east of the khawr as I walked passed enlivened things. First, a young curlew flashed past. It's very pale underside marked it out as the eastern sub species orientalis. It's very short bill and paucity of  under-body streaking marked it out as a young bird.

a flock of garganey

On the way back home I decided to walk up the wadi directly north of the khawr. This is Wadi Dahariz.

Even here I managed to add to my Oman list. The best moment was when I almost walked into a spotted thick-knee.   It had positioned itself directly in front of me as I followed a worn makeshift path. It allowed me within 3 metres before it slowly walked away.

Spotted thick-knee

The second addition was a pair of Namaqua dove which were surprisingly skittish.

Turkestan shrike

The final new bird of the day, also seen in the wadi,  was a male Turkestan shrike.  I am very familiar with this bird from my Riyadh days.

All in all I was very satisfied with this birding session.

List of birds seen at East Khawr, Salalah and in Wadi Dahariz just north of the khawr.    O=new to my Oman list.   L= a lifer

Garganey   O
African sacred ibis
Eurasian spoonbill
Glossy ibis
Little bittern   O
Squacco heron
Grey heron
Purple heron
Great egret
Little egret
Common moorhen
Spotted thick-knee  O, L
Common ringed plover
Kentish plover
Lesser sand plover  O
Common snipe   O
Black tailed godwit   O
Curlew  O
Greenshank   O
Green sandpiper
Common sandpiper
Little stint   O
Dunlin   O
Ruddy turnstone
Sooty gull
White-cheeked tern
White-winged black tern
Great crested tern
Common tern O
Feral pigeon
Eurasian collared dove
Laughing dove
Namaqua dove   O
Rose-ringed parakeet
Foebes-Watson's swift
Turkestan shrike   O
House crow
White-spectacled bulbul
Crested lark
Pale crag martin
Graceful prinia
Common myna
Tristram's starling
African silverbill
Ruepell's weaver
Cinnamon breasted bunting

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