Monday, 15 September 2014

East Salalah on Saturday

Until I have my own transport which should be arranged within the next two or three weeks, I am reliant on lifts. So necessarily I am spending a lot of time within walking distance of my home in East Salalah. Visits to the farms and wadis of East Salalah and to east Khawr are regular. And quite honestly the local birding is extremely good.

On Saturday I had time to explore the area in some depth.

East Khawr itself had changed its cast once again. The shear number of waders crammed into the bottom end next to the sea was very large. The majority were from two species and one of these was Pacific golden plover.

Two Pacific golden plovers

I counted 80 and yet this was the first time I had seen even one at East Khawr. 

Forty Pacific golden plovers and others

Another new bird for the site was curlew sandpiper. I counted five of these.

Curlew sandpiper

The long legs are difficult to see in this water. However its more elegant look and its bold supercilium easily separate it from dunlin which can be a confusion species.

note the supercilium

The other wader in big numbers was ruff. Again there were about 80 of these.

juvenile ruff among mature birds

One of them stood out from the crowd. Only one, a female, was in juvenile plumage. It was standing at the edge of the group too. I considered it as a vagrant buff breasted sandpiper but it's bill is too long and its legs aren't bright yellow enough. There are other features which don't fit either. 

black-winged stilt

The lone black winged stilt of previous visits is now one of six.

Kentish plover

The presumed resident Kentish plover have an explosive increase in wader neighbours at the moment.


The single sanderling created more space for itself by being aggressive to any bird that came close.

flock of garganey

Elsewhere the number of garganey continues to rise.

Eurasian spoonbill and others

The large flock of glossy ibis was present and the Eurasian spoonbill with African sacred ibis have returned. In the group above there are eight Eurasian spoonbill, an African sacred ibis, a little egret and a black tailed godwit.

common redshank

What began as a session following a couple of common redshank at the northern end of khawr and then progressed to seeing hundreds of waders at the end near the sea came to an abrupt end.

birds being disturbed

A local with a very large camera lens appeared out of his car and as soon as he took aim, virtually all the birds took flight. Time was passing and I decided not to wait until they settled again. I am just happy my very slow approach and patience allowed me so much time to see the waders at close quarters.

Visiting the khawr was only half of Saturday's story. I walked out down the wadi and I walked back through as much farmland as I could.

barn swallow

In the wadi, the local pale crag martin were joined for the first time since I arrived by some barn swallow and European crag martin.

rufous bush robin stretching

The number of rufous bush robin continues to build. They are recorded all winter. I suspect this is an important wintering venue for this species.

rufous bush robin cocking tail

Once again I came across a common whitethroat. It was very thin so I suspect it has just arrived having passed over the Arabian desert. It needs to fatten up before going anywhere else.

thin common whitethroat

On the way back, I noticed some of the fodder fields are now being cut following the khareef growing season. Unfortunately there was no sign of bird activity there though I am sure this will change as the season progresses.

European roller

However, by way of compensation, on a wire next to one of these fields was a (presumed) wintering European roller.

 blue moon (or common eggfly) butterfly

I wish I had time to find out more about butterflies. There are certainly more varieties here than in the Riyadh area. This one is black with white polka dots surrounded by a blue sheen when the wings are unfolded.

However I need to concentrate on the birds. This area is proving to be very productive and hard work.

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