Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wadi Darbat

On Friday, three work colleagues and I made the short trip up to Wadi Darbat. This wadi is overwhelmingly green at this time of year. Along with a string of hills just inland, it benefits most from the edge of the south Asian monsoon which effects the Salalah area from mid June to mid September.

I expected the birding to be good and I wasn't disappointed.

Before we had even reached the top of the hill, two Arabian partridge were seen at the side of the road. Furthermore on top of the sign at the junction of Wadi Darbat and the hill road stood a a waiting Arabian wheatear.

My colleagues dropped me off, before we reached the river, for a couple of hours while they ventured on.

Singing bush lark

I strode straight into some lightly wooded pastureland. Almost immediately I glimpsed a dark and white bird flash in front of my eyes without being able to positively identify it though I had my suspicions.

The area was thronging with laughing dove though I quickly noticed one Bruce's green pigeon in the distance. Two passerines were also very common. These were Ruepell's weaver and Singing bush lark.

The lark is described in most guides as liking dry scrub. Yet it seemed very at home here. I am told that by mid November much of the greenery browns and that the landscape may then be more usual for this lark.

some of Wadi Darbat's pasture land

After 15 minutes or so I caught up with the bird that had originally flashed in front of my eyes as I left the car. It was a Dideric cuckoo.

Dideric cuckoo

At no time did it stay still for long. Indeed I saw it or another one or two in three different places in the area. It was quite easy to spot as it seems to like exposed perches.

Another (?) Dideric cuckoo

It parasitises passerines and especially weavers. This is a bird which eluded me in Saudi Arabia.

Tristram's starling

Other birds in the area were Tristram's starling and grey headed kingfisher.

Grey headed kingfisher

Another common bird was blackstart. Like singing bush lark this is normally a bird of much drier habitat and shows how dry the wadi must get later in the year.


All the time. up high above in the clouds Forbes-Watson swift were hawking for insects. All the time below there was a continual light drizzle.

Both the swift and the cuckoo were "lifers".

Laughing dove

After wandering back to the road and with a little time on my hands before my colleagues were due to pick me up, I decided to bird the road and other near-by tracks. The idea was that this slightly more open habitat might have different birds.  Laughing dove proved to be here too.

African silverbill

However there were indeed some different birds. African silverbill were common in gardens of small holdings.

Cinnamon breasted bunting

Cinnamon  breasted bunting was a bird of walls. In hedgerow I found a rufous bush robin. I'm not sure whether any winter here or whether all are passage.

Wadi Darbat river

After I was picked up we had a very pleasant barbeque near the river. From here I wandered away from the group from time to time to bird the waterway.

Common sandpiper

Once again, I found common sandpiper which is common in so many habitats in the Salalah area at least at this time of year.

Purple heron

A single young purple heron and several grey heron were seen next to and in the water.

Bruce's green pigeon

As the others left, my friend Michael Immel joined me for some last birding on the near the banks as the skies grew darker. We were rewarded with two birds in one tree. The first was a Bruce's green pigeon which was much better behaved than the one seen at the start of the visit.

Spotted flycatcher

The second was a spotted flycatcher. It left me wondering if, like the rufous bush robin, any of these stay the winter.

The next day, on Saturday I returned to East Khawr. Here I added another 13 species to my Oman list which I hadn't seen on the previous visit only 5 days before.  I also saw the most species in any session since I arrived.

List of birds seen at Wadi Darbat    O= new on my Oman list. L= lifer

Arabian partridge   O
Grey heron
Purple heron
Common sandpiper
Laughing dove
Bruce's green pigeon  O
Dideric Cuckoo  O, L
Forbes-watson's swift  O, L
Grey headed kingfisher
White spectacled bulbul
Singing bush lark  O
Pale crag martin
Tristram's starling
Rufous bush robin  O
Arabian wheatear  O
Spotted flycatcher  O
Ruepells weaver
Striolated bunting  O
Cinnamon breasted bunting  O


  1. Nice stuff, Rob. I have a feeling I'm going to be gripped off further in your next post - I think I'd have had 9 lifers on this day alone. Re the Flycatcher - are you sure it's a Spotted? Do you get Gambaga down there?

  2. Oh, and the bunting labelled Striolated is Cinnamon-breasted Rock Bunting, no?

  3. Andrew, I agree with you about the bunting and have changed it. However gambaga flycatcher is a vagrant in Oman so I didn't give it a second thought. I need to look at the other photos and seek other opinions. Surely I cant be that lucky?

  4. It probably is just a Spotted then. I didn't realise it doesn't extend into Oman. But no harm in asking, I suppose.