Thursday 9 October 2014

Around Salalah city

Yesterday I stayed close to the city of Salalah. All my sites were within 10 kilometres of the city centre.

I stated out with a visit to Ayn Jarziz then went to the khawr (lagoon) either side of the Hilton hotel and finally and very interestingly to the wadi just west of Raysut Industrial area.

Ayn Jarziz doesnt merit one of those brown cultural and leisure signs that many of the Ayns (springs) do and it is smaller than many of the better known ones but I am glad I went.

It had the basic land birds that I have been seeing at the others: Ruepell's weaver, grey-headed kingfisher, dideric cuckoo, african silverbill etc.

Like Ayn Hamran there were nightingales in the most shaded areas near water.

Thrush nightingale

However this time I had an even closer look at them. Previously at Ayn Hamran I struggled to identify them and concentrated on one bird which turned out to be an "eastern" nightingale. I now believe the issue is more complex.

The first bird I looked at at Ayn Jarziz is not an "eastern" nightingale. It doesn't show any pale fringes to the tertials and greater coverts. It doesn't have a pale supercilium either.  It is almost certainly a thrush nightingale.

This is described as a vagrant to Oman! However I have read several trip reports that quote it in the area and I used to see them in Riyadh on passage presumably heading in this direction.

Below is a real eastern nightingale seen in the same shaded area within metres of the thrush nightingale. Note that it does have white fringes in the right places and a pale supercilium.

"Eastern" nightingale from the rear

Now I regret not looking at the large numbers of nightingales at Ayn Hamran. I eouldnt be surprised if that included more thrush nightingale.

"Eastern" nightingale profile

Next I drove almost directly south to the khawr by the Hilton hotel. This was a little disappointing because it is surrounded by 4 metre tall mangroves except at the seaward exit. However this makes it very peaceful for any birds in there.

cattle egret

The highlight was a screaming striated heron which I must have flushed at the entrance which flew straight past me into the khawr as I was watching two cattle egret at the entrance. Of course there was no chance of a photo for this latest addition to my Oman list

little egret

Otherwise I only managed to see moorhen, little grebe, a little egret and sooty gull there.

sooty gull

The khawr is admittedly very attractive.

Khawr near the Hilton

My next and final stop for the day was the most prolonged and fruitful.

I spotted a wadi running just west of Raysut Industrial area from the main coast road. I had no idea whether it had any water. I parked the car and got out and walked inland. As  walked in the amount of water on the ground grew and when I turned a corner I was met by 75 white stork.These are probably the same birds I saw at the rubbish tip a couple of days before but this was still a surprise. The surroundings were much more pleasant too.

white storks

It got better. There were a dozen flamingo there.


There were also plenty of associated waders as well as garganey and northern shoveller.

I pressed on inland until I met a very large sedge bed which turned into a reed bed further in.

However I couldn't see many birds in there. Nearly though was a mobile flock of over 50 pale rock sparrow which were enjoying the water and the cliff sides to the wadi.

Pale rock sparrow

This is the second time in under 10 days that I have seen a large flock of pale rock sparrow in the Dhofar region.

Plenty of pale rock sparrow

I had to turn round at one point as there was no way through the reeds.


 I took a chance to photograph the northern shoveller on the way back.

Northern shoveller

Instead of going back to the car, I decided to carry out up down the wadi, under the main road and to to the coast.

There was a ubiquitous European roller on the way.

European roller

At the sea edge the wadi is flat but rocky with a few rock pools. I know the shore birds would be different here.

There were over one hundred sooty gull and fifteen or so greater crested tern. There were also some waders including a whimbrel (which was smaller than usual and this caused me some identification headaches for a while).

striated heron

The different terrain produced dividends. I got my chance to photograph a striated heron after all.


The rocks were always going to be good habitat for oystercatcher and so they were there. This was the third and final addition to my Oman list of the day.

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