Sunday 26 October 2014

Mudayy Oasis

Yesterday I visited Mudayy oasis which is 80 kilometres west of Thumrait which in turn is 80 kiolmetres north of Salalah.

There were two main reasons I went there. First I had decided to target Nile Valley sunbird and Jens Eriksen has told me it it one of the best places to find it in Oman.

Second, African collared dove has been reported as "heard"here.  This species has been sighted several times at a Wadi just south of Thumrait in winter. Yet Mudayy is much closer to its main residential range in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

willow warbler

On arrival at the village, I started birding around the oasis pool. Unfortunately I immediately flushed 10 chestnut-bellied sandgrouse which had been resting in the shade by the steps down to the pool from the car park.

Nevertheless the flock was seen several times during the day around the village and at one stage numbered 22 birds.

At the pool were several willow warbler flitting between bushes. They were present in other parts of the village too.


White eared bulbul was also conspicuous here and common throughout the settlement.

In the air near-by I noticed a steppe eagle which stayed in this area all day.

white eared bulbul

In the shade of the closely knit palms by the pond were a large flock of house sparrow. Their plumage as a bit odd. Overall it was paler than typical. The brown band around the head was diminished and the mantle was particularly pale.

Their behaviour was different too. I never saw one on a building. A second flock was seen in the village which was in another dense palm grove.

house sparrow

Other notable birds around the pond included blackstart.


It took me precisely 100 minutes to find a Nile Valley sunbird. It was in acacia some 75 metres away from the pond. It was flighty and I only got one distant picture of this very small bird (small at the moment as the male has no tail at this time of year).

distant Nile Valley sunbird

Once I got accustomed to what i was looking for I managed to pick out five.

Laughing dove

Having travelled so far and having found my main target bird, I decided to stay and investigate the village further.  I wanted to see if I could find any African collared dove among the very populous laughing dove.

In one clump of palm trees, I was sure I heard a collared dove but only saw laughing dove flush.

little green bee-eater

Near-by two little green bee-eater were on a wire.

Daurian shrike

As I went round from green patch to green patch looking for doves, I flushed a golden oriole and came across two shrikes.

One was a Daurian shrike which kept to the bushes while a young red-backed shrike was out in the open.

Red-backed shrike

My attention was distracted from my dove seeking for a while as a Eastern Imperial eagle appeared over head.

Eastern Imperial eagle

It was son after this that I discovered the second flock of house sparrow in some dense palms. Also in there there were at least two more willow warbler and a lone tree pipit.

Tree pipit

In the end I decide to give up on the collared dove, go back to the car and leave.

As seems to be typical with birding, a collared dove was waiting on a wire right next to the car.

Eurasian collared dove

It didn't stay for long but as far as I can tell it was a Eurasian collared dove.

This was not the perfect ending but the sighting adds to collective knowledge.

Long-billed pipit

On the way back, I stopped briefly at Quairoon Hairiti at the top of the mountains where the hospital gardens might have given me a chance of Palestine sunbird. However that sunbird remains elusive. It is a place of many birds though of which the long-billed pipit was an example. It's worth a closer and longer look in the future.

After yesterday's long journey, I am staying local to Salalah today.


  1. Interesting about the House Sparrows, we were also really struck by the ones out in the desert areas. They seemed really "wild", living in the acacias well away from any contact with man, in places like the Al Gubrah bowl in the Al Hajjar Mts. They seemed to be filling the niche of Spanish & Desert Sparrows; i believe they are probably a different subspecies, hufufae. I wonder if it's possible that some migratory bactrianus also winter in Oman as well as southern Asia..

  2. ProgBirder, I actually agree with you on all counts.If I had time Id check out the bactrianus theory too. 'When things calm down birdwise here I will. Rob