Tuesday 7 October 2014

West of Salalah

Yesterday, I drove west out of Salalah and my first stop was Raysut rubbish dump.  As I walked out of the car towards the dump, a few steppe eagle flew towards me. This was a good start to the day.

steppe eagle

A couple of minutes later I noticed a few white stork on a mound.

white stork

Two good additions were made to my Oman list very early in the day. However I had to wait until the other end of the day to add another.

more white stork

Then some more white stork appeared in the air and landed on the mound.

sitting steppe eagle

I busied myself by trying to search through all the eagles to see if any were different. I failed to find any although a small number had less long yellow gaps than others. I counted 30 steppe eagle in total.

even more white stork

Meanwhile the number of white stork kept rising. There were at least 70.

white stork take to the air

As I turned to leave and head to a different part of the dump, many took to the air. it is a beautiful sight.

A search for other birds only yielded eight brown-necked raven, two desert wheatear, six barn swallow and over 200! sooty gull with about 20 Heuglin's gull also present.


After the rubbish dump my next stop was 40 kilometres down the coast at Khawr Mughsail. This time I only visited the coastal part of the Khawr. There was an osprey on a lamp post over-looking it.

common tern

Actually, there was little of interest there this time. I looked closely at one tern. Settled first winter birds like the one above have to be investigated for marsh terns as well as white-cheeked tern and it very close relative the common tern.

The bill has a slightest hint of red and is not so long and decurved so I would plump for common tern.


There were a few herons around and the lone greater flamingo from last time. Three whimbrel allowed close approach.

close up of whimbrel

After Mughsail, I travelled further west for about 40 kilometres. This area consists mostly of highland right next to the sea with mostly steep cliffs separating the sea from the plateaus. There are a few coves though.

It doesn't get as much rain as the Salalah area but sea mists give it moisture and a strip of the plateau is green until about two kilometres inland all the way along the coast.

fan-tailed raven

As I passed through one village, a large number of fan-tailed raven were in the air.

I turned round at a remote village about 100 kilometres west of Salalah but not without birding this dairy community.

Once again I found a European roller and a rufous-tailed rock thrush. However this time the thrush was actually in a tree.

rufous-tailed rock thrush

Some dumps of cattle manure were attracting birds. There were several desert wheatear and Isabelline wheatear around.

desert wheatear

I have yet to see any northern wheatear in the country. Following recent discussions, I am better able to recognise them. Indeed I have changed two of my previous identifications on past blogs.

Incidentally, if I find I have made any identification mistake, I endeavour always to re-write the section in a past blog.

long-billed pipit

The density of long-billed pipit around the manure was high too!

common whitethroat

Common whitethroat are everywhere from woodland to scrub. Of course, they are easier to see in scrub like at this village.

second view of common whitethroat

After starting to head back towards Salalah, I came back to the village with so many fan-tailed raven. I noticed two birds at the side of the road and parked up to photograph them. This was only to find they were brown-necked raven.

brown-necked raven

My last stop was back at Khawr Mughsail. This time I elected to visit the inland part of the Khawr. A great reed warbler shot across to the far bank but not before I had identified it and it was added to my country list.

great reed warbler

I finished off by spending 45 minutes in the purpose built hide on the west side of the Khawr. Unfortunately for me there were no crakes just moorhen and garganey as well purple heron and grey heron.

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