Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A tern and 300 storks at Raysut

On Saturday, I returned to the Raysut area west of the city of Salalah. I had met a birding couple from Finland who had told me  two days before they thought they had seen a black tern at Raysut treated water lake. This would be a vagrant so it was a significant reason why I chose there to visit.

Whiskered tern at rest

I thought there was only one tern there and spent a lot of time tracking it. It had the all grey rump they mentioned. However, I was pretty sure it was a whiskered tern and coming home and analysing it proved it.

upperside of Whiskered tern in flight

Nevertheless I took more careful photos than usual to make sure. An all grey rump is a characteristic of whiskered tern and black tern but not the white winged black tern which is the most common wintering marsh tern in Dhofar.

The head pattern was a perfect fit for a whiskered tern too.

whiskered tern flying away

Only on returning home did I realise I had made a mistake. There had been two terns there. Unfortunately the photos of the second tern were few and most were too blurred.

unidentified tern

This second tern has a dark back and a different head pattern. It is either a black tern or a white winged black tern. It will need a return visit and hope that it is still there.

Sometimes birding brings disappointments.

white stork

There was other action at the treated water lake. A flock of 12 white stork flew over only to meet a flock of 40 Abdim's stork. They merged for a short while.

Abdim's stork with a single white stork

Meanwhile at ground level, I accidentally flushed three juvenile black-crowned night heron. I had seen one at the site before.

black-crowned night-heron

The site has many wintering citrine wagtail.

citrine wagtail

The water is deep enough to sustain a resident little grebe population.

little grebe

More blue-cheeked bee-eater were passing through. Every water body with cover has these birds at the moment. However, I still haven't seen a single European bee-eater in Oman.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

Blackstart is one of the most common birds down here in semi-arid and lusher settings.


As well as the treated water lake I also went to the main rubbish dump where bird numbers have multiplied since my last visit. They were over 250 Abdim's stork and over 200 steppe eagle

Around the perimeter I also came across a European roller, a kestrel, several blackstart and desert wheatear and a few barn swallow.
sub adult steppe eagle

I laboriously looked through the steppe eagle to see if there was any exception.

young steppe eagle with eastern imperial eagle

In the end I found one Eastern Imperial eagle.

eastern imperial eagle

In my next blog, I'll report on a good late afternoon's birding on Monday when another species was added to my Oman list and it was a good one.


  1. The second tern looks quite good for Black IMO. Try putting it on the UAE forum - I know Mark and Oscar are very good on terns.

  2. I have got two or three other pictures but they are blurred. I'll add them into the mix. Rob