Thursday 6 November 2014

Intermediate egret and more at Khawr Soly

Every week day, either very early or after work,  I try to visit East Khawr, Khawr Soly (Swali) and Ayn Hamran as they are close to my work and flat. Occasionally I go west of the city instead.

Now East Khawr is crowded with visiting birders! Two weeks ago I had it to myself.

My stops there are often short there to see if anything new has arrived. However Khawr Soly is peaceful and I am getting very good results there.

Yesterday, I added two more birds to my Oman list there.

Intermediate egret

The first one was an Intermediate egret. You may recall from a recent blog I had been looking for this bird and Khawr Soly was my best guess where it might be. It turned out to be right.

The black tip to the yellow bill shows this particular bird is of Indo-Malay and not African origin.

second view of Intermediate egret

I first noticed it in the grass margins of the lagoon with it characteristic S bent neck.

Intermediate egret in grass

The general structure is quite different from great white egret. Also the bill is shorter and more robust. The yellow gape line doesn't extend past the eye as it does with the great white egret either.

There were several other egrets and herons around. I counted four grey heron, one purple heron and a western reef heron (eastern) which is often called Indian reef heron.

Western reef heron

This is quite similar to a little egret but the bill is slightly curved, the bird isn't as elegant and if you look closely there are yellow-green tinges to the legs as well as feet.

Eurasian spoonbill

A confiding Eurasian spoonbill was also present.

Tufted duck

Among the moorhen and common coot was a single tufted duck. It is one of those with white undertail coverts like a ferruginous duck. However it head shape and overall colouration mark it out as a tufted duck. Some pictures also show pale feathering near the base of the bill (just noticeable in this picture). This feature is only seen in tufted duck. Following referral to experts, I have changed my identification from ferruginous duck to tufted duck.

This was also a first for my country list and also the first diving duck I have seen here too.

Northern shoveller

Northern shoveller was the other duck present.

Blue-cheeked bee-eater

Blue-cheeked bee-eater flocks were observed at East Khawr, Ayn Hamran and Khawr Soly yesterday or the day before. This one was at Khawr Soly.


Three birds of prey pasted over Khawr Soly too. They were Bonelli's eagle, marsh harrier and an osprey.

What it lacks in quantity, Khawr Soly makes up in quality.

Great reed warbler

The highlight from my last visit to Ayn Hamran was a great reed warbler high up  (6 metres) a tree. This is the only reed warbler that does this.

Second view of great reed warbler

Otherwise a red-backed shrike was a new arrival.

red-backed shrike

Namaqua dove are nowhere near as common in Dhofar. Oman as when I birded in Riyadh. This was the first time I had seen one at Ayn Hmaran.

Namaqua dove

East Khawr had many hundreds of birds yesterday including some special ones but nothing I hadn't seen on previous days. However, I did like to see a common snipe walking around and feeding in the open like the other waders.

common snipe

I am sure I will continue visiting these three venues during the week for some time yet.


  1. Watercock in Dubai today, so keep your eyes peeled this weekend!

  2. Andy, My eyes are always peeled! However I should be having more success with rare water birds than I am. R