Sunday, 28 December 2014

Pallas's gull at Raysut

There are five distinct birding areas in Raysut on the west of the city of Salalah. These are the settling pools (often called the sewage works), the treated water lake, the rubbish dump, the lagoons west of industrial area often called Salalah lagoons and the worn rocky coast just east of the port.

When I am passing through I try to visit any two from five. Obviously if Raysut is my main visit then I will try for all.

On Friday I was returning from Mughsail through Raysut and chose to visit the coast and the settling pools.

I was looking out particularly for two birds I hadn't seen in Oman by going to the coast. One was Pallas's gull and the other was Terek sandpiper.

Pallas's gull

The plan worked for Pallas's gull. I found one next to a group of large white headed gulls. This is species 230 on my country list and I know that any future additions will be tough. This was the very last of the "easy"ones.

The group of large white headed gulls was unusual because Heuglin's gull was in a minority for once. There were more Caspian gull and Steppe gull.


It's also the only place I have found Oystercatcher in the Salalah area.

Caspian tern

Caspian tern, grey plover, whimbrel and curlew have been there on every visit along side the more obvious western reef heron.

The settling pools may be better in early passage when birds often come there as a first resort before finding a more conventional spot. However the birding is still good and very large numbers of Abdim's stork are guaranteed in winter.

Abdim's stork

I patrolled the grounds again still looking for those stone curlew that were reported by a couple of UAE birders a month ago. I have concluded they have moved on.

countless Abdim's stork in the air

I am pretty sure the whole Ymeni and Saudi summer population of Abdim's stork comes to Raysut in winter. I understand it is a recent phenomenon too.

house crow

Indian house crow don't get photographed very often as they are unloved. There are old nests in the tree hedges which suggest they breed on site.

barn swallow and a sand martin

Perhaps because I came close to dusk, I noticed the large numbers of barn swallow more than usual. There were a small number of sand martin too. In the picture, the bird in the top left is one of them.

black-winged stilt

I really don't understand why black-winged stilt find the place so attractive.

black-headed gull (foreground)

Not too many black headed gull make it this far south but the settling pools are a good place to see them.

Four red-wattled lapwing were also present but I didn't see the one spur-winged lapwing that had been associating with them.

I will continue to make visits to Raysut over the winter to check for any changes.

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