Friday 30 January 2015

African skimmers on Taqah beach

I had visited Taqah beach twice after two skimmers were first seen there about three weeks ago.

I  knew that one of the sightings was in front of the Khawr at the west end of the beach. A later one was in front of the town in either the middle or east end.

Both times I had looked all along the beach for them but had failed to see them. The first time I went I looked at dawn. This was probably a mistake as I now know skimmers feed at dawn and dusk.

This time a UAE based birder, Andrew Ward, told me he saw them towards the far east end over the weekend while I was in Kuwait.

Tuesday afternoon was my first chance to look on my return. They were resting about 15 metres west of where Andrew had seen them. I only had to look for about 10 minutes before finding them. Compare that with the two previous searches lasting two hours each.

African skimmer

They were really tame and allowed close approach but I am pleased I didn't flush them at all though a jogger did at one stage.

African skimmer next to a great crested tern

When first discovered in early January they were initially thought to be Indian skimmer since this species is a vagrant to Oman and African skimmer has not been recorded.

rear of an African skimmer

However size comparison against near-by gulls and terns as well as the black going all down the neck has identified these two birds as African skimmer.

African skimmer on the move

At one stage they were even sleeping.

both African skimmer

They were only showing a slight preference for associating with terns. Much of the time they were separate from all other species.

great crested tern

The main birds surrounding them were a large flock of about 100 Heuglin's gull, 40 Pallas's gull and 80 sooty gull. The number of Pallas's gull is  quite large for southern Oman especially so as I only counted 12 in the same place a week before.

The few terns around were lesser crested tern, great crested tern and a single sandwich tern.

After seeing the skimmers I spent a few minutes behind the beach looking for other birds. Unusually I didn't visit the Khawr itself.

tawny pipit

The haul among the land birds was light. I observed only tawny pipit, crested lark and Tristram's starling.

tawny pipit again

This was a light end to a rewarding birding session.


  1. Stunning. Just 1 to go now for 250!

    I think you've uploaded the wrong photo for Pallas's Gull though - the bird in the photo is a Heuglin's.

  2. Yes I uploaded the wrong photo. I am not near the replacements so it was just deleted. You know publishing so much so quickly brings mistakes how ever hard I try to avoid them! Rob

  3. African skimmer is a wonderful record ....