Wednesday 14 January 2015

Excellent birds in coastal Salalah

Andrew Bailey and I took a 15 minute lunch break on Friday before resuming birding. That afternoon was some of the best birding I have had in Salalah since I arrived. 

We continued where we left off in the Raysut area. We moved to the Raysut coast. We rapidly saw two Terek sandpiper. This was another addition to my Oman list making 243 on the Clements count.

two Terek sandpiper

This is an elegant wader which is well liked by many birders.

Terek sandpiper

Other notable birds on the shoreline included oystercatcher.

seven black kite

At one end of the coastal stretch was some very interesting bird of prey activity. No less than 12 osprey were sitting on different posts of a fence. Next to them were 8 black kite or more precisely 7 black kite and 1 yellow-billed kite if you count them as separate species, all on independent fence posts. Seven are shown in the picture above.

a black kite in flight

To complete the picture, an Eastern Imperial eagle was sitting in the one tree next to the fence. 

While we were watching them six socotra cormorant flew by and landed on rocks.

Next to this rocky coast is a small fishing harbour. We walked along the harbour wall out to sea. In the harbour next to the moored boats were probably hundreds of gulls including at least one Pallas's gull.

striated heron

A striated heron and a grey heron were observed on boats moored against the sea wall.

sooty gull

The sooty gull on the harbour wall were especially tame. Several terns came close to the wall. They included gull-billed tern, greater crested tern, lesser crested tern and common tern.

After walking the harbour wall there was still plenty of time for more birding. We moved on to Khawr Awqad (also called West Khawr) which is less than two kilometres west.

Pallas's gull

The khawr had several great cormorant, flamingo and another black necked grebe with the little grebe. There were plenty of waders too mostly in the mangrove area.

However the two highlights were none of these. The first one was a Pallas's gull on the sand bar which separates the khawr from the sea. Indeed it was the only gull on the bar.

peregrine falcon

The second was a peregrine falcon that flew overhead just as we were leaving.

second view of peregrine falcon

It settled on a pylon which took us ten minutes to walk round to. Ironically this was very close to where the car was parked. We were lucky it chose to rest all that time. This was the first time I have seen one in Oman or indeed in Arabia. It became species 244 on my country list.

After West Khawr we took a break for a couple of hours and decided to resume at dusk at the Crown Plaza. This is a known place for spotted thick-knee which seems to like the grassed areas and Andrew wanted to see this bird.

white breasted water hen

You can imagine our surprise as the light failed and we walked round the gardens when we came across a white breasted water hen. Suddenly I had species 245 on my Oman list.

second view of white breasted water hen

We retired to the beach bar soon after. The good news is that Andrew found his thick-knee while I was socialising.

Saturday was Andrew's third and last day. We headed out west. I will write about this next.


  1. Hi Rob,

    The Peregrine really does look like it's missing a leg. The result of being trapped, perhaps?

    Is the Kite in the photo one of the 7 Black or the 1 Yellow-billed? Looks more like the former to me. I must admit I assumed they were all Yellow-billed, having seen one.

  2. Dont know about the peregrine. I had a close look and thought the leg was still there? I believe the bird in flight is a black kite. The bill looks good for it and the overall impression isnt warm/chestnutty. Rob

  3. Agreed that the kite in the photo is just Black(eared?). I watched a bird high in the air which I thought was clearly YBK.