Monday, 12 January 2015

Tawi Atair and Wadi Hanna

On Thursday afternoon, Andrew Bailey and I went up into the mountains near Tawi Atair.

One port of call for any visiting birder had to be the sinkhole at Tawi Atair. It is famous for the only known resident population east of Yemen of Yemen serin.

Yemen serin

A single bird obliged. It was on the roof of one of the outbuildings near the hole.

second view of Yemen serin

Near-by was an Arabian wheatear.

Arabian wheatear

It was here we saw a Brahminy starling which is a vagrant ot Oman. Although we got excellent views for identification, it moved on before we could take a photograph.

Tristram's starling

We made a long search to re-find it included looking around the local Tristram's starling to see if it was associating with them.

short-toed snake eagle

There was a nice view of short-toed snake eagle when we left the sinkhole.

Eastern Imperial Eagle

On the plateau near Tawi Atair town was a continual show of birds of prey. Eastern Imperial eagle were nearly as common as kestrel. We also saw three griffon vulture and one young lappet-faced vulture.

young lappet-faced vulture

We also visited the wooded area known as Wadi Hanna. This is west of Tawi Atair town. This area gave me two additions in quick succession. I saw my first lesser whitethroat and then black redstart in Oman.

eastern black redstart

The black redstart was an eastern black redstart. It's one of those species that can only usually been found as far south as Dhofar in the second half of the winter.

black redstart through the branches

Despite some small cast changes such as these two birds, the bird life is still greatly influenced by cinnamon-breasted bunting, Abyssinian white-eye and fan-tailed raven.

Abyssinian white-eye

To end the birding day, we move on to Wadi Darbat just before dusk and stayed there until 45 minutes after. We were there to seek out Arabian scops owl. We heard three but unfortunately couldn't see any by torchlight.

Rather than finish the blog at this point, I have some past pictures taken from Wadi Darbat and points to make about it from mid-December onwards.  

black stork at wadi Darbat

A single black stork has been there most of winter though it does wander. This picture comes from December 18th.

tree pipit

Tree pipit are fairly common in the woodland nearest the water. The population here and in Sahnout farm, Salalah confirms that some of this species winter in southern Oman. 

bluethroat at Wadi Darbat

After a slow start bluethroat numbers are still increasing near water in many places in Dhofar.

Summing up, although the search for Arabian scops owl didn't lead to a sighting, I added three birds to my Oman list on Thursday.

Friday was even more successful with some rarities and vagrants among more new birds. I will write about this in the next two blogs.


  1. Hi Rob,

    As far as I know, Eastern Black Redstart is either phoenicuroides or ochruros, not semirufus, which is the Turkish form. From the extent of black on the underparts, it looks more like the former.

  2. Andy, I dont have access to the right background here. I'll just edit it to be more general. Rob