Tuesday 13 January 2015

West of Salalah in early January

On Friday morning, Andrew Bailey and I went west to Mughsail and then worked our way back towards Salalah over the course of the day.

As is becoming usual the best birding was at the second and smaller inland pool.

It is a favourite especially with ducks though the wintering vagrant lesser whistling duck couldn't be seen. 

The ducks went frantic when a Bonelli's eagle flew over but it was more interested in chasing the one adult flamingo at pool. After a prolonged chase, the flamingo escaped.

Bonelli's eagle

The eagle then settled on a ledge above us waiting for the ducks and moorhen to slowly reappear from hiding.

wigeon and pintail

The duck at this pool included wigeon, pintail, ferruginous duck and garganey.

ferrugineous duck

Garganey is a strictly migratory bird which forsakes any places north of the Sahara and Arabian deserts in winter. However they are common here at this time of year.


As we walked round, Andrew spotted a Baillon's crake which remained visible for about two minutes.

Baillon's crake

This is my third Baillon's crake in Oman and in three different places. It appears to be much commoner than little crake at this time of year at least in Dhofar.

second view of Baillon's crake

It even came fully in the open for a few seconds.

Baillon's crake more in the open

While most of our attention was on this back pool, the main inland lake was actually the place that I added a bird to my Oman list. A European reed warbler was seen flitting around the front of the reeds. Two cotton teal were also among the ducks, moorhen and coot there.

common coot

Even though it is only January, there are signs that some birds (but  no waders seen yet) are starting to attain spring plumage. 

citrine wagtail

The citrine wagtail above was a good example.

After leaving Mughsail, we headed back westward towards Salalah. Before noon we managed to bird it to Raysut settling pools, Raysut treated water lake and Raysut lagoons.

At the settling pools, the vagrant black tern was still on view as was the vagrant spur-winged lapwing. This time it was associating with no fewer than ten red-wattled lapwing.

The best bird for me though was a jack snipe which was an addition to my Oman list.

Abdim's stork

Andrew was hoping to see an Abdim's stork on his visit. He got 200 or 300 times that.

After the settling pools we made a brief stop at the treated water lake. In stark contrast to the smells at the settling pools, this lake is crystal clear. More ducks and flamingo. The black-necked grebe was still there associating with the resident little grebe.

red-throated pipit

A red-throated pipit was starting to show its red throat in readiness for spring.

common redshank

Other notable birds included at least eight common snipe and some common redshank.

Our final stop at the morning was at Raysut (Salalah) lagoons. Sadly these lagoons are being rapidly trashed by people dumping construction waste, presumably illegally. Nevertheless the eastern side of the wadi is not yet overwhelmed.

The lagoons are there and so still was the demoiselle crane.

demoiselle crane

It main company was a flock of flamingo and a single white stork. Also, several steppe eagle were settled on some of the cliffs.

demoiselle crane with flamingo

This was a good end to an excellent morning. I think the afternoon was even better. I'll write about that next.

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