Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Far south west Oman

I drove out west to the border with Yemen on Saturday. I wish I had started out earlier as I didn't give myself enough time to explore the area properly.

The area around the two coastal villages of Rakhyut and Dhalkut is very green and wooded particularly near Dhalkut.  Indeed the hillsides above Dhalkut are the greenest I have seen in Oman outside the khareef season.

Rakhyut is more easily reached. It is a farming and fishing village. I was surprised it had a khawr (freshwater) lagoon) but unfortunately there is virtually no cover for birds as the camles have eaten everything down.

Nevertheless I did see some birds there.

blue rock thrush 

A blue rock thrush was perched by the khawr's side.

the khawr at Rakhyut

On the khawr were three pintail, one teal, one western reef heron and a few moorhen.


A lone sooty gull was swimming there too.

sooty gull

On the beach were plenty more sooty gull and also Hueglin's gull. These were alongside both great crested tern and lesser crested tern.

gulls and terns on Rakhyut beach

There was also a solitary Pallas's gull.

Pallas's gull (at the back)

These birds are beginning to show their summer head plumage.
Tristram's starling

I have never seen such as high density of Tristram's starling as in the centre of the village. The sound they made was like the last few minutes of a football match when the home fans are blowing fake whistles to persuade the referee to end the game.

fan-tailed raven

Above the village on the hillside were a number of small cattle farms and plenty of birds. Fan-tailed raven was common.

long-billed pipit

Both long-billed pipit and tree pipit were easily seen too.

tree pipit

Though the density of birds was high, the variety was virtually the same as in the Salalah area. The 110 kilometres further west had made little apparent difference at least near Rakhyut.

white spectacled bulbul

This meant white spectacled bulbul were plentiful.


Blackstart were in the wooded and the drier areas.

cinnamon-breasted bunting

The woods were ringing with the sound of cinnamon-breasted bunting.

desert lark

The plateau at the top of the hillside is drier than the slopes and species such as desert lark were observed.

Although Rakhyut and Dhalkut are only about 12 kilometres apart by boat, the journey by road is much longer. They are separated by a very deep wadi called wadi sayq. It has steep slopes too. Indeed, the road from the plateau to Dhalkut which first goes down the north side of the wadi and then up the south side before again going down to the sea is a feat of engineering.

Dhalkut is the real treasure at the end of the journey. The woods are very green and the area has an ever greener micro-climate than the rest of Dhofar. It is well worth a prolonged visit to see if the species are much different.

kestrel at Dhalkut

I had far too little time there. A hint of the diversity of species was the sighting of a yellow-billed kite which otherwise is highly localised to Taqah in Dhofar. Kestrel of course are common everywhere in Dhofar including Dhalkut.

the harbour at Dhalkut

Another hint of the possibilities was the sighting of a booted eagle over the village.

booted eagle

I spent the last 15 minutes of daylight in the one of the woods above the village but before the descent into wadi sayq (on the way back).

African paradise flycatcher above Dhalkut

There was a bird of prey that flashed by me which looked like a gaber goshawk? Surely not? but I am left wondering if that this small area on the border with Yemen holds species not found elsewhere in Oman.

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