Sunday 29 March 2015

West of Mughsail

If you take the only road west out of Mughsayl and drive 9 kilometres there is a wadi at the bottom of a steep and twisty decent that the road takes. I can't find the wadi's name. 

I walked along it on Friday to bird watch speculatively. A car can't drive through.

male Arabian wheatear

The first birds I saw were two sand partridge but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to photograph them.

I soon came upon two Arabian wheatear sitting together on a rock. One was male and the other was female.

female Arabian wheatear

There were several white spectacled bulbul in the bushes.

white spectacled bulbul

Across the wadi about 30 metres way from me was a small cluster of trees. I starting walking towards them over the rocky terrain. On top of one of the trees were two Arabian golden winged grosbeck. They moved off just as I had identified them but it was quite a shock.

Having said that, I had previously seen reports of this bird in the Mughsail area at this time of year. Nobody really knows where they go in winter. A few clearly stay in the Ayn Hamran area as they are sometimes observed. However numbers seen there and at Wadi Hanna are far higher from April onward. Some people have speculated that they migrate away. This observation is another piece in the jigsaw.

another Arabian wheatear

To add to the good feeling about this wadi, a Verreaux's eagle flew over the northern slope. It's a very steep side and the eagle was flying at the very top. It was sometimes below the skyline and sometimes above.

Verreaux's eagle flying along the mountain side

This was exactly the same behaviour as I had previously seen at Jebel Samhan. The main difference is that the viewing there is from the top of the mountain. The views at this wadi were straight up.

Verreaux's eagle in the air

Birders often find that once they have found a difficult bird once then they see it easily form then on. This certainly seems to be the case with me and Verreaux's eagle.

shining sunbird

As I walked further up the wadi it narrowed and the birds became less frequent. Striolated bunting and shining sunbird dominated.

the wadi narrows

This wadi is worth a look at night. It looks ideal for desert tawny owl and is close to a known site for this species.

dark morph steppe buzzard

As I walked back down the wadi, I noticed one final bird high in the sky to the south. It was a steppe buzzard.

On the way back to Salalah, I stopped off at Mughsail again. However this time I didn't visit the khawr but the beach and coast.

five types of gull and tern

The beach held over 60 sooty gull but among them were a few other species. I managed to fit them all in one picture. There were 15 or so Hueglin's gull and the same number of lesser crested tern. I counted four greater crested tern and a single sandwich tern too. 

socotra cormorant

Directly off-shore from the gulls was a group of eleven socotra cormorant swimming in shallow water about 20 metres out.

three socotra cormorant

This afforded me my best views of this bird since I arrived in Oman. It was a pleasant end to a good session of birding.


  1. Very impressive stuff! Isn't that wadi fairly close to the one that definitely does have Hume's Tawny?

  2. Yes, it would be about 5 or 6 kilometres by direct flight.