Saturday, 18 April 2015

East Salalah in mid April

East Khawr as birders call it or Khawr Dahariz as the locals call it and Sawnout farm are both on the eastern edge of the city. Indeed they are only 1 kilometre away from each other at their nearest points.

Some birds can be conspicuously commuting between the two places. These are notably glossy ibis and cattle egret but other birds move between them.

The weather is so hot now I can only visit low land places early in the morning or late afternoon.

Yesterday I visited them both before 8.30 am.

I started with Khawr Dahariz.

terek sandpiper

A few species waders I hadn't seen all winter were present. These included two terek sandpiper.

greater white fronted goose

There was also a single late greater white fronted goose.

ruddy turnstone

I commented on ruddy turnstone passage last weekend. The numbers turning up Khawr Dahariz have increased from the one seen last week to seven. Some are shown above.

close up of two ruddy turnstone

Curlew sandpiper is another bird that has been rare all winter but is now turning up more frequently.

two curlew sandpiper

They are showing the whole array of plumages from pure winter to almost full breeding.

four curlew sandpiper

Friday morning is by far the best morning of the week to go to Khawr Dahariz to avoid disturbance.

three types of heron

The variety of water birds at the sand bar end of the Khawr is usually greater because of this. For example there were four types of heron family member there: grey heron, squacco heron, western reef heron (both morphs) and an intermediate egret.

steppe gull 1

An odd bird to see was an adult steppe gull. Virtually all large white headed gulls left at least 10 days ago. The coast now has only resident sooty gull. Then suddenly I see an adult steppe gull at the khawr. It looks healthy too so I can't understand why it is still here.

steppe gull 2

Other water birds near the sand bar were black-winged stilt, kentish plover, greenshank, redshank and black-tailed godwit. Most of these are now showing varying degrees of breeding plumage.

black tailed godwit

As I mentioned before, glossy ibis commuted between Sawnaut farm and Khawr Dahariz. On a little before I left for the farm, a large number of glossy ibis arrived at the Khawr from the direction of the farm.

glossy ibis

Before I left I headed towards the deeper part of the Khawr where the adult flamingo are fond. As I walked towards them I flushed the first yellow bittern I had seen since the autumn. They must be back or at least one of them is.


After seeing the flamingo I headed off to Sawnaut farm which takes 5 minutes to get to.

singing bush lark

 The singing bush lark are particularly noisy early in the day. There is always some sort of bird of prey activity. This time it was just kestrel and a pallid harrier. The hundreds of collared dove were already scattered around the fields. However one sight which seems particular to early and mid April is the large numbers of hirundines and swifts flying over.

Once again there were swifts flying high and on the move. This time they were most pallid swift but included at least one little swift. It was noticeably smaller than the others and when it banked I could see the white rump. This was species 270 on my Oman list.

I am beginning to wonder if I turned up at dawn whether these swifts would be feeding lower on the fields. I have now seen 4 species of swift over the farm and I don't think it is coincidence I have only seen them there this spring.

sand martin and barn swallow

It was not just swifts. Among the hirundines yesterday morning there were actually more sand martin than barn swallow.

sand martin 1

I believe this farm is an important feeding place for some easterly hirundines on migration.

sand martin 2

As they rested on the wires, occasionally another bird would join them. These have included crested lark and shining sunbird.

shining sunbird

Even at 8.30 am it was getting warm. I went up into the hills to prolong my birding day. Coastal birding at this time of year is draining. I will blog about the hills next.

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