Tuesday 14 April 2015

Khawrs east of the city

It is now getting hot before midday as temperatures seasonally rise. On Friday I decided to continue birding throughout the day. This is something I probably won't do from now on until the khareef (monsoon) season.

In hot weather in Arabia, a good idea is to head to any water source be it natural or artificial such as a sewage works. My main two sites are Friday were natural: Khawr Taqah and Khawr Dahariz (also called East Khawr by birders).

At Khawr Taqah this year there is a flooded area in the middle surrounded by reeds on three sides. It didn't exist early in the winter but I think earth movements for a new harbour development has shifted water and it appeared.

On arrival I quickly spied three greater white fronted goose. This was totally unexpected as this species has usually left by now.

three goose

I tried to make the one with the longer neck which appears a little larger into a greylag goose. It was also blander with less obvious markings.

two female greater white fronted goose

However it is most probably a gander (male) greater white-fronted goose. Apparently male geese have longer necks generally and this bird seemed to be taking the lead. My experience with geese is limited given most of my birding and expertise has been in MENA (Middle East North Africa).

two geese side by side

The two apparently different gender were often side-by side allowing comparison.

the gander

The neck not only appeared longer but was extended more often.

the approach to flooded area at Taqah

There has been a flock of Pacific golden plover in the Salalah area all winter. I assume it is the same group because I have never found two groups in two different places on any given day. This flock has been very settled at Taqah having moved around. It has been in the same place every time I have visited over the past two and a half months.

Pacific golden plover

Many of the birds are starting to acquire summer plumage.

part of the Pacific golden plover flock

There were plenty of other waders there too. The largest groups were little stint followed by little ringed plover. There were also large numbers of grey heron and squacco heron. The latter were loosely packed and almost certainly on migration.

ruddy turnstone

I hadn't seen a ruddy turnstone in Oman except at the rocky coast at Raysut until I spotted a solitary among the pacific golden plover. This marshy ground is not typical habitat and again probably means this bird is migrating.

crab at Khawr Rori

After Khawr Taqah I actually headed away from Salalah down the road to the north west corner of Khawr Rori. This is the part which id mostly trees and reeds with some marshy edges. It is not the main lake area. I saw very little partly because it was disturbed by a goat herd.My best sighting was probably a fresh water type of crab. 

I didn't stay long. I returned to Salalah but popped into Khawr Dahariz before going home which is 2 kilometres from there.

black-tailed godwit

I haven't been visiting Khawr Dahariz very often recently. It is still a good site despite being so close to development. It is best visited early in the morning. In the early evening there are usually lots of cars about near-by and so plenty of disturbance. The cars have helpers for the fishermen who land every evening about 300 metres away.

At the Khawr I noticed many of the waders are heading towards breeding plumage including the black-tailed godwit.

common redshank

Some of the common redshank were also in summer plumage.

Intermediate egret

There are still some lingering wintering water. One was an intermediate egret.

close up of bill of intermediate egret

This one was from Asia rather than Africa as it had a black tip to its bill.

ruddy turnstone

There was another ruddy turnstone there. Having never seen one in Oman outside the Raysut coast before, I suddenly see two in one day in different locations. Furthermore neither location is typical of a ruddy turnstone. Both are marshy.

glossy ibis

There are still about 30 glossy ibis on site. They spend every day either at the Khawr or 1.5 kilometres away in the fields at Sawnout farm. You can often see them commuting between the two places too. I have been seeing them ever since I arrived in Dhofar at the beginning of September.

It was a pretty exhausting day because of the heat. The next day, Saturday, I birded earlier and finished earlier too. I will blog about that next.


  1. wow.. lucky you...found greater white fronted goose.I never saw them here in north oman sohar (al batinah ). however rudy turnstones are easy to found on sohar beach, even around so many people..

  2. Jighesh, large numbers of greater white fronted geese have been here all winter. We probably had 30 at maximum. I will be in the Muscat area next month hopefully to see several new birds. rob