Wednesday 1 April 2015

Raysut at the end of March

On Wednesday afternoon, I visited Raysut settling pools. This place has always had birds and the recent changes in the landscaping have helped even more. I will write more about the landscaping later.

Up to 6 weeks ago, there were 400-500 steppe eagle, 15 or so Eastern Imperial eagle and a few greater spotted eagle around the near-by rubbish dump. Many would fly into or over the settling pools during a visit.

Nearly all eagles have left. However I did see two and both were greater spotted eagle.

first greater spotted eagle

In general, the steppe eagle left before the eastern imperial eagle who in turn left before the greater spotted eagle though there was some overlap.

second greater spotted eagle

They were not the only birds of prey observed. Two yellow-billed kite also flew over.

yellow-billed kite

This is a scarce local breeding bird which is more usually seen further east in the Taqah area.

Indian house crow

Birds that are always seen at the settling pools are Indian house crow.


The largest birds on site were flamingo.

African silverbill

Some of the smallest were African silverbill.

ringed plover

I walked to the southern end of the site and walked anti-clockwise to the south east corner and on to the north east corner.

This side of the site has most of the birds. One of the first waders encountered was ringed plover.

western reef heron with house crow

In the south east corner there is currently a natural looking pool created from run-off from the industrial settling pools. This is attracting many waders including black-winged stilt, wood sandpiper and little stint.

A western reef heron was trying to stay by the pool to but was mobbed by Indian house crow until it eventually left.

wood sandpiper

As I walked further round I came across the vagrant spur-winged lapwing which has spent the winter at the site.

spur-winged lapwing

It had been associating with between 3 and 10 red-wattled lapwing but they have left.

grey heron

Along the eastern perimeter are more of these natural-looking pools with grassy banks. One of them not only held waders but three ducks as well. 

male garganey with gadwall

There was one male garganey with two female gadwall. I know that most male ducks are larger than female ducks but I was a little surprised that the male garganey looked as big as the female gadwall.

male garganey

Most ducks have left southern Oman by now.

yellow wagtail

One of the few signs of any passerine passage in the Salalah area are yellow wagtail and the artificial wetland here is ideal for them. I counted about 15 on the site.

black-winged stilt

The site is much better habitat for passerine migrants than it was in the autumn. At that time the site was dry and non-vegetated apart from the concrete-bunded settling pools. Now some water from the settling pools is being run off on to the near-by land, pools, wetland and grassland has sprouted up. it's pity that the passage is so weak.

If there had been this habitat during the autumn passage, the site would have been extremely good birding.

fields of tall grass

I will keep coming back to the site over the next month or so to look especially in these fields and wetlands. I hope to see more than just yellow wagtail and waders straying from the pools.
wet fields

Near the western corner and the entrance to the site were several slender-billed gull. One final bird was a whiskered tern. Most of the winter there were one vagrant black tern and a whiskered tern. This bird might well be the same whiskered tern

whiskered tern

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