Thursday, 16 April 2015

The long way to Khawr Rori

On Saturday I started early morning to head to Khawr Rori. I took a long way round partly because Khawr Rori is closed to the public until 9 am.

I went up to Wadi Darbet and then further up to Wadi Hanna before descending the mountains down to the Khawr.

Both Wadi Darbet and Wadi Hanna have plenty of migrants in autumn so it was worth a look in spring though as I have said before, the passerine passage is weaker this season than in autumn.

As I had suspected I failed to see any noticeable passage at Wadi Darbet although there was the odd yellow wagtail.

I had just entered the car to leave after about 45 minutes search when I caught a view of a short-toed eagle in the corner of my eye. 

short-toed eagle 1

I rushed out of the car to get a better view. The bird is clearly a pale morph with a nearly white head and pale upper breast.

short toed eagle 2

I don't know heather it is the same bird I have seen before a few kilometres away near Tawi Atair with similar markings.

short toed eagle 3

Those sightings were over two months ago. Either way, short toed eagle is not down as a local breeder here according to the regional guide. If it or others are seen much longer I will begin to doubt the accuracy of this view.

After this event, I moved on to Wadi Hanna it was still early enough for no picnickers to be about. However this did not improve my chances of seeing any migrants apart from rufous bush robin.

rufous bush robin

Some of the local birds provided interest though. A screaming black-crowned tchagra made so much noise it directed me straight to it. It was unusually high in a tree and in front of the sun nevertheless I had prolonged views. 

It flew off better than I had expected. They can fly reasonably well after all though I don't know how much energy it had to use up with its very short wings.

black-crowned tchagra

A handsome male African paradise flycatcher was another bird to catch my eye.

African paradise flycatcher from behind

The light blue speckles on the back crown was a feature I hadn't noticed in a breeding male before.

African paradise flycatcher

The long tail is so difficult to manage that the bird twisted its hand to look at me rather than its whole body.

African paradise flycatcher looking back

After Wadi Hanna I went directly down the mountain. This takes you down to the coast road, east of Khawr Rori so I starting driving back in the direction of Salalah towards the khawr.

blue headed agama

I spotted a small cove off the main road and managed to get down to it. There was a nice blue-headed agama on the small road down to the cove.

crab on the beach

There were a whole array of either crab or fish traps out to sea from the cove. each trap had a makeshift buoy typically made up of a plastic petrol container or similar. My idea was to watch the buoys which stretched out to sea to look for any seabird to land and rest.  I am afraid this time the idea failed. After about half an hour I had only seen one sooty gull land on a far buoy. My hope was for a brown noddy or masked booby to do so. Both these are still target birds for my Oman list.

My next stop was to finally reach Khawr Rori although it was till before 10.30 in the morning.

It had changed a lot since my last visit. The wader population was less than a quarter what I have been seeing during the winter. Strangely a large number of slender-billed gull have turned up. I doubt if these presumably second calendar year birds will over-summer because I didn't see any in the area when I fist arrived in Salalah in early September last year.

slender-billed gull, Caspian tern and great black headed gull

Caspian tern was not a surprising bird to see there but two great black-headed gull were.

great black headed gull with Caspian tern

I believe these are also second calender year (i.e under one year old) birds. The bill is still pink though the legs are acquiring a yellow colour which is often rapid in this species. The mantle has no black specks on one of the birds but the second one still had hints of this first winter feature. 

Either way I was surprised they were still down this far south.

great black headed gull with slender-billed gull

Only one duck was seen at all. This was a great change from winter. It was a female-type teal.


I walked round the edge of the archaeological site this time in a northerly direction. I couldn't get to the far western side of the lagoon because of development works. In this area too there were few waders except the odd black-tailed godwit. I saw no pheasant-tailed jacana for the first time since early November.

adult moorhen

It looks like some of the moorhen have already bred.

young moorhen

Khawr Rori is arguably the best place in Dhofar to guarantee seeing European spoonbill for much of the year except mid-summer.

European spoonbill

While juvenile flamingo prefer less deep water,  Khawr Rori is more population with adult and sub-adult birds having the deepest fresh water in the region.


I really don't understand why I see so few purple heron in Dhofar but one was present on Saturday.

purple heron

There was a small flock of cattle egret living up to its name.

cattle egret

I didn't get a chance to go birding mid-week this week as work has been hectic. I hope to go out to today. I will blog what I see.

1 comment:

  1. What an exciting post! I really enjoyed the Agama pictures. Keep up the good work!