Saturday 11 April 2015

Turtle doves and more at Raysut

Mid-week I went to Raysut on the other city of the city. I visited two sites there. One was the waste water treatment lake where the water is clean. The other was the settling pools where the water is dirtier.

At the lake, the best sighting was six turtle dove. This is the largest group I saw seen in Arabia never mind Oman.

At one stage they were all sitting in one tree.

Orinetal turtle dove

After much consultation, four of the doves I have tentatively ascribed to the nominate sub-species but one was arenicola which is the sub-species which breeds in southern half of the Middle East. Another one is so dark with very narrow fringes to the wing feathers that is almost certainly oriental turtle dove.

both species together

Arenicola is paler and more washed out.

three turtle doves: oriental (left), two sub species of European (right)

I presume these are passage birds from Africa though I did see two European turtle dove at Sawnout farm early in the winter.

Arenicola sub species

I had prolonged views from distance but unfortunately a few common myna invaded their tree and forced them on before I could get closer still.

Oriental turtle dove takes off

The other most interesting bird at the lake was an Indian pond heron.

Indian pond heron

Earlier I had been to the settling pools where the ground is looking more interesting than ever. They are allowing excess water to flow on to the side areas. This is encouraging lots of cover to grow in places and a pseudo marsh land in others. I wish it had been like this in the autumn passage which is so much heavier.

flooded land within the settling pool complex

I visit this site quite regularly and so don't expect radical change each time I go. However I think it is important to go as often as possible during the peak passage period so as not to miss anything special.

common sandpiper

One certain change over the past two months has been the gradual reduction in waders at the edge of the settling pools themselves. This is almost certainly because they prefer the newly created pools with cover in other parts of the site. Only the odd common sandpiper remains next to the concrete-bunded settling pools.

Namaqua dove

The newly green areas around the site are attracting local species I haven't seen there before notably Namaqua dove. This is now the fourth place in Dhofar I have observed this localised species.

little ringed plover

At the moment this is a site to see a large selection of waders although I was on the look out for other types of passage birds. For example, if collared pratincole travels through Dhofar at all, this surely must be one of the best bets at finding it.

I walked round the site systematically anti-clockwise. One of the first waders seen was little ringed plover.

As I moved to the south eastern corner the pool which was created a couple of months ago thrives. The scattered trees and bushes as well as posts have been a favourite place for eagles to perch. However I counted only three left now. 

steppe eagle 1

This was one was a steppe eagle, the last of over 400 found near Raysut rubbish dump in the winter.

steppe eagle 2

In the pool was a western reef heron and a few black-winged stilt. House crow arrived and the eagle eventually flew off.

steppe eagle flying away

The pools on the eastern edge have the most waders at the moment but the landscape changes so rapidly that tomorrow may be different.

grey heron

This area was also popular with grey heron and more western reef heron.

red-throated pipit

A small number of yellow wagtail and red-throated pipit were scattered around.

wood sandpiper and ruff

The waders themselves included a large number of little stint and wood sandpiper, green sandpiper and common sandpiper. Wood sandpiper were the most numerous.

wood sandpiper, ruff, little stint

There were also at least two greenshank and one marsh sandpiper.

waders but mostly little stint

The northern settling pools had only a few birds. Yellow wagtail were on the submerged bushes.

yellow wagtail

The large numbers of slender-billed gull and especially black-headed gull seen all winter have dwindles to just one slender-billed gull.

slender-billed gull

In contrast the one little grebe observed two months ago increased to two and now there are four in one settling pool.

little grebe

The young flamingo are still at the natural looking pool at the northern edge. I suspect they will go soon.


This is one of the last sights before I reached the gate at the north west of the site and left. I will keep returning during the rest of spring.


  1. Hi Rob. Is the bird in the first pic the same as in the second? If so, it must be Oriental on size, even if it doesn't look that dark - there's too great a difference in size for the two birds to be of the same species. Also, the eye is too rounded for European. In the third pic (the 3 birds in the tree), I'd say the lowest bird, and possibly the middle one too, is Oriental.

  2. Yes, the bird dark bird in the first picture, second picture and indeed on the left of the third picture is the same.I too now believe this is an oriental turtle dove. However the other darker bird in picture three I am keeping as a European turtle dove (nominate). This means in picture 3 we have one of each: european (nominate), european (arenicola) and one oriental turtle dove. I will re-write when i have a spare moment but life is extremely busy at the moment. R

  3. Yes, on closer examination, I think you're right about the middle bird in Pic 3. Nominate ETD.