Monday 25 May 2015

Khawr Rori in May

The monsoon season in Dhofar begins in the third week of June. However May is not particularly hotter than April because it is much cloudier overall.

On Friday morning I visited Khawr Rori and it very cloudy and dull. It actually made birding easier.

I started out in the north west wing of the Khawr that can be approached from the main road. 

slender-billed gull

I was watching a large group of over-summering slender-billed gull from the far bank.

yellow bittern

To my surprise, three adult yellow bittern flew directly across the water in front of them.

common moorhen

On my side of the water, a common moorhen suddenly decided to break cover.

young moorhen

To my left, an adult moorhen called for its young to break into the open water to cross to another bank.

As I walked back to the car, I came across a small number of little green-bee-eater though I could hear but not see blue-cheeked bee-eater.

little green bee-eater

I drove the car round to the front gate where one has to pay two Omani riyals to enter the main site which has archaeological ruins as well as being excellent for birds.

Mostly Caspian tern and sandwich tern

It started to brighten up which also meant higher temperatures. In the area near the permanent exhibit of two dhows were several terns. I also counted 17 grey heron in small groups scattered around.

Unfortunately part of the site which leads to the sandbar and seaward (southern) end of the khawr has been closed for work for two months. This meant my next move was pretty much forced. I walked northward from the dhows up the khawr.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

I finally found a blue-cheeked bee-eater which may have contributed to the sounds I had heard earlier.

There then followed a sequence of observations of exotic birds.

Over the water to the west of the bee-eater was a lone red-knobbed coot swimming.

red-knobbed coot

On the east bank was a very flighty flock of western reef heron.

African sacred ibis

However one was the flock was a different species. It was an African sacred ibis. it was not as flighty as the reef herons and seemed to be reluctant to move on every time they bolted. The long-staying African sacred ibis which was at East Khawr for 9 months until recently was very passive towards the end. Of course it may well be the same bird.

African sacred ibis in flight

At one stage the whole flock flew all the way towards the flamingo on west bank but at the southern end. This area is completely inaccessible at the moment with the works blocking off all access.

It was while looking towards the flamingo and their new associates (western reef heron and an African sacred ibis), I could just make out two pheasant-tailed jacana.

distant pheasant-tailed jacana

The huge permanent body of water at Khawr Rori is very unusual in Arabia and so it has such an unusual summer mix of birds. It is worth watching what happens as the summer progresses.

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