Wednesday 27 May 2015

Mirbat and Taqah

When birders go to the Mirbat and Taqah areas east of Salalah, they usually go for the sea birds or other water birds. There is good sea watching off the coast such as at Ras Janjari. There are also good sea birds on Taqah beach and a wide variety of water birds at Khawr Taqah.

Khawr Rori is also situated between Taqah and Mirbat and is arguably the best place for diversity of water birds in Dhofar.

On Tuesday evening I went to Mirbat for a different reason. I went with local wildlife enthusiast Saeed Shanfari in search of little owl.

Thanks to Saeed I saw one north of Mirbat and also observed several roosts that the species clearly uses as proved by the droppings left behind. The inland location is almost inaccessible except with a 4x4 with high clearance but Saeed knew where to go.

little owl

Little owl became bird 282 on my Oman list and indeed it was the first one I have seen in the Gulf. The bird was not particularly pale. It didn't look like the standard lilith owl as the main desert sub species is often called. It had a gingery hue.

a mountain gazelle

Near-by we twice came across two mountain gazelle. Indeed the Mirbat area was the place I had previously seen this species.

Birds other than little owl were very few except for a flock of sand partridge and two blackstart.

a second mountain gazelle

In a more usual visit to the area, I had gone to Taqah three days before. The beach is good for terns and gulls all year round.

The most abundant residents are sooty gull and great crested tern.

sooty gull, great crested tern and marsh tern

At different times of year there are always other terns and gulls which vary with the month. Marsh terns are most common in winter though the bird behind the great crested tern is probably one. White winged tern looks a good fit.

little tern

Both Saunders's tern and little tern are found. despite the above birds dull legs and bill, it's head pattern is a much better fit for little tern.

Sandwich tern

Neither sandwich tern or lesser crested tern breed this far south but a significant number over-summer here.

lesser crested tern

A short detour to Khawr Taqah provided me with views of European spoonbill. Western reef heron are normally found next to the sea but seem to be equally at home with coastal freshwater sites such as the Khawr.

western reef heron with European spoonbill

The two most common resident waders in Dhofar are black-winged stilt and Kentish plover.

Kentish plover chick

There are plenty of Kentish plover chicks running around the Dhofar coast at the moment.

Terek sandpiper

Very few passage waders are still present although Terek sandpiper is often among the last as I used to find when I birded out of Riyadh.

It is a very busy week at work and birding apart from the trip to Mirbat has been restricted to very local sites within the city. Jarziz farm is one of closest and is being visited as frequently as time permits. I will give a round up of those visits in the next blog.

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