Thursday 4 June 2015

Early June in coastal Salalah

Yesterday, I had time to visit Jarziz farm early in the morning and Khawr Rori in late afternoon. Both are coastal locations and at sea level. 

The visit to Jarziz farm was very short lasting no more than 20 minutes. I went there solely to look for falcons. From April 28th until May 30th there were always Amur falcon every time I went. On May 31st there were finally none.

Yesterday, June 3rd there was one again. This was the 32nd one I have seen there this spring. Its about as guaranteed location as it can get.

I have also been looking for sooty falcon on passage but have seen none.

Amur falcon 1

This bird was a female. It was very tame and allowed me closer than any of the previous 31 birds.

Amur falcon 2

I have seen a lot of variation in the individual birds. This one for example has a longer moustache than most others.

Amur falcon 3

Otherwise, the most eventful sighting while there was a fly-over of about 60 chestnut-bellied sandgrouse heading north out of the farm. I wonder if they were off for their morning drink.

In the afternoon, I headed to Khawr Rori with friends and work colleagues, Michael Immel and Paul Leslie.

mixed terns and gulls

Near the ornamental dhows is always a good place to start. This time there were tens of gulls and terns. The highest number were great crested tern and slender-billed gull. However there were several Caspian tern, Sooty gull and sandwich tern along with smaller numbers of Saunders's tern, white-cheeked tern and whiskered tern. There was also one western reef heron.

Sandwich tern (l), Caspian tern (back), great crested tern (front)

Keeping a wary distance over the water were several grey heron.

We walked north along the eastern bank where there is a marshy area.

female garganey

Here were several black-winged stilt, more western reef heron, moorhen and a female garganey. Four pheasant-tailed jacana weren't seen until flushed and they flew the length of the khawr to the southern part of the west side where there are low lying reeds.

Michael and I elected to go look over that side. This involved driving the car to the sandbar at the southern end of the khawr and walking the rest. 

Crossing the sandbar I saw three black-tailed godwit. When I finally reached the place the pheasant-tailed jacana had gone to there was plenty of other bird activity. Ten flamingo were out wading in the deeper water. Eight little grebe were swimming together including several young birds.

little grebe

An over-summering male pintail was swimming around.

male pintail

The pheasant-tailed jacana were very flighty. They flew off as soon as I arrived near-by despite my stealth. Luckily this time they flew only a short distance.

two pheasant-tailed jacana

The female is the brighter coloured bird and can be polyandrous although it looked to me as if there were only pairs at Khawr Rori.

female pheasant-tailed jacana (left)

Khawr Rori closes at 6pm so we started to make our way back to the car in good time. On the way, we were following a whimbrel that flushed towards the sand bar.


As we got close to it, it flushed again on to the beach. It was there that I got lucky.

record shot of brown noddy

A dark brown bird flew around the beach and on to the near-by sea.  Both Michael and I got pictures but the sun was waning and behind a late afternoon cloud giving poor light.

record shot of brown noddy by Michael Immel

Nevertheless, I have consulted and found that it was a brown noddy albeit a well-worn and faded one. I particularly thank Andrew Bailey in UAE for his help in identification. 

Brown noddy has been reported in this bay before but it's not common for a brown noddy to come to a mainland.

It became bird 285 on my country list and was totally unexpected.

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