Tuesday 16 June 2015

Mid June in Salalah

At times at the moment it is now cool but at other times it is very hot. It depends on whether the mists come down. Soon the mists will be permanent for three months during the khareef season.

As I drove to Khawr Rori yesterday afternoon, out of Taqah the mists came down and the temperatures suddenly became good for birding.

Furthermore, the seas were rough and the wind from SSW was strong so many of the birds which normal stay on the west side of the lagoon at Khawr Rori had moved to the more sheltered north east side. This part of the khawr allows the easiest and best views.

The khawr was crowded too. Many sooty gull and more terns than usual were making use of the calmer environment.

adult breeding pheasant-tailed jacana

For the first time this summer I managed good views of the pheasant-tailed jacana. At one stage two were very close to each other. One was a breeding adult which I presume was female as it was so bright. The females are the more brightly coloured birds.

non-breeding pheasant-tailed jacana

The second bird looked like a non-breeding adult. Near-by were twenty grey heron.

African sacred ibis

I checked the four spoonbill and all were European. African spoonbill is a known vagrant. An African sacred ibis was associating with them. This may be the same bird which has usually been at East Khawr for the past year.

great crested tern and sandwich tern

Near the two dhow exhibits at the khawr were plenty of resting terns and gulls. At the time of year along the coast the large majority are great crested tern and sooty gull. However in the khawrs and especially the largest, Khawr Rori there is more variety. Here were several sandwich tern.

sandwich tern in summer plumage

There were also many common tern, Caspian tern, non-breeding white-winged black tern and at least two whiskered tern. At least one of common tern  was of the eastern sub-species minussensis.Thanks to Tommy Pedersen for help with identification.

common tern (minussensis)

There were approaching one hundred over-summering immature slender-billed gull.

Caspian gull with two Caspian tern

There was at least one over-summering large white-headed gull too seen above just finishing off a fish meal.

Caspian gull with Caspian tern

It is most like a second summer Caspian gull with some retardation of plumage though steppe gull apparently cannot be ruled out according to experts consulted.

Other birds of note in the north east corner included a northern pintail.


After a long look in the north east corner, I moved on to the sand bar in the south. Here were several black-winged stilt, two oystercatcher and a male cotton pygmy goose.

However by far the most interesting event on the sand bar was a very large turtle making its way back to sea from the fresh water lagoon. I understand it is a loggerhead turtle and I am very privileged to see one on land.

loggerhead turtle 

The turtle appeared perfectly healthy but the sea it was returning to was very rough.

close up of loggerhead turtle


After a while on the almost deserted west bank, I returned to the north east corner for a short stop. The only different bird I hadn't picked up the first time was a redshank.

In other news, yesterday morning I made a short stop at East Khawr before work. This was where I had recently seen a large flock of beached immature white winged black tern. Although there were no longer present there was an adult in full breeding plumage. This is an unusual sight down here.

adult white-winged black tern

There were three gull-billed tern which was tern not seen later in the day at Khawr Rori.

gull billed tern at Khawr Rori

To complete my review of mid June on the coast near Salalah, I visited both Sawnout farm and Jarziz farm on Sunday evening.

shining sunbird at Sawnout farm

Once again the much larger Sawnout farm had much less of interest than Jarziz farm.

It was once again worth the effort to get into the farm which is increasingly difficult to approach through a major building site.

The vagrant Eleonora's falcon was still present and was very confiding this time.

Eleonora's falcon 1

It flew from the pivot bar to a telegraph wire where it gave very good views indeed.

Eleonora's falcon 2

There was once again another Amur falcon present. I believe it was different from those seen two days before as one eye was slightly damaged which was feature no seen on the previous female.

Amur falcon 1

As I have said before, Jarziz farm in May and adjacent times is the best place in Arabia to almost guarantee seeing Amur falcon.

Amur falcon 2

As I was checking whether there was another way out of the farm rather than the drive through a very dusty building site, I came across a way to the edge of Dhofar Cattle Feed Company. This is actually an other farm albeit with small fields. I now have a third farm to view within the city and it was there all the time. The main entrance is closed to visitors but the side way in is to a road which goes round the edge. Importantly there are clear views and no fences.

singing bush lark at the cattle feed company

The hedges round the feed company held house sparrow. This is a rare bird in the city. You certainly won't find them on houses.

house sparrow at the cattle feed company

Provided the entrance to Jarziz farm stays open I will certainly be visiting the near-by Dhofar Cattle feed Company as well in future.


  1. Hi Rob - looks like a nice day out!
    Looking at your putative White-cheeked Tern, I think it might be a Common Tern (Eastern), of the subspecies minussensis. I photographed several minussensis at Khawr Rawri last week.

    Have a look here:

  2. Tommy, I had trouble with this ID. How you have solved my mystery. I will rewrite this section. Thanks. Rob