Wednesday 10 June 2015

Waiting for the monsoon

Late May and earlier June is the time of year in Dhofar with least number of bird species. It has some special breeding species such as yellow bittern, grey-headed kingfisher, and Dideric cuckoo to compensate. I have seen all three in significant numbers in the past week.

Seeing something new is problematic though. Although the sea holds two or three regular species that I haven't seen, the water is already getting choppy and visibility is now quite poor even before the full monsoon has arrived.

So I have fallen back on visiting the fresh water bodies on the plain with only the faint hope of an African vagrant which can turn up with the monsoonal weather pattern. 

One of the fresh water bodies is Raysut settling pools. The site's long standing vagrant was still there.

spur-winged lapwing (l) and red-wattled lapwing (r)

The vagrant spur-winged lapwing is still inseparable from the one red-wattled lapwing which didn't leave in spring either.

flamingo at the settling pools

There are still 21 flamingo there too.

black-winged stilt

The only other waders were black-winged stilt.

Ruppell's weaver

Other notable birds were Ruppell's weaver and a single very late European roller.

European roller

Apart from the spur-winged lapwing,  the most interesting bird was arguably the tens of Forbes-Watson swift which started to gather overhead as the afternoon got cooler.

I have visited east Khawr three times in the past week. Twice was in the early morning and once was in the late afternoon.

This morning was there very early and counted no fewer than eight (8) yellow bittern. Other common birds are glossy ibis (and one African sacred ibis), squacco heron and, common moorhen.

Otherwise, there has been a steady stream of late and over-summering waders.

These include a small number of greenshank and two grey plover.


Only on one occasion did I see a single redshank. Terek sandpiper has been a little more regular.


There are at least 20 squacco heron on site and several are in breeding plumage with there blue bills and some have pink legs too.

Squacco heron

On two occasions at East Khawr (Khawr Dahariz) including this morning there have been a lone and very late blue-cheeked bee-eater. The resident little green-bee-eater are fairly numerous.

Little green bee-eater

At the end of last week, I did one last sea-watch in the Janjari area before the sea became rough and misty.

Sooty gull

I saw plenty of masked booby and three more flesh-footed shearwater but I have yet to see the supposedly common Persian shearwater and Jouanin petrel.

This trip cost me two flat tyres. Coupling this with the sea condition, I am prepared to wait until October when a local contact's new boat will be ready for pelagic trips.


Khawr Taqah has been another place I have visited. Notable birds were three sanderling and a curlew sandpiper, all on the way towards breeding plumage.

Curlew sandpiper

Both at Khawr Taqah and East Khawr, I have seen ringed plover in the last week.

Ringed plover

Yesterday I took a trip to Mughsail. There were the least birds I have seen there. A few moorhen, a little grebe, a reef heron and three grey heron were all I saw in the large freshwater pool.

great crested tern

The grey heron relocated to the beach where sooty gull and great crested tern were positioned in large numbers.

You can see the power of sea in the picture. Those waves are very close to the shore. I am hoping this power will deliver a vagrant or two before I leave for the summer.

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