Thursday 21 April 2016

Khawr Rori in April

I visited Khawr Rori mid-week. The number of birds is down from the mid winter highs but the number of species isn't. I saw 49.

I saw only one bird in the case of several species.

red-knobbed coot

One of these was red-knobbed coot. They are supposed to have red knobs only when breeding yet I have not seen one without at any time of year among the small group of Dhofari birds.

eastern cattle egret

Another was an eastern cattle egret. This species is still currently classified as a vagrant. However it is recognised as over-looked and now is the time when they are easier to distinguish from western cattle egret. In breeding plumage the orange-buff wash extends to the cheeks and down the throat in the eastern birds. The bird above is not quite as conclusive as two seen at east Khar last week but I am fairly confident. Actually I think a significant proportion of the few remaining cattle egret near Salalah are eastern.


A few ducks have remained too. They are teal and garganey.

As well as the main body of water, I had time to go round to the north west corner where there are reed beds and trees.

young common moorhen

There is a lot of evidence that the moorhen there have already bred. However it was more exotic species that caught the eye. Yellow bittern were flying around continually. Also for the first time this summer I observed that some of the Forbes-Watson swift are back. They breed on cliffs either side of Khawr Rori on the coast.

some black-crowned night heron

I counted 41 black-crowned night heron making a move over the reed beds about half an hour before dusk.

the last of the black-crowned night heron

In a corner of the reeds were three little egret. They are very similar to western reef heron in winter though with good and prolonged views they can be separated structurally. In spring it is easier.

The all dark bill is distinctive.

little egret

In my opinion, this is a classic case of the splitters ruling the birding world. These birds are only separated by 0.2% of DNA. They hybridise in some colonies in the far south of Europe and indeed in most places where the breeding ranges meet. All that needs to be proved is that the hybrids are fertile then surely the case for lumping would be over-whelming.. but I doubt it would happen.

little green bee-eater

I could hear blue-cheeked bee-eater all the time I was next to the reeds. Yet I could not see them. I went to walk towards the sound. On the way I actually found a little green bee-eater and then a great reed warbler up a tree. 

blue-cheeked bee-eater

Both the blue-cheeked bee-eater and the great reed warbler are signs of passage. I can't wait for Friday's desert trip. I have high hopes.

Birds seen at Khawr Rori on April 19th
Common Teal 2
Garganey 3
Arabian Partridge 2
Greater Flamingo 24
Yellow Bittern 2
Intermediate Egret 3
Little Egret 3
Western Reef-Heron 5
Eastern Cattle Egret 1   
Squacco Heron 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron 42
Glossy Ibis 4
Eurasian Spoonbill 1
Osprey 1
Common Moorhen 25
Red-knobbed Coot 1   
Black-winged Stilt 13
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 2
Common Sandpiper 1
Common Greenshank 2
Wood Sandpiper 14
Common Redshank 2
Black-tailed Godwit 2
Common Snipe 1
Slender-billed Gull 3
Black-headed Gull 8
Sooty Gull 5
Heuglin's Gull 2
Gull-billed Tern 3
Caspian Tern 5
White-winged Tern 3
Whiskered Tern 12
Eurasian Collared-Dove 7
Laughing Dove 14
Forbes-Watson's Swift 5
Green Bee-eater 2
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater  2
Red-tailed Shrike  2
Crested Lark  8
Barn Swallow  2
White-spectacled Bulbul  9
Great Reed-Warbler  1
Clamorous Reed-Warbler  3
Graceful Prinia  4
Rufous-tailed Scrub-Robin  2
Blackstart  1
Common Myna 2
Tristram's Starling 5
Ruppell's Weaver 35

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