Thursday 30 June 2016

Khawr Rori in the khareef

The weather is now dull, grey and drizzly on the coast near Salalah. In the hills there is near constant rain. The khareef season with its low temperatures has arrived. The temperature drop makes birding so much easier.

I managed to free up an afternoon yesterday to go birding. This was my first session since the monsoon appeared. I went to Khawr Rori starting at the north west corner which has the most extensive reeds.

I had an very good start, spotting a pied cuckoo within minutes of arriving. It was in the bushes a few metres away from the reeds.

pied cuckoo

This species is a passage bird here, travelling from Africa to India where it is sometimes known as the monsoon bird because it comes to them then.

I soon lost sight of it and started developing my original plan which was to search the reeds for anything unusuusal.


I found large numbers of common moorhen of all ages.

young moorhen

The odd Ruppell's weaver was darting in and out. I managed to accidentally flush two yellow bittern.

black-crowned night heron

Through a gap in the reeds, I managed to spy an adult black-crowned night heron which is not all common here in summer.

Having walked on the left hand side of the reeds i eventually came out at the north west corner of the vast expanse of water that is the lake at Khawr Rori.

I was surprised that all six of the terns flying here were sandwich tern.

pale morph western reef heron

On a tree overhanging the water were several western reef heron and two squacco heron.

squacco heron

Both main morphs of western reef heron were present.

dark morph western reef heron

Over the other side of the water, some somthing suddenly spooked the twenty or so grey heron from the hillside.

pied cuckoo again

As walked on past the overhanging tree, I was quick witted enough to notice the pied cuckoo in the next tree and I hadn't flushed it. I presume it was the same bird I had seen 30 minutes before.

pied cuckoo

I steathily stepped slowly towards it. It was unmoved.

yellow bittern

I was late realising there was a yellow bittern in the same dead tree.

yellow bittern

My gaze was only deflected when a third and four bird flew and perched in the same tree.A common myna was nothing special and the other bird momentarily was a blackstart. Nevertheless breifly there was quite a collection of single birds.

common myna

I haven't had such prolonged and close views of a yellow bittern before anywhere.

yellow bittern

When I began to retrace my steps I was very soon aware of a calling dideric cuckoo. Following the call and it was easily found. 

dideric cuckoo

Moments later a male Rueppell's weaver was chasing it away after it had started roaming.

graceful prinia

Graceful prinia are a constantly calling in this area but I don't see anywhere near as many as I making the sounds. In this picture I inadvertantly captured some sort of wasp in flight too.

little green bee-eater

On the way back to the car, I came across three little green bee-eater and a second dideric cuckoo.

Dideric cuckoo

Once in the car, I travelled through the two riyal entrance into the main part of Khawr Rori. Large numbers of slender-billed gull and sooty gull were sheltering from the rough sea. The state of the sea probably explains why the sandwich tern were fishing in the lake.

Flamingo and great crested tern were also numerous. A single gull-billed tern and two common tern added to the tern make-up.

glossy ibis

Other larger birds included a flock of glossy ibis.

reef heron plus three intermediate egret

Khawr Rori is the place in Dhofar to see over-summering intermediate egret.

young spotted redshank

While there were a few common redshank and common greenshank, this one tringa wader was a bit tricky to identify. It is probably a very young spotted redshank or possibly common redshank. Either way it is most unusual for such a young bird to be as far south as Salalah before July has even started.

slender-billed gull with black-tailed godwit and a stilt

The other waders were either the resident black-winged stilt or black-tailed godwit. Six black-tailed godwit was a surprisingly high number.

As the gloom got heavily, I packed up for the day but I was very satisfied with the session.

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