Saturday, 25 February 2017

Oman Day 8; Salalah & Jabal Sanham

East Khawr
This was our last full day in Dhofar, and we still had a number of species that we wanted to connect with. We started the day at East Khawr in the hope of seeing Cotton Pygmy Teal that we had missed on our previous visit. We were in luck, with 6 of them were showing well at the south end of the Khawr. Many of the other species we saw were the same as our previous visit, including the 3 Spur-winged Lapwing and the Long-toed Stint. Large numbers of herons could be seen coming out of the roost at the south end of the Khawr, with over 200 Cattle Egret and well over 50 Glossy Ibis flying north as we arrived. Species we encountered that we had not seen on our previous visit included a stunning Bluethroat, and an Alpine Swift being hunted by a Peregrine. The Peregrine/Swift chase scene was really something to watch, at one point the swift was nabbed by the Peregrine, but was subsequently dropped, allowing a rather tatty Alpine Swift to fly free.
-Alpine Swift & Peregrine
-Spur-winged Plover
-Citrine Wagtail
-Long-toed Stint
-Purple Heron
-Cotton Pygmy Teal

Species List:
East Khawr: Mallard, Sand Martin, Bluethroat, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Citrine Wagtail, Graceful Prinia, Great Reed Warbler, Alpine Swift, Peregrine, Purple Heron, Spur-winged Lapwing, Cotton Pygmy Teal*, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Squacco Heron, Greater Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Common Myna, Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Garganey, Swallow, Little Stint, Temmincks Stint, Long-toed Stint, Redshank, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Common Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Crested Lark, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, House Crow, Laughing Dove, Collared Dove, Heuglin’s Gull, Sooty Gull, Rüppell’s Weaver, Slender-billed Gull, Black-winged Stilt, Coot, Moorhen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Ferruginous Duck, 

Jarziz Farm
Our next stop was Jarziz Farm in Salalah itself. There were a large number of raptors soaring across the city, including Booted Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Greater Spotted Eagle. Once at the farm there continued to be decent numbers of raptors soaring, but the highlight was a perched up Oriental Honey Buzzard in the farm compound, and when the bird took off it flew low right over us. An awesome encounter! The farm had good numbers of very vocal Rose-coloured Starlings, as well as African Silverbills and Rüppell’s Weaver. We also had another Bluethroat briefly fly past us into cover, but we were unable to relocate it.
-Rose-coloured Starling
-Crested Honey Buzzard

Species List:
Jarziz Farm: Common Myna, Rose-coloured Starling, Rüppell’s Weaver, African Silverbill, Steppe Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bluethroat, White Wagtail, Laughing Dove, House Crow,

Raysut Sewage Farm
We headed back to the Sewage farm late morning in the hope of being able to find the large numbers of White Storks that the site is known for. As soon as we arrived we could see that there was a massive increase in the stork numbers, with over 200 birds present as well as large numbers of Cattle Egrets on the infrastructure of the facility. Unfortunately we were unable to locate any Abdim’s Storks.
There were also good numbers of waders around the edges of the ponds. Marsh Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint and Black-winged Stilt were all present, and there also singles of Red-wattled Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing and White-tailed Lapwing. The White-tailed Lapwing was flushed and went down out of sight for us, and we were unable to relocate it.
-Steppe Eagles
-Greater Spotted Eagle
-White-tailed Lapwing
-Glossy Ibis

Species List:
Raysut Sewage Farm: White Wagtail, Sykes’ Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, House Crow, Tawny Pipit, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, White-tailed Lapwing*, Red-wattled Lapwing, Spur-winged Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Redshank, Greenshank, White Stork, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Squacco Heron, Steppe Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Great Spotted Eagle, Greater Flamingo, Shoveler, Teal, Laughing Dove, Rock Dove, Collared Dove, Slender-billed Gull,

Jabal Samhan
After midday we returned to Jabal Samhan in the hope of improved visibility and Verreaux’s Eagle. The wind had dropped and the air was clear so we were optimistic that we would connect with this very desirable species. There was not an abundance of birdlife, with Fan-tailed Raven being the only species present, but the site itself was very impressive. It took half an hour before we picked out 2 Verreaux’s Eagles coming towards us along the cliff face. At first we were looking down on the birds as they flew below us, then they flew above us and then even landed on the cliff, all the while being mobbed by the ravens. They were with us for around 15 minutes before they continued flying down the cliff. An amazing birding experience to say the least! Even after the eagles had left and we were taking in what had just happened, a Barbary Falcon came and flew round us overhead.
-Verreaux's Eagle
-Verreaux's Eagle & Fan-tailed Raven
-Barbary Falcon

Species List:
Jabal Sanham: Common Kestrel, Fan-tailed Raven, Rock Martin, Barbary Falcon*, Verreaux's Eagle*, South Arabian Wheatear,

Salalah Nature Reserve 
Having connected with Verreaux’s earlier than expected meant we had a little more time to bird in the afternoon. We decided to have a look at Salalah Nature Reserve on the coast of the south side of the city. We did not really look at the wetland area of the reserve, more working the scrub on the seaward side. Here we had an adult Daurian Shrike, which was our first definite individual of this race. In the scrub itself there was a large flock of Pacific Golden Plover roosting, as well as Grey Plover roosting with them. A single Oriental Honey Buzzard flew overhead. The scrub was a great place for dragonflies, the highlight of which was a stunning adult male Phantom Flutterer.
-Daurian Shrike
-Coastal Glider
-Slender Skimmer
-Phantom Flutterer
-House Crow

Species List:
Salalah Nature Reserve: Pacific Golden Plover, Crested Lark, Northern Wheatear, House Crow, Moorhen, Orientail Honey Buzzard, Grey Plover, Greater Crested Tern, Heuglin’s Gull, Little Stint, Daurian Shrike*, Tawny Pipit, Phantom Flutterer, Slender Skimmer, Coastal Glider, Scarlet Darter, Black Percher

Al Baleed Archaeological Park
For the last hours of daylight we returned to the Archaeological Park. The Spotted Thick-knees were still present and showed well as the light dwindled. Once again there were large numbers of Pacific Golden Plover roosting on the ruins, not quite the 600+ that we’d seen on our way past earlier and on the riverbank there was again a large roost of Common Sandpiper. Indian Pond Heron and Great Reed Warbler were both present again. A juvenile Isabelline Shrike was a species we had not seen on our previous visit.
-Pacific Golden Plover

Species List:
Al Baleed Archaeological Park: Desert Wheatear, Common Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Great Reed Warbler, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier, Heuglin’s Gull, Isabelline Shrike, Indian Pond Heron, Spotted Thick-knee, Tristram’s Starling, Common Myna, House Crow, Little Grebe, Collared Dove, Greater Spotted Eagle,

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