omtrip3

Trip Report

Sultanate of Oman

10 - 23 November 2001

This trip was a Destination Nature – Guillemont Tour. The international flights was with Lufthansa from Paris to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Muscat. The domestic flight Muscat - Salalah by Oman Air. We rent three 4x2 cars and, for 4 days, two 4x2.

Driving is easy but in Muscat area. There was no control by police or army. Range of accommodations is great, but there is few camp sites. The food is safe and there is numerous restaurants, cafés and small shops.

Books

Birdwatching guide to Oman, H. & J. Eriksen, P. & D. Sargeant, Al Roya Publishing. (October 2001). Numerous sites with maps and pictures. Species list. Very useful !.
Oman Bird List, Edition 5. J. Eriksen & D. E. Sargeant. Bird list. Good.
Whales and Dolphins along the coast of Oman, R. Baldwin & R. Salm.
Snakes of the Arabian Gulf and Oman, M. Gallagher.
Field guide to the birds of the Middle East, R.F. Porter, S. Christensen & P. Schiermacker-Hansen.

Itinerary
Number in brackets (SITE # X) are number of sites in the table.

10 November 2001.

The day starts by a walk near the hotel, near Muscat : (SITE # 1). Common Mynas, Purple Sunbird, House Crow and Indian Roller are the first species seen ( and the … House Sparrow). Numerous Ring-necked Parakeets flight over the city.

At 8 a.m., go to Sunub Waste Disposal Site (SITE # 2), astonishing ! More than 100 Egyptian Vultures and Steppe Eagles about twelve Lappet-faced Vulturesand Imperial Eagles, some Greater Spotted Eagles (onefulvescens). Also seen Red-tailed Wheatear, Long-billed Pipit and House Bunting

We start at 11 a.m. to Al Ansab Lagoons (SITE # 3). We saw Red-wattled and White-tailed Plovers, two Isabelline Shrikes, one Jack Snipe, almost thirty Citrine Wagtails and third Grey Francolins (+ Whiskered and White-winged Black Terns, Marsh Sandpipers, Spotted and Baillon’s Crakes, numerous Graceful Prinias...

11 November 2001.

In front of the hotel, on a telecom tower, a Barbary Falcon is heating a Laughing Dove ! New stop at Al Ansab Lagoons (SITE # 3) where almost 200 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses are seen drinking ! Unexpected, 6 Greylag Geese arrive (last recorded in Nov. 1996).

Go to North-East of Oman. Stop in Qurayyat area, at the Waste Disposal Site (SITE # 4)… About 10 Black Storks … in fact are oiled White Storks ! Tens of Egyptian Vultures, some Eagles (Greater spotted, Imperial), our first (but not the last !) Desert Wheatear. Not far, we saw also (SITE # 5), 3 Black-crowned Finch Larks, a flock of Arabian Babblers and a one Desert Lesser

A short stop at Daghmar beach (SITE # 6) : 2 Lesser Sand Plovers and 4 Greater Sand Plovers, some Bridled Terns and numerous Swift Terns flight over the sea.

Go to Sur. En route, near Tiwi, we saw an Amur Falcon, a species rare in the North of Oman.

12 November 2001.
Our hotel is on the Sur beach (SITE # 7). We saw our first Sooty Gulls (a very common species). In the trees, in front of the hotel, 3 or 4 Siberian Chiffchaff are catching insects. In the Sur harbour, numerous Gulls (« Siberian » Lesser Black-backed and « Caspian » Yellow- legged), and also 3 Lesser Crested Terns and some Slender-billed Gulls.

Our next stop is Khawr Jirama (SITE # 8) where we saw 3 Crab Plovers, about 10 Terek Sandpipers, only one Broad-billed Sandpiper andnumerous other waders and herons. A Saker Falcon flies and an Amur Falcon is catching preys. A young Indian Pond Heron flies over the mangrove like two Ospreys (a common species) and one Greater Spotted Eagle.

Second stop at Ras al Hadd and the surroundings (SITE # 9), nothing very exiting but our first Desert Warblers.Evening at the Sur Lagoons (SITE # 10), this site is not in Birdwatching guide to Oman. Drive the road to the industrial complex and turn right on a gravel road just before the road arrives at the small hill. The lagoons are seen from the road. We saw an Abdim’s Stork, numerous ducks and waders, some Flamingos, 5 White-fronted Geese and… one Starling. At night, about 25 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses arrive to drink.

13 November 2001.

Second stop at the Sur lagoons. Hundreds of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses come to drink … A Peregrine Falcon catches a Black-necked Grebe ! We saw also a Quail, a Baillon’s Crake, some Red-throated Pipits, Bluethroats, waders and Egyptian Vultures.On the side of the Sur lagoon, a Striated Heron on the rocks.Next stop near Ras al Hadd. Very good to day:a Desert Eagle Owl in a tree, first (and last !) Hoopoe Lark, first Isabelline Wheatear, a Hooded Wheatear, numerous Desert Larks, 6 Desert Warblers, numerous Desert Wheatears, a Desert Lesser Whitethroat, two Southern Grey Shrikes (aucheri), etc.

We go to Ras al Khabbat (SITE # 11), sea-watching hot spot in Oman. En route, we saw an Amur Falcon (male) near al Daffah. In front of the cliff, 4 Red-billed Tropicbirds, one Great Black-headed Gull (immature), a young Saker Falcon. At sea, some Persian Shearwaters, about 20 Pomarine Skuas, tens of Swift Terns and some Sandwich Terns. Very numerous gulls fly to their roost,90 % are Sooty Gulls.Night at Ras al Jinz camp site. Sea Turtles come to the beach to lay.

14 November 2001.

Early morning we go to Muscat (about 300 km). Stop near the Sur “lagune” where there is thousands of birds. About 400 Slender-billed Gulls but also 2 Great Black-headed Gulls, 3 Spoonbills, more than 60 Lesser Crested Terns, 80 Swift Terns, Caspian Terns, Whinbrels and 1 Common Gull (only the second forOman).Between Sur and Muscat, in the desert we saw some Egyptian Vultures, one Steppe Eagle and numerous Brown-necked Ravens.Evening at Al Ansab Lagoons (SITE # 3). We heard and see some Clamorous Reed Warblers. A flock of about 20 Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouses comes to drink.

15 November 2001.

Before the flight to Salalah, walk in the Al Qurm Park (SITE # 12). Some waders(4 Pacific Golden Plovers), ducks and passerines (2 Yellow-throated Sparrows, 2 White-cheecked Bulbuls, 1 Red-vented Bulbul.Last stop at Sunub Waste Disposal Site (SITE # 2), always numerous raptors (1 Griffon Vulture).Arriving in Salalah, a flock of 14 Blue-cheecked Bee-eaters above our hotel (SITE 13) !

16 November 2001.

At the Khawr ad Dahariz or « East Khawr » (SITE # 14), we saw some species of ducks and waders, one Red-knobbed Coot, one Purple Heron, one Glossy Ibis, one Squacco Heron and un Indian Pond Heron. In the bushes, , numerous African Silverbills, some Rüppell’s Weavers and Shining Sunbirds, On the beach, about 300 Sanderlings, tens of Dunlins, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, etc. At sea, our first Masked Boobies and one young Brown Booby. Some Persian Shearwaters, more than 100 Whiskered Terns, tens of Swift Terns and hundreds of Sooty Gulls. Some raptors, one Short-toed Eagle, one Long-legged Buzzard and 2 Ospreys. Leaving the khawr, we saw about 200 White Storks flying. We saw also a Swift like Pallid Swift, provisionally named Dhofar Swift.

In the evening, we go to Wadi Ayn Sahnawt (SITE # 15). Numerous raptors are present: one adult Verreaux’s Eagle chased by a pair of Bonelli’s Eagles, 3 Imperial Eagles, one Steppe Eagles, one Peregrine Falcon, Lesser Kestrel. Passerines are good also ! Two Blackstarts, 2 Arabian Warblers, 6 White-breasted White-eyes, about 50 Fan-tailed Ravens, almost 10 African Rock Buntings and twelve Tristram’s Grackles, some African Rock Martins or Yellow-vented Bulbuls. Our first African Paradise Flycatcher (a common species in the Dhofar). In the town, small flocks of Rose-coloured Starlings, one European Roller, 1 Hobby, 1 Amur Falcon and two Common Swifts. Ring-necked Parakeet is common.

17 November 2001.

Flying over the town, a flock of 33 Glossy Ibis

Morning at Khawr Sawli (SITE # 16). Good views on 2 Little Bittern, one Yellow Bittern, 2 Squacco Herons, one Little Crake and two Baillon’s Crakes. On the water, 3 Cotton Teals and about 10 Ferruginous Ducks. On the mud banks, numerous herons (4 Intermediate Egrets this species is not common), numerous waders, 1 Pintail Snipe and 6 Glossy Ibis. In the bushes, one Wryneck, one Ménétries’s Warbler and one Grey-bellied Cuckoo (the second for Oman!). In the sky, one Little Swift, a rare bird in Oman. Raptors are numerous (Greater Spotted Eagle, Saker Falcon, Montagu’s Harrier, Osprey and a young Pallid Harrier catching a Desert Wheatear ! Tens of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses come to drink…

Afternoon at Jarziz Farm, near Salalah (SITE # 17). Numerous species of raptors Black Kite (yellow billed), Short-toed Eagle, four species of harriers, Long-legged Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle (one fulvescens), Steppe Eagles, Imperial Eagle, one Booted Eagle (light form), Osprey, Kestrel, Hobby.There are also some waders (4 Sociable Plovers), numerous Singing Bush Larks, some Red-throated Pipits and numerous White and Yellow Wagtails.

In the palm grove, one Grey-headed Kingfisher and, a Corncrake !

18 November 2001.

Above our hotel, one Pallid Swift and two Crag Martins are catching insects…

All the morning at Ayn Razat (SITE # 18). In the fig trees, we saw 6 Bruce’s Green Pigeons sleeping. In the forest along the small river, some Palestine Sunbirds, a small species, one Red-breasted Flycatcher. Here, the more common species are Yellow-vented Bulbul and African Paradise Flycatcher. Good observation of a Psammophis schokari, a long andslender tree snake harassed by Bulbuls and White-eyes. In the arid wadi, we saw some South Arabian Wheatears, one young Blue Rock Thrush and numerous Desert Wheatears, Tristram’s Grackles and African Rock Buntings. A big group (more than 25 birds) of Arabian Partridges on the rocks with some Dassies.

Always numerous raptors…one adult and 2 young Imperial Eagles, one Short-toed Eagle, 2 adults, un immature and 2 juveniles Bonelli’s Eagle, a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles, one Sparrowhawk and 4 Lesser Kestrels. At 16 p.m, a Crested Honey Buzzard arrives… we saw this rare bird a long time, flying and perching not far !

Afternoon at Khawr Taqah (SITE # 19), long Khawr, with reed beds and mud. Numerous waders (2 Long-toed Stints and 4 Jack Snipes), one Spotted and 2 Baillon’s Crakes, one Bluethroat and one Clamorous Reed Warbler. About one hundred Yellow Wagtails (with thunbergi and beema). Some ducks (one Cotton Teal)… and … numerous raptors...

19 November 2001.

This morning, we go to South. First stop near the Raysut harbour (SITE # 20). Thousands of gulls, the more common is Sooty Gull ; there are also some Yellow-legged (Larus (cachinnans) barabensis).In front of the Al Maghsayl beach (SITE # 21), 17 Socotra Cormorants are fishing between Dolphins (Sousa chinensis). No far, on the Khawr, 16 White-fronted Geese, 12 Spoonbills, one Pacific Golden Plover, some Long-toed Stints and 3 Glossy Ibis...

Around, in the desert, some Tawny Pipits, one Steppe Grey Shrike and some Desert Wheatears. One Greater Spotted Eagle is catching a Grey Heron…A pair of Bonelli’s Eagles near the cliff…Afternoon in the arid Wadi about 10 km upstream (SITE # 22). We saw some wheatears (Isabelline, Desert, South Arabian), one Arabian Warbler, 2 Desert Warblers and some Desert Larks… At night, we heard (but did not see) one Bruce’s Tawny Owl

20 November 2001.

We go to Mirbat (about 60 km East of Salalah) to see sea birds… (SITE # 23). Good morning with 3 Socotra Cormorants, about 10 Persian Shearwaters, 15 Pale-footed Shearwaters and 40 Masked Boobies. We saw also more than 200 Common Dolphins ! In front of the rocky coast, numerous Sooty Gulls are fishing.

In the evening, we go to Tawi Atayr (SITE # 24), only site in Oman where breeds the Yemen Serin. We saw 6 or 7. There is also a beautiful adult Bonelli’s Eagle.

21 November 2001.

To day, long time at the Khawr Rawri (SITE # 25) where we’ll see about 120 species !The day starts with 2 Indian Pond Herons together with 5 Squacco Herons… There are also one Cotton Teal, two Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, 2 Ferruginous Ducks, one Intermediate Egret and a group of 19 White-fronted Geese. On the mud, some waders (2 Long-toed Stints and one Jack Snipe). In the bushes, one Rufous Bush Robin, one Desert Warbler, 3 Desert Lesser Whitethroats, one Arabian Warbler, one Ménétries’s Warbler, one Jacobin Cuckoo, one Barred Warbler, one Cinnamon Least Bittern, one Lesser Spotted Eagle, one Richard’s Pipit and one Pintail Snipe.

Afternoon at Ayn Hamran (SITE # 26). Here, we saw our first Black-crowned Tchagras, one Spotted Eagle Owl and, at night, one Egyptian Nightjar. There are also one Masked Shrike, one Olivaceous Warbler and one Namaqua Dove.

22 November 2001.

Back to Ayn Hamran early in the morning… 3 adults and 5 young Arabian Partridges and one Shikra are seen. At the paved pool edge a male of Little Bittern is catching Dragonflies... The Laughing Doves are verynumerous like African Rock Buntings, African Silverbills and Rüppell’s Weavers.A short stop at Wadi Hanna (SITE # 27) produces 2 Lappet-faced Vultures.In a small Khawr East ofSalalah (SITE # 28), we saw an adult Striated Heron and an Isabelline Shrike.Late Evening at East Khawr, where a Peregrine Falcon is eating a Whiskered Tern ! At Khawr Taqah there are 3 Little Pratincoles.

23 November 2001.

Back to Khawr Taqah. The same species are seen (two very tame Baillon’s Crakes) + one Lesser Spotted Eagle, one Pheasant-tailed Jacana and a Caspian Plover ! Two Flamingos with Iranian ring.A short walk near the Salalah Farms procures a Grey-headed Kingfisher, about 20 Ring-necked Parakeet, 3 Booted Eagles and a Yellow-billed Black Kite.Evening at the Jarziz Farm: 3 Sociable Plovers, hundreds of Collared Doves, about 100 Rose-coloured Starlings (and 1 Starling!).We leave Salalah at 10 p.m. to Muscat, Frankfort and Roissy where we arrive the 24 November at 9 a.m..

The best sites : Sunub Waste Disposal Site (SITE # 2), Sur area (SITES # 7 and 10), Khawr Jirama (SITE # 8), Khawr Sawli (SITE # 16), Jarziz Farm (SITE # 17), Ayn Razat (SITE # 18), Khawr Taqah (SITE # 19) and Khawr Rawri (SITE # 25).

Georges Olioso, le Mail, F-26230 Grignan (France), georges.olioso@wanadoo.fr