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Oman Day 3 Khawi Taqah and Khawi Sawli

29th January 2023

What a day!!! So many highlight Including this stonking summer plumage Great Black-headed Gull at Khawi Sawli with some 5000 gulls!

As it turned out to be an incredible day, there are quite a few photos to go through below and I’m warning you, there’s gulls! I was out of my digs at 07.30 and drove out east. The idea was to bird Ayn Hamran to the north but I missed the turning and ended up at Khawi Taqha instead. Last time I was here, four year ago, I was hoping for a Yellow Bittern. As I was at Taqha now, I might as well give a crack again at the bittern. Ain’t it funny how things work out if you end up somewhere where you didn’t want to go to. So many times today this happened and it proved to be the right move every time including covering Khawi Taqha instead of my original destination.

As I drove onto the plain, there were 5 Marsh Harrier dancing around and as a result they kicked up 4 Purple Heron, 2 Snipe, 2 Crested Lark, 2 Citrine Wagtail and 3 Richard’s Pipit. Out of the car, I kicked through the reeds to scan from the waters edge but it was no good as the groud was giving way to easily and I was sinking in parts. I did flush a Bluethroat, got some pics of an Isabeline Shrike and through a gap in the reeds I could see a Red-wattled Plover. I returned to car and spotted a male harrier sp in the distance and immediately got my bins on it. Pallid Harrier! This was followed by a single Great Spotted Eagle, that landed on the border with the reeds and 2 Imperial Eagle flew through. While dots in the blue sky, turned out to 2 Steppe and a single Booted Eagle. Hirindines over the water included 5 Rock Martin and 2 Swallow and in the far SW of the plain was a Red-tailed Shrike. On the plain itself was a flock of 60 Pacific Golden Plover which were all put up by 2 Osprey. A scan on beach produced 17 Kentish Plover and nearby at the river mouth were a mix of 40 Little and 30 Timmink’s stint, 100 Sanderling, 8 Ringed Plover and a single Curlew Sandpiper. Cracking morning and it was time to go and have look at the area where I was meant to be goin to. But not until I’ve looked at Taqa Park just around the corner from Khawi Taqha.

There up to 5 Marsh Harrier quartering the area

Greater Spotted Eagle

All 4 Purple Heron were adults

The only other male Pallid Harrier that I’ve seen, is a male in Egypt and also 2 ring-tails back home on Scilly. So this was a bonus although it was distant.

2 impressive Imperial Eagle took off from the nearby beach.

5 Rock Martin were hawking over the water

Western Reef Heron distantly with a Red-wattled Plover

On the plain were up to 60 Pacific Golden Plover

This Curlew Sandpiper was hanging out with the stints and 100 Sanderling

Temmink’s and Little Stint sharing the bank together

I gave it half an hour in the park and got a few Syke’s Wagtail, Ruppel’s Weaver and 2 Fan-tailed Raven. However, 2 Arabian Bee-eater kept me entertained and showed off superbly at close range.

Also male and female Palestine Sunbird

Leaving the park, I headed towards Ayn Hamran but was distracted when I saw a small pond to my right as I was driving. I pulled over and thought I’d have a quick look around. That quick look lasted over two hours! Was I ever goin to get to Hamran today? There were a good selection of waders, 2 Wood and Green Sandpiper, 3 Black-winged Stilt, 2 Snipe, 2 Temmink’s and 1 Little Stint and a single Marsh Sandpiper. I could here 2 Glamourous Reed Warbler and Striated Bunting were on the waters edge. The marshy produced 7 Citrine Wagtail and 2 Bluethroat but it wasn’t until some 50 Cameral came in for a drink and waded through the water and ploughed through the reeds. They wrecked the place but as a result they flushed a small crake that landed on the mud at close range, very briefly out in the open before darting into cover. Baillon’s Crake! I was hoping for a Yellow Bittern but that will do. As I left there were 2 Isabeline Wheatear near to where I parked the car.

There were up to 7 Citrine Wagtail in the marshy area

Record shot of one of the 2 Bluethroat

Black-winged stilt

Little Stint

Thirsty camerals

Wreck the pond camerals

It was now getting on to 16.00 and Hamran can wait for another day. Instead I crossover the main road and drove towards the beach, Khawi Sawli. Immediatly on arrival there were 1000s of gulls and just below me, where I pulled up, a quick scan through, 60 White-winged, 11 Whiskered, 9 Great Crested and 3 Gull-billed Tern resting or having a bath. I panned right of the terns, Red-necked Phalarope on the waters edge with 16 Little and 4 Temmink’s Stint, 2 Common Sandpiper and a single Dunlin. Waders in the water, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Greenshank and a single Redshank. A scan up the channel and there were 3 Tufted Duck and a single Coot. The gulls were in there 100s, between 5-6000, all streched out across the beach. I stayed put in my car and used as a hide and waited. Terns and gulls were coming in to have a quick wash and out again. I started looking for Caspian Gull and gave it a rest when I had reached 7 individuals. Then suddenly I shouted ‘NO WAY!’ A corking summer plumage Great Black-headed Gull dropped down from nowhere! I took a few shots and then settled down to observe this beauty only to see it fly off over the beach. I can’t repeat what I shouted as it disappeared. It was almost dark when I picked up another Caspian Gull and was ready to return to my digs. I was just about to drive off when in front of me I could see a car struggling in the sand on the track I was on. I think I’ll give that a miss and turned around to drive off the way I came. A plover came in and landed on the mud where all terns had been. White-tailed Plover! As soon as it hit the ground it was off again and I just got a few record shots in what light I had before it flew off north. There you go again. If it wasn’t for that car stuck, then I wouldn’t of seen that Oman rarity! And to end a cracking day, another Purple Heron. I duno what I missed at Ayn Hamran, but after the birds I’ve seen today and at very close range, I reckon I’ll be returning to Khawli Sawli tomorrow.

Great Crested Tern dwarfing the White-winged Black Tern

Gull-billed Tern

A pleasant surprise was this Red-necked Phalarope

little Stint


Black-tailed Godwit

3 of the 8 Caspian Gull

And the icing on the cake, was this stunner.

Wasn’t exspecting to see these 3 Tufted Duck with this Coot

It was almost dark when this White-tailed Plover came in only to see it fly out north. By far the rarest bird of the day. How often do these plovers turn up in Oman? I’ve only ever seen them in Kuwait.

This is why the country must unite against the Governments outrageous anti-strike bill

Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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