SOUTHERN OMAN TOUR REPORT 12th - 19th January 2023

Arabian Scops Owl


A very early arrival into Salalah Airport at 04:15 saw us checking in to our hotel by 5.30am and heading out to Ayn Razat at 6.30am. Ouch! But boy it’s really good to be back here again. And we enjoyed a gentle introduction into many of the commoner species of Dhofar such as Abyssinian White-eye, White-spectacled Bulbul, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, as well as few Bruce’s Green-Pigeons, and both Palestine and Arabian Sunbirds.

We returned to the hotel for breakfast and had 4 hours off to catch up on sleep whilst I changed the rental SUV and visited a supermarket to procure provisions for our picnic lunch. At 2pm we drove down to East Khawr and enjoyed some fantastic birding Omani-style. We particularly enjoyed seeing several close Citrine Wagtails, as well as getting nice views of several Greater Spotted Eagle, lots of Slender-billed Gulls up close and personal, with the odd Sooty Gull thrown in for good measure. A flock of Glossy Ibis were present, along with a large flock of Ruff, 4 Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, a single Temminck’s Stint, and best of all were 2 Collared Pratincoles. Out to sea both Brown and Masked Booby were seen and then we noticed a massive number of gulls attracted to some fisherman about a kilometre further along the beach. Here we found Caspian and Pallas’s Gullamongst the thousands of Heuglin’s and Steppe Gulls, as well as Socotra Cormorant, and many Great Crested Terns. Behind us Isabelline and Desert Wheatear and a Great Grey Shrike adorned the bushes, and 3 Ospreys patrolled overhead.

Then we drove to Ayn Hamran where a pair of Arabian Warblers posed beautifully, but it was the diminuitive Arabian Scops Owlthat stole the show, giving repeated views as we tried to walk out of the forest and return to our SUV.

eastern olivaceous warbler
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler


Another typical day in Oman = absolutely fantastic and world class birding! We began with a few Abdim’s Storks outside our hotel as we drove to Ayn Hamran early doors on our grosbeak quest. Walking downstream we flushed a Pin-tailed Snipe accidently, nailed an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, saw a fine Red-breasted Flycatcher and enjoyed all the usual suspects including another close Arabian Warbler. During our walk we realised that seemingly every tree was fruiting so hopes of finding a grosbeak in one looked slim to say the least, however Rhys and Simon somehow found one higher up the wadi but it flew before the rest of the group could reach them. A little tactical manoeuvring took us up to a viewpoint from where we could scan the treetops and found a pair of Arabian Grosbeaks perched up nicely about 100m away. Result! A close Long-billed Pipit was practically ignored by some!

So with that tasty result meaning we didn’t have to spend every early morning looking for them and returned to our hotel for breakfast. Next up was a 45 minute drive to Mughsayl Beach where a quick scan revealed numerous Kentish Plovers before we moved on to Khawr Mughsayl and our search for yesterday’s reported Lesser White-fronted Goose (5th for Oman), which we duly found. This is a great area to find some really good birds and we found 2 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Pacific Golden Plover, a Red-necked Phalarope on a small pool, Red-knobbed Coot, Long-legged Buzzard, Steppe & Eastern Imperial Eagles, Indian Pond-heron, Temminck’s Stint, plenty of Lesser Crested Terns and quite a few more commoner trip ticks. Leaving here we drove up to the Blow Hole Café for mango smoothies and a seawatch. Both boobies were seen, as well as a flock of 250+ Socotra Cormorants, Gull-billed Tern and others were seen before we drove into the wadi. I’ve never seen so many Arabian Wheatear as we saw this afternoon, plus 7 Sand Partridges, Short-toed Eagle, Desert Lark, Desert & Isabelline Wheatears, and ended with cracking scope views of Desert Owl. We celebrated with chocolate cake and butterscotch ice-cream tonight! What a day!

Yemen Serin


Off on a Mirbat pelagic today but this one was a dud – no shearwaters or petrels. We did see Green and Loggerhead Turtles,Spinner Dolphins, a Giant Manta Ray breaching, lots of Red-necked Phalaropes, a very close Brown Booby and a few Masked Booby, even closer Socotra Cormorant, and some commoner species. Once we were back ashore we headed up to Jabal Samhan and boy was it cold and breezy up here! But a Verreaux’s Eagle did fly by and we had more Arabian Wheatears and loads of Fan-tailed Ravens. En-route between here and Tawi Atayr a close Greater Spotted Eagle feeding on a carcass was seen, along with Egyptian Vulture and at least 3 Eastern Imperial Eagles. And once at the sinkhole it took all of 5 minutes to find a couple of Yemen Serins feeding in a tree that had seeds in beside the main path. We also had unbelievable views of a Bonelli’s Eagle as we looked down on it in the sinkhole, plus fantastic looks at a few Arabian Sunbirds.

So from here we went down to the coast at Khawr Rawri and checked out the main lagoon and came up trumps with 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers, Temminck’s Stint, Black Stork, and a Red-necked Phalarope. At the top end we found Terek Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Daurian Shrike, Bluethroat, at least 1 Clamorous Reed Warbler, and several Arabian Partridges at last to end the day.

broad-billed sandpiper
There's a Broad-billed Sandpiper...


After a 7am breakfast at the hotel we began our day birding Salalah Nature Reserve and picked up a few new trip birds and enjoyed a nice selection of birds.  We began with a couple of Clamorous Reed Warblers, Graceful Prinia, Bluethroat & Purple Heron around the first pool, followed by 3 Tufted Ducks, Western Marsh Harrier, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Siberian Chiffchaff and Daurian Shrike along the line of acacias at the back of the open heath. We were hoping for Singing Bushlark but only found lots of Crested Larks, as well as a flock of over 80 Kentish Plovers roosting in the grass. Out on the beach Sanderling and Eurasian Oystercatcher were trip ticks and we saw other previously seen and common shorebirds too. Leaving here we went over to Khawr Raysut, quite possibly my favourite birding site here in southern Oman. Well, the highlight was the African Openbill (1st or 2nd for Oman) I had previously found at Ayn Razat back in November 2021 and also seen here on a couple other tours over the past year. A Broad-billed Sandpiper showed very nicely too, along with Temminck’s Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover(seemingly very scarce in Oman!), 7 Ospreys, Steppe Eagle, 3 Lesser Sandplovers, 9 Terek Sandpipers, 4 Whimbrels, 20+ Caspian Terns, Gull-billed Tern, and another Daurian Shrike.

Moving on to Raysut Sewage Pools we were not allowed entry but took a look at the throng of Abdim’s Storks roosting there, and also saw Red-wattled Lapwing and an African Sacred Ibis. A bunch of White Storks were found at the rubbush dump before we drove across Salalah seeing Eastern Imperial Eagle and a Crested Honey Buzzard before reaching my usual spot for Spotted Thick-knee. I was delighted to find 5 thick-knees here – my highest count ever. Then we drove to East Khawr and met some Hungarian birders who told me they had found a flock of 14 Caspian Plovers about 25 minutes away – exciting news indeed. With rumbling stomachs we headed over to a restaurant for lunch before checking out East Khawr for a little while. A Common Black-headed Gull was the only new trip bird but it's always fun birding here and we saw some nice birds, nothing new but in the bright sunshine it was thoroughly enjoyable. And then we headed to the plover site (seeing European Roller along the roadside),  but couldn’t find the flock so drove round the area finding a male and 2 female Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks and 5 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse…. Nice! As time was getting late we decided to do one more drive-by to check to see if any plovers were around and amazingly spotted a single Caspian Plover perched next to an earth mound. We drove onto the desert and approached slowly, pulling up some 50m from the bird and stayed in the vehicle. What a bird and one that gets us Brit birders’ pulses racing. We watched it for a good 10 minutes from the car before a line of camels flushed it and it flew off high in a westerly direction. Wow!

chestnut-bellied sandgrouse
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse


Headed inland to Mudday very early doors where things were very quiet save for a brief Hooded Wheatear only seen by yours truly, a scoped Sand Partridge and several Blackstarts and Pale Crag Martins. The hoped for Hypocolius failed to show despite us remaining until early afternoon. But what saved the morning was the spectacle of thousands of sandgrouse visiting their drinking pool out in the desert. We estimated 1600 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse and I was gobsmacked at 150 Crowned Sandgrouse coming in a the beginning of the spectacle. There were groups of 35, 24, 30 and so on all queued up waiting their turn to drink for a few seconds before flying away. It was totally amazing. The Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse flew in in huge flocks, with one in particular of approx. 300 individuals right over our heads being utterly deafening! Leaving here we had a little performance from an Asian Desert Warbler and managed to get African Collared Dove and Nile Valley Sunbird later as well.

The rarity hotspot of Shisr Fields was our base this afternoon and despite it being quieter than I was hoping for we still found a Siberian Stonechat, 3 Rosy Starlings, male Pallid Harrier and a Greater Hoopoe Lark. So not a bad day.

cream-coloured courser
Cream-coloured Courser


Began the day at Wadi Kheesh where Arabian Warbler, Black-crowned Tchagra, and lots of commoner birds were coming to the drinking trough. Over at Ayn Hamran we found 3 Eastern Olivaceous Warblers and the Red-breasted Flycatcher was still present, along with a White-breasted Waterhen, 3 Bruce’s Green-Pigeons, Eurasian Hoopoe,  and a flyover Long-legged Buzzard. Leaving here we went looking for Cream-coloured Courser and found one in a wide open plain close to the coast, along with a pair of Tawny Pipits and 10 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse.

We had lunch in Salalah at a restaurant on the beach followed by a scan of East Khawr, where 3 Collared Pratincoles and a pair of Cotton Pygmy-Geese were the highlights, plus 2 Marsh Sandpipers,  and several Arabian Green Bee-eaters amongst many other previously seen species.  A quick check of Jarziz Farm wasn’t too bad with a Bluethroat and several races of Western Yellow Wagtail. We ended at Ayn Razat with an Arabian Eagle Owl perched right on top of a tall tree calling away.

crabcurlew sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint at East Khawr


After previously failing to find a Hypocolius a few days ago we decided to return this morning, so left our hotel in Salalah early doors and reached Mudday just before first light. It was a relatively quick drive of no more than 90 minutes as the roads were clear! This time we found at least 3 superb Hypocolius feeding under the canopy of some Palm trees at the back of the village, after a bit of a search. There’s always something of interest around here and we had an enjoyable time, especially once we’d nailed the main target.

We heard the distinctive ringing call of a Sand Partridge, had flocks of Chestnut-bellied and some Crowned Sandgrouse flying overhead, saw African Collared Dove, Namaqua Dove, an Eastern Imperial Eagle drifting overhead, Desert Lark, Tristram’s Starlings, Rhys even managed a view of the elusive Hooded Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Blackstart, a few superb Nile Valley Sunbirds, Ruppell’s Weavers and African Silverbills. Not a bad haul for a few hours this morning.

Upon our return to the coast we visited Raysut Khawr first, seeing all the usual species and enjoyed scoping Black-winged Stilts, as well as scanning through good numbers of Lesser Sandplovers, Kentish Plovers, Little Stints, Dunlins, Curlew and Terek Sandpipers out on the mudflats. A fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull was a nice find, amongst a loafing group of Steppe and Heuglin’s Gulls, over 30 Caspian Terns, a dozen Gull-billed Terns and several Greater Crested Terns. The African Openbill that we found last year was still around – whether it is the 1st or 2nd for Oman is open to debate and others claim to have found it first, although I’m not quite sure how!! Out in the bay both Masked and Brown Booby were fishing, as were some Socotra Cormorants. Quite a few Ospreys were present with at least 8 Greater Spotted Eagles, and an Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike stood sentinel nearby.

Meanwhile, over at East Khawr there was the usual group of Garganey, flock of Greater Flamingo, a huge flock of Ruff, several Green Sandpipers, Whiskered and Gull-billed Terns, Eurasian Spoonbills, Squacco and Indian Pond Herons stood together allowing a useful comparison, Western Marsh Harriers patrolled the reedbed, as well as Isabelline Wheatear, and both Citrine and Yellow Wagtails gave point-blank views. Just a normal day in Southern Oman!

persian shearwater
Persian Shearwater


Well, we had to give it another go didn’t we? The unpredictability of the seas at this time of the year meant we were out on another pelagic from Mirbat with the enigmatic Hatem out into the Arabian Sea. This time we scored majorly with both Persian Shearwater (12) and 2 Jouanin’s Petrels being seen well, along with 160+ Red-necked Phalaropes, Socotra Cormorant, and superb close-ups of Striated Heron and Black-crowned Night-Herons in the harbour.


Leaving here we visited Wadi Darbat and then Khawr Januf hoping forlornly for Singing Bushlark and then tried to gain entry into Sahnawt Farm, unsuccessfully! So we ended our time in Southern Oman with one last visit to the awesome East Khawr. The Pallas’s Gull was still out to sea, and you never get bored of seeing shorebirds up so close, and those Gull-billed, Caspian and Great Crested Terns are always good value. So it had been a successful day overall, and when you consider we’d also had one last view of Abdim’s and White Storks, along with Eastern Imperial, Short-toed, Greater Spotted and Booted Eagles, a Black-crowned Tchagra, Fan-tailed Ravens, Arabian Sunbird, and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting then it had actually been another thoroughly enjoyable & bird-filled day in Southern Oman.



Lesser White-fronted Goose  Anser erythropus

Cotton Pygmy Goose  Nettapus coromandelianus

Garganey  Spatula querquedula

Northern Shoveler  Spatula clypeata

Gadwall  Mareca strepera

Northern Pintail  Anas acuta

Eurasian Teal  Anas crecca

Marbled Duck  Marmaronetta angustirostris

Common Pochard  Aythya ferina

Tufted Duck  Aythya fuligula

GALLIFORMES: Phasianidae

Sand Partridge  Ammoperdix heyi

Arabian Partridge  Alectoris melanocephala


Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse  Pterocles exustus

Crowned Sandgrouse  Pterocles coronatus


Rock Dove  Columba livia

Eurasian Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto

African Collared Dove  Streptopelia roseogrisea

Laughing Dove  Spilopelia senegalensis

Namaqua Dove  Oena capensis

Bruce's Green Pigeon  Treron waalia


Common Moorhen  Gallinula chloropus

Eurasian Coot  Fulica atra

Red-knobbed Coot  Fulica cristata

White-breasted Waterhen  Amaurornis phoenicurus


Little Grebe  Tachybaptus ruficollis


Greater Flamingo  Phoenicopterus roseus


Spotted Thick-knee  Burhinus capensis


Eurasian Oystercatcher  Haematopus ostralegus

CHARADRIIFORMES: Recurvirostridae

Black-winged Stilt  Himantopus himantopus


Red-wattled Lapwing  Vanellus indicus

Pacific Golden Plover  Pluvialis fulva

American Golden Plover  Pluvialis dominica

Grey Plover  Pluvialis squatarola

Common Ringed Plover  Charadrius hiaticula

Little Ringed Plover  Charadrius dubius

Kentish Plover  Charadrius alexandrinus

Greater Sand Plover  Charadrius leschenaultii

Lesser (Tibetan) Sand Plover  Charadrius atrifrons

Caspian Plover  Charadrius asiaticus


Pheasant-tailed Jacana  Hydrophasianus chirurgus


Eurasian Whimbrel  Numenius phaeopus

Eurasian Curlew  Numenius arquata

Bar-tailed Godwit  Limosa lapponica

Black-tailed Godwit  Limosa limosa

Ruddy Turnstone  Arenaria interpres

Ruff  Calidris pugnax

Broad-billed Sandpiper  Calidris falcinellus

Curlew Sandpiper  Calidris ferruginea

Temminck's Stint  Calidris temminckii

Sanderling  Calidris alba

Dunlin  Calidris alpina

Little Stint  Calidris minuta

Pin-tailed Snipe  Gallinago stenura

Common Snipe  Gallinago gallinago

Terek Sandpiper  Xenus cinereus

Red-necked Phalarope  Phalaropus lobatus

Common Sandpiper  Actitis hypoleucos

Green Sandpiper  Tringa ochropus

Common Redshank  Tringa totanus

Marsh Sandpiper  Tringa stagnatilis

Wood Sandpiper  Tringa glareola

Common Greenshank  Tringa nebularia


Cream-colored Courser  Cursorius cursor

Collared Pratincole  Glareola pratincola


Slender-billed Gull  Chroicocephalus genei

Black-headed Gull  Chroicocephalus ridibundus

Pallas's Gull  Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus

Sooty Gull  Ichthyaetus hemprichii

Caspian Gull  Larus cachinnans

Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus fuscus

Heuglin’s Gull  Larus fuscus heuglini

Steppe Gull  Larus fuscus barabensis

Gull-billed Tern  Gelochelidon nilotica

Caspian Tern  Hydroprogne caspia

Greater Crested Tern  Thalasseus bergii

Lesser Crested Tern  Thalasseus bengalensis

Sandwich Tern  Thalasseus sandvicensis

Common Tern  Sterna hirundo

Whiskered Tern  Chlidonias hybrida


Persian Shearwater  Puffinus persicus

Jouanin's Petrel  Bulweria fallax


African Openbill  Anastomus lamelligerus

Abdim's Stork  Ciconia abdimii

Black Stork  Ciconia nigra

White Stork  Ciconia ciconia


Masked Booby  Sula dactylatra

Brown Booby  Sula leucogaster

SULIFORMES: Phalacrocoracidae

Socotra Cormorant  Phalacrocorax nigrogularis

Great Cormorant  Phalacrocorax carbo

PELECANIFORMES: Threskiornithidae

African Sacred Ibis  Threskiornis aethiopicus

Glossy Ibis  Plegadis falcinellus

Eurasian Spoonbill  Platalea leucorodia


Black-crowned Night Heron  Nycticorax nycticorax

Striated Heron  Butorides striata

Squacco Heron  Ardeola ralloides

Indian Pond Heron  Ardeola grayii

Western Cattle Egret  Bubulcus ibis

Grey Heron  Ardea cinerea

Purple Heron  Ardea purpurea

Great Egret  Ardea alba

Intermediate Egret  Ardea intermedia

Little Egret  Egretta garzetta

Western Reef Heron  Egretta gularis


Osprey  Pandion haliaetus


Egyptian Vulture  Neophron percnopterus

Crested Honey Buzzard  Pernis ptilorhynchus

Short-toed Snake Eagle  Circaetus gallicus

Greater Spotted Eagle  Clanga clanga

Booted Eagle  Hieraaetus pennatus

Steppe Eagle  Aquila nipalensis

Eastern Imperial Eagle  Aquila heliaca

Verreaux's Eagle  Aquila verreauxii

Bonelli's Eagle  Aquila fasciata

Eurasian Sparrowhawk  Accipiter nisus

Western Marsh Harrier  Circus aeruginosus

Pallid Harrier  Circus macrourus

Long-legged Buzzard  Buteo rufinus


Little Owl  (H)  Athene noctua

Arabian Scops Owl  Otus pamelae

Arabian Eagle-Owl  Bubo milesi

Desert Owl  Strix hadorami


Eurasian Hoopoe  Upupa epops


European Roller  Coracias garrulus


Grey-headed Kingfisher  Halcyon leucocephala

Common Kingfisher  Alcedo atthis


Arabian Green Bee-eater  Merops cyanophrys


Common Kestrel  Falco tinnunculus

Eurasian Hobby  Falco subbuteo

Peregrine Falcon  Falco peregrinus


Rose-ringed Parakeet  Psittacula krameri

PASSERIFORMES: Malaconotidae

Black-crowned Tchagra  Tchagra senegalus


African Paradise Flycatcher  Terpsiphone viridis


Great Grey Shrike  Lanius excubitor aucheri

Isabelline Shrike  Lanius isabellinus

Red-tailed Shrike  Lanius phoenicuroides


House Crow  Corvus splendens

Brown-necked Raven  Corvus ruficollis

Fan-tailed Raven  Corvus rhipidurus


Grey Hypocolius  Hypocolius ampelinus


Greater Hoopoe-Lark  Alaemon alaudipes

Desert Lark  Ammomanes deserti

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark  Eremopterix nigriceps

Crested Lark  Galerida cristata


White-spectacled Bulbul  Pycnonotus xanthopygos


Pale Crag Martin  Ptyonoprogne obsoleta

Barn Swallow  Hirundo rustica

PASSERIFORMES: Phylloscopidae

Common Chiffchaff  Phylloscopus collybita

Siberian Chiffchaff  Phylloscopus collybita tristis

PASSERIFORMES: Acrocephalidae

Clamorous Reed Warbler  Acrocephalus stentoreus

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler  Iduna pallida


Graceful Prinia  Prinia gracilis


Lesser Whitethroat  Curruca curruca halimodendri

Desert Lesser Whitethroat  Curruca minula

Arabian Warbler  Curruca leucomelaena

Asian Desert Warbler  Curruca nana


Abyssinian White-eye  Zosterops abyssinicus


Common Myna  Acridotheres tristis

Rosy Starling  Pastor roseus

Tristram's Starling  Onychognathus tristramii


Bluethroat  Luscinia svecica

Red-breasted Flycatcher  Ficedula parva

Blue Rock Thrush  Monticola solitarius

Siberian Stonechat  Saxicola maurus

Isabelline Wheatear  Oenanthe isabellina

Hooded Wheatear  Oenanthe monacha

Desert Wheatear  Oenanthe deserti

Blackstart  Oenanthe melanura

Arabian Wheatear  Oenanthe lugentoides

PASSERIFORMES: Nectariniidae

Nile Valley Sunbird  Hedydipna metallica

Palestine Sunbird  Cinnyris osea

Arabian Sunbird  Cinnyris hellmayri


House Sparrow  Passer domesticus


Rüppell's Weaver  Ploceus galbula


African Silverbill  Euodice cantans


Western Yellow Wagtail  Motacilla flava

Citrine Wagtail  Motacilla citreola

Grey Wagtail  Motacilla cinerea

White Wagtail  Motacilla alba

Tawny Pipit  Anthus campestris

Long-billed Pipit  Anthus similis


Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak  Rhynchostruthus percivali

Yemen Serin  Crithagra menachensis


Cinnamon-breasted Bunting  Emberiza tahapisi

sooty gull
Sooty and Slender-billed Gulls
caspian tern
Caspian Tern at East Khawr
socotra cormorant
Socotra Cormorant showed well on our pelagic from Mirbat
brown booby
Brown Booby