Desert for new blog.full

Day 1 of this 10-day trip found us in the capital of Oman, Muscat. A very busy, vibrant city on the northern coastline with some surprisingly good birding locations hidden in the urban sprawl.


After spending a very long day and night travelling from London to Muscat via Istanbul and Bahrain I finally arrived at 3:30am. I managed to get a bit of sleep  before Iordan, my good friend, from Bulgaria turned up to meet me. We got into our rental car and set off birding for the day.

the tidal lagoon at Al Qurm


 We started at the Al Qurm Natural Park where some lovely manicured gardens lead to some open scrubland, reed-beds and a tidal lagoon. Our list began in earnest as many birds were flitting about. We had clear weather with a nice temperature of about 15C at 7am.

Red-wattled Lapwing


White-eared Bubul

 Many Common Mynahs dashed about and were as common at the House Crow which we saw everywhere. White-cheeked and Spectacled Bubuls were fairly common too and the Indian Roller captured our attention for quite a while. Little Green Bee-eaters were a lovely sight in the morning light. As we moved away from the gardens where a troupe of gardeners were creating a lot of noise we found ourselves on the scrubland where small, shallow pools of water prevailed. We added Little Green Bee-eater, White and Citrine Wagtail, Little Stint, Ringed Plover and the superb Red-wattled Lapwing to our list. Noisy Grey Francolins were found near a larger pool where we also listed Common Moorhen, Little Crake, Bluethroat, Graceful Prinia, Daurian Shrike and Purple Sunbirds were very common.

view of Ras As Sawadi


Laughing Dove

 On the main lagoon we found several species of duck, some dodgey Geese and Great & Little Egrets, Grey Heron (one of which devoured a large Brown Rat) and Indian Pond Heron. We had a couple of sightings of Common Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilts and Common Coot. Good views of Clamorous Warbler was a highlight at the lagoon.

Little Green Bee-eater

 A Great Spotted Eagle showed well just before we left for the beach area nearby. The tide was high but a nice selection of waders sat on a sand-bar the best of which was a Lesser Sand Plover. Hundreds of Slender-billed Gulls joined Great Cormorants, Lesser Crested and Swift Terns over the sea.

Lesser-crested Tern (left) and Swift Tern

 After visiting several hotels in the beach area for future tours, we drove to the Al Ansab lagoons where access was denied to us by a large fence. However we did see Indian Roller, Greater Spotted Eagle and a Western Marsh Harrier.

 Our visit to the beach area at Ras As Sawadi included a mini pelagic trip around the numerous islands just offshore. We didn’t see many new species but had fun trying to sort out the gulls, Sooty Gull, Caspian Gull and Heuglin’s Gull were seen, along with lots of terns including a Sandwich Tern. Two or three Ospreys were fishing offshore and a Booted Eagle circled over the main island. Hundreds of waders fed along the shore, we added Marsh Sandpiper, Eurasian Oystercatcher and a few Greenshanks to the list.



 Well time was pressing we planned a short visit to some local heath-land where we found Eurasian Hoopoe, Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark and Isabelline Wheatear.

 It was dark at 5:30pm and pitch black by 6pm, we drove into darkness as we headed northward towards UAE, we stopped at our next planned birding sight, Khatmat Milahah, but that would have to wait until tomorrow. We pitched our tents near the beach and bedded down for night.

67 species were in the bag, with lots more coming tomorrow, see you then.