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Our second day in Northern Oman, we travelled northward along the coast towards UAE. Many great birding sites are to be found in this green coastal belt.

Khatmat Milahah - Shinas Al Qurm Reserve - Liwa - Sun Farms

We were up with the lark or should I say the local Imam who called us to prayer at 5:20am. How nice! It was a beautiful morning clear sky and about 15C. We packed away our tents ate some breakfast and drove to the scrubland just outside the village of Khatmat Milahah.

The place was full of birds, many Laughing Doves, House Crows and Common Mynahs. Soon we found a small group of Arabian Babblers, some beautiful White-cheeked Bubuls and Yellow-vented Bubuls. Next came one of our main target species the Plain Leaf Warbler, this Goldcrest sized little 'plain-bird' showed very well, in fact we saw another 3 or 4 of them during the next hour. Several parties of Rose-ringed Parakeets flew over as we continued our walk, we then found a couple of Eastern Black Redstarts, ‘semirufus’  subspecies also Desert Whitethroat Sylvia minula,  Little Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller and several other species.

view at Khatmat Milahah

 We then drove back to the beach area a little further south at Shinas, we were heading for another nature reserve called Al Qurm. Along the way we stopped at large open heathland which is a known place for Sandgrouse and sure we saw many. At least 50 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse came down to drink at a couple of shallow puddles, they were a great sighting. In and around the area we also found Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Crested Lark, Graceful Prinia, Desert Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear and Tawny Pipit.

record shots of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse

The reserve near the beach consists of a semi-circular stretch of mangroves, with pools of tidal water and a large expanse of sandy scrub, dunes and beach.  it was quite quiet at the mangroves, but we did find Common Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, White-cheeked Bubul, another Plain Leaf Warbler and a Striated Heron. The beach area held the usual array of gulls, terns, herons, egrets and waders. We were hoping for a sighting of Great Stone Curlew but we never found one. A drive through the heath produced our first sighting of Asian Desert Warbler but not the Stone Curlew.

Desert Wheatear

 Next was a visit to Liwa a very similar reserve but with a much smaller Mangrove swamp, we were hoping for a Collared Kingfisher but only got the Common Kingfisher again. Other species seen included Daurian Shrike, Oriental Skylark, India Silverbill and more Common Sandpipers. The beach area was more productive, we added Kentish, Grey and Ringed Plovers, Lesser Sand Plover, Sanderling, Whimbrel and quite a few Gulls were present, Heuglin’s, Sooty, Slender-billed, Caspian and the star find a Great Black-headed Gull (formerly Pallas’s Gull).

Heuglin's Gull

 For the afternoon we drove back southward towards Muscat and stopped at well-known birding area called Sun Farms. You have to be signed in and out of the area but it is well worth the hassle. This huge semi-cultivated area has extensive areas of dry scrub and open grassland and the place was hootching with birds. We spent two hours there and hardly scratched the surface, raptor sighting were excellent, we found Pallid Harrier (my first ever adult male), Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, also 3 individual Imperial Eagles and 2 Bonelli’s Eagles. All of these sightings were excellent, good close views of all of them.

Indian Silverbills

Larks and pipits were all over we added the Bimaculated Lark to our list and I have never seen so many doves there must have been over 500 Laughing Doves and at least twice that amount of Collared Doves, a few Namaqua Doves were with them. We also found Striolated Bunting, Eurasian Hoopoe, Indian Roller, more Oriental Skylarks, lots of Indian Silverbills, Grey Francolins, Arabian Babblers and many more species. It was wonderful there, but we were losing the light and it was time to go.

another shot of the Little Green Bee-eater

That concluded our birding for the day as we needed to be on the road heading to the southern tip of the country, a distance of some 1200 km. We intended to drive about 250 before we pitched tents around at around 8pm.