AT LONG LAST - CRAB PLOVER in the bag! We found 21 species of wader in one bay, a true testament to this brilliant birding country.
MUHUT – SHANNAH BAY – QURIYAT – MUSCAT
Our final day began in the usual manner, waking at 6am decamping and driving off to the nearest birding spot. In this case we drove 50km eastward back to the coast at Shannah Bay.
As we arrived the tide was just beginning to turn and from the pier that leads to the ferry terminal we were astonished by the sheer number of birds present. It was truly a spectacular sight and one I have never experienced before, we stood mesmerised looking out along the shoreline that stretched for miles, it was absolutely covered in birds, a conservative estimate was 25,000.
view from the beach into Shannah Bay
They were mainly waders but also huge numbers of herons, egrets, flamingos and cormorants, in fact at one point the sky darkened as 2-3 thousand Great Cormorants flew over us. We drove alone the sand flats behind the beach to get a closer look at the hoards of waders and after some searching we finally caught up with our most wanted bird, the CRAB PLOVER!! We saw about 30 of them but all were distant views so no photographs I’m afraid.
this is the wader list for Shannah Bay:
1. Eurasian Curlew
3. Black-tailed Godwit
4. Bar-tailed Godwit
5. Eurasian Oystercatcher
6. Common Redshank
7. Common Greenshank
8. Terek Sandpiper
9. Ruddy Turnstone
10. Curlew Sandpiper
13. Greater Sand Plover
14. Lesser Sand Plover
15. Grey Plover
16. Kentish Plover
17. Ringed Plover
18. Little Stint
19. Temminck’s Stint
20. Crab Plover
21. Common Sandpiper
Other sightings included Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Lark, Desert Wheatear and all the usual gulls and terns. What a fantastic place! We spent a couple of hours in the area trying to find tracks that would get us closer to other parts of the bay, without success, so, reluctantly we set off on our final leg of the journey back to Muscat. We had about 300km to travel and we had all day to do it in.
A late afternoon stop at a river estuary in the town of Quriyat produced a huge number of Great Black-headed Gulls as well as Sandwich, Leaser-crested and Swift Terns. Later we made a road-side stop to look at raptors, we found two magnificent Lappet-faced Vultures, 4 Egyptian Vultures and a Common Kestrel.
Blackstart - my final picture
Our last stopped was look at a Hume’s Wheatear, we had seen a couple perched along the road and now we had one in the scope, my final lifer of the trip! Furthermore a falcon circled above us, we identified it as a Barbary Falcon, our final bird of the trip, not bad.
Well the trip was over, we spent the evening in Muscat, where we had a nice meal on the terrace of a restaurant overlooking the sea before driving to the airport for the flight home.
What a surprisingly excellent birding location Oman really is, all preconceptions of dry dusty desert conditions are quickly forgotten when you are confronted by lakes, lagoons, streams and marshes, especially in the south where mountains, picturesque rivers, verdant woodland and river estuaries are abundant with vibrant wild-life.Birds, Butterflies, mammals and reptiles are all waiting in good numbers for you to discover. There is also the possibility of discovering a 'first' for this under-watched region as we discovered the Lesser Whistling Ducks which are only the fourth record for Oman.