Spring heralds birding in Dhofar

Kaushalendra Singh –
SALALAH, MArch17 –

If you try to look at the reason behind cool, calm and relaxed mountain dwellers (known as Jabalis) of Dhofar, you may encounter some studies which suggest that those who live near trees and vegetation the dwellings of birds are less likely to get depressed and live a comparatively relaxed life than their counterparts in cities.
There is much evidence available in Dhofar to support the studies, as it is a known fact that Salalah and its surroundings are full of vegetation and out of more than 1,200 identified plant species in the Sultanate, about 800 species are found only in Dhofar.
These vegetations are natural homes to the birds. According to Ministry of Tourism, “the bird life in Dhofar is definitely African in nature. Indian Sliverbills of north Oman are replaced by the African Silverbills and Ruppell’s Weavers are here instead of House Sparrows. Other African species include Verreaux Eagle, Bruce’s Green pigeon, African Scops Owl, Grey-headed Kingfisher Didric Cuckoo, Singing Bush Lark, African Paradise Flycatcher, Shining and Palestine Sunbird, White-breasted White-eye, Tristram’s Grackle, Fan-tailed Raven and Afican Rock Bunting. Cotton Teals and Phesant-tailed Jacanas visit during winter months.”
German tourist Friedrich loves Salalah and its tranquility and calls it a “lifetime ticket to the theater of nature… It is so lovely, cool, calm and warm for people coming from cold Scandinavian and other European countries where winters are very harsh.”
He loves to indulge in Salalah yet calls both the authorities concerned and hospitality operators to do more to make this destination more attractive by putting more efforts in recognising other areas like birdwatching and water sports.
“I am a thorough nature lover. I noticed many bird species in Salalah, may be due to its greenery or unique four-season phenomenon that might be attracting many migratory birds with the change of season. I saw some leaflets as well on birdwatching, but the places are not properly marked and most of the guides do not have right information about them. By the time I could know about the right locations, it was time for me to go back home,” said Friedrich.
He suggested, it would be good idea if the birdwatching locations are properly indentified, guides have proper information about them and raised platforms are installed at the designated sites. “Some intelligent operators can put high end binoculars and charge from the tourists or this can be included in the package.” He said ahe carried his own binocular and was lucky to have rare sight of some unique birds.

The best time for birdwatching
Timing is critical for a successful visit. The summer is too hot for most birds and watchers alike. The great majority are passage migrants and/ or winter visitors. The fall migration of waders is impressive from late August. Gulls and terns arrive in September and October which are peak months for warblers as well.
By the end of October the numbers of Eagles build up with a peak in early November when sooty Falcons depart their wintering grounds.
December January and February are ideal months weather wise with maximum temperatures in the mid to upper 20s. Great black headed Gulls Menetries’ Warblers herald the start of the spring migration in early month.
Pictures by Awadh Saadouni