Indian Rollers are a colourful addition to Oman’s bird list. Photo: Richard Campey
The Sultanate of Oman – one of the most attractive, unspoiled, and safest countries in the Middle East – offers an extraordinary wealth of birds and an exceptionally pleasant, welcoming, and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy them. Located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, and with over one thousand miles of coastline, Oman’s varied habitats host a diverse selection of birds with significant elements drawn from the Europe, Asia and Africa. Offshore, Oman’s clean, fish-rich waters support an abundance of seabirds.
Now widely considered to be part of the Western Palearctic, we’ll sample the best that this fabulous country has to offer – from the riches of the north coast and the wader-packed mudflats of the east to the hidden oases of the Empty Quarter and the almost Afrotropical fauna of the south.
Days 1–5: Our first five days in Oman will be spent in the southern region of Dhofar. This area is home to a number of Arabian endemics, such as Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, Arabian Partridge, Arabian Scops Owl, Arabian Spotted Eagle Owl, Arabian Warbler, Arabian Wheatear, and Yemen Serin, and we will spend time on various days searching for these species. We’ll also encounter a number of East African species whose distribution creeps along the south Arabian coast, such as Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Abyssinian White-eye, Black-crowned Tchagra, African Paradise Flycatcher, Singing Bushlark, and Bruce’s Green Pigeon. Raptors abound, and we should find a host of eagles – Steppe, Imperial, Greater Spotted and, if we’re lucky, Verreaux’s – and other birds of prey such as Oriental Honey Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite. Coastal lagoons are home to a host of waders and gulls, and on one day we’ll take to the seas on a pelagic where we’ll hope to connect with Persian Shearwater, Jouanin’s Petrel, Red-necked Phalarope, Bridled Tern, Masked & Brown Booby, and numerous dolphins and turtles. Another day will be spent inland, in the southern desert of Oman, looking for species such as Chestnut-bellied and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, Asian Desert Warbler, Sand Partridge, Nile Valley Sunbird, and Hypocolius. Nights in Salalah.
Day 6: We’ll travel north from Salalah to Duqm, stopping en route. Night in Duqm.
Day 7: From Duqm, we’ll continue north to Barr Al Hickman, a large bay on Oman’s east coast. The area is home to tens-of-thousands of waders, include Crab Plover and, if we’re lucky, Great Knot. We can also expect to see Terek Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Greater and Lesser Sandplover, and Broad-billed Sandpiper. Night in Mahoot.
Day 8: We’ll spend the morning at Barr Al Hickman before heading inland to Nizwa. That evening we’ll head out after dark to look for Omani Owl. Night in Nizwa.
Day 9: We’ll leave Nizwa and head for the north coast, looking out for species such as Indian Roller, Lappet-faced Vulture and Red-tailed and Hume’s Wheatear en route. We’ll head to the far northwest reaches of Oman, where we’ll finish the evening looking for Variable Wheatear and, after dark, Pallid Scops Owl. Night in Sohar.
Day 10: The north coast of Oman is home to a wintering population of Pallas’s Gull, which we’ll search for during the morning. We’ll also keep an eye out for Collared Kingfisher and Sykes’s Warbler, both of which maintain a small, isolated population in northern Oman. We’ll spend the evening visiting some wetlands close to Muscat, before spending the night a short distance from the airport ready for our flights the following morning. Night in Muscat.
Updated: 14 January 2020