Red-tailed Wheatear, Al Hajar Mountains, Oman

ONE AFTERNOON WE EXPLORED AN EXTENSIVE WADI SYSTEM IN THE MOUNTAINS, which looked to have some very similar terrain to the Omani Owl type locality at roughly the same altitude. We spent a very pleasant afternoon indeed checking some good-looking areas prior to dark. A warm welcome off-the-beaten-track is so characteristic of Oman and one very nice village elder took us on a guided walk around the field system and date groves. Walking along the intricate falaj irrigation channel system we saw a few Common Chiffchaffs and an out of place Water Pipit in a date palm but we also saw that the locals actively scare away birds from their precious crops and they appeared to be doing a good job. Nevertheless it was a lovely place with patches of coriander, onions and wheat amongst the shady date groves. We also spoke to a few people about owls and one family said they knew Omani Owl and its voice from Arnoud’s wonderful photo that we showed them and the recording we played - “We know this bird but mostly from the high jebel (mountain)”. Birding in the wadis produced Eastern Orphean Warbler of note, several Red-tailed Wheatears and Striolated Buntings and a nice female Common Rock Thrush. Unfortunately our nocturnal efforts to find something tonight were severely hampered by traffic noise and wind and in the end we didn’t even hear a scops owl, a quite disappointing result as surely Omani Owl must be there somewhere. Instead we enjoyed the call to prayer at Al Hijir.

Al Hijir, Oman