Part Three - Birding the Middle East
|Dr. Carr's journey in the Middle East|
We continued roughly due eastward from Nahom and Marib. As we came out of the desert, looking ahead we could see fog and mist; and the trees began to be larger and more abundant; and bird activity increased. As our traveling group descended Wadi Sayq, vegetation increased to jungle proportions near the mouth, with numerous date and other palm trees, wild fig trees, and several other hardwood trees, right to within a few hundred feet of the beach. We observed many birds in the wadi, as well as in the freshwater lagoon and marsh at the inlet called Khor Kharfot. This water is produced by a permanently running spring supporting a variety of grasses, reeds, and other plants. This small inlet is the only place on the Arabian Peninsula where such vegetation and perennially running water is found.
|European Roller - This family of birds has the peculiar habit of flying along, then seemingly losing balance in mid-air and tumbling down before regaining control.|
|Common Ringed Plover - one of numerous shorebirds seen along the Omani coast of the Indian Ocean|
|Common Sandpiper - one of numerous shorebird and waders in Salalah. This bird is very similar to the Spotted Sandpiper in North America.|
|Common Redshank. Both redshanks and the greenshank were present in the wetlands of Salalah.|
|White Wagtail - This species was common along the coast of Oman, while the Yellow Wagtail (below) was common in the areas east of Sana'a, Yemen.|
In just the two-and-a-half weeks we followed the trail, plus another week in and around Salalah and Khor Kharfot, I was able to see and identify a large number of birds. Of course, there were many more that we did not see due to scarcity of certain species, migration patterns, food availability, and habitat differences. Some of the more introspective folks took the chance to sit back and just enjoy the various birds flitting from tree to tree, or watching the minuscule kingfishers fly down from an overhanging reed, pluck a tiny fish from the pond, then fly back up to the reed and juggle the fish around so that it could be swallowed head first.
All images in this post come from Wikipedia.