The United Arab Emirates and Oman

A few details about those countries

It will take you 6 hours by plane and you will cross 3 time zones to go to these countries bordering the Persian Gulf (sometimes called the Arabian Gulf).  The U.A.E. is a federation of 7 emirates : Abu Dhabi,  which is also the capital city, Dubai, the richest emirate, Al Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al-Khaima and Fujairah.  All these emirates encompass about 82, 880 km², which means they are hardly larger than Ireland, and as soon as you leave the cities you will find yourself in the midst of large empty areas.  

Oman, is a not as rich a country but its fauna and its countryside are just marvelous to look at.  Politically, it is a sultanate and it is bordered by the U.A.E. at the north, Saudi Arabia at the west and Yemen at the south-west.  Contrary to the U.A.E., it is a mountainous country and it encompasses 212, 460 km2, i.e. a little more than half that of France.

We travelled with Arts et Vie travel agency and only visited the first three emirates and Oman.

Religion and traditions are of paramount importance in these countries but globalization and tourism have influenced them recently and they have had to adjust.  Most of their financial resources come from gas wells and oil deposits and a low taxes policy attracts large multinational companies.  Their political leaders have enormous clout which they use to the benefit of their citizens but often at the expense of immigrants looking for jobs and better living conditions. Political parties are banned, there is no minimum guaranteed wage, strikes are illegal, foreign workers cannot take their families with them if the government decides they don't earn enough money to support them and if you are out of job for over a month, you are expelled.  The welfare system is excellent for the locals and very poor for immigrants. Begging is forbidden but these countries are very clean and safe provided you respect the law and local customs.  Drug possession is heavily penalized.

Islam is the state religion and exerts its influence on the way of life of the Muslims who seem to accept that willingly.  They are on the whole very tolerant with foreigners provided you do not wear garments which might be viewed as indecent to their eyes and you will not be allowed in if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport.  Women wear long dresses called abbayas which are often black but may be richly adorned.  According to the local tradition, which is not always observed if you believe the local guides, some of them wear masks called burkas, which are different from nikhabs, covering the whole face except for its lower part.  They are incited to go to school and work, especially in Oman and often play an important role in the domestic economy.  People usually don't mind being photographed, even some women, unless you do it against their will.  Food is very good but water, although it is fit to drink, may cause tummy trouble, especially in Oman.  Temperatures are unbearable in summer sometimes reaching 50°C but are much more comfortable in winter, ranging from 20 to 30°C.

Our Trip

If you want to go directly to the list of species observed, please click here.

04th November 2013

We left Paris Charles de Gaulle airport on board an Air France plane and landed in Dubai where the temperature was still 28°C. at 22 h 50.  Getting into the country is no easy task because controls are very strict and we had to queue up for about 1 h 30 before being photographed one by one.  To shorten that ordeal,  some officials wearing long white dishdashes allowed old people and children to jump the queue.

05th November 2013

Once we had done with those unpleasant administrative tasks, we went to the Traders Hotel in a very comfortable air-conditioned coach and were impressed by the skyscrapers bordering the beautiful 6-lane highway where we could see many luxurious SUVs.  After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, we started our visit of the city in the ancient part of Bastakya.  The buildings there are much smaller, the streets narrower and we admired a few wind towers which bring some cool air into the houses.  On my way, I already spotted Laughing Doves, a few Common Mynas, 2 Cattle Egrets and several Heuglin’s Gulls.  We quickly went through the Majlis Art Gallery where you can buy magnificent works of art in a series of small rooms surrounding a central patio.  The smell of incense was very strong, so much so that I had to go out and I thus saw 3 Indian Silverbills flying away.  A few moments later, we went to the ancient fort of Al Fahida which is now the Dubai museum.  It is a very exotic place and the muezzins' calls to prayer from the near-by mosques strengthened that feeling.  We then used an abra, which is a wooden and rather unsteady boat to continue our visit and go to the other bank of the Creek and rushed about in the spices and gold souks. We hardly had any time to buy a few delicious dates that tasted much sweeter than the ones we can buy at home.  In the blue sky, I saw about twenty Pale Swifts swishing by. There was a nice beach close by and I saw expatriates get a sun tan, next to women sitting in the sand dressed in their black abayas.  In the distance, the Burj Al Arab Hotel towered in the sky like a giant sailing boat.  It is so big that it is said the Statue of Liberty could be hosted in its entry hall.

06th November 2013

We left Dubai heading for Abu Dhabi, the capital city.  Just like before, we saw very tall recently-built skyscrapers but the beautiful highways were bordered with flower beds and palm-trees because they are irrigated whatever the cost and the rarity of water.  Desalinization plants seem to work at full capacity there.  3 House Crows welcomed us in front of the splendid Sheik Al Zayed mosque made of white marble, which we visited with much pleasure. The carpets covering the whole floor were gigantic and a marvel to our eyes, just like the huge crystal chandeliers hanging high above our heads. 


Al Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi (Photo Danielle Joannès)

A few moments later, a quick visit of Heritage Village gave me a rough idea of what the Emirates looked like before the oil money.  It was also an opportunity to watch birds:  House Crows, White-eared or Red-vented Bulbuls.

Abou Dhabi

  Abu Dhabi seen from Heritage Village (Photo Danielle Joannès)

After lunch we went on and drove as far as Al Ain.  We stopped for a short time so I walked a few steps in a deserted stretch of land and found a  ... Desert Wheatear. There were numerous Laughing Doves and Common Mynas in Al Ain and I also spotted 4 Red-wattled Lapwings on the irrigated lawns.  We made a stop at the Hili archeological site and had a look at what is supposed to be a common grave dating back to 3000 BC.  I found the park pleasant and saw many White-eared Bulbuls together with a  Rose-ringed Parakeet, 4 Eurasian Hoopoes and Pale Crag Martins.  We drove part of the trip by night for quite a long time and finally made it to the Mercure Hotel, built at an altitude of 1200 m in the Djebel Hafit.  The slope was so steep that we had to change buses a few hundred metres before the hotel.  The surroundings were gorgeous, the rooms very comfortable and the meals good.  What more could we ask for?

07th November 2013

We got up at 6 a.m. in order to have time to observe a few birds in the park of the hotel.  In addition to the usual Red-vented or White-eared Bulbuls which can be seen almost anywhere we also saw a White-spectacled Bulbul  and Pale Crag Martins before going to the camel market at Al Ain.  We were astonished to see men, dressed in their spotless dishdashes walking about slowly or bartering in the middle of domestic dromedaries braying noisily especially when they were pushed up on board a pick-up after they had been bought. I was also surprised to see how some people greet each other in the U.A.E. .  So far, I had seen men give each other a kiss on their cheeks but then I noticed that some of them just brushed their nose against their friend's nose!  I thought I still had to discover many things about the culture of this country. Nobody asked me any questions, nobody bothered me even when I took photos to keep memories of such a different country.  We then went to the museum in Al Ain located close to a small palm grove. I didn't stay too long inside and thus spotted 3 Green Bee-eaters,  2 Purple Sunbirds and a Red-wattled Lapwing.  Later on we crossed the border to Oman.  Immigration formalities were a bit long but we had been informed in advance and waiting in the nice, cool customs hall was pleasant.  We reached Nizwa after the night had fallen and settled at the Falaj Daris hotel.  Dining by the swimming-pool was very pleasant and we were lucky to observe a Gecko running very quickly after insects on the walls of the hotel.  

Gecko (Photo Simone Girault)
08th November 2013

After breakfast, we went to the cattle market of Nizwa and once again it was something worth seeing.  There were men wearing their white disdashes and women in their black abayas who had come to sell or buy a goat or a sheep and later in the day, cows or .  Potential buyers were sitting while those who wanted to sell walked around in front of them, showing their animals in a confused and noisy hurly-burly.  We remained there long enough to enjoy the scene and make as many photos as we liked.  After that, the fish and the spices market which we visited seemed rather dull.  We strolled along the fort of Nizwa, in the middle of men sporting the traditional curved dagger called a khanjar at their waists and carrying a gun over the shoulder, as any worthy man does there.  We then swapped our coach for luxurious SUVs and drove on to the fort of Jabrin  which we visited but only stopped in front of the fort of Bahla to have a quick look. 

The Fort of Jabrin (Photo Danielle Joannès)

The Fort of Bahla (Photo Danielle Joannès)

I had some time to take a little walk along a brook when I was startled by the powerful call to prayer booming from a loudspeaker and saw a Graceful Prinia, a Purple Sunbird and other little birds hiding away in the bushes which I could not identify.  We had to go on because we wanted to reach our camp in the desert before nightfall.  We stopped for a short while at Ibra where I had a good look at a beautiful Indian Roller.  We saw mountains in the distance and soon a series of red sand dunes.  We stopped at a service station to diminish the the tyre pressure so as not get get stuck in the sand, which didn't prevent us from driving at about 90 km / h on the sandy trails. After we had unpacked our things at the 1000 Nights Camp we left at once to admire the sun setting over the dunes which we climbed up rather easily in our offroaders. Ecology and fuel conservancy have never been heard of here.  In spite of the wind, it was still hot and we enjoyed the beauty of the site.  We returned to the camp when night set in but our car got stuck in the sand for a few minutes before the other 4X4s helped us out.  Clearly enough, it is not a good idea to visit this desert on your own. 

Wahiba Sands

Wahiba Sands (Photo Danielle Joannès)

09th November 2013

We had had a restful night in our Bedouin's tent but the many singing Laughing Doves woke me up at dawn so I went out to look for any living animals in those enchanting surroundings.  A Dung beetle was pushing its dung ball left behind by the dromedaries of the camp and not far away, I observed a few Brown-necked Ravens, a Southern Grey Shrike, a Desert Whitethroat and a Desert Wheatear.  After breakfast we left the camp and crossed the sand dunes of that desert which has now been turned into a play-ground for the golden youth of this country.  All day long and even at night, they climb 45° slopes with their offroaders or quads, their engines howling like mad.  We then visited a Bedouins' camp and were welcomed like all the tourists they meet.  In spite of that, we appreciated the dates and the haloua they offered us.  I found that pastry made of semolina, oil, sugar, saffron, cardamom and rose water just excellent.  We left the dunes behind us and drove on into the barren mountains and had lunch in the Bani Khaled oasis which hosts numerous dragonflies among which I saw the highly visible red males of Orange-winged Dropwings, Violet Dropwings and Epaulet Skimmers

Orange-winged Dropwing (Photo Simone Girault)

 Bani Khaled Oasis (Photo Danielle Joannès)

As you may imagine, it was hot, so some people decided to have a swim in the river.  When we reached the seaside at Sur, I saw about 80 Socotra Cormorants, about 15 Sooty Gulls, a Whimbrel, some Heuglin’s Gulls, 2 Caspian Gulls, 2 Western Reef Herons, a Swift Tern and 2 Indian Rollers.  The number of minarets was impressive and our guide told us that there are public mosques but also many privates ones, which accounts for that.   We were accommodated in the suburbs of Sur, in the Ras Al Hadj hotel, located right at the seaside, which suited me perfectly as it gave me the opportunity to have a walk on the nearby beach.  In the immediate vicinity of the hotel I saw two Desert Wheatears and there were many waders on the beach, among which about 10 Bar-Tailed Godwits, 2 Eurasian Oystercatchers, 2 Grey Plovers, one Greenshank, 5 Redshanks, 6 Sanderlings, a few Kentish Plovers, at least one Greater Sand Plover, a Whimbrel, a Caspian Tern and many Sooty and Heuglin's Gulls.  In the evening, we rushed through the museum of Ras Al Jinz to learn something about the Green Turtle which comes to lay its eggs on the beaches of this area.  We walked for a long time at the light of our torches till we arrived at one of those beaches.  It was full of large holes dug by those turtles.  One of them was throwing sand behind her with her forelegs and she looked exhausted.  We did the best we could not to annoy her.  No photos were allowed but we will remember this scene for ever and also how those tiny baby turtles sprinted all they could to the water.  They had escaped being caught by birds for the time being but how many more perils will they have to face in the years to come?

Sooty Gull (Photo Simone Girault)

November 2013

I got up pretty early in order to walk along the beach.  Close to the hotel, I found 2 Desert Wheatears, an Isabelline Wheatear and a Tawny Pipit.  There were all sorts of plovers on the beach and it gave me the opportunity to compare the various sizes of some birds which looked almost the same without a telescope.  There were Kentish Plovers, a Ringed Plover, 2 Lesser Sand Plovers, about ten Greater Sand Plovers and all the waders I had seen the previous day.  Back at the hotel, while having my breakfast I observed a Southern Grey Shrike perched on the wired fence around the building.  We then went to the fish market in Sur around which I saw 5 Pale Crag Martins and visited the shipyard where they still build traditional dhows made of teck or acacia.  A Western Reef Heron, once again of the dark morph, was pacing along the beach with a Eurasian Oystercatcher and I also saw 2 Socotra Cormorants and 4 Dunlins.  Not far away, an Indian Roller was displaying its beautiful colours on an electric wire.  When we stopped to fill the tanks at a petrol station, I saw a young Steppe Eagle circling above us.  When we reached the Tiwi oasis, I found the same dragonflies I had seen at  Bani Khaled.  By the water, I spotted a Grey Wagtail, 7 Indian Silverbills, a Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper and a few Common Coots near the reed-beds.

Tiwi Oasis (Photo Danielle Joannès)

The scenery was dreamlike and after some time we made a short stop to watch a mountain tinged with the green of copper mineral and then we reached the seaside.  At the beautiful beach near Fins where we had stopped for the view, I was impressed by the sight of 8 Egyptian Vultures circling above us and I also so an eagle on the beach in the distance but it was so far away that I couldn't identify it.  Closer to me, a Western Reef Heron, in the white morph and yet another Desert Wheatear.  I saw other birds when we had our picnic lunch later on, among which an Indian Roller, about 10 White-eared Bulbuls, 4 Green Bee-eaters, a Tawny Pipit and an Isabelline Wheatear.  At Quiryat, an Osprey was flying over the harbour and I also saw several  House Crows.  We made it to Muscat, the capital city, by the end of the afternoon and unpacked our cases at the Al Falaj hotel.

11th November 2013

Muscat is a very busy modern-looking city and we used our coach to go from one place to the other.  We stopped in front of the magnificent opera made of white marble and visited the Sultan Qaboos mosque which is just as beautiful as that of Abu Dhabi.  In the park surrounding it I saw several  Common Mynas, many House Crows, a few Rose-ringed Parakeets and other, commoner birds which I had already seen elsewhere in the country.  After that visit we went to the harbour where a Whimbrel, a Western Reef Heron and 2 Black-crowned Night-Herons were looking for something to eat.  In the ancient quarter of  Muttrah, we took a stroll on the square in front of the Sultan's palace, bordered with  ashok-trees and spent some time in the museum where, unfortunately, photos were forbidden.  In the evening, we left Muscat and took the plane to Salalah, the capital city of the province of Dhofar, in the south of the country.  As it was dark when we arrived, our driver got lost when he tried to find the splendid Juweira hotel where we stayed for 2 nights.  It is located close to the beach and he had to drive back and forth on the sand-covered road before someone put us in the right direction.

Sultan Qaboos Mosque (Photo Danielle Joannès)

12th November 2013

We spent the night in a huge and luxurious suite but what I liked most was its location at the seaside where I could find new birds, especially as we were then in the south of the country.  I saw 5 Swift Terns together with many Sooty and Heuglin's Gulls.  I added two more species to my list when I discovered a Blackstart and a migrating Western Marsh Harrier.  The temperature was around 30°C but there was a lot of wind and the sand never stopped whirling about between the palm-trees.   Our local guide took us to a marshy area near Tagah where I saw a group of bird-watchers lined up behind a battery of spotting-scopes.  Unfortunately I could not do the same and join them because we were supposed to visit the fort in that town but I nevertheless saw a few Tristram’s Starlings, 2 African Silverbills and 2 Green Bee-eaters

Tristram's Starling (Photo Simone Girault)

We boarded our coach again and drove as far as the archeological park of Sumhuram which dates back to the 5th century BC.  The sky was a vivid blue and the walls on which archeologists were working was the same beige as that of the sand and at the foot of distant mountains there was a lake hosting various birds.  I could see a few Greater Flamingos, Western Reef Herons, a Gull-Billed Tern, an Osprey and Great White Egrets.  We were also supposed to visit Bin Ali's mausoleum and this is where we were given many details about the various Muslim denominations.  The mausoleum is surrounded by a graveyard, partly overrun with weeds where I saw a Blackstart.  It was very hot and we came back to our air-conditioned coach with great pleasure and drove as far as Mirbat, the former capital city of Dhofar.  Back in the Salalah area, I saw about 50 White Storks wheeling round over the plain.  To go to Job's tomb, whom they call  Nabi Ayyoub in this country, we had to go up a steep road and the driver had to be very careful because of the numerous free roaming dromedaries which often unexpectedly cross the roads.  Three Steppe Eagles were flying over us and I was very happy to see about thirty Fan-tailed Ravens.  These birds have an indeed appropriate name.  Near the mausoleum, I saw my first Cinnamon-breasted Bunting and a Shining Sunbird.  We then had to go to a nature reserve to see frankincense trees and the road became steeper and more and more winding.  The most beautiful trees can be found in small canyons and our guide explained to us that they are incised to get the milky resin which is then dried so that it can be burnt.  There are several qualities of incense and it is supposed to cure all sorts of diseases.  It can thus be used as a pharmaceutical product but is above all used by women to perfume their clothes and homes. Before returning to Salalah we stopped at the sea-side near Mughsayl and took some time to watch the impressive cliffs and beautiful sand beaches. 

Frankincense tree (Photo Danielle Joannès)

13th November 2013

We were to leave our luxurious hotel on that very day so I decided to get up earlier than usual to go out and do some birdwatching.  I saw the Swift Terns again but also a Lesser Crested Tern and all the commonest gulls there, plus a few Graceful Prinias, Desert Wheatears and Tristram’s Starlings.  When we arrived near the banks of a small river at Ain Rosat, I spotted 5 Cinnamon-breasted Buntings, about ten Common Sandpipers, 2 White-spectacled Bulbuls, an African Silverbill and above all a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle gliding slowly above us at low altitude. The archeological site at Al Baleed is worth a visit and it was of course included in our programme.  I found the museum very interesting and appreciated the air-conditioning before going to the site itself.  All along this place, there is a canal and well irrigated lawns.  This attracts a lot of birds among which I saw a Daurian Shrike, a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, 4 Crested Larks, a Rüppell’s Weaver, 2 Gull-Billed Terns and all sorts of herons: Grey and Purple HeronsSquacco Herons, Indian Pond-Herons,  Western Reef Herons, Cattle and Little Egrets.  Much to my regret, I had to leave this wonderful site to follow my friends into the frankincense souk.  Many small shops are held by women who are experts at selling their goods and if they wear the burqa mask, it is above all for tourists because they don't mind being photographed.  We made a short stop in front of the Sultan Qaboos mosque and then went to the airport to take the plane to Dubai, some 1000 km away from Salalah.  We arrived late at night and once again had to go through all those boring administrative formalities when we crossed the border.

14th November 2013

Back in Dubai, the city of superlatives.  Everything is out of all proportion and the area is flush with the money brought in by many multinational companies, oil resources and touristic activities.  The shopping malls are gigantic and you can get lost easily in their underground car-parks.  We walked past a series of luxury shops lined up along spotless arcades and I was surprised to see that some of them sold expensive fur coats while it is so hot in the country that even the bus or underground stops are air-conditioned. There is a huge aquarium in the entry hall hosting sharks and very colourful fishes.  There is also an ice-rink and not far away, a 400 m ski-run , even if temperatures can soar to 50°C in the summer.  After browsing in the various boutiques, we went up Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world, towering at 828 m.  You can't get right to the top though, because the 42 last levels are used for the machinery but it took a lift only one minute to hoist us at an altitude of 452 m from which we had an uninterrupted view of the city. 

Burj Khalifa (Photo Danielle Joannès)

It is very strange to discover that so many skyscrapers have been built in the middle of a desert which is irrigated in order to have lawns and palm-trees.   Architects try to outdo one another in imagination and as money is no problem, they can make their craziest dreams come true.  There is plenty of building space yet so there is a lot of empty room between the buildings, contrary to what you see in the USA for instance.  As a lot of workers cannot afford to pay the exorbitant rents of Dubai, they often have to move to the emirate of Sharjah.  This is why the government built huge highways connecting those to 2 cities but they were soon congested so they added 2 very comfortable elevated railways.  Just after the visit to Burj Khalifa, we went to Sharjah where we were told that alcohol is forbidden, even to foreigners because this was a condition imposed by the sheiks of Saudi Arabia when they subsidized that not so wealthy emirate which almost went bankrupt a few years ago. 

The Coran roundabout in Sharjah (Photo Danielle Joannès)

We browsed through the Al Arsa souk which looked like Ali Baba's cave even though most of the shop owners were Indians trying to sell their pashminas.  The central souk, also called Blue Souk because of the colour of its roof, comprises two buildings connected by a footbridge and it is much quieter.

Blue Souk (Photo Danielle Joannès)

I had enough of all those shops so I went for a walk along the Creek, which is actually a small sea sound, and did some birdwatching.  I saw Black-headed Gulls, Common Mynas, Laughing Doves and House Crows but nothing else worth noting.  Those birds are rather common there and I missed the rich fauna of Oman.   In the afternoon, we visited the splendid Islamic museum.  The air-conditioned rooms were very pleasant and we learnt a lot about this religion even if we felt that some kind of proselytism was always underlying the explanations we were given.  I was surprised to see so few people in such a beautiful museum.  In the evening, we returned to the esplanade at the foot of Burj Khalifa to attend a light and water show enlivened by music. In spite of the crowd the atmosphere was pleasant and we decided to stay till the end of the show instead of loitering in the arcades.  After the show, we went on board a river boat to have a tour on the Creek but that was certainly not the highlight of our trip so we went to the airport with no regrets. 

15th November 2013

The plane took off at 01 h 45 and we landed in Paris 6h 30 later.

Lists of animal species observed during the trip.

Greater Flamingo
Phoenicopterus roseus
Ten in Salalah and three at Sumhuram but we didn't go to places hosting this species.
White Stork
Ciconia ciconia
About fifty migrating birds in Salalah and thirty at Raysut near Salalah.
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Nycticorax nycticorax
Two juveniles in the harbour of Muscat.
Cattle Egret
Bubulcus ibis
One in Dubai and three at Al Baleed.
Squacco Heron
Ardeola ralloides
Two at Al Baleed.
Indian Pond-Heron
Ardeola grayii
Four at Al Baleed.
Grey Heron
Ardea cinerea
Common, especially around Sur.
Purple Heron
Ardea purpurea
One at  Al Baleed.
Great White Egret
Egretta alba
One bird at the Fish market in Sur, two at Sumhuram and one at  Al Baleed.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
One bird at Al Baleed.
Western Reef Heron
Egretta gularis
Common in the Emirates and Oman.  Most of the birds I found were in the dark morph but I may have mistaken some white morphs with all sorts of White Herons.
Socotra Cormorant
Phalacrocorax nigrogularis
Eighty or so at Sur.  Some of the cormorants I saw were too far away to be identified. 
Pandion haliaetus
One at Quiryat and one at Sumhuram.
Egyptian Vulture
Neophron percnopterus
Six adults with two immatures near the beach of Fins.
Western Marsh Harrier
Circus aeruginosus
One immature flying over our hotel at Salalah Beach.
Steppe Eagle
Aquila nipalensis
One juvenile flying over Sur.  Three in the area around Beit Zarbji (Dhofar), close to Job's Mausoleum.
Bonelli's Eagle
Aquila fasciatus
One juvenile at Ain Rasat.
Common Coot
Fulica atra
Only two, at the Tiwi Oasis.
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Haematopus ostralegus
Five seen in Sur.
Red-wattled Lapwing
Vanellus indicus
One bird on an irrigated lawn at Al Ain.
Grey Plover
Pluvialis squatarola
Two in Sur.
Ringed Plover
Charadrius hiaticula
One in Sur.  There may have been more of that species but I had not telescope and concentrated above all on the species new to me.
Kentish Plover
Charadrius alexandrinus
Three in Sur.  There may have been more of that species but I had not telescope and concentrated above all on the species new to me.
Lesser Sand Plover
Charadrius mongolus Two at least in Sur.
Greater Sand Plover
Charadrius leschenaultii About ten in Sur. 
Bar-Tailed Godwit
Limosa lapponica
Ten in Sur.
Numenius phaeopus
Two in Sur and one in the harbour of Muscat.
Tringa totanus
Five in Sur.
Tringa nebularia One in Sur and one at the Tiwi Oasis.
Common Sandpiper
Actitis hypoleucos
A few in Sur, at the Tiwi Oasis, in the harbour in Muscat, at Salalah Beach and about ten of them at Ain Rasat.
Calidris alba
About fifteen in Sur.
Calidris alpina Four in Sur.
Sooty Gull
Larus hemprichii
Very common at the seaside in Oman.
Black-headed Gull
Chrocoicephalus ridibundus
Fifty in Dubai, a hundred or so in the harbour of Muscat and common too at  Salalah Beach.  
Slender-billed Gull
Chrocoicephalus genei
A few birds in the province of Dhofar.
Caspian Gull
Larus cachinnans
About thirty of them at Quiryat and a few in the harbour of Muscat.
Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini Numerous.  I saw all sorts of Lesser Black-backed Gulls during our trip which are now often regarded as full species by many taxonomists.  It was sometimes very difficult to identify them correctly as I didn't have time enough and had no telescope.   The commonest gulls were Heuglin's and Sooty Gulls.  
Gull-Billed Tern
Gelochelidon nilotica
One bird at Sumhuram and two at Al Baleed.
Caspian Tern 
Hydroprogne caspia
One bird in Sur.
Lesser Crested Tern
Sterna bengalensis
Onebird at least at Salalah Beach but I may have mistaken some Swift Terns with Lesser Crested Terns.
Swift Tern
Sterna bergii One bird in Sur, five at Salalah and two at Salalah Beach.
Little Tern
Sterna albifrons One bird at Sumhuram.  Saunders's Tern which looks almost the same is much rarer in that area.
Rock Pigeon
Columba livia
Feral birds in large cities.
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Three birds in Dubai and many of them at Hili.
Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Many of them at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert, but also common elsewhere.  Its song is part of the local atmosphere.
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Psittacula krameri
One bird at Hili  and three in Muscat.
Pale Swift / Forbes-Watson's Swift
Apus pallidus /  Apus berliozi These two species are very difficult to distinguish from each other.  About twenty of them in Dubai and one lone bird in Muscat.
Indian Roller
Coracias benghalensis
One at Ibra,  three in Sur, one near Fins, two at Quiryat and one at Al Baleed.  Its colours are just unbelievable.
49 Eurasian Hoopoe
Upupa epops
One bird striving to kill an insect in front of the museum in Al Ain. Four on the lawns at the archeological site of Hili.
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
Merops persicus
One at Al Baleed.
Green Bee-eater
Merops orientalis Three in front of the museum in Al Ain. Four near Fins, 1 at Quiryat and 1 at Taqah.
Daurian Shrike
Lanius isabellinus
One very tame bird in the archeological site of Al Baleed. 
Southern Grey Shrike
Lanius meridionalis  One bird at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert and one at Salalah Beach. 
House Crow
Corvus splendens
Very common in the Emirates and Oman. All the birds I saw were of the race zugmayeri, showing much grey on their napes, chests and  necks.
Brown-necked Raven Corvus ruficollis Four flying near the Fort of Jabrin (Oman).  One bird was very easy to watch at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert.
Fan-tailed Raven
Corvus rhipidurus Thirty in the area of Beit Zarbji (Dhofar), near Job's mausoleum.  The silhouette of this bird with its short tail is striking. 
White-eared Bulbul
Pycnonotus (leucogenys) leucotis
Common both in the Emirates and Oman.
Red-vented Bulbul
Pycnonotus cafer Slightly less common than the White-eared Bulbul.
White-spectacled Bulbul
Pycnonotus xanthopygos The least common bulbul.  One at the Mercure Hotel at Al Ain. One at the spices market in Nizwa, two at the Tiwin oasis, one in Muscat and two at Ain Rasat.
Crested Lark
Galerida cristata
Four at the archeological site of Al Baleed. 
Pale Crag Martin
Ptyonoprogne (fuligula) obsoleta
Often seen in small numbers flying around buildings even in towns.  A few around the Mercure Hotel at and around the fish market in Sur and also in Muscat and Ain Rasat.
Graceful Prinia
Prinia gracilis
Usually in bushes: one at Bahla (Oman), two at Salalah Beach, one at Al Baleed.
Desert Whitethroat
Sylvia minula
A bird seen on an acacia at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert.  Looks a lot like the Lesser Whitethroat.
Common Myna
Acridotheres tristis
Common above all in cities, even inside mosques where you will definitely hear its shrill voice.  
Tristram’s Starling
Onychognathus tristramii
Some at Taqah. Five at Sumhuram, seven at Salalah, three  at Beit Zarbji and 1 at Salalah Beach.
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
One couple of the race semirufus at the Mercure hotel in Al Ain.  Looks a lot like the Common Redstart.
Isabelline Wheatear
Oenanthe isabellina
Not seen very often.  One in Sur and one in the area around Fins.
Cercomela melanura
Not seen very often.  One in Salalah, one at Sumhuram and one à Mirbat, close to the mausoleum of Bin Ali.
Desert Wheatear
Oenanthe deserti Rather common, even around houses in the countryside.
Shining Sunbird
Cinnyris habessinicus
Not seen very often and only in the south of the country. One at Beit Zarbji in the mountains.
Purple Sunbird
Cinnyris asiaticus Several near the museum of Al Ain, and in Muscat.  Only in the north of the country.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
I didn't pay much attention to that species.  Seen in Dubai and Al Ain and even right in the middle of the desert, at the 1000 Nights Camp.
Rüppell's Weaver
Ploceus galbula
One at Al Baleed.  I saw many nests which were probably built by this bird. 
African Silverbill
Lonchura cantans
Two at Taqah and one at Ain Rasat.  In the south of the country.
Indian Silverbill Lonchura malabarica Three in Dubai and a small flock of seven at the oasis of Tiwi. In the north of the country.
Grey Wagtail
Motacilla cinerea
One bird seen at the oasis of Tiwi and one at Al Baleed.
White Wagtail
Motacilla alba A few in Muscat, Salalah and one juvenile bird at Al Ain.
Tawny Pipit 
Anthus campestris
Two close to the hotel in Sur, not far from the beach and one in the area of Fins.
Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
Emberiza tahapisi
One near Job's mausoleum at Beit Zarbji and five at Ain Rasat.

Other animal species:


Dromedaries (Camelus dromedarius):  You will find them everywhere near desert camps but they also roam freely in the mountains near Beit Zarbji (Dhofar).


Gecko sp.:  We observed a gecko which might be a Yellow fan-fingered Gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii) on the walls of the Falaj Daris hotel in Nizwa but it had longer claws than what I have seen on pictures of that species. 

Green Turtle: (Chelonia mydas): Two females laying eggs on a beach near Ras Al Jinz and a few very young ones running towards the sea.

Lizard sp.:  A small lizard lashing its tails sideways while running at the Fort of Jabrin.


Dung Beetle sp. :  One of them was busy pushing its dromedary dung ball at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert.

Orange-winged Dropwing (Thritemis kirbyi):  At the oases of Bani Khaled and Tiwi.  The bright red males are just magnificent.

Violet Dropwing (Thritemis annulata): At the oases of Bani Khaled and Tiwi.

Epaulet Skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma): At the oases of Bani Khaled and Tiwi.

Wasp sp.:  Large brown wasps with their bellies striped yellow and brown at Bani Khaled and at the 1000 Nights Camp in the desert.

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