Barr Al Hikman, a major shorebird hotspot within the Asian–East African Flyway: results of three winter surveys
10 – 25
1 April 17
Jimmy de Fouw, Andrew W. Thorpe, Roeland A. Bom, Steven de Bie, Kees (C.J.) Camphuysen, Brian Etheridge, Ward Hagemeijer, Lenze Hofstee, Theo Jager, Leon Kelder, Romke Kleefstra, Marcel Kersten, Szabolcs Nagy, Raymond H.G. Klaassen
Jimmy de Fouw
Department of Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University Nijmegen, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525AJ Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
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Barr Al Hikman, a large intact coastal wetland in the Sultanate of Oman, is an important wintering site for migratory waterbirds in the Asian–East African Flyway. The last reported systematic survey of the area is from 1990. Here, we present results of three surveys in 2007/2008, 2013/2014 and 2015/2016. Up to half a million waterbirds of 42 species were counted. Shorebirds were by far the most numerous group (>410,000). For 18 shorebird species, numbers wintering at Barr Al Hikman exceeded 1% of their flyway population. Therefore, our results confirm that Barr Al Hikman is still an important wintering ground, not only with respect to the number of birds, but also in terms of species diversity. Furthermore, a comparison with past surveys shows that numbers have tripled since the 1990s. We argue that, taking into account methodological issues, habitat degradation at other wintering sites in the Gulf region of the flyway may be an
important factor leading birds to shift to Barr Al Hikman. However, the future of Barr Al Hikman is uncertain: recent rapid urban growth and road construction have drastically changed the Oman coast, and potentially threatening developments are being planned in the area. Therefore, to preserve the Barr Al Hikman area, clear conservation guidelines and actions are needed, and the site deserves to be designated as a Ramsar site.