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Monday, 10 December 2018

Oman Day 3 Rufous Turtle Dove at Ayn Hanran

I got a surprise when I found this Rufous Turtle Dove at Ayn Hanran and thought, mega for Oman! Until later when I discovered that there were two in the Salalah Public Park November just gone! 

  This morning I was up early and made roughly a twenty minute drive east to Ayn Hanran. There are a good selection of birds at this site that I wanted to see and it started off well with a Black Stork! It is for me anyways. Every other Black Stork have been flyovers on Scilly or flocks of over 500 over Palestine or smaller numbers flying in over the Gibraltar Strait. There were also Green and Common Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, Citrine and Grey Wagtail feeding in the stream and I kicked flocks of Hoopoe off the ground. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting were in good numbers and was the only new species. Before I arrived here, I was almost running over  Isabelline Wheatears.

Male Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

I've seen 100s of Black Stork but never on the deck like this immature individual. 

Citrine Wagtail

Hoopoes were all over the shop

  I continued to drive towards the main car park where the road ends, passing a small flock of Arabian Partridge next to the road, and immediately as I got out of car, there was a female African Paradise Flycatcher. I spent some time with her but as I found out later, there pretty common and I had a total of 8. As a result of staying in one spot with the flycatcher, You could hear Desert Lesser Whitethroat and moving through were single Wood Warbler, Redstart, Red-breasted Flycatcher,  and parties of Abyssinian White-eye. Where I had the stork earlier was sounded by fields with the odd acacia while further up stream it was now shady with large trees and lots more cover. Bruce's green Pigeon were easily flushed out of the trees and a Glamorous Reed Warbler was singing. While observing and recording the warbler, I noticed something move on the floor to my left and make it's way rather jerky up the spiny lower branches of a small bush but always hidden away. I lifted my bins and it looked like a locustella. It was ten minutes later that I identified it as a Grasshopper Warbler! I really wasn't expecting that one in this habitat.

Female African Paradise Flycatcher

Desert Lesser Whitethroat

Wood Warbler

This was the only female Shining Sunbird I saw as the others were all males

This Glamorous Reed Warbler was singing was in a dark area of scrub 

Bruce's Green Pigeon

And the Grasshopper Warbler! If you can make out of what it is. Surely a good bird in Oman at this time of year?

  I had already been birding in this area for two hours now and had only moved what would normally be a ten minute walk from the car. However, a cracking male African Paradise Flycatcher got me moving a bit faster when I could see it perched in the open a long ways off. What a bird but it never really stayed still and the same can be said of the 2 Red-breasted Flycatcher nearby. My first ever Long-billed Pipit showed superbly however and so did a very obliging Hoopoe. I kicked the Hoopoe off the ground, not knowing it was there, and it landed in a nearby tree and started preening less than a few meters away from where I was standing!!

Male African Paradise Flycatcher didn't show as good the female I had earlier

Long-billed Pipit

This crazy Hoopoe showed superbly at close range

The mountains where there are to be Verreaux's Eagles about but not today I have got to see one before I leave Oman

  Four hours had gone now and I started walking back to the car. I just briefly paused to take another look at the male African Paradise Flycatcher and it took me only twenty minutes to reach the car!! I had a bite to eat and then started making the slog up the mountain. I had only got on to the main path when this chicken landed some distance away just off the track. 'Now you ain't no Turtle Dove!' I couldn't believe it as I had a Rufous Turtle Dove!! I quickly took some record shots and then sneaked up to it keeping very low down. The light wasn't that good as it was too shady but I got decent shots before it flew off only to land in a bush. It sooned moved off again and I lost it. Bloody ell! I thought the gropper was good but that really did take me by surprise. There were more of those delightful flycatchers and in the air were 2 Eastern Imperial and a single Short-toed Eagle.

In total, of note,  I saw 8 African Paradise and 3 Red-breasted Flycatcher, 1 Wood, Glamorous and Grasshopper Warbler, 6 Desert Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Daurian Shrike, 20+Hoopoe, 1 Black Stork, 2 Grey Wagtail and 7 Bruce's Green Pigeon

Rufous Turtle Dove. Not as rare as I first thought for the country
Immature male African Paradise Flycatcher

Abyssinian White-eye.

Goats having a good ole scratch before having a drink at the stream

Just beyond those trees is where I found the Rufous Turtle Dove

  Just a short drive further east from Ayn Hanran is Ayn Tabraq but I bypassed the latter site and would make a visit another time. I continued up the mountain towards Jebel Khasbar as I wanted a change in habitat. As usual I do my own thing in turning off side roads and taking a gamble. It doesn't always work but on this occasion I got 2 pairs of Arabian Wheatear, Rock Thrush and more Isabelline Wheatear. I returned the way I came up and I could see above me but reasonable close, 2 Eastern Imperial Eagle. I pulled over and observed them playing with Fan-tailed Raven in the wind. Then out of the blue, the eagles were locked in talons, came tumbling down, spirling, only to brake away as they came closer to the ground. The Ravens were always following them down and continued to carry on playing with the eagles as they all drifted into the distance. Magic stuff!

No idea why but these pair of Arabian Wheatear were both tailless and looked more like shortwings. Maybe it's the air up so high or I found a new species!

Then further up road I came across this male Arabian Wheatear that was in song

Immature male rock Thrush

I've only seen two Isabelline Wheatear before, both on Scilly, but today I saw well over thirty birds!

If only they were a tad closer

On the low lands approaching highway 49 back to salalah in last of the light, I got a single Blackstart, Osprey and a Arabian Shrike. 

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