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Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Oman Day 5 Ayn Hamran

This superb male Black-fronted Sparrow Lark was on the side of the road to Ayn Hanran and was part of a flock of nine birds 
   As Salalah Public Park was only a few minutes down road and I thought I'll give it look as there were also 2 Rufious Turtle Dove and a Crested Honey Buzzard there in November. Good numbers of Desert Lesser Whitethroat, calling and singing, Blue-headed Wagtail, Shining Sunbird and a new species, Grey-headed Kingfisher. I was there for only an hour as I wanted to return to Ayn Hamran for the third time. When I bird with other birders abroad, I will go in search of the specialities in whatever country were in. However, when I'm alone then I won't make that much of an effort to seek out the specialities and instead, I'll go birding for hours in one spot and sometimes return if it proved productive the first time I was there.

There were 2 Grey-headed Kingfisher in the park

6 Sykes Wagtail including this male

10 Desert Lesser Whitethroat

  I was close to the Ayn Hamran when nine small pale larks flew over low in front of the car. I came to holt and jumped out of the car as this was one lark I really wanted to see! I saw where they pitched down and a quick scan revealed 9 Black-fronted Sparrow Lark. I spent the next ten minutes getting closer and ahead of them they I lay down low and waited. It payed off as after another ten minutes they were only a few meters away me and not really concerned of my presence. There were many Isabelline Wheatear and both Steppe and Eastern Imperal Eagle were above me


Lying down and being still is the key when 9 Black-fronted Sparrow Lark came meters away from me!

  I dusted myself off in the heat of the sun at 40% and walked across to where the scrub starts leading deep into the wandi towards Ayn Hamran. I could hear a Arabian Warbler singing in the nearby Acicia's while I was lying down with the larks. However, there was no sign of it and I started taking some photos of a confiding Citrine Wagtail feeding in the stream. The wagtail was quickly pushed aside when I noticed a male Desert Wheatear and then a Turkestan Shrike in one of the Acicia's. In turn, the shrike was forgotten almost immediately as I could hear the Arabian Warbler rattling and made my ways to where it was. I could see movement deep in the bush but could I see the damn thing? I decided to sit on a rock in the shade and wait. It was some twenty minutes later that from nowhere he was foraging out in the open just above me. It's a large sylvia so he moved through like a hippo and took his time but most of that time was spent behind leaves and twigs.
  I drove up to the car park but there was no sign of the Rufous Turtle Dove and it was the same birds that I saw here on my first visit. The last hour of my day was near the digs at Al Awqadayn floods where I had close range views of the egrets and herons and the usual stuff that hangs out on the flood that is disappearing fast.

Male Arabian Warbler

Male Desert Wheatear

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Oman day 4 Al Awqadayn floods

There were over 80+Western Reef Heron feeding on the floods

  Just up road from my digs, there is a flooded area where Glossy Ibis, egrets and herons concentrate in large numbers and this morning, first thing, there were 100s feeding. I discovered this area by chance while driving around. It's just a network of roads with the water on each side and a two minute walk from Bayt Fadil Beach.
  Leaving their roost were some 150 Rose-coloured Starling and there were at least 20 Night Heron still out in the open. A quick scan and in good numbers were Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingo, Western Reef,  Squacco and Grey Heron, Little, Cattle and Great-white Egret, Citrine and White Wagtail. While in smaller numbers there were Teal,  Garganey, Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Temminck's and Little Stint, Ruff, African Sacred Ibis, Purple and Indian Pond Heron and a single Pintail.. Caspian, Whiskered and Gull-billed Tern turned up from nowhere and after over two hours of observing so many species at close range, 21 Ruff flew east. A disturbing sight was over 100 House Crows trying to drown a Whiskered Tern! After twenty minutes of picking it up from it's head with their bills and dropping it into the water and then pushing it under by simply landing on it, the poor thing was on it's last legs. It was still alive, just, when a Marsh Harrier grabbed it from the crows and started plunking it on one of the small islands! There were still two other floods to drive around but the only birds of interest on them were the 2 Caspian Tern on the deck and a lot more herons and egrets.

This is just a fraction of the feeding frenzy first thing in the morning

4 African Sacred Ibis

80+Western Reef Heron of both morths

At least 10+Wood Sandpiper were heard more than seen and this individual was feeding on a small scrape next to a house.

There were 4 spotted Redshank with this single Greenshank

There were 2 Whiskered Tern until the House Crows got hold of one

2 Gull-billed Tern

2 Caspian Tern

A drive round to the next flood found the 2 Caspian Tern on the deck

There were up to 7 Citrine Wagtail

The floods at Al awqadayn

I can only guess that this Whiskered Tern wasn't in good shape when the House Crows got hold of it.

Everyone was hoping that the Marsh Harrier might leave some scraps behind when it finished feeding on the tern

The House Crows would chase anything taking on Black-winged Stilt and Avocet and even this female Pintail!

 I wasn't planning to stay for over two hours at Al Awqadayn floods but there was just so much goin on that I found it difficult to leave. When I did, I went east again but a little further down road to the next valley from Ary Umran that I visited yesterday. Driving from Highway 49 towards Ayn Taqah, I couldn't help but notice a Eastern Imperial Eagle close to the road and used the car as a hide to get closer to it before it flew off. I was just about to drive away when on the opposite side of the road, there were five more on the deck! I tried to use the car again but they weren't having any of it and kept making large leaps ahead of me. I had only got a few meters down road when I spotted an Osprey perched on one of lamp posts. I was making no progress in trying to get to the site and I was stopped in my tracks for the third time when I heard a silvia warbler scoldering as I drove slowly past. I had no idea which one it was and after a while it came out. It was a male Menetrie's Warbler. It was a new species for me, although Mush and I did have a brief views of a female while in Kuwait last week. This individual showed a lot better at times but spent most of it's time deep in cover.

There were 6 Eastern Imperial Eagle by the side of the road but only the adult type showed at close range


A new species for me was this male Menetrie's Warbler

  I gave up in trying to get to Ayn Taqah as my belly was rumbling inside and I made the short drive to the town of Taqah to get some dinner. I relaxed on the beach for a good two hours and then started birding at Khwr Taqi close by  on the west side of the town where I thought I would try my luck in seeing a Yellow Bittern. The closen't I got to a bittern, was on my arm! There were more or less the same species I had this morning at the floods but a lot further away. On the rough there was a Turkestan Shrike and a Richard's Pipit called as it flew away as I almost ran it over. On the goal posts were 2 Osprey and a Marsh Harrier was quartering the area. My belly started that noise again and I had to get back to my digs to get some tea down my neck!

Marsh Harrier

Seeming as though I'm close to the border of Yemen, I thought that I should show an update, that's today the 11th Dec,  of us funding and supporting the Saudi regime bombing 1000s of innocent civilians to kingdom come!! You vote for the Tories then you might not know it, but you are contributing to what is goin on over there as well as Jihadi groups such as ISIS. 

This map provides a general look at the current military situation in Yemen. Despite peace talks between the warring parties in Sweden, clashes are ongoing on the ground.