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Monday 17 December 2018

Oman Day 12 Salalah Big Mistakes!

Glossy Ibis are all over the shop in the wetland areas of Salalah

    My last day was mostly spent, of all  places, in a garage! After seeing 70+Pacific Plover, Lesser Sandplover and Intermediate Egret in the dunes near Raysut, I made the short drive along the beach to Khawr Awqad. Here the 5 Cotton Pygmy Geese were still present with the 7 Tufted Duck. I made my last visit to Raysut Sewage works and it was basically the same species that I observed here before except there more Wood Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern and Ruff. 

There were up to over 70 Pacific Golden Plover in the dunes

With smaller numbers of Lesser Sandplover

Intermediate Heron

An oiled Greater Flamingo

Up to 5 Cotton Pygmy Geese were at Khawr Awqad
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Black-winged stilt

 As I was dropping the hired car off tomorrow, nearby is the Raysut Industrial Estate and I thought I better give it a clean to make it look shiny and new. So I took it to a garage. Big mistake!! The car came out from the carwash and as I went towards the car to get in and drive away, I put my hands on my head and shouted 'OH NO!!!'
  The paint had come off below the door on each side from the powerwash. I pointed it out to the manage, whose English was very good, better than mine, and after some discussion he agreed to pay for it to be resprayed. Ok, that's good but my intention was to continue in the field. Anyways, one of the workers took me to one of the network of 100s of auto garages lined up on the estate. Here he left me there and I got to know the mechanics as I had a two hour wait. All five of them were from Bangladesh, all wore sandals and one them, Rash, asked me if I would like some water? That would be great and he got on his rusty old bike and peddled down road in his sandals. If that racist Tommy Robson was in Oman, well the Salalah area any hows, he wouldn't know which way to turn because most folks here are either from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh and the locals have no problem with that and why should they? Rash came back with my bottle of water and wouldn't take anythin for it. It was so hot it was gone in seconds and I didn't have one swig of it. He took the whole lot!. Then they sat down and started having their dinner. I found my hands back on my head and moaned as I wanted them to get started on the car and not on their dinner. They offered me to sit down with them and passed me over whatever they were eating. Oh, Ok, that's different and I got it down my neck. Second big mistake!! 'I got up in a flash shouting 'Water! Water! Quick!' but Rash had drunk it all. My head was just about to explode from how hot the bloody homemade samosas was that I had only took a bite out of. I saw that bike and was gone down the road but I had no idea where I was goin as I didn't know where the shop was where Rash got the water from earlier. It didn't matter because a pendle came off and as I was standing up at the time trying to get some speed and I found myself losing control of the bike and came to a holt! I was still trying to breathe when I returned to the garage without any water. Rash got up and went in the back and passed me over a bottle of water.
  Anyways, they did a great job and two hours later I was back on the road towards Ayn Hamran again. I only had a hour or so and of note I did get the male Turkestan Shrike and a single Long-legged Buzzard and 2 Bonelli's Eagle.

A pair of Bonelli's Eagle and Long-legged Buzzard were overhead

Female African Paradise Flycatcher

The dragonflies are amazing!

Locust sp?

And these snails were tasking advantage of the hot sun on a stump! 

Salalah in the distance


Beautiful part of the world but man, they've got some strange animals!

Sunday 16 December 2018

Oman Day 11 9th and 10th Cinereous Vulture for Oman!

I didn't connect with the Yemen Serin at Tawi Atayr but instead found the 9th and 10th records of CINEREOUS VULTURE, including this immature with 4 Lappet-faced and 21 Griffon Vulture! 

   A great day from start to finish! I thought I would give the Yemen Serin a second chance at Tawi Atayr after failing to see them a few days ago. On route I stopped off at Ayn Hamran first thing and driving towards the site from Highway 49, I was rewarded with cracking views of 2 Eastern Imperial, 2 Steppe and a immature Great Spotted Eagle at the side of the road. I thought I would give a few hours in the scrub before you hit Ayn Hamran. I could hear Arabian Warbler followed by a very loud song that I wasn't familiar with next to the stream. After a few minutes, I heard it again and there was a male Black-crowned Tchagra. This was my first one of the trip so far. A Turkestan Shrike was also in song followed by 2 Daurian Shrike. Nearby there was a wadi and as I walked deeper into the it and I flushed a Roller. This was a new bird for me and I stayed on it to see where it was goin to land but it disappeared around the bend out of sight. I went searching and relocated it on the lower branches of a tree in the shade. It showed very well then flew back down the wadi. After seeing 4 Namaqua Dove2 more Daurian Shrike and 2 Arabian Warbler, I returned to the stream and put up it or another Rufous Turtle Dove! It was only a mile or so from where I found the individual up road over a week ago. So I reckon it's safe to say it's the same one. This time, it was out in the open in the very intense hot sun and showed a lot better.

Adult Eastern Imperial Eagle

Immature Eastern imperial and Steppe Eagle

Immature Great Spotted Eagle

Eastern Imperial and Great Spotted Eagle

Male Black-crowned Tchagra

At last I've seen a Roller!!

 Over a week ago I found this Rufous Turtle Dove just up road from where I had it today and thought that it was a very rare bird for Oman. However, Jans Eriksen, a local birder, let me know that there had been 168 records in the country with 71 in Southern Oman! 

A single male Desert and good numbers of Isabelline Wheatear were also present in the surrounding area


Ayn Hamran

  It was mid-day when I arrived at Tawi Atayr and going by James Lidsters directions he gave me, as he saw 14 here a few weeks back, of where to find the Yermin Serin, I was determined to find them. However, after over an hour of seeing Arabian Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush and 4 Tree Pipit, there was no sign of them anywhere. I hadn't given up and thought I would try further up road. As I pulled out of a junction, I could see some large raptors circling high up. I was out of the car immediately as they looked good for vultures. 7 European Griffon Vulture with 4 Eastern Imperial Eagle. They were coming lower and appeared to land behind a ridge way off in the distance. I had to get closer as there could be a Lappet-faced Vulture with them. I was just going to set off on foot across the rocky plain when a quick look up in the sky revealed dots in the blue sky. Lifting my bins and I picked out a rather large dark vulture which I could think could only be Cinereous Vulture after seeing a single while working in the Himalayas a few year back. I knew this was a rare bird for Oman but how rare I had know idea. I tried to get some records shots before it moved on but it was obvious this was interested in what the other vultures were feeding on below and it to eventually came down and joined the others. Trying to get photos of the Cinereous, I could of easily missed the 2 Lappet-faced Vulture that were also circling but both birds moved out south, A long-legged Buzzard took on a Booted Eagles as well but I wasn't interested in them and starting to run down a hill after the vultures that were on the deck already. And I mean run because they were a long ways off. As I came closer to where they were, I used the cattle as an advantage to get closer. Packed together were 21 European Griffon Vulture and a single Lappet-faced Vulture but where was the Cinereous Vulture. I scanned again with my bins and hidden behind the cows were another Lappet-faced Vulture and not one but 2 CINEREOUS VULTURE!!  An adult and immature!
  I wanted to get closer but the cattle were moving on leaving me pretty exposed out in the open. I knelt down low but one of the Griffon Vultures must of seen me and they all took flight giving me the opportunity to get some great flight views. With in minutes they were rising on the thermals and I lost most of them. Magic stuff!! I then focused on the wagtails I could hear all the time while observing the vultures but out of the 20+wagtails, they seemed be all Sykes Wagtail.. Returning to the car, I drove around the corner and there was a Short-toed Eagle sat on top of a telephone pole. It just stayed there as I took pics from the car and was still there when I returned an hour later after no success with Yemen Serin. I leave them for another time as I was more than happy with the vultures.

Male Arabian Wheatear

First sighting of one of Cinereous Vulture was almost a dot in the sky. I took this pic when it came down a little a little closer..

Both Cinereous on the deck with a European Griffon on the right and you can just see the head of the Lappet-faced Vulture on the left


The adult and immature CINEREOUS VULTURE

Compared in size to a Eastern Imperial Eagle the Cinereous Vulture look enormous  


2 Lappet-faced Vulture

Altogether there were 21 Griffon Vulture

So thanks for the duff information from James Lidster of where to see Yemen Serin in Oman, I would of never of came across these vultures. In a good hour I observed a single Long-legged Buzzard, Booted and 7 Eastern Imperial Eagle, 21 Griffin, 4 Lappet-faced and 2 CINEREOUS VULTURE!!

The vultures were feeding just behind the cattle 

Then not long after seeing the vultures I bumped into this Short-toed Eagle
Fan-tailed Raven

I finished the day off at Saadah Park back in Salalah and the male Crested Honey Buzzard was still present with the 10 Tree Pipit

Sounds like Pink Floyd as you would expect from the amazing Roger Waters. With his involvement in being pro-Palestinian and with BDS, American Express pulled out from being his sponsor during his tour. He's just finished a very successful world tour playing in big venues including Hyde Park. To think that Pink Floyd Tribute Band were goin to play in Occupied Palestine, they must of been crazy! What were they thinking of?? Waters was on their back, like he was when he pleaded for Nick Cave and Radiohead and other artist not to play there, and out of all them, the tribute band pulled out. Other Artist have pulled out and boycotted Israel as well in the past and it is increasing.