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lmSA84 - Big Year 2018 (Part Deux)


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lmSA84

So here we go again! My second attempt at the Big Year likely won't surpass my count from 2017 but I'm hoping to at least best my British count of 83.

 

The first set of birds will likely all come from Oman. My wife, suffering from a case of the British Winter Blues, booked a last minute family trip to Muscat whilst we were stuck in the M40 traffic on December 27th. 

 

I work a fair amount in the region (mainly in the UAE, Qatar and occasionally KSA) and I have to say that Oman is now my favourite. I hadn't really considered it as a birding location but I was pleasantly surprised. I haven't yet been through all my photos / reviewed the bird book but I reckon I might have seen 60 -70 birds. They were all either seen at the hotel, walking distance from the hotel or on 2 morning trips to the local Wetland. 

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lmSA84

1. Common Greenshank, Muscat, 2/1/18

 

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lmSA84

2. Eurasian Curlew, Muscat, 2/1/18

 

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lmSA84

3. Lesser Sand Plover, Muscat, 2/1/18

 

I have to admit this Oman trip has really challenged me to improve my knowledge of shorebirds. I'm not sure that I've got all these identifications right so feel free to comment.

 

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lmSA84

4. Indian Roller, Muscat, 2/1/18

 

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lmSA84

5. Common Sandpiper, Al Ansab Wetlands (Muscat), 3/1/18

 

large.DSC_9462.jpg.60b85b9e788419e28858f345581d10fd.jpg

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elefromoz

 

11 hours ago, lmSA84 said:

My wife, suffering from a case of the British Winter Blues, booked a last minute family trip to Muscat whilst we were stuck in the M40 traffic on December 27th. 

 

How exotic! Where I come from, Bali is about as last minute as it gets. Shorebirds are a real trick, what always surprises me is that you have posted Greenshanks and Common Sandpiper from Oman, I can walk down to my foreshore here in the SW of Australia right now and see exactly the same species. 

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michael-ibk

Off to a cracking start, and not a bad place to begin the new year. Seeing your Plover I immediately thought Kentish.The bill looks a bit strong for it and the leg colour a bit too dark but that may well be the mud. I've never seen a Lesser Sand Plover but the distinctive white collar around the neck seen in the first picture would point more towards Kentish to me, at least according to my books a Sand Plover should not have that. Anything but sure, though. What d the others think?

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lmSA84

For comparison and critique sake I'm going to post all the small plovers together. I finds these birds in winter plumage to be frustratingly hard to distinguish. 

 

First the easy one.

 

6. Common Ringed Plover, Muscat, 4/1/12

 

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lmSA84

These are believe are a collection of Kentish Plovers - distinguished principally by size and distinct white collar.

 

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In the last photo the bird cut out at the top is the Greater Sand Plover. By comparison it can be seen that this is a much smaller bird about 16cm vs. 24cm in length. 

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lmSA84

7. Greater Sand Plover, Muscat, 5/1/18

 

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lmSA84

8. Lesser Sand Plover, 4/1/18

 

Distinguishing the Greater vs. Lesser Sand Plover is quite challenging. I've reviewed a few papers / the bird book and effectively it comes down to size and most significantly the bill length. In winter plumage, there is very little that consistently distinguishes the birds.

 

It believe these birds have consistently shorter bills then those above and when seen in person appeared smaller then the greater - but I hasten to add that it didn't appear to be a mixed flock so couldn't be directly compared.

 

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9. Green Bee-eater, Al Ansab Wetlands, 4/1/18

 

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Dave Williams
On 08/01/2018 at 7:23 AM, elefromoz said:

 

 

How exotic! Where I come from, Bali is about as last minute as it gets. 

 

That made me smile @elefromoz!  

Bali to me conjures up a really exotic location but I dare say you are going to tell me it's an over commercialised dump nowadays.

 

 

As for the Plovers, I wouldn't have thought to challenge the LSPs but @michael-ibk appears to be spot on with reference to the white collar being Kentish. I wonder how many I have miss-ID'd in the past!

As well as bill size, LSP have blackish legs, GSP greenish ones according to my book. It's difficult when they are not side by side with each other then the overall size stands out. Interesting though, good start with some questions raised and information to take on board.

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@Dave Williams - thanks.

 

For info there is an excellent paper by Nicholls and Sinclair on britishbirds.co.uk which examines the differences between LSP and GSP. The legs can be different but it appears not to be a consistent diagnostic. The general shape, size and bill length appear to be the consistent diagnostics. 

 

 

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10. Great Cormorant, Al Ansab Wetlands, 3/1/18, 

 

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With a bit of help from our resident experts I've got a few more waders to add - namely a group of sandpipers.

 

11. Curlew Sandpiper, Muscat, 5/1/18

 

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12. Green Sandpiper, Al Ansab Wetland, 4/1/18

 

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13. Marsh Sandpiper, Al Ansab Wetland, 4/1/18

 

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14. Wood Sandpiper, Al Ansab Wetland, 3/1/18

 

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15. Temminck's Stint, Al Ansab Wetland, 4/1/18

 

With Little Stint in the background

 

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16. Little Stint, Al Ansab Wetland, 3/1/18

 

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17. Squacco Heron, Al Ansab Wetland, 3/1/18

 

My guide identified this as Indian Pond Heron but having returned home and looked at a few papers / images I think the Indian Pond has a more substantially streaked neck/breast with no substantive buff tones so I'm labelling this as Squacco.

 

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Galana

I could be persuaded either way. 55 Indian- 44 Squacco.

Your bird, your call.

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