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lmSA84 - Big Year 2018 (Part Deux)


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Galana
10 hours ago, lmSA84 said:

I think that on closer analysis they are both Citrine

I fear that you are correct although the 2nd had me going for a while..

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121. UK. 8. Eurasian Jay, London, 5/4/18    

127. UK. 18. Eurasian Robin, London  

117. UK.4. Long-tailed Tit, London, 24/2/18  

64. Desert Wheatear, Muscat, 1/1/18

 

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65. Purple Sunbird, Muscat, 2/1/18

 

The first two birds are males transitioning from their eclipse stage to breeding plumage. The third image is the female 

 

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66. Whimbrel, Muscat, 3/1/18

 

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67. Clamorous Reed Warbler, Al Ansab Wetland, 3/1/18

 

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68. Streaked Weaver, Al Ansab Wetland, 3/1/18

 

The Streaked Weaver is a bird of South and South East Asia but a group of escapees have established themselves at Al Ansab.

 

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69. Sandwich Terns, Muscat, 4/1/18

 

I'm not great with seabird but I think these are Sandwich Terns. 

 

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70. Lesser Crested Tern, Muscat, 5/1/18

 

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That's it from Oman - 70 in total. Much better then I thought I might do.

 

A couple of people asked me to share a few thoughts on birding on Oman so I'll do that in the next post. Then it's on to Californian birds. 

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michael-ibk

A great selection of birds, never thought of Oman as a birding destination - very interesting. A good mix of European and Asian species.

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Thanks to everyone following along. Before I move on I thought I would post a few thoughts on birding in Oman or rather Muscat - we didn't get a chance to go out of the city.

 

All my images are effectively taken from one of three locations, which I'll briefly touch on in turn.

 

a. Muscat Beach / Hotel IHG

b. Al Ansab Wetlands

c. Al-Qurum Nature Reserve 

 

a. Muscat Beach / Hotel IHG

 

Most of my birding was done in the hotel grounds (the Intercontinental) or whilst pushing my sleeping daughter around during her afternoon nap. 

 

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For those who haven't tried it, prams are very useful places to keep the bird book and binoculars.

 

Oman has a large tide, exposing a good 50m of beach, bringing a plethora of waders, gulls, terns,100's of families and beach football teams.

 

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The birds never really seemed to mind all the activity though. For illustration, the below three shots were taken within 10m of each other, all whilst a football game was going on in the background.

 

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b. Al Ansab Wetlands

 

This is the most productive birding area which I visited. I've been referring to it as the Al Ansab Wetland which is it's official name but I should probably come "clean" at this point and admit that it is actually the local sewage works!

 

It is however, very clean, no smell and like everything in Oman very safe. They are actively trying to make it a birding destination. So if you would like to visit, all you need to do is fill in an online form and they will grant you access including a free guide to show you around on your visit (entrance is also free). There after you can come back and walk around as much as you like as long as they have prior warning. 

 

The site is centred around two ponds. One is kept deliberately shallow for the bird life and was full of 20-30+ species, including the flamingos, each time I visited. In the below shot you can see the Sewage works behind.

 

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Mixed flocks of Northern Shoveller, Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Stilts, Snipe, Teal, Gadwall, Ruff, various Sandpipers and Lapwings are common. There were also hunting Osprey on both occasions. 

 

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The second pond primarily serves the needs of the facility so it is deep but as a result it has a different mix of bird life. They have also built a hide near the sluice gates, giving great views of the stints, herons and cormorants.

 

Large lake

 

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Surrounding the two lakes is a mixture of desert landscape, streams and woodlands surrounding the streams. This agains pulls in mix of different species including weavers, prinia, sunbirds, bee-eaters, doves, warblers, francolins and lark.

 

c. Al-Qurum Nature Reserve

 

Al-Qurum is a bit harder to describe because it's a combination of beach front, lagoon, mangrove forest and garden park. This is also the bit which is poorly described in the online trip reports and is the only bit where you might need a guide to fully access. If you ever visit, PM me and I'll properly explain it.

 

The great thing about this area is twofold - one it has some additional species (Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Western Reef Heron, Shrikes, Kingfisher) and two it is the refuge where the birds congregate during high tide. The result is that regardless of the tide you can have good birding.

 

The below shots don't do it justice because when the tide was up and we visited there were hundreds of plovers of multiple different species everywhere.

 

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More broadly, Oman is the wildlife gem of the Middle East (a relative superlative!). It has excellent turtle watching (Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill all breed on shore), it practically has it's own sub species of Humpback Whale (a slight exaggeration but the Arabian Humpback is the most isolated sub species, only regular seen in Oman), the highest density of Arabian Leopard, as well as Striped Hyena, Arabian Wildcat, Sand Cat, Caracal, Nubian Ibex and Arabian Oryx, amongst other wildlife. Most of these can be found in national parks of the central and Southern (Dhofar) highlands. 

 

For those interested in knowing more there is good BBC documentary on the Arabian Leopard on YouTube. 

 

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In writing that mini TR also realised that I forgot two species! 

 

71. Grey Plover, Muscat, 4/1/18

 

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72. Pacific Golden Plover, Muscat, 4/1/18

 

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Galana

Thanks very much for the insight to what Oman has to offer. Something to bear in mind when suffering from the big freeze at home.

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Very interesting, and quite close to Europe birding destination. Is the month of the visit very important factor? When is better??

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@xelas - good point. I meant to mention that it is very much a winter birding location. A rudimentary count of the Oman bird list of ~530 species suggests that only 95 are resident, 30 are summer visitors, 200 are winter visitors and 150-200 are vagrants. 

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Dave Williams

Excellent collection and thanks for the information about the location too.

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So this is where I will start to segment my bird counts into BY and regions.

 

BY 73 / NA 1, Snowy Egret, Lake Merritt (Oakland, CA)

 

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BY 74 / NA 2, Eared Grebe, Lake Merritt, 21/1/18

 

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BY 75 / NA 3, American Robin, Lake Merritt, 21/1/18

 

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Dave Williams

Have you got back to the UK yet? No keeping up with your travels, it's early Feb and you are flying!!! Great photos too.

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4 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Have you got back to the UK yet? No keeping up with your travels, it's early Feb and you are flying!!! Great photos too.

 

Thanks! I've been back in the UK for a while but I have a client based in Oakland, so I'll be taking the occasional trip there for work - camera in hand. 

 

Now all I need to do is to find a client in Gambia! Or Ecuador...

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On 2/6/2018 at 8:24 AM, lmSA84 said:

For those who haven't tried it, prams are very useful places to keep the bird book and binoculars.

 

 

Yep. I know an elderly woman that carries her camera equipment on a wheelchair. It also serves as a useful seat when she reaches her birding destination.

 

 

Thanks for the excellent Oman summary too.

Edited by Geoff
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BY 76 / NA 4, Bufflehead, Lake Merritt, 21/1/18

 

Male

 

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Female

 

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