Saturday 22 November 2014

Black crowned tchagra and more at Ayn Hamran

I returned to Ayn Hamran on Tuesday afternoon. The highlight was undoubtedly the sight of a family of black-crowned tchagra. 

I used to have difficulty finding these birds but once you know their calls and follow them they are quite easily seen. Ayn Hamran is the best place I know for them.

Juvenile black-crowned tchagra

Having followed the sounds I saw two adult tchagra disappearing into a bush. However it appears they left two juveniles behind them. These two were very noisy and one of them even stood on top of a bush in the open screaming. The other was more careful but separated by a few bushes.

black-crowned tchagra

Given that the juveniles didn't seem to know how to reach the adults, So the adults came looking for the juveniles.

two black-crowned tchagra

After about five minutes on of the adults suddenly popped up on the same bush as the more brazen juvenile. Moments later I noticed that the bush had three birds including the second adult. At this point the juvenile went quiet.

black-crowned tchagra

The adults appeared to be on look out for the remaining juvenile which I presumed was expected to make its way to the rest of the group. I left at this point but I suspect I may have been in the way.
male African paradise flycatcher

Near-by but in the woodland, I came across a male African paradise flycatcher in full breeding plumage complete with full grown tail. I don't know much about the breeding seasons of the birds here. Some breed in the monsoon period (summer) while others breed in very early spring (February). Ruepell's weaver breeds in summer (convenient for Dideric cuckoo) but it looks like the flycatcher breeds in spring. Judging by the sight of a family group of tchagra, black crowned tchagra appear to breed in the khareej (monsoon) season.

second view of African paradise flycatcher

A week before I had seen a male with a half grown tail at the same place. I wonder if it was the same bird. It was also the white tailed morph.

rear of African paradise Flycatcher

Abyssinian white-eye are very much a flocking bird so I was surprised to see two together totally independent of a flock. I don't know whether this is mating behaviour or a juvenile with an adult but I suspect the former.

two Abyssinian white-eye

The two birds were literally inseparable.

Abyssinian white-eye

Another interesting sight at the Ayn was a passing short toed eagle.

Short toed eagle

I am seeing them with increasing frequency at the moment. It looks like several of them may winter in the Dhofar mountains.

shot toed eagle flying off

The only other bird of prey at Ayn Hamran was a common kestrel. It was very clean underneath so I can't rule out lesser kestrel which also winters in the mountains.


The more common birds were of course still at Ayn Hamran such as Ruepell's weaver, blackstart and little green bee-eater.

little green bee-eater

As well as Ayn Hamran, I also called into Khawr Soly which is very close. However birding this time was disturbed by a large grazing herd of camels.

juvenile European spoonbill

There was no time to see any thing out of the ordinary though a juvenile European spoonbill was a good sight.

European spoonbill walking away

I returned there two days later and birding was excellent. I will report on that in one of the future blogs.


  1. Andy, its not always like this. The tchagras were real luck. Rob