Monday, 8 December 2014

Twitching a black tern at Raysut

As I said in yesterday's blog, I was alerted on Saturday afternoon that two species I hadn't seen in Oman were present at the Raysut settling pools earlier that day.

I made an instant decision to move on from Khawr Rori where I was birding at the time and to trek the other side of the city. As I was diverting from my plan to go and see a rare bird spotted by someone then this has to be defined as a twitch.

The two birds were spur-winged lapwing and black tern. Unfortunately the flock of spur-winged lapwing had left.

Abdim's stork

I was beginning to wonder about the black tern too. It was nowhere to be seen in the settling pools nearest the entrance. Fifty or so Abdim's stork were the most obvious sighting.

more Abdim's stork

There were many tens of assorted waders and gulls around and in the pools.

greater white fronted goose

Five greater white fronted goose were more surprising.

resting black tern

Finally at the very last and furthest settling pool, I found the black tern. The head pattern and upper parts pattern are perfect for this species.

resting black tern showing dark shoulder

It's difficult to see the dark shoulders when the bird is at rest. You can just see part of one as it stretches in this picture.

black tern in flight - one

The black shoulder is seen much better in flight.

black tern in flight - two

I tried to get photos showing the grey rump and eventually I succeeded.

black tern in flight -three

You may recall that another birder had told me they had seen a black tern in the Raysut area back in November. Indeed I had gone looking for it at Raysut treated water lake. That time I didn't manage to photograph it definitely. See

In another parallel, this tern and that one were accompanied by another tern. Both were whiskered tern. The photos of this one aren't important and I am afraid the rump is over-exposed so the colour isn't clear.

second tern at Raysut

There were only three terns at the whole site.

second view of second tern

I am told that the site was even better until recently and before the vegetation between the pools was cleared away. This removed virtually all the cover near the pools.  When small pockets were missed or are coming back, passerines are already making use.

Ruppell's weaver

These Ruppell's weaver were making use of the little cover there was.

In the end it was worth the 60 kilometre detour and I will be looking again for spur winged lapwing on the western side of the city.

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