The reason has been my search for the elusive Arabian golden-winged grosbeck which is reported in those two places more than anywhere else. it was one of my Nemesis birds.
On New Year's Eve morning I finally saw one at Ayn Hamran for a fleeting moment. I returned after work and saw another but again only for a few moments.
So I returned this morning. This time I observed two and one stayed long enough for a few photos. All photographs are from below because the bird chose to stop in the tree I was standing under.
first view of Arabian golden-winged grosbeck
second view of Arabian golden-winged grosbeck
All three sightings were within 30 metres of each other. This area is immediately left if facing up hill (west and west north west) of the top pool with large tree.
Each bird arrived from the north west from up the mountain and flew south east towards the stream. This area is the same place as two other recent sightings by other birders who I have spoken to.
The single bird I saw in afternoon was in a different place. Like most birds at this time of day it was in a shaded place. It was with Abyssinian white eye in the canopy of a large tree on the edge of the thick woodland at the northern end (upper) of the Ayn.
Masked shrike rarely winters in southern Oman but this male has been present all winter.
Black-crowned tchagra did its best to distract me from the grosbeck search and like the grosbeck it is best seen at Ayn Hamran and Wadi Hanna.
Arabian warbler are very noisy at the moment and easily seen in the trees and bushes in the more open areas.
Arabian warbler scrambling
On New Year's Eve two wryneck were also seen. One was observed in the morning and one in the afternoon in two different places.
There are so easily over-looked due to their camouflaged plumage especially from the back.
Eurasian wryneck from the back
The Ayn seems to have gained more wintering hoopoe over the past two or three weeks.
Two other birds are of note that have been seen at Ayn Hamran recently. One is Shining sunbird. The males are in full breeding plumage at the moment.
male Shining sunbird
The second bird was a male Turkestan shrike.
I understand these shrike undergo a winter moult. This might explain the lack of a white wing patch.
male Turkestan shrike
Turkestan shrike turns
I am currently double checking this birds identity with experts.
It has not just been Ayn Hamran I have visited for the grosbeck. Wadi Hanna is further away but is a larger site with just as many sightings.
During my times there I have come across a wintering song thrush and a red-breasted flycatcher among the less usual birds.
first winter red-breasted flycatcher
another view of red-breasted flycatcher
Either way, the difference in colour between female type red-breasted flycatcher and the taiga flycatcher (subject to rarity committee decision) I saw at Qatbit is great. The latter bird is all greys, black and white. This bird is all buffs and browns.
male cinnamon-breasted bunting
Abyssinian white eye
Somewhere among them are Arabian golden-winged grosbeck as well.
I would like to wish my readership a Happy New Year and good birding in it. Thanks are particularly due to my new readers from Poland and China.
Cumulative readership of the blog since it began
1. United States (NC)
2. Saudi Arabia (NC)
3. United Kingdom (NC)
4. Libya (NC)
5. Russia (NC)
6. Germany (NC)
7. United Arab Emirates (+1)
8. China (+4)
9. Bulgaria (-2)
10. Poland (+25)