Friday, 20 February 2015

Black stork at Ayn Sahalnoot

When I go out birding at the moment of am hopeful of some passage birds. I failed to see some in the autumn which were common when I lived in the Riyadh area such as European bee-eater, common redstart, ortolan bunting and pied wheatear. Although Salalah is not on the main route to East Africa from anywhere some of these targets may use this route in spring which didn't in autumn. Let's see.

Anyway with this in mine I visited Ayn Sahalnoot late yesterday afternoon. However instead of seeing many passage birds I almost walked into a black stork as I rounded a tree.

black stork at Ayn Sahalnoot

It was either very tame or ill or both as it allowed me closer than I have ever been to a black stork before.

black stork

It's feathers didn't look too good around the head and neck but I know nothing about this species moult pattern.

black stork from the rear

This is the third place I have seen black stork this winter. I saw one at Wadi Darbat on several occasions, two at Khawr Rori and now this observation. Of course it could be the same bird as at wadi Darbat. Either way my guide book to middle eastern birds describes black stork as a vagrant to Oman. My winter's observations don't support that judgement.

black stork into the sun

The only other large bird at the Ayn was a purple heron which is probably the same bird I have seen on every visit.

Isabelline wheatear

There was not much sign of any passage of small birds there. It is still very early. I spent some time on a wheatear to check if it was a northern wheatear or not. very few winter here and mostly on the large farms.

wheatear shows its tail

It turned out to be a well marked Isabelline wheatear and there is no way of knowing if it is on passage or wintered here.

third shot of isabelline wheatear

Other notable birds at the Ayn included a Daurian shrike and a smartly coloured if thin looking male blue rock thrush.

male blue rock thrush

On Wednesday afternoon, I  had visited the Raysut area. There had been storks there too. About 400 white stork were counted which are probably preparing to leave soon. At the settling pools I counted just 13 Abdim's stork. The other 500 have left.

white stork at Raysut

So many of the signs of passage are actually birds leaving. However there is a notable increase in yellow wagtail almost every where and clearly the wader populations are changing. Unfortunately I have had no sign of the target birds I listed at the start of the blog. It's early days though.

1 comment:

  1. That Black Stork looks to be in poor condition - mangy and rather soiled-looking. Hope it survives.