Monday, 11 May 2015

Al Ansab wetlands, Muscat

I visited Al Ansab wetlands for the first time on Thursday morning before my business day there. I arrived at 6.30 am and finished at about 8.00 am. My original plan was to bird through to 8.30 but it was simply too hot and humid. I had to leave at 8.

Nevertheless the birding was good and I ended up with another addition to my Oman list.

I was met by Mundher who is one of two guides which Haya water provide for visitors. He said with me for the first 20 minutes and I was impressed by his knowledge and grateful to him for directing me to the best place for one of my target species.

black-crowned night heron

Near a wooded area with several black-crowned night heron we quickly saw a small group of Arabian babbler.

Arabian babbler

I got prolonged but not many clear views of them. 

Arabian babbler from behind cover

This was my main target species and made number 278 on my Oman list.

Close by there is a bank of reeds standing in water. It was here that Mundher told me that a small colony of streaked weaver frequent. Unfortunately there was no sign of them that morning.

Indian silverbill

However this small corner of the wetland proved to have other diversity of birds. It was the only place I came across Indian silverbillmarsh warbler and Upcher's warbler although in each case I only saw one.


marsh warbler

Purple sunbird was also seen in other parts of the wetland but most easily here.

Purple sunbird

There are heavy restrictions on where visitors can go to minimise the disturbance to the birds. Mostly visitors are restricted to one main track with a small number of side tracks. They can also get reasonable views of the biggest pool near the car park at the start.

Red-wattled lapwing were scattered all the way along the main track on either side. Indeed they were present all around the complex.

red-wattled lapwing

No only can the main lagoon be seen from the car park on entrance but also from a couple of man-made hides. I would have liked more time to investigate this big body of water and its shores but I didn't have it.

Eurasian spoonbill

One highlight was a flock of Eurasian spoonbill. Another was the presence of a great egret.

great egret

Other single birds included a great cormorant.

glossy ibis

Glossy ibis were also present but were very skittish as were many of the birds for reasons I don't quite understand. However it may simply be because the viewing from the car park area takes place above the water line and the viewer is very exposed and obvious.

little grebe

On the water I saw a lingering male garganey, a few little grebe and plenty of common moorhen.

young common moorhen

At one stage , a male northern shoveller was walking around a small island in the middle of the lake.

male common shelduck

Near one of the hides was clear evidence of breeding black-winged stilt in the form of a chick.

What looked like a family group of grey francolin were also observed close by.

black winged stilt chick

There are a couple of side channels feeding into the main lake which look interesting.

one of the side channels

There were black-winged stilt there as elsewhere on site.

black-winged stilt

However there were also other waders which I din't see elsewhere there including wood sandpiper and Temminck's stint.

wood sandpiper

On Friday I travelled south of Muscat before returning north to bird the area of Suq Al Seeb. I will blog about this next.

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