Wednesday 18 November 2015

Friday out east

Friday is the start of the weekend here so the birding sessions can be longer. Although I started late I still managed an itinerary of Khawr Soly, Wadi Hanna, Ayn Asheer and finally Jebel Samhan.

If they have anything in common it is that I visit them less often than more typical east-sde haunts such as Ayn Hamran, Khawr Rori, Wadi Darbet and Taqah.

glossy ibis, reef heron and squacco heron

Khawr Soly was not very eventful but the day got better as it went on. The khawr is often best in mid-winter being popular with diving ducks as it has some areas of deep water.


This is the reason that flamingo are commonly seen including on Friday.

My next stop was Wadi Hanna having driven through Tawi Atair without stopping. The top part of wadi Hanna is well wooded and is sometimes good for passerine migrants. These were my main targets there. In fact I was not very successful with these. Three common redstart and two Daurian shrike were my only haul. 

short-toed eagle 1

However I was compensated by good views of three types of eagle. There was a steppe eagle, Eastern Imperial eagle and a short-toed eagle.

short-toed eagle 2

The short-toed eagle was very pale with almost a white head. I have seen others like this in this neighbourhood before (or perhaps it is the same bird). 

Arabian partridge

The plateau at the top of the area is the best place I know for Arabian partridge. The plateau is always thick with them. Friday was no exception.

fan-tailed raven

Fan-tailed raven are also common there.

grey wagtail

My next stop was part way down Jebel Asheer at Ayn Asheer. By coincidence I bumped into Saeed Shanfari with visiting Kuwaiti birder AbdulRahman Al Sirhan. There was just enough time to view the grey wagtail that has been there for a month or two. AbdulRahman was keen to see Verreaux's eagle. So I joined them to go up to Jebel Samhan which we left for quickly. This meant going up the mountain again and through Tawi Atair to the next mountain, Jebel Samhan.

My route on Friday was certainly not direct.

We went to my regular haunt for this bird and one duly obliged.

AbdulRahman got some excellent photos and has allowed me to show two here.

I am grateful for this.

Verreaux's eagle by Abdulrahman Al Sirhan

Verreaux's eagle has a very strong preference for just one food source which is rock hyrax. It patrols escarpments looking for them. It is rarely found on plateaus because of this habit.

underside of Verreaux's eagle by Abdulrahman Al Sirhan

There are usually few other birds at the top of Jebel Samhan. One of them though is Arabian wheatear.

Arabian wheatear

Overall it was a day of mixed fortunes but the birds of prey were definite highlights. On Saturday, by way of contrast I went into the desert. I will blog about this next.


  1. So envious of that eagle sighting. I wonder why we didn't see one that time. Abdulrahman has put a report with great photos on his blog.

  2. It does seem strange now that it wasn't seen. I am not sure why January should be any different than November.