Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Raysut medley

Raysut is an obvious choice for a part day birding session during the week and after work. First it is close to the city and second there are several places within the district with distinctive habitats: the rocky beach, the marina, the lagoons, the settling pools and even the cliffs for one or two special seabirds.

Yesterday I visited them all except the cliffs and the stay at the settling pools was short. I started out at the lagoons.

Most of the eagles have recently left there. However there was one greater spotted eagle right in front of me when I arrived at the inland end of the lagoons.

greater spotted eagle

It flew up into the sky and then landed on the hillside as I approached.

airborne greater spotted eagle

Near-by there was a second aerial greater spotted eagle.

second greater spotted eagle

There were many waders and grey heron at the inland end of the lagoons. There were also four flighty glossy ibis which didn't allow close approach.

glossy ibis

The waders were very varied. In the picture below there are three birds and three species: wood sandpiper, common snipe and ringed plover.

three types of wader

Though there were several snipe around, all seemed to be common snipe.

two common snipe

To accentuate the variety of waders, here is a picture which shows four different types also in the same stretch of water: greenshank (l), marsh sandpiper, ruff, common redshank (r).

four types of wader

While I had just started to look towards the seaward side of the lagoons, an Eastern Imperial eagle flew over. With a male marsh harrier and the two greater spotted eagle these were the only birds of prey on site. This is a far cry from a month before.

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Right next to the car while looking at the eagle, a lone common ringed plover walked along the shore.

common ringed plover

The seaward end of the lagoons was where most of the greater flamingo were found. Three white stork seemingly in poor condition remain here while the others have presumably migrated.

I only counted two ruddy shelduck this time. Perhaps one more of these has migrated too.

However the biggest feature of this end were the gulls and terns. Much gulls are still either Sooty gull, Heuglin's gull and Slender-billed gull.

gull billed tern

Several of the gull-billed tern were in their summer plumage.

 whiskered tern

The marsh terns were at that intermediate stage when their winter head pattern has filled in (and so is no longer distinctive) but their distinctive summer underpart patterns are not present. Unless the bird flies, I have to rely more on structural features and especially the bill. The one above is a little longer and thinner than a typical whiskered tern. However, the bill base is still broad so I support whiskered tern especially after consulting a couple of other competent birders. 

Caspian tern (behind)

Caspian tern presents no such problems.

a second whiskered tern

The marsh tern above is a whiskered tern. The bill is relatively short and the base of the bill is broad. It seems more typical of its type that the previous one looked at in this blog.


After the lagoons, I moved on to Raysut beach. This rocky beach is an unusual habitat in Dhofar and often has birds which are hard to find anywhere else in the region. One example is oystercatcher.


Both whimbrel and grey plover are common sights except in summer there.

grey plover

The rocky habitat encourages striated heron and they can usually be seen here. I often reflect on how strange it is that this species likes mangroves and rocks which don't seem very compatible.

striated heron

After Raysut beach I walked straight into the near-by marina. The shore here is good for sooty gull all year round. A few Heuglin's gull and slender-billed gull are still present though the proportion of poor condition birds of the former species is quite high.

steppe gull

An adult steppe gull looked in reasonable condition though.

There wasn't time before sunset for a full inspection of the settling pools. I chose instead to concentrate on the area to the east just outside the main complex (and beyond the perimeter fence) where water overflows.

Aaprt of nearly one hundred Ruppell's weaver and a clamorous reed warbler, I relocated the three white-breasted waterhen from a week before.

white-breasted waterhen 1

Once again, only one of the birds regularly exposed itself. The other two were very secretive.

It will be interesting to see how long they stay. The one bird definitively has a red base to the upper mandible found in breeding birds and this species is not known to breed in Oman.

white-breasted waterhen 2

This weekend I am in the desert both days. I am hoping to add to my Oman list with some rare passage birds which can be expected around now. It will be tough. Let's see.

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