Sunday, 8 May 2016

Jebel Akhdar

A week ago I spent the weekend in the Nizwa area visiting a friend. He kindly drove me up Jebel Akhdar on both days.

I was in search of the elusive wood pigeon and of migrants. The Roos area is apparently good for wood pigeon and the Wadi Bani Habib area can be good for migrants.

I was not as successful as I had hoped. Despite spending many hours near Roos there was no sign or sound  of wood pigeon. Birding didn't need to stop before noon either. It was very pleasantly in the low to mid 20's centigrade up there.

Hume's wheatear

There were some highlights though. The Roos area is one of the easiest in the country to find Hume's wheatear.

Hume's wheatear facing

The cliffs next to the Alila hotel were where I also found a pair of adult Egyptian vulture.

Egyptian vulture

Lappet-faced vulture are not as common on the mountain but I observed one briefly near Roos.

Lappet-faced vulture

Wood pigeon is only found in the juniper zone. They can be very well hidden I understand so I carefully inspected many tens of juniper. 

white spectacled bulbul

Unfortunately for the most part I saw only white spectacled bulbul, house sparrow and laughing dove.

house sparrow

However at one point an Indian roller unexpectedly flew over.

local Persian rock geckos

The day before I spent most of my time birding a different part of jebel Akhdar at Wadi Bani Habib.

This is below the juniper line but is well watered and contains orchards and trees.

a wadi on the way to Wadi Bani Habib

Birds were not too varied here either. Egyptian vulture and lappet faced vulture were also seen as at Roos.

Arabian toad

Arabian toad was making good use of the water. Toads were everywhere close to water and tadpoles were within it.

laughing dove

I don't understand why so many birds were so shy. I found no evidence of hunting. Even the laughing dove kept their distance.

purple sunbird

One feature of Wadi Bani Habib is the abundance of purple sunbird. However passage birds which were the main target of this area were virtually unseen.

As a last idea before leaving the area, I walked down the wadi past the walk way up into a new zone. Here I finally had evidence of passage. I heard a very loud nightingale. Indeed there were two constantly singing about 50 metres apart.

However I couldn't see them. Then I had an idea. I recorded the song and immediately played it back.

The reaction was immediate too. Out of the large tree I had been looking up at, an Eastern nightingale flew straight at me.

Nightingale are a little unusual in singing on passage as they try to create make-shift territories.

I have up-loaded the song to xeno-canto.

This small incident improved my day considerably but I have to ask why the spring passage through Oman has been thinner this year? This includes the hugh numbers of rufous bush robin of course.

Finally I would like to thank my friend Gio for driving me around the area that weekend.

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