Saturday 4 October 2014

Ayn Hamran

Ayn Hamran is a hotspot for Arabian and Afro-tropical specialities. Its not bad for migrants too.

It was my first visit yesterday and although I failed to find the much sought after Arabian golden grosbeck I came away more than happy.

Other specialities were on display including close encounters with African paradise flycatcher.

African paradise flycatcher

Indeed the very first bird I saw when I opened the car door on arrival was a Dideric cuckoo, another Afro-tropical bird.

Dideric cuckoo

It mainly parasitises Ruepell's weaver. The weaver has finished breeding in much of the area but not quite yet next to the springs and streams which included Ayn Hamran.

Ruepell's weaver

I presume the cuckoo will migrate once breeding season is finally over. Grey headed kingfisher was also present and it too must surely migrate soon.


I soon spotted a hoopoe which loves these wet areas.

Daurian shrike

As I continued walking downstream I also saw a Daurian shrike. This appears to be the less common of the two red-tailed shrikes but seems to be seen more often near water and higher up.


I spent over 30 minutes under the shade of two or three large trees and associated bushes. There was a real cluster of bird activity there. Blackstart was the most common bird but there were also many Ruepell's weaver and two rufous bush robin.

Eastern nightingale

I was very happy to see two common nightingale (eastern) in this small area too.

front view of eastern nightingale

Indeed I saw five during the whole session. I wonder if they winter there?

It is now getting a little harder to add new birds to my Oman list as it gets longer. However Common nightingale was one.

spotted flycatcher

In the same small group of trees there was also a spotted flycatcher. This is a really common bird in many places near Salalah at the moment.

When I eventually moved on, I continued to head downstream to the edge of the picnicking area and so less people visit. It was here I flushed an adult Bonelli's eagle. This bird is also proving to be common here. Indeed I have yet to see any other kind of eagle.

adult Bonelli's eagle

At this point I turned round and headed back upstream. The only different bird seen on the way back towards the car was Abyssinian white-eye.

Abyssinian white-eye

The area was beginning to fill up with day trippers. I made an instant decision to climb a little way up the wadi starting out by walking through some very shaded area. There were more rufous bush robincommon nightingale and African paradise flycatcher in there.

Further up, the wadi based vegetation thins out and there is some relatively dry scrub land with scattered trees before reaching the main tree line. It was in the scrub land that I saw the first black crowned tchagra of my life. This has been a real nemesis bird for me. Even now I failed to get a photo.

Going any further up would have been impossible as it it so steep. So I elected to go back to the car and drive up the hill through a road to the west of the Ayn.

I found this road didn't take me much higher but it did let me see some more interesting birds.

On one same wire less than 50 metres apart were three different birds which were a little unusual. The first bird was a rufous-tailed rock thrush which was an unexpected addition to my country list.

Rufous-tailed rock thrush

To its left was one of the blandest Daurian shrike I have ever seen.

a bland Daurian shrike

To its right was a first year European roller with its brown head and brownish throat.

juvenile European roller

The diversion was merited.

It's still a holiday here and I may well strike out inland next.

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