Thursday 2 October 2014

Ayn Sahnawt

I now have a car in Oman. This means not only can I travel further at weekends but I can travel out of the city in late afternoons if I have time.

Yesterday, I drove out to Ayn Sahnawt. It is a fresh water spring about 12 kilometres north of the city. It was my first visit.

I think it was quite successful. I added six birds to my Oman list and saw 38 species in all.

Dideric cuckoo.

The autumn migrants may be arriving but two of the most noticeable summer breeders are still here. I can now recognise the call of Dideric cuckoo and by following it, I found a beautiful male perched out in the open.

Grey-headed kingfisher

Grey-headed kingfisher is still everywhere.

The six new species on my Oman list are all different types of bird. As a flock of barn swallow passed over the stream to fed, I noticed that two of them were actually house martin.

grey wagtail

Running water is usually a magnet for grey wagtail and sure enough, I found out.

Upcher's warbler

In the bushes half way up the hillside I picked out an Upcher's warbler.


The next two additions to the list were in a different part of the ayn (spring). The area the public visits is a large pool fed by water coming out of the rocks which becomes a wide stream. Further down stream the goes over a cliff as a waterfall. It's difficult to make your way down to bottom of the waterfall (and very few people make the journey) but that's where my other two birds were.

pale rock sparrow

One of these birds was pale rock sparrow and the flock numbered at least 25. I dint find the identification completely straightforward as most of the birds were moulting.

three pale rock sparrows

This site with its cliffs, waterfall and rocks on the ground looks perfect for them and I wonder if they stay the winter.

six pale rock sparrows

I clambered up the hillside by a different route on the way back where I almost walked into two long-billed pipit.

long-billed pipit

The bird looks quite different to the ones seen in south west Saudi Arabia. The mantle here is much more heavily streaked and darker. On the other hand the underparts are lighter. Nevertheless it is a long-billed pipit. Apparently most of the difference can be accounted for because the Omani bird is a first winter.

creamy-buff vent on long-billed pipit

One of the quickest ways to separate it from other similar pipits is the creamy-buff vent which was easy to see.

common tern

Doubling back towards the car at the spring, I past a tern on a rock on the stream which had been there on the way out. I then realised it was not a marsh tern. The head pattern is wrong. I originally thought it was a little tern but although the head pattern is right, it is also right for common tern. The proportions fit common tern well too and it is known winterer in large numbers in this area.

The birds other than new additions to my list were of interest too.

purple heron

There was a very tame young purple heron perched out in the open.

grey heron

By contrast, two grey heron were very flighty.

green sandpiper

Common sandpiper, wood sandpiper and green sandpiper were all present.

garganey duck

Once again another local water body had garganey. It is the earliest duck to migrate and is very common here at the moment.

citrine wagtail

As well as grey wagtail, there were plenty of citrine wagtail and a small number of yellow wagtail. I have yet to see a white wagtail in Oman.

cinnamon-breasted bunting

Cinnamon breasted bunting is common in the hills and there are a few on the plains near Salalah. 

Turkestan shrike

By far the most common shrike sighting at the moment is Turkestan shrike with a few Daurian shrike and red-backed shrike too.

red-backed shrike

Spotted flycatcher is also common in a wide variety of habitats at the moment.

spotted flycatcher

Being so far south, I am sure the main migrant wave is a lot later than in Riyadh and I am really looking forward to the rest of October.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post with some great looking birds. I spent a week at a conference in Muscat a couple of years ago, and managed to see some good birds within walking distance - it helped we were near the beach I think.

    This would be a great post to link to Wild Bird Wednesday, which runs on my photo-gallery blog from Wednesday (!) to Saturday - you are more than welcome to join in each week!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne