Monday, 3 November 2014

Abdim's stork and Baillon's crake at Raysut

Just as on Friday I visited sites close to the city of Salalah on the east side, on Saturday I visited three in the Raysut area on the western edge of the city.

Before these three and at dawn I made a quick trip to East Khawr simply because it is so close to my home. I'll write about East Khawr at the end because the main story is in Raysut.

The trip to Raysut was morning only but it was very rewarding.

I was headed towards the rubbish dump first where large numbers of scavenger birds are known to visit every winter.

Before I got there, at the building materials depot in fact, I saw six storks on top of a tower. To my joy they were Abdim's stork. It seems to be a regular winter visitor to the dump now.

Abdim's stork

Further along the road but still before the dump was an unfinished building where I counted twenty Abdim's stork. Some are shown below.

Abdim's storks

I suspect most of the Yemeni and Saudi breeding population choose Salalah to winter these days. Historical data shows heavy movements over from Yemen to Djibouti for the winter but I wonder if that has stopped. As far as I know the security situation in Yemen means no one monitors this at the moment. I am keen to see if they stay all winter in Salalah to test my theory.

At the dump itself there were at least 100 steppe eagle, 30 Indian house crow, 200 sooty gull and 25 large white headed gulls. I also saw two Abdim's stork but only one white stork.

After this early success I moved back up the road for a kilometre and birded the treated water lake.

African silverbill

It had the usual array of resident birds: African silverbill, Indian house crow, common myna, European collared dove, Ruepell's weaver and a very large number of feral pigeon on the wires over looking the site.

However my attention was drawn to the constant calls of Clamorous reed warbler which I still haven't seen but have heard plenty of times at water bodies over the past two weeks.

I was walking towards the sound of one when I accidentally stumbled upon a Baillon's crake.

It noticed me but gentled walked away into the long vegetation.

Baillon's crake

This was a big bonus. There was no need to get up at the crack of dawn to stake one out. This was 9.45 am.

Further down the lake were a usual assortment of waders and water birds. The most noteworthy was a black crowned night-heron.

Soon after, I moved on to the third venue in Raysut which is known to some as Salalah lagoons. All three places are within 1.5 kilometres of each other.

In mid October I had seen over 70 white stork there. This time I saw one. However the duck population has increased and the steppe eagle numbers have exploded.

white stork

It looks like the cliffs on the one side of the lagoons may well be the main roosting site for the steppe eagle attracted to Salalah by the near-by rubbish dump.


Serenely uninterested in the presence of so many steppe eagle, a flock of flamingo were grazing in one of the lagoons.

steppe eagle

As a crude rule of thumb, the lighter the steppe eagle the younger it is. The bird above was typical of the young birds.

young steppe eagle

My attention was drawn to what I assume was the youngest steppe eagle of all. it had plenty of white speckles including on its legs.

young steppe eagle from the rear

I can't find references to this plumage feature but assume it is normal.

Steppe eagle are clearly more common here than greater spotted eagle. As a general rule, greater spotted eagle chooses the lusher places to settle. 

This takes me back to east Khawr where I started my birding on Saturday just after dawn.

In the field next to the Khawr I counted eight resting marsh harrier, one Montagu's harrier and a single greater spotted eagle.

greater spotted eagle

The main khawr was not to exciting even though visiting birders had posted seeing a greater white fronted goose and pectoral sandpiper the day before. I looked thoroughly with no luck.

male gadwell

I am fully expecting many more ducks and more varied species at this khawr during the winter. My check on them this time showed up green-winged teal, garganey, gadwell and northern shoveller.

great white egret

As I went to leave East Khawr, a great white egret came close to the car it was quite possibly the same one has been present for 6 weeks now. It was cahnce to look at it more closely

close up of face of great white egret

As well as the general shape and structure, the gape line on the great egret is much long and extends well past the eye than with the similar intermediate egret which been reported there occasionally.

I expect East Khawr to give me many more interesting birds this winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment