Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Dideric cuckoo still at Ayn Hamran

I made the circuit of East Khawr then Ayn Hamran then Khawr Soly late yesterday afternoon. They are all close to each other to the east of the city.

An interesting piece of news is that at least one Dideric cuckoo has not yet migrated to Africa.

I hadn't seen or heard any for 10 ten days I assumed they had gone, with juveniles going last.

This one was seen at Ayn Hamran but not in the same place as the usual two.

Dideric cuckoo

It was still very tame as I have found first year birds to be in stark contrast to full adults. 

second view of Dideric cuckoo

Other noteworthy observations there was the arrival of another wave of blue-cheeked bee-eater while I was there. They were taking great delight in washing themselves in the upper most pool.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

As I moved on to Khawr Soly, I stopped to look at an Isabelline wheatear. I have paid special attention this autumn to the differences between well marked isabelines and female northern wheatear.

Very few northern wheatear have passed this way but I am now quite sure that many people don't realise just how similar female northerns are to Isabellines in autumn. It is often not an easy call.

Isabelline wheatear

This is marked out as an Isabeline wheatear as the supercilium doesn't extend beyond the eye, there is an isolated dark alula and notably the tail is well short of meeting the ground.

At Khawr Soly, I often get good results.

I was checking everything to see if I could add to my country list. The great white egret was just that. No sign of an intermediate egret.

great white egret

I saw a distant lone gull on the beach and headed towards it. Could it be my first black-headed gull in Oman? No, it wasn't it was another slender-billed gull.

slender-billed gull

As it was close to dusk, I started checking the water birds on the lagoon. There were several moorhen and two northern shoveller.


However in with the moorhen were three common coot. I had to be careful with the identification because red-knobbed coot breed in small numbers locally. 

The red-knobs virtually disappear in winter too. 

In the coots at Khawr Soly, the black feathering between the shield and the bill came to a point whereas with a red-knobbed coot it is rounded. This made them common coot. So I got an addition to my Oman list after all.

common coot and moorhen

Finally I want to return to an observation at East Khawr where I started my circuit last evening. There was no big changes to the water birds but my attention was once again drawn to the birds of prey.

There was another tricky "spotted eagle" which I posted on BirdForum.

pale greater spotted eagle

This one was clearly identified in the end and I am comfortable with the conclusion on this one. 

I quote and thank Tibault for his analysis which was really useful in educating me about perched spotted eagles.

"Here is what I see in favour of GSE (vs LSE):
- the wing field is rather uniform, in particular there looks to be little contrast between the greater and median coverts. The newly-moulted lesser coverts look very dark (almost black)
- the white spots on the median coverts are large (more so than in typical LSE)
- the black bars on the secondaries are much thinner than the grey spaces in between them and perhaps more importantly the barring seems to get narrower and less distinct towards the feather tip.
- somewhat large bill (but not outside the variation of LSE)
- larger white tips to tail feathers

More troubling and somewhat pointing to LSE or hybrid:
- the barring on at least one secondary reaches quite far towards the feather tip (more so than on an average GSE but not outside variation)
- the bird is overall paler than an average GSE (but too much variation in this respect among GSE to be really helpful)"

I am sure there will be more eagle identification issues over the winter.


  1. Agree on the Izzy. I'd never noticed that the tail doesn't reach the ground - perhaps because they stand so upright.

    I haven't a clue about the eagle - I'm useless on eagles on the ground. I agree about the bill size, though. Do you think it's really a different bird from the other one, as the guys on the forum thought? Did you see it in flight at all?

  2. Andy, It probably is a different bird. I think this one is older. As for seeing it in flight: it flew straight in front of the car windscreen. I took photos through it but they all turned out blurred. There will be more chances I hope. Rob