Saturday, 20 December 2014

Eleven red avadavat at Wadi Salalah

Early on Saturday morning I visited Wadi Salalah which is a mini-wetland that feeds into the more well known Salalah bird sanctuary on the coast. It is about 400 metres inland.

I have found very few records of birders going there even though it is so close to the sanctuary. However I have found the reeds, water and bushes to be very good birding.

Saturday's birding was surprising too. This was almost entirely because I came across a flock of eleven red avadavat. 

first bird seen

It took me some time to realise what the birds were. I knew they were estrildid finches by general look and behaviour.

second picture of the first bird

However I didn't realise they were red avadavat at first because all the birds were juveniles. The first bird seen was particularly immature and almost entirely shades of brown, creams and buffs. Yet even this bird has red eyes and the bill just starting to turn pink. These should have been clues.

bird number two

With the second bird on the ground, I noticed a chestnut rump but this diverted me away from thinking about red avadavat as both adult males and females in all plumages have red rumps. Of course juveniles don't.

bird number two showing a rear view

The two next birds had red colouring of the bill so suddenly I realised what they all were.

bird number 3

I hadn't expected to see this bird on leaving Riyadh which there is a healthy population along the Riyadh river.

bird number 4

The prefered habitat of this bird is reeds and damp scrub. The picture below shows the habitat in which I saw them. Furthermore the plantations near-by have plenty of damp scrub and grassland.

reeds at Wadi Salalah

There have been 9 accepted records of this species in Oman and I believe all have been singles and all have definitely been treated as escapes.

I am told these will be treated as escapes too when I submit the rarity report. 

I must say it seems more like a mass break out but I understand the caution.

They may be breeding in the plantations and we just don't know. This is one I will definitely watch out for. 

common redshank

Last time I visited the site I saw first two spotted redshank in Oman. This time there was only a single common redshank.

Temminck's stint

There were plenty of dunlin and Temminck's stint among the waders.

citrine wagtail

Yellow wagtail, white wagtail and citrine wagtail were all present and citrine wagtail was the most common once again.

Even on a good birding trip there are often regrets about a bird missed. This time it was a pratincole which flew straight towards me at speed and then over me. I didn't see it well enough to know which one it was and I hadn't seen any in Oman until then.

Since the pratincole flew towards the bird sanctuary I followed. However its a big place and I couldn't find it. In the end I decided breakfast was more important.

purple heron at the bird sanctuary

After breakfast I went out again, this time to Raysut and it turned out well. i will blog about that next.

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