Sunday, 21 December 2014

Griffon vulture at Raysut

Yesterday I returned to birding for a second session after breakfast. I decided to head to Raysut settling pools on the western edge of the city. I have seen reports of good observations there of birds I haven't seen.

When I arrived and parked up I met a German birder who had just come from the rubbish dump where he had seen a griffon vulture.

griffon vulture at Raysut

I thanked him for the information and I made the instant decision to head back to the dump which I had passed on the way. However it is a very large place and I was uncertain of the exact location of the bird.

I had a mixture of luck and intelligence. As I drove towards the dump which is well over 1 kilometre from the pools I kept looking up in the sky to see if it had flown. 

Within 250 metres of the pools I saw the griffon vulture in the air. I immediately stopped the car and got out to view and photograph. 

another view of a griffon vulture at Raysut

I was just in time as it heading off towards the mountains.

This was another new bird for me in Oman although they were regular in winter in the Riyadh area of Saudi Arabia.

This makes species 226 on my country list.

many tens of Abdim's stork at Raysut settling pools

The pools were a bit of an anti-climax. The Abdim's stork were there again in big numbers. The strong winds had pushed them all together for shelter.

flamingo walking at Raysut settling pools

I looked for Eurasian stone curlew which had been reported two weeks before but I had no success. I walked all round the site in this search. Some flamingo were walking around too.

Wadi Darbat below from Tawi Atair plateau

It was ironic to find griffon vulture at Raysut on a day that I wasn't looking for it.

The day before on Friday I had been to the Tawi Atair area to look for it and Verreaux's eagle since this is where these two species are more regularly seen.

steppe eagle at Tawi Atair

I was hampered by very strong winds which made birding difficult and birds of prey were most grounded that usual too. Steppe eagle were the best I managed on the plateau.

fan-tailed raven mobbing a booted eagle

You can overlook Wadi Darbat from the edge of the plateau. Since there are often good birds of prey on the Wadi Darbat skyline I went there as part of my visit to the Tawi Atair plateau generally. I have no doubt this is a good vantage spot in good weather. However there were few birds of prey while I was there on Friday. One was booted eagle which was immediately mobbed by two fan-tailed raven.

booted eagle in Wadi Darbat

I am pretty confident it was the same booted eagle I observed in the Wadi Darbat itself on Thursday afternoon.

All in all Saturday turned out to be a much better birding day than the two days before and with a lot less effort.

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