Friday, 26 December 2014

Road to Wadi Hanna at Christmas

I couldn't resist the temptation to go birding on Christmas morning. It was beautiful sunny and not too hot day. I went up to Wadi Hanna in search of the elusive Arabian golden-winged grosbeck.

As on every visit there, it eluded me once again. Nevertheless like other visits to Awadi Hanna, what started out as searches for passerines became a display of new birds of prey for my Oman list. There aren't many new birds of prey left!

This time one of two new ones was a barbary falcon sitting on a wire in the Tawi Atair area en route to Wadi Hanna.

barbary falcon on a wire

There are so many common kestrel sitting on wires I nearly missed it as I hurtled past. I thought something was different so I reversed back and viewed it from the car.

barbary falcon scratching

I couldn't decide if it was a peregrine falcon or barbary falcon but on taking advice on BirdForum I am now sure it is a barbary falcon. I understand a peregrine would be more heavily marked especially with its moustache but elsewhere too.

This was an excellent start to the morning.

African paradise flycatcher

At Wadi Hanna I noticed many of the birds were in loose clusters of varied species. This is the same as you expect in the tropics. Whole areas have no birds then suddenly you come across a mixed group.

Abyssinian white-eye was once again the most common woodland bird but I often found African paradise flycatcher in among them.

Abyssinian white-eye

Along the main wadi valley I kept hearing Arabian partridge and eventually saw some of them. Along the sheltered and cooler southern side (i.e north facing) there were several chiffchaff in the bushes. I spent most of my time on the northern side. Perhaps next time I will swap. Could this me my mistake?

Wadi Hanna

Looking up were several birds of prey and of course the fan-tailed raven were periodically trying to mob them. There were two eastern Imperial Eagle which may be the same ones I saw last time. There were also three common kestrel. However this was where I observed the second addition to my Oman list of the day.

steppe buzzard

It was a common buzzard presumably of the steppe buzzard sub species. I say presumably because it had all the markings and colour of the nominate species

second view of steppe buzzard

The only reason it is categorised as steppe buzzard is because we are so far south and common buzzard are presumed not to migrate this far.

Ruppell's weaver

Other birds in the woods included Ruppell's weaver which is also flocking at this time of year.

white spectacled bulbul

White spectacled bulbul was common and provided more than its fair share of the noise of the woods along with cinnamon-breasted bunting.

Arabian warbler

Arabian warbler was less common but still easily seen. In fact in time all the woodland birds were easily seen except the elusive Arabian golden-winged grosbeck. I won't give up on this bird.

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