Sunday, 11 January 2015

A more showy grosbeck at Ayn Hamran

My friend Andrew Bailey from UAE came over for 3 days birding this weekend. We had some wonderful birding. Andrew saw 156 species in that time and had 14 lifers. I added 8 birds to my Oman list including some really rare birds. 

There will be a series of blogs reporting on where we went and what we saw.

It all started out at Ayn Hamran at around 7am on Thursday morning. We were keen to see Arabian golden-winged grosbeck. We went to the area I know gives the best chance. Sure enough at 7.36 am a grosbeck appeared in a tree next to us. This was precisely the time to the minute I had seen one in near-by tree a week before.

Arabian golden-winged grosbeck

We had been watching Abyssinian white-eye in the tree when the grosbeck arrived on top. It stayed about two minutes in a typical exposed position.

second view of Arabian golden-winged grosbeck

The first feature you notice when this bird arrives is the white cheek as opposed to the wing flash. There is no other bird with a white cheek in its range either so recognition is usually fast.

back view of Arabian golden-winged grosbeck

It took me a long time to work out the best time and place to see these birds but now I have fair chance every time I go to Ayn Hamran.

Before seeing the grosbeck, we observed fifteen or so Arabian partridge walking around the spring. The male masked shrike which has been there all winter was also easily seen and quite showy.

Palestine sunbird

Other birds seen while I was there included a male Palestine sunbird. This is an upland bird in Dhofar and not always easy.

second view of Palestine sunbird

An unusual bird for this site was a rufous-tailed rock thrush.

rufous-tailed rock thrush

A good non-birding sighting was a chameleon which I nearly walked on. It didn't bother to run away, it very slowly walked off.

chameleon at Ayn Hamran

I went to work for the morning while Andrew enjoyed the views of such birds as Arabian warbler, African paradise flycatcher and finally tracked down a black-crowned tchagra.

Indian pond heron at Khawr Taqah

When I returned we made a dash to Khawr Taqah as two African skimmer had been reported there the day before. We were out of luck. Good views of an Indian pond heron were poor compensation.

Next we went up into the mountains. It was here that my Oman list started to increase and there were plenty of other good observations.

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