Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Qatbeet excels again

Qatbeet was my second birding spot in the desert on Saturday. I arrived around 11 am. 

The motel gardens are famed for providing rarities and vagrants. The isolated location seems to be a magnet for migratory birds.

Saturday was no exception.  On arrival I discovered five other bird watchers in two groups were already there. They had come primarily to see a vagrant brown shrike sighted the day before by the Swedish group. Four more birders also arrived just a little after me but they like me had not heard about the brown shrike and had come coincidentally. Indeed it was a mostly coincidental meeting of 10 birders in total.

record shot of brown shrike 

Mattias Ullman and friends were kind enough to show me where the brown shrike was spending most of its time. It was a very shy bird, spending very little time in the open. Eventually it was pointed out to me (see the top photograph) but soon disappeared. 

The short wings that make it look long tailed are obvious.

I stayed on after all other birders had moved on to try to get more looks at the bird. It reappeared twice.

brown shrike obscured by branches

On one of these occasions it was in the open but obscured by branches of a dead bush. Nevertheless you can see the all buff undersides which many of these birds have.

brown shrike show big bill

In the next picture the large pinkish bill as well the buff underparts can be easily seen.

brown shrike looks ahead

In the last picture below both these features are clear. The uniformity of colour between the mantle and head is also noticeable though once again not all brown shrike are this distinctive. 

brown shrike with all buff undersides

A rarity report is needed by the finders but I have no personal doubts.

The Swedish group also found a yellow-browed warbler and Hume's warbler.

I also saw the Hume's warbler but missed out on the yellow-browed warbler. The Hume's warbler was high in the canopy and photographed by two other birders from which a definitive identification could be made.

There are around 50 records of Hume's warbler now in Oman and it is no longer the major rarity it was believed to be even 5 years ago.


As is often the case, birds seem to be more difficult to photograph first time around but once I have them listed it seems much easier. For example one chiffchaff was extremely showy.

second shot of chiffchaff

There were two red-breasted flycatcher at the location. Both were female and quite confiding.

red-breasted flycatcher

While some of the other birders saw a yellow-browed warbler, I don't know but I may have been the only one to spot a blackcap.  This was hidden deep in a thicket and was very shy. It also failed to give me a clean photographic view but it is readily identified.

blackcap through the thicket

For some reason its crest was raised throughout the time I was observing it.

second shot of blackcap

Qatbeet was exceptional birding. I intend to continue doing the 550 kilometre round trip by visiting it once a month.

No comments:

Post a Comment