Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Mid March at Raysut

Late on Saturday afternoon, I headed to Raysut where I visited two sites. One was the settling pools and the other was the treated water lake. As I have said before they are quite different. One is smelly and dirty while the other is a lake of very clear and clean water. Both attract large numbers of birds.

The settling pools are looking much better habitat overall than they were when I first starting visiting about 3 months ago. The overflow form two of the settling pools is being allowed to run off creating an impromptu marshland with a few natural looking pools and where cover is steadily growing. I hope they don't tidy this up too quickly.

The main settling pools themselves are square and concrete bounded. These alone attract birds. Walking around them on Saturday were several flamingo. Three little grebe were seen in one. Another had several slender-billed gull though the black-headed gull observed all winter have gone.

flamingo flying around the settling pools

There are always a few waders at the water's edge on the concrete but this time the main birding action was in the new (and hopefully not temporary marshy areas).

desert wheatear

Leaving the drier part of the complex behind, along with the odd tawny pipit and desert wheatear, I walked over the eastern side where the wetter area is.

eastern imperial eagle

There were several eagles on site. All were either eastern imperial eagle or greater spotted eagle. There are steppe eagle still around but many have left. Their dominance, in Raysut district as whole area, by 30 or 40 to one against the other eagles has gone.

greater spotted eagle

In the wet parts of the settling pool site was a large array of wader species. Wood sandpiper, common sandpiper and green sandpiper were joined by at least two marsh sandpiper.

marsh sandpiper

A small number of common redshank and two common greenshank were also observed.


The variety included both little ringed plover and ringed plover.

little ringed plover

The ringed plover were in the same place as a large group of little stint.

ringed plover

There were thirty of them packed densely.

little stint

As I continued to walk round, I came across four cattle egret high on a tree on the perimeter.

cattle egret

As well as waders the marshy area with pools had attracted yellow wagtail. The one below is of the sub-species thunbergi  (grey-headed wagtail) as the ear coverts are darker than the crown.

thunbergi yellow wagtail

The vagrant spur-winged lapwing was still present as it has been all winter. The red-wattled lapwing it had been associating with appear to have left.

spur-winged lapwing

If this part of the settling pool complex continues to be kept marshy then the spring passage could be very interesting here. Of the birds I haven't yet seen in Oman, collared pratincole and several types of warbler must be possible.

On leaving the settling pools I went down the road 2 kilometres to the treated water lake.

In this cleaner environment there were fewer birds but these included common moorhen and several more little grebe.

A close look showed that one of the squacco heron was in fact an Indian pond heron.

Indian pond heron

There are always very many Indian house crow at this site and they are often seen intimidating other birds. 

Indian house crow

They even try to intimidate eagles.

House crow and Eastern imperial eagle 1

I saw one continually goad an Eastern Imperial eagle from behind.

House crow and Eastern imperial eagle 2

Each time it pecked the eagle it immediately retreated and reared up into the air.

House crow and Eastern imperial eagle 3

In the end the crow normally succeeds in displacing the eagle.

Eastern imperial eagle

Yellow birds were very much in evidence at the treated water lake: yellow wagtail, citrine wagtail and Ruepell's weaver.

yellow wagtail

The male weavers were busy making more nests. Looks like some breeding takes place before the Dideric cuckoo return.

Ruepell's weaver weaving

On Monday's afternoon, I visited Khawr Rori and got a surprise addition to my Oman list. I will blog about that next.

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