Monday 11 May 2015

Seeb, Muscat

On both late Wednesday afternoon and mid afternoon on Thursday I birded straight out of my hotel, the Golden Tulip, Seeb near Muscat airport. In the first session there was a sandstorm and the second was fiercely hot.

It was battle against the elements.

Eurasian nightjar

In some senses, the second session was the better one. This was in natural scrubland. Early on I flushed a Eurasian nightjar which then flew up to a low branch on a tree and settled.

chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

Moments later I flushed three chestnut-bellied sandgrouse. The hot weather was persuading birds to stay still and flush at the very last second.

two chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

I hadn't expected to see them in a semi-urban environment.

Upcher's warbler

In a near-by tree an Upcher's warbler was found. It too was moving less than usual and refused to fly out of the tree even when I thought I had moved too close.

Upcher's warbler

While warbler bills vary in size within the same species, this one had a much larger bill than average for an already long-billed warbler.

The first birding session near the hotel on Wednesday afternoon was during a sandstorm. Visibility was poor. The area visited was mostly not natural scrub as on the next day but a narrow strip of manicured parkland between two main roads so not only was there sand but there was constant traffic noise too.

Nevertheless the birding was satisfactory not least because I came across a single grey francolin which became species 277 on my Oman country list.

red-vented bulbul

Just as in the heavily watered and manicured areas in UAE, there are exotic introduced or escaped species to be found. Red-vented bulbul was common near the hotel.

white-eared bulbul

The form of white-eared bulbul is the introduced form which lacks the yellow eye ring of natural birds found in Kuwait and as far south as Jubail in Saudi Arabia.

common myna

Common myna is a widespread and long-term escape throughout Arabia and Seeb is no exception.

little green bee-eater

There were naturally occurring birds too. I saw several little green bee-eater. The sub species in Muscat is aptly called muscatensis whereas the form in Dhofar is cyanophrys. The latter is much more brightly coloured than the former.

rufous-bush robin

I observed some signs of passage in the parkland. Rufous bush robin proved almost as common on passage near Muscat as it has been in the Salalah area over 1000 kilometres away.

Though not in the parkland but I could see it from there was a European roller in near-by scrub.

European roller

It is ironic that the first roller I saw in the north was a passage European roller rather than the fairly abundance local resident Indian roller.

In between these two sessions of birding in Seeb and I had work to carry out and also a very early morning trip to Al Ansab wetland. I will blog about that next.

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