Thursday, 27 August 2015

Al Baleed in August

My first birding session when back in Oman was on Monday afternoon when I made it over to Al Baleed, Archaeological Park. Sadly it is being developed in a way that I don't believe is sympathetic to the environment. However there are still good birds to be seen. 

There is always a good chance to see spotted thick-knee here. In my case I have seen them on roughly 60% of my visits but never in the same place as yet.

spotted thick-knee bird 1

This time I saw three together just as I was leaving around 30 minutes before sunset. This was in the tended garden area which displays flora from different parts of the country.

spotted thick-knee bird 2

It was good bird to see even if it was left late.

Indeed the birding started very quietly and got better as time progressed.

European collared dove

On arrival, the most obvious birds were European collared dove out in the open. The odd Ruppell's weaver was also seen in the bushier areas.

little grebe

On the water, birds were restricted to little grebe, common moorhen and the odd sooty gull.

common moorhen

The sand bar between the fresh water and the sea is usually a good place for waders like so many other khawrs in Dhofar. However building has been allowed a little too close to the bar. Nevertheless there were some waders at the end furthest away.

mixed waders

The majority of waders there were greenshank though there were a small number of redshank and ruddy turnstone too.

common greenshank

Over the stretch of fresh water closest to the bar, a single small tern, most probably a Saunders's tern was seen.

Saunders's tern

I almost missed seeing one of the largest birds at the bar as it was well camouflaged. There was a juvenile striated heron.

juvenile striated heron 1

It's bent profile and slow movement nearly fooled me.

juvenile striated heron 2

The beach at Al Baleed is an important part of any birding visit to the park.

sooty gull

All year round on most Dhofar beaches, you can come across sooty gull and great crested tern. Once these are accounted for, then I start looking what else is there.

mostly sanderling

This time there was a large flock of sanderling. This species is rarely seen in the winter but large numbers pass through in early autumn and late spring.

ruddy turnstone

The presence of ruddy turnstone follows a similar pattern.

squacco heron

Moving back from the beach and before I saw the spotted thick-knee, I had a second look at the freshwater inlet. I got better views of the squacco heron on the banks. There was no sign of any of the closely related Indian pond heron. Al Baleed is a good place to see them in winter.

In the gardens, I fleetingly saw a Bruce's green pigeon.

African silverbill

Passerines were mostly restricted to African silverbill and cinnamon-breasted bunting. Though there was one migrant red-backed shrike.

I managed to find time to go birding on both Tuesday and Wednesday. I will blog about that next.

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