Saturday 19 September 2015

Eagles and water birds at Raysut

I managed a second late afternoon out birding during the week on Wednesday. I chose Raysut settling pools.

This is much more interesting that this time last year as the habitat is better. Last autumn all the water was retained within concrete bound pools. For the past few months the ones on the far east side have overflown and more natural pools have formed. Now the overflow goes into a wadi outside the perimeter of the works and this has created a new stream and marshy area.

I started birding outside the works along the wadi. I was pleased to find five steppe eagle there. This should be the first of hundreds that stay the winter here.

steppe eagle resting 1

The five birds seemed to represent all ages.

steppe eagle resting 2

Though the bird that gave me the most prolonged views is a sub adult.

the same steppe eagle in flight 1

I have yet to see any eastern imperial eagle or greater spotted eagle this autumn. The former bird also likes to stay near the Raysut waste dump which is next door to the settling pools.

the same steppe eagle in flight 2

The picture below shows the stream which has been created in the wadi but which could easily disappear as quickly as it came depending on overflows. It was home to several waders on Wednesday. These included common redshank, common greenshank, green sandpiper, common sandpiper and wood sandpiper.

common redshank

After about half an hour's investigation of the side, I ventured into the main works.

The hundreds of sooty gull which were based there during the khareef have all gone during the day bar one ill looking bird.

Nevertheless the site was teeming with birds. White winged black tern with a bewildering array of plumages have partially taken the gulls place but with much fewer numbers. Forbes-Watson swift, pale crag martin and barn swallow were also hawking above the waters.

common tern

One of the terns appeared different and I have assigned it as a young common tern pending the views of birdforum.


In the cleaner of the settling pools, garganey, common moorhen and little grebe dominated.

young little grebe

Juvenile little grebe swimming along side adults suggests successful breeding here. 

citrine wagtail

I saw the first citrine wagtail of the season at the pools.

squacco heron

At the sides of the main working pools were a couple of squacco heron and the same mix of waders seen in the wader plus little stint and ruff.

purple heron 1

The garganey were also spending time in the natural pools. Here too were a large number of western reef heron, two purple heron and a few grey heron. Once again there were waders there as well.

purple heron 2

In the last fifteen minutes of the session, I noticed two birds previously missed. There were two red-necked phalarope in one of the working pools.

red-necked phalarope

As is usual with this species they allowed close approach.

two red-necked phalarope

Another bird seen late was a single cattle egret.

cattle egret

There are always plenty of house crow near the gate when you enter and leave. These,  Ruppell's weaver and African silverbill are the main residents that see the changing bird scene throughout the year.

house crow

On Friday I made my regular full day trip into the desert and it was highly successful. I added three birds to my country list among a huge passage.

However I came back early by skipping my stop in Al Beed farm go to Raysut after a tip-off. Jens Eriksen had found four collared pratincole there. This was one of the main reasons I had been going during the week.

Needless to say when I arrived after a 3 hour drive, they were nowhere to be seen. I have few regrets as the desert trip was a real success.

Even returning to Raysut was not a failure. There were some good birds not seen on Wednesday.

The long standing vagrant spur-winged lapwing was there again this time with two red-wattled lapwing.

spur-winged lapwing

I went outside the works to the eastside and it marshy area still looking for the pratincoles. Instead I found a grey-headed kingfisher and more.

grey-headed kingfisher

The more included prolonged if partly obscured views of a spotted crake.

first view of the spotted crake

The light was a little better than when I saw one for the first time in Oman at Khawr Rori a week before.

spotted crake 2

This was a classic case of waiting a long time and trying very hard to see the first one and then having no difficulties seeing more.

spotted crake showing buff undertail

Right next to the crake were four common snipe.

common snipe

In the next two blogs, I will write about the desert trip and why it was so successful. Patience and persistence was finally rewarded.

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