Saturday, 20 February 2016

Round up on Raysut

Mid-week birding is a little tricky at the moment as work demands are currently high. Nevertheless I managed to get for a short while last Wednesday afternoon.

This was time for two quick trips to Raysut settling pools and Raysut lagoons.

Abdim's stork

This may have been the last chance to see Abdim's stork this winter as they returned to their breeding areas in the third week of February last year.

barn swallow

The settling pools held the largest number of birds I have ever seen there. The wintering birds have been swollen with large numbers of passage barn swallow, sand martin, yellow wagtail, waders and ducks. Picking out a rarity systematically would have taken a lot longer than I had. I concentrated on hirundines but with no success.

male pintail

Most of the ducks are now in full breeding plumage.

I moved on to Raysut lagoons. This place is excellent in the mornings for eagles which mostly roost near-by and are active close to the lagoon then. In the afternoon many wander away including the Pallas's fish eagle for which most sightings have been in the morning.

Black-tailed godwit with a ruff

The lagoons like the settling pools were crowded with birds but I suspect for a different reason. The weather had been very windy and I believe many sea birds and waders which might normally be on the coast had come inland a few hundred metres for shelter.

Black-tailed godwit would normally be expected in this type of habitat any way.

However while the land-loving birds of prey may have been roaming, there were certainly more osprey over the lagoon than usual and as far as I know it doesn't have any large fish.


The sea birds that congregated in the lagoon included at least 100 hundred each of sooty gull, slender-billed gull and Heuglin's gull. There were certainly a small number of both black headed gull and steppe gull too. I spent over 20 minutes scanning for rarities with no success. The common gull reported once a couple of week's ago near-by was not seen.

mixed sea birds

Caspian tern and whiskered tern were also present.

close up of some sea birds

This site is now as good as East Khawr, West Khawr and Khawr Rori for Eurasian spoonbill.

two spoonbill

Since it started being filled with large water amounts from the waste treatment plant over the past two years, the vegetation has matured and now supports a wider range of birds than ever before. Since the water is so clean  (ie low in phosphate and nitrates) high and dense reeds don't choke the landscape either making it different from all other major water bodies in the area.

three spoonbill

Just before dusk I saw African silverbill beginning to gather.

African silverbill

However this was not the most intriguing gathering.

three African silverbill

Instead that was a gathering of citrine wagtail in a small cluster of low reed. I counted sixteen citrine wagtail there as I drove by.

part of a citrine wagtail roost at dusk

I must admit I have never seen a citrine wagtail roost before. Indeed I didn't even know they grouped in reeds.

This session was pleasant but not the best. I suppose I have been looking forward to forthcoming spring passage for a change of pace.

Little did I know that that the passage would give me such an early excellent result just two days later. I will blog about that next.

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