Thursday 14 April 2016

Eastern egrets at East Khawr

Yesterday afternoon, I visited east Khawr for the first time in ages even though it is very close to my home.

It proved a good decision. It was teeming with waders and other water birds. The undoubted highlight though was the egrets. Not only was there an intermediate egret (and an Indo-Malay one as determined by the black tip to its bill) but there we also about 75 cattle egret.

Intermediate egret

Some of the cattle egret had considerable areas of orange-buff on their heads and upper breast as they move into breeding plumage.

Two at least were definitely eastern cattle egret as the orange-buff was more extensive and covered all the cheeks and throat as well as the head and upper breast. Others may well also be eastern cattle egret and if they stay a few more days the plumage may well develop further to be sure.

two eastern cattle egret

The Oman Bird Rarities Committee uses the IOU classification. In this list, eastern cattle egret is classified as a separate species. Furthermore there have only been 6 records in Oman before and so it is a vagrant. What's more this means another rarity report for me to fill in. 

These birds were seen independently by Waheed Al Farazi and Haitham Al Shanfari so there are plenty of pictures.

eastern (left) and western (right) cattle egret

There were over 40 glossy ibis at the khawr too as well as the same number of greater flamingo.

glossy ibis

Many of the waders were asleep. This more often happens if they have recently travelled far.

redshank, black-tailed godwit and greenshank

The common redshank and black-tailed godwit were approaching breeding plumage.

curlew sandpiper

A single curlew sandpiper was easy to pick out by its plumage too.

little stint with terek sandpiper

A sole terek sandpiper was also present. This species is long billed but this one was more so than usual. 

terek sandpiper with ruddy turnstone

Other migrants included a large group of ruddy turnstone.

lesser sand plover 1

Similarly lesser sand plover were numerous adding to the crowded feel at the front end of the khawr.

lesser sand plover

Relatively few were yet in their breeding plumage but I picked one out to photograph.

ringed plover

Yet more plovers were around including several ringed plover.

grey plover

A greater sand plover, a grey plover and several kentish plover including a very young bird completed the selection of plovers.

I will return to East Khawr in the next few days to see if any more eastern cattle egret can be identified before they all leave for the summer.

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