Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Oman Day 4; Ash Shuwaymiyyah & Tawi Atayr

Ash Shuwaymiyyah Wadi
We started our day birding an area quite far up the Wadi known as the date plantation, where there was more vegetation and a small stream. We were woken up by the calls of Spectacled Bulbuls which were common up the valley. Equally common and vocal were Tristrams Starlings which were an abundant species all through south Oman.
Working the wadi produced a number of species. We added both Sand Partridge and Arabian Partridge to our trip list, and was our only site for Menetries Warbler, which were common through the valley. Striolated Bunting was another new bird, although we could only find one individual. Without doubt the highlight for us was just as we were leaving when a stunning adult male Black-throated Thrush flew across the road and landed in the trees in front of us. It sat up for around 60 seconds before flying off up the wadi, and we were unable to relocate it. South Arabian Wheatear remained common here, and we also had our first Lesser Whitethroat of the trip.
-Sand Partridge
-Menetries Warbler
-Tristrams Starling
-Laughing Dove
-Striolated Bunting
-Black-throated Thrush
-Rock Martin
We left the date plantation mid-morning and headed back to the Hanging Gardens from the previous evening, but we were disappointed with the lack of birds in what seemed ideal habitat. Rock Martin and House Martin were the only birds using the oasis. Further down the Wadi we had an Eastern Imperial Eagle flew over, our first of the trip, and we had more distant views of Desert Lark.

Species List:
Ash Shuwaymiyyah Wadi: Black-throated Thrush*, Menetries Warbler*, Tristrams Starling*, Spectacled Bulbul*, Sand Partridge*, Arabian Partridge*, Eastern Imperial Eagle*, South Arabian Wheatear, Striolated Bunting*, Black Redstart, Wood Sandpiper, Laughing Dove, Tawny Pipit, Rock Martin, House Martin, Desert Lark, Lesser Whitethroat,

Ash Shuwaymiyyah Town
By late morning we decided to head back to the small area of wetlands we had explored the previous evening. The lake was being used by fishermen, who had flushed most of the Greater Flamingos and other herons. There were still 3 Indian Pond Herons on the other small ponds and the Pheasant-tailed Jacana was also still present. Among the Barn Swallows and Rock Martins feeding above the ponds we had a Pallid Swift, which showed well enough to confirm its identification.
Whilst hunting for dragonflies in the reedbeds we had a somewhat unexpected bonus of Baillons Crake, which showed well initially but proved more elusive once it had entered the reeds. Also in the reedbeds were more Clamorous Reed Warblers. As we were leaving we noticed a large raptor sat on the pylons alongside the road, which turned out to be a Bonelli’s Eagle. We got some pretty awesome views before it took off and flew off up the Wadi.
-Pallid Swift
-Coastal Glider 
-Pheasant-tailed Jacana
-Garganey & Teal
-Greater Flamingo
We left Ash Shuwaymiyyah late morning with the intention of reaching Mirbat and the Dhofar Region in time to bird some of the area before dark. Our trip south went through some pretty spectacular scenery but was fairly thin on birdlife. About halfway through our journey we encountered more Indo Pacific Humpbacked Dolphins so stopped to have good views of them, as they were quite close inshore. The only real bird of note was the first Blackstart of our trip perched up on the roadside.  
-Dhofar Agama
-Indo-pacific Humpbacked Dolphin
-Chrysiptera unimaculata
-Common Three Ring

Species List:
Ash Shuwaymiyyah Town: Shoveler, Pintail, Osprey, Chiffchaff, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Coot, Baillons Crake*, Indian Pond Heron, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Little Stint, Green Sandpiper. Common Sandpiper, Pallid Swift*, Garganey, Teal, Laughing Dove, House Sparrow, Sooty Gull, Heuglins Gull, Common Snipe, Barn Swallow, Southern Grey Shrike, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Bonelli's Eagle*, Blue-tailed Damselfly
Driving: Blackstart*, Moorhen, Common Kingfisher, Tristrams Starling, Grey Heron, Western Reef Egret, Northern Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Feral Pigeon, House Sparrow, Indo Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin,

Tawi Atayr Sinkhole
As soon as we arrived in the Dhofar region of Oman there was a change in the variety of birds. We decided to call off at the Tawi Atayr Sinkhole, one of the few reliable spots for Yemen Serin and the only site in Oman, but we were unable to locate any in a couple of hours search during the evening. However the variety of birdlife present around the area was phenomenal. There were a host of new species that we found later to be abundant throughout the Dhofar regions; Ruppell's Weaver, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, African Silverbill, African Paradise Flycatcher, White-breasted White-eye and Shining Sunbird. A male African Paradise Flycatcher in the bushes around the sinkhole rim was certainly a trip highlight, and was the only white-tailed male we saw on our whole trip. Arabian Partridge was also common here, and could be seen roaming the scrub in small parties. Overhead we had our first Fan-tailed Ravens, as well as Short-toed Eagle and Eastern Imperial Eagle. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was also seen briefly, and another Blackstart was present.
-Ruppells Weaver
-African Paradise Flycatcher
-Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
-Arabian Partridge
-Dromedary Camel

Species List:
Tawi Atayr Sinkhole: Ruppell's Weaver*, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting*, Fan-tailed Raven*, Short-toed Eagle, Arabian Partridge, Tree Pipit, Red-breasted Flycatcher, African Silverbill*, Spectacled Bulbul, Eastern Imperial Eagle, African Paradise Flycatcher*, Blackstart, White-breasted White-eye*, Shining Sunbird*, Rock Martin, Kestrel, Tristrams Starling, 

Wadi Hana

We camped the night in the well wooded Wadi Hana. It was dark when we arrived but searching a small spring in the valley provided us with evening’s entertainment. We tracked down Dhofar Toad and -Ali Kiymi's Leaf-toed Gecko. Egyptian Fruit Bat was also common in the valley, and in the water we found Water Scorpions over 2 inches long.
-Ali Kiymi's Leaf-toed Gecko
-Dhofar Toad

Species List:
Wadi Hana: Hajar Mountain Leaf-tailed Gecko, Arabian Toad, Egyptian Fruit Bat, 

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