Friday, 24 February 2017

Oman Day 7; Jabal Sanham, Ayn Hamran & Raysut

Jabal Sanham
We set off before light, heading for the cliffs of Jabal Sanham in the hope of Verreaux’s Eagle. Driving out of Salalah we had a cracking male Montagu’s Harrier fly over the car and a Long-legged Buzzard perched up in a date plantation. Unfortunately when we arrived at Jabal Sanham we found that strong wind and thick fog had set in. Realising the futility of attempting to bird the site we headed back down the road to an area nearby where visibility was much better and we had a chance of picking out raptors.
-Long-legged Buzzard
In the bushes around our watchpoint we encountered more African Silverbills and Cinnamon-breasted Buntings. We also had an Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak briefly drop in, but it did not stick around for long. After a while of scoping the valleys for raptors we also had a Long-billed Pipit drop in, which was the only one we encountered on our trip. Arabian Partridge was also common in this area.
-African Silverbill
-Cinnamon-breasted Bunting
-Fan-tailed Raven
-Long-billed Pipit
There were good numbers of raptors around; Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle and Bonellis Eagle were all spotted from our vantage point. We hoped to see more vultures soaring but it was mid-morning before we saw any. First were the Griffon Vultures, with as many of 7 together, but only managed a single Lappet-faced Vulture, which flew past us at mid-range.
-Bonelli's Eagle
-Eurasian Griffon Vulture
-Lappet-faced Vulture

Species List:
Jabal Sanham: Montagu's Harrier, Bonelli's Eagle, Cattle Egret, Long-legged Buzzard*, Arabian Partridge, Spectacled Bulbul, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, African Silverbill, Red-tailed Wheatear, Arabian Golden-winged Grosbeak, Palestine Sunbird, Stepped Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Crested Lark, Sparrowhawk, Long-billed Pipit*, Lappet-faced Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Laughing Dove, Rock Dove, Isabelline Wheatear, South Arabian Wheatear, Rock Martin, Rock Hyrax,

Ayn Hamran
With no luck with Verreaux’s Eagle at Jabal Sanham we decided to head back to Ayn Hamran and try our luck scoping the cliffs there. Unfortunately we did not have any success here either but we did manage Short-toed Eagle and Steppe Eagle soaring along the cliffs. An unexpected addition to so called ‘raptor day’ was a Shikra which flew over the car park where we were watching from. This represented the 30th record for Oman and was not a species we were expecting to encounter.
We did not stray much from our scopes and so we did not have many of the species that we had seen at the site yesterday. Commoner Dhofar species were still plentiful, coming down to drink from the stream in front of us; Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Spectacled Bulbul and White-breasted White-eye.

Species List:
Ayn Hamran: African Silverbill, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, White-breasted White-eye, Laughing Dove, Shikra*, Rock Martin, Common Sandpiper, Short-toed Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Fan-tailed Raven, Spectacled Bulbul, Ruppell's Weaver, Kestrel, Rock Dove,

Raysut Tip
By 14.30 we had concluded that we were not going to see Verreaux’s today and that our time would be better spent elsewhere. We headed back into Salalah to Raysut Tip which is well known for its eagles. They did not disappoint! It’s difficult to judge how many eagles were present, as birds were constantly coming and going, but it would be likely around 200 different individuals were present, all giving extraordinary views. Steppe Eagle was by far the most abundant species, and probably made up 90% of the total Eagles on site. Eastern Imperial Eagle was also present but in fewer numbers, and in fewer numbers again were Greater Spotted Eagles. Black Kite was the only other raptor we saw, with 2 individuals, but they were extremely high up. Besides the eagles there were not high numbers of birds using the tip area. Black-headed and Sykes Wagtails were both present but distant as they picked their way through the rubbish.  
-Greater Spotted Eagle
-Eastern Imperial Eagle
-Steppe Eagle
-Black Kite

Species List:
Raysut Tip: Crested Lark, Cattle Egret, White Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, Sykes Wagtail, Steppe Wagtail, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Heuglins Gull, Black Kite*, House Crow, 

Raysut Sewage Farm
For the last hour or so of light we had a look into the sewage farm that was adjacent to the tip. The large numbers of storks we had been expecting had already departed to roost it seemed, with only 4 White Storks remaining. However, they were joined by a cracking Demoiselle Crane. Citrine Wagtails and Black-headed Wagtails were both common, and there were decent numbers of waders and wildfowl present too, although nothing different from previous sites.
-White Stork & Demoiselle Crane

Species List:
Raysut Sewage Farm: Demoiselle Crane*, White Stork, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, House Crow, Shoveler, Teal, Green Sandpiper, Citrine Wagtail, Black-headed Wagtail, Sykes Wagtail, White Wagtail, Glossy Ibis, Coot, Moorhen, Slender-billed Gull, Crested Lark, 

Wadi Darbat
We chose to spend our night in Wadi Darbat. We had foolishly forgotten to download a recording of Arabian Scops Owl but it did not matter, as there were a good number calling in the Wadi and with a little searching we soon picked one out. A Spotted Eagle Owl may have been heard, but we were not sure and we did not see one. Black-crowned Night Heron could be seen in trees along the side of the river.
-Arabian Scops Owl

Species List:
Wadi Darbat: Arabian Scops Owl*, Black-crowned Night Heron, Grey Heron, Egyptian Fruit Bat,  

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