Alan Dalton post's birding diaries and original artwork from Sweden. Established in 2006, this now long running blog is now a complete overview of my birding experiences. As an artist I greatly enjoy sketching birds in the field and you will find a wide selection of that work here, from fieldwork to finished paintings. I am very passionate about my artwork and try to depict birds in their natural habitat, as I see them in the wild. My artwork is for sale and can be viewed at http://www.alandalton.net/
As regards to my photography, since 2008 I have used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera coupled with a Sigma 150-500mm OS lens for since March 2012 for bird photography, all previous images being digiscoped. Regarding sound recording, I have been usung a Telinga Stereo Dat Mic and parabol to record birds in the field, coupled to a Marrantz 661 digital recorder, a superb piece of kit. Interest in butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies has recently seen the accquisition of a Sigma 150mm macro lens. I hope you enjoy the blog and please feel free to leave comments or contact me at alandltn@gmail.com

Friday, January 29, 2016

Oman; 5th November 2015; East Khawr; Raysut Dump; Salalah, Sahout Farm and Ayn Atoum


Our plans changed slightly after hearing a Long Toed Stint had been seen at East Khawr yesterday evening, so we got there at dawn. Again, the information had kindly been shared by Jens Eriksen at our hotel, a man who was selfless in sharing information and was clearly happy to see visiting birder's enjoying the birding in Oman. Long Toed Srint had been high up on the priority list and we had already spent so much time at various sites over the previous ten days grilling stint flocks in the hope of unearthing one of these birds. It was a lifer for all three of us, though there was a real interest in seeing this species. It moved to the top of out priorities and we went straight to East Khawr to search for it. We began to check the Little Stints on our arrival, though had no luck. This was a little deflating as the bird had been in the company of a Little Stint flock the previous day. We moved along the beach. We then located three stints with a Broad billed Sandpiper, two were certainly Temminck's Stint's, the remaining bird quickly had our full attention. It was darker, smaller and showed greenish legs, a fine and slightly decurved bill. We grilled it from the vehicle. It displayed a full suite of features in keeping with Long Toed Stint and we quickly determined that was indeed its identity, a fact that was cemented when we had a clear view of the huge feet. The bird showed very well and we watched it for 45 minutes, taking in as much as possible. Direct comparison with Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin and Broad billed Sandpiper made the views all the more useful. We were really happy with this bird, a real dream bird. We stayed with it for quite a while, making notes and taking all the features in, as well as making sure we got some decent photo's. I got some really nice video footage as the sun began to rise over the sea behind us. Oman just kept giving more, day after day...


Video footage of a wonderful bird Long Toed Stint at East Khawr...



Greenshank, Broad billed Sandpiper and Long Toed Stint.



Long Toed Stint



Long Toed Stint



Long Toed Stint to the right, Broad billed Sandpiper to the left. Dream birding...

We left the bird undisturbed, quickly checking the other birds in the area. A Jack Snipe was a surprise, a new bird for the trip. Danny was delighted as it was a species that had evaded him until that moment. The bird was showing exceptionally well and gave great views. Black Winged Stilt, Ruff, Grey Plover, Bar tailed Godwit, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Wood Sandpiper were all present. We had to move on, it was a quick productive visit and now Raysut Dump beckoned..



Broad billed Sandpiper



Broad billed Sandpiper



Redshanks, with a Grenshank far right...



Black Winged Stilt



Black Winged Stilt



Garganey



Squacco Herron



Whiskered Terns. Oman is a wonderful place to study Marsh Terns...



Western Reef Heron


 We arrived after a ten minute drive and could see from the outside there were many Eagles present. We showed our permission at the gate from the Sultinate of Oman, without which there is no entry. We were granted access and made our way to our favored spot were Eagles were overhead and showing at short range as usual. We immediately had Eastern Imperial Eagle overhead...

Eastern Imperial Eagle; 3rd Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 3rd Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 3rd Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 3rd Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 3rd Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calender

We counted a minimum of 700 Steppe Eagles. Among them there were a couple of Greater Spotted and at least 5 Eastern Imperial Eagle. We spent the next few hour photographing the birds at our leisure. As it was last week, it was rancid smelling. We had tiger balm on out top lips to deal with the smell, it was so bad. The views of the Eagles were, however, mind blowing. There were also so many birds that the kettles overhead were incredibly spectacular, often seeming to materialize in a very sudden manner. The light, as always, was immense....


 Greater Spotted Eagle; 1st Calendar. Not terribly common at the dump, generally only 1st Calenders around...


 Steppe Eagle; Immature


 Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


 Steppe Eagles at Rest


 Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender


 Steppe Eagle; Adult type at Rest


  Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender


  Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender. Stum´ning to see the plumage in such detail. The triling edge is wonderful...


  Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender


  Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender. Note the fresh retraces, broad white bar on underwings greater coverts, clean creamy trailing edge, pointed juvenile primaries and lack of moult...


  Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender; Head on...

  Steppe Eagle; Immature, probable 4th Calender, note the replaced primaries, which are all rounded and adult type, so bird is a minimum of 3rd Calendar. Moult apparent on the undercarriage as well as new P1/P2.


   Steppe Eagle; Immature; A heavy individual here. 


   Steppe Eagle; Immature


   Steppe Eagle; Immature


   Steppe Eagle; Immature, a peek at the upper wing here...


   Steppe Eagle; Immature


   Steppe Eagle; Immature, perhaps a 2nd Calendar. I still have much study to do with these images in order to age all the birds properly...


   Steppe Eagle; Immature and remarkably pale in appearance.


   Steppe Eagle; Immature, the same pale individual as above.


   Steppe Eagle; Adult 



  Steppe Eagle; Adult. Note the fuller, broader wing shape, coarse barring on retrices also apparent here.


  Steppe Eagle; Adult 


  Steppe Eagle; Adult 


Scene from Raysut Dump, trio of B.R.C counter's on large pile of dirt with lots of Aqulla's...


Video footage of the stunning scenes at Raysut Waste Disposal...



 After a few hours we decided to move to check out the archeological museum, in particular its botanic section for a special resident. Spotted Thick Knee had not yet been tackled, we had it on good local knowledge, again thanks to Jens Eriksen, that this was a very reliable location for the species. On arrival at the park we ran into an unexpected bonus in the form of more that 300 Pacific Golden Plover. We had decent views of these on the ground, though more impressively in the air after they were flushed by a hunting Marsh Harrier.
 Upon arrival at the arboretum it couldn't have been easier. Almost immediately we located the Spotted Thick Knees, a total of ten birds present in the shade under the trees. We had great close range views before leaving.

Video footage of Spoted Thick Knee. Lethargic in the day time. Loved the contantly dilating pupils of the eyes...


Spotted Thick Knee


Spotted Thick Knee


Spotted Thick Knee


 A real whistle stop tour continued with Sanhout Farm. Again we rolled up, grabbed the scopes and found a flock of plovers far at the back of a ploughs field. The heat haze was terrible and we were thinking Pacific Golden Plover until a bird wing stretched and a black and white pattern was discerned and the possibility of a Sociable Plover was realized. With the sun dropping I then located what looked like three Sociable Plovers. Nothing prepared us for the shock of the birds flying and our sudden realization that they were, in fact, all Sociable Plovers! A total of 51 Sociable Plovers graced the farm, we were thrilled with the record. Elsewhere there were lots of birds. 160 White winged black Tern hunted over the meadow, 1,000 Ruff were in the flooded part in the distance, 100 Cattle Egrets were flying around, 70 Rose Coloured Starling bouncing around after grasshoppers. Phenomenal birding. There were birds everywhere, now familiar species like Turkestan and Southern Grey Shrikes, Hoope, Little Egret, Eurasian Roller, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle. Better still was a Steppe Grey Shrike, which gave stunning views, an immaculate 1st Calender.

Steppe Grey Shrike



Video Footage of Steppe Grey Shrike...


 We had no longer to stay. Dusk was approaching and we headed for Ayn Atoum.
The experience there was nothing short of remarkable. At the site where we had found Golden winged Grosbeak a few days previously, we staked out a pool of water in the hope of Liechtensteins Sandgrouse. Right on cue at dusk four birds arrived, calling as they did. Then three more, then a further six. Before we knew what had happened birds piled in from all around and we had a total of 49 Liechtensteins Sandgrouse in front of us drinking. The views were great, though the sound of the calling birds was even better! It wass a high number for this species and an excellent record. The birds drank, preened a little and left as suddenly as they came, another little piece of Omani magic and one which I will never forget. Another golden moment...
We followed the road into the hills, where we hoped for Arabian Scops Owl. After a kilometer we pulled into a layby and jumped out to listen. What we heard first was spine tingling, there was a small pack of Wolves howling in the mountains. As the sound of the animals carried through the mountain, they were answered by what sounded a lone animal on the ridge behind us. This continued for some time before stopping. Danny then gave a wonderful rendition himself which I felt led to the best sound recording of the trip!
 A minor inconvenience whilst we were listening for the owls was the constant polite interuption from concerned locals who were driving by. Concerned we had broken down, they were offereing there assistance, should we need it. we politely waved them one and hoped for some quiet! Eventually we got it and through the night came the first call of Arabian Scops Owl. We would go one to hear at least three individuals, as well as a Barn Owl. Another brief vollwey by the Wolf pack was a fitting end to the evenings efforts. On the way back we reflected on what had been a simply stunning days birding, one of the best days of the whole trip. Sadly, we were now almost at the nd of our stay in this wonderful birding location...
At the last minute we veered off the motorway and took a night visit to Ayn Hamran, where there was yet another calling Arabian Scops Owl. A fitting end to any day's birding. It was back to base and out for a nice meal. We planned our last day and debated which species deserved our attention and devised a plan to see them, A chat with the ever helpful Jens Eriksen armed us with some really solid sites and we put our heads down in oder to rest and be fresh for our last full day...