Saturday, December 22, 2018

Denham Quarry - Red-breasted Merganser

Took a couple of attempts to see the Red-breasted Merganser at Denham Quarry but car parking charges aside, it's a great site.

The first attempt was on a gloomy day, where the sawbill had re-located further down the Colne Valley.

Today, the weather was much more favourable, perfect in fact.  A crisp cold morning, subdued winter light and no wind. 

Present here were eight Goosander made up of four drakes and four females.  The Merg was in full flirt mode taking its fancy to one of the female Goosander.

Also on site were a Kingfisher, three Common Gull, Treecreeper, 42 Common Pochard, Common Buzzard, and a Red Kite.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Oman day 7 - Muscat

A visit to the stunning Yiti beach and a couple of surprise finds and an Osprey consumed by stealth on a pool created by the receded tide.

Heading back from the beach, a Hume's Wheatear was spotted close to the roadside.  A Desert Warbler flitted around a small acacia bush nearby.

Three Grey Francolin were later seen plodding through the Qurum Natural Park.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Oman Day 5 - Ras al Hadd

A fine day started at Turtle Beach followed by a fruitless search for Crab Plover.  I believe this was the right location for them, but despite a long muddy trudge, they failed to materialise.

I was up early to have a quick look around the scrubby barren areas around the hotel that yielded a couple of male Desert Wheatear, a Red-tailed Wheatear, and a surprise Wryneck.

Firstly driving round the lagoon at Ras al Hadd produced plenty of waders including both species of Sand Plover, my first ever Terek Sandpiper with one group holding 35 birds, a Bar-tailed Godwit, a Gull-billed Tern just offshore, and small groups of Grey Plover and Greenshank.

A Black-headed Wagtail flew past.

Moving onto Khwar Jirama just off the Sur road, I could sense that the beach was muddy so made conservative efforts to keep the rental car away from the sinking mud.  This was made evidently clear to me as I watched one poor individual his car sinking deeper into the the brown gunk while a 4x4 made several attempts to pull the vehicle out.  They eventually made it.

This wasn't a walk made for footwear of any kind.  I made a 1km walk along the foreshore watching Sooty Gull, my first Pallas's Gull that were generously congregated within the bay, and plenty of wader adding Spotted Redshank, and a single winter plumage Little Stint to the increasing list of species within this family group.

A couple of Caspian Tern were present here.

On the way back to Muscat, I missed a junction for route 17 but decided to continue seeing that the road headed back toward the sea.

It was a dead-end with no one around.  Noticing an area of scrub, I parked up and headed in.  It was brilliant.  Full of birds.  Lots of Purple Sunbird, Green Bee-Eater, with a first Arabian Warbler seen here as well as an Eastern Orphean Warbler, Arabian Partridge, two Daurian Shrike, and the surprising sight of a Corn Bunting.

I think this was private land so scarpered pretty quickly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Oman Day 4 - Bimmah Sinkhole

The Bimmah Sinkhole was a nice little spot en route to Ras al Hadd.  The cool aquamarine waters invited a short swim while trying to ignore the sensation of the digit nipping fish.

A few Egyptian Vulture were seen along the way.

This Gecko <species> was absorbed in a fesity duel with another make by the seating areas.

Talk about burying your head in the sand, this Camel preferred a bin to escape the stresses of life.

Not the greatest image, but unfortunately the Arabian Gazelle were difficult to pin down.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Oman Day 3 - Nizwa

Nizwa was around a two hour drive from the hotel and was regarded as one of the top sights within the Sultanate.  It is one of the oldest cities in the country and was at one time the capital.

The main attraction is the fort and the adjoining castle.  There is plenty to see here to fill up a whole day.

Within the city a couple of stunning Little Green Bee-Eater sat on wires.

Desert Wheatear were a regularly sighting wherever there was any barren land as were Red-tailed Wheatear.  Both of these were seen just outside of Nizwa city.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Oman Day 2 - Muscat

Another day of culture but with the first look at some natural areas within the city.

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is an impressive sight as you pass by on the expressway, appearing in full grandiose, radiating against the warm Arabian sun.

The nearby Natural Park was a good place to wander in the comfortable warm afternoon sun.  The adjoining nature reserve is unfortunately closed to the public and maybe rightly so given the amount of litter (particularly single-use plastic) that gets discarded but more of that later.

The reserve itself can be viewed from the road that runs along Qurum Beach on the opposite side, and more conveniently from a couple of the rooftop cafes located along the beach road.

Within the reserve, an Osprey successfully snared a fish from the lagoon making a couple of circuits before settling down for lunch.  A female Marsh Harrier was quartering the area.  A Great Egret and Western Reef Egret stalked around the shallows.

Small groups of White-cheeked Bulbul jostled along the fenceline that separated the road from the reserve.  A Common Chiffchaff paused briefly here.

There were plenty of birds present within the park.  

Of the common species, Common Myna and particularly Laughing Dove were present in good numbers.  A Hoopoe was feeding close by on the manicured lawns within the park along with a few juvenile Common Sandpiper that were seen regularly within the area.

At least three Indian Roller flew gracefully between the ornate lampposts.  A Daurian Shrike was seen flying into one of the scattered trees there.

A good number of energetic Purple Sunbird now in winter plumage were widespread around the park, never settling for any length of time.  Beautiful little birds.

The river winds its way through the park, but proved difficult to gain close access apart from a couple of spots.  Around 20 Red-wattled Lapwing were present here along with a Great Egret, a Whiskered Tern, Whimbrel, and a Red-vented Bulbul

Making my way round to the small lake looked good for more species that delivered a Garganey, at least seven Indian Pond Heron, numerous Little Grebe and the familiar sight of both Coot and Moorhen.

On the Qurum Beach side, waders began to feed along the exposed sand as the tide began to ebb away.  Amongst these were numerous Greater Sand Plover and Lesser Sand Plover with a number of other species associating with them that included Dunlin, Greenshank, Common Redshank, and a smart adult Kentish Plover.

The shallows of the receding tide attracted Gulls and Terns including my first sight of Swift Tern, a group of around 20 Slender-billed Gull, and a few Steppe Gull.