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, March 18, 2016

Southern Oman; 6th November 2015


On this, our final full day of the trip, we decided our first stop was Sanhawt Farm, in order to try and get closer views of Sociable Plover, though it proved a moot point. The flock was not present. Interest was provided by a juvenile Steppe Grey Shrike, which began to sing at one point, a nice sub song. A second Great Grey Shrike was more interestingly present, an adult bird. We studied it for sometime, it seemed a potential Steppe Shrike also, showing a lot of white at the primary bases and lower scapulars. It appeared large headed and quite pale. The rump was grey though and the underparts rather clean and these latter features we were not sure if. Record footage was taken for later examination. We then headed east and inland, into the mountains. This was our last full day in Oman birding and we wanted to make the most of it...

A juvenile steppe Grey Grey Shrike..


This bird gave us more pause for thought and we spent a while watching this, an adult bird...


Up into the mountains then, across a landscape reminiscent of southern Spain. Common Kestrel were numerous, seemimngly a pait every few hundred metres along the road. We duly checked them all in the hope of an Amur Falcon. A wonderful surprise was in store though. A pair of falcons along the road proved not to be the expected Kestrels, rather a pair of Barbary Falcons beside the road! we had tremendous views of both birds and were delighted to see these. The light was simply stunning and we could not of wished for better conditions. We spent a little while with the birds before moving along. This was a real bonus, not entirely expected...

 Barbary Falcon; Adult female. A real bonus on the roadside...

 Adult male Barbary Falcon, a total stunner!


Ravens were attending a roadside corpse, where a cow had apparently been hit on the nearbly road...


Onwards to the famous sinkhole after that. It was quite an impressive sight, a massive sinkhole, which was at least 300m across and descended deep into the earth. The steep sides were rich in trees and other vegetation. On arrival there we had Shining Sunbird, Tristams Grackle and Blackstart in the car park. Arabian Wheatear was picked up as well in due course. At the sinkhole itself we had distant views of our target species, Yemen Serin, which was a target, though a really dull bird. This was perhaps the most dissapointing of the Oman specialties and the views were disapointing, though the bird was not much to look at. Then followed superb views of an adult Bonelli's Eagle, both perched and in flight. All around the sinkhole there were Striolated Bunting, an adult African Collared Dove, Abysinnian White Eye and Tristams Grackle. We spent a while talking with a group of friendly locals. Little else materialized so we moved on to Tawi Atayr...


 Adult Bonelli's Eagle, a rare shot of the upper parts...

 Adult Bonelli's Eagle, a wonderful bird that gave stunning views...

 Arabian Wheatear, a stunning male bird...

Arabian Wheatear, showing the crown here...

 On arrival at Tawi Atayr we were left breathless by the incredible vista from the top of a huge mountain ridge. We had been advised on the radio communications tower as the best site for a very special bird, Verreaux's Eagle. We had been advised well, after just three minutes we were blown away as a Verrauxs Eagle floated past! The view was astounding, so sudden none of us were expecting it. The bird floated along to the west below our position, before rising and stooping. It was quite a sight. The bird then disappeared for a while before reappearing with a second bird, this was an adult pair. Over the next two hours we had better views than we thought possible through the telescopes. The birds quartered the huge landscaped in tandem, the whole area was a devastatingly beautiful location, high cliffs avoe vast desert plains, through which wadis meandered like capilleries, such was the grand scale of the landscape. Though we were an transfixed by the Verreaux's Eagles we also saw an adult Egyptian Vulture and Bonelli's Eagle here. This was one of the most memorable parts of the whole trip, a stunning experience. We were stretched for time at left at 1pm in order to eat and get to our evening sites...

 Verraux's Eagle; What a bird and a few hours spent here will long live in my memory. Watching an adult pair in on of the most incredidly stunning natural backdrops I have ever witnessed was truly special...

 Wouter takes in a magnificent scene....


 Verraux's!


 A pair of Verraux's Eagle quarter a huge landscape in tandem...


 Verraux'sEagle soaring along the high cliffs...


 What a scene...


 A panorama of a place of devastating beauty and ruggedness...





Kwahr Rawri was our final destination. On the way, as often happens here, our vehicle came to a screaming halt. Two huge raptors in the skies above caused the abrupt stop, they were Lappet faced Vultures. We got the scopes out and feasted on these magnificent  birds. They were then joined by a young Egyptian Vulture as they drifted high over the road and began to descend. The views in the scope were fantastic at this point as the birds landed and it became apparent they had spotted carrion. After a couple of minutes another was picked up flying in with an Eastern Imperial Eagle! The eagle was mobbing the vulture, and was dwarfed by the huge bird. It was an amazing sight. Incredibly, soon after there were more Lappet Face Vulture. In all nine birds came in, with up to six birds on the ground at one time. There was much aggression displayed by the birds, with raised wings and mantle feathers. A Steppe Eagle and three Imperial Eagle were also in attendance. We watched for half an hour before moving on to the Khawr..

Lappet faced Vulture over the road...

We checked the east side of the Khawr first, though there was nothing unusual about by Omani standards. A Black tailed Godwit was the best wader. A Greater Spotted Eagle on a Grey a Heron kill was more spectacular, whilst a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle was a new bird, a rather dark individual. Out on the beach there was little to see, until I scoped out to sea and saw Shearwaters. Then, quite suddenly there was a small whale species, whilst further out there was a pod of large dolphins. We decided to head out on the headland. We quickly moved and had good views of both cetacean species , as well as plenty of Jounins Petrel, 1 Wilsons Petrel, 1 Pomarine Skua, Wedge Tailed Shearwaters, Brown Booby, Socotra Cormorant, Bridled Tern, Common Tern, Swift Tern and Persian Shearwaters. The Jounins Petrels increased as night fell, at least 20 were offshore as we left..

 The coast a Khawr Rawri. Offshore were had cetaceans and seabirds as the sun dropped on our final day....



Little Green Bee Eater

A last gasp attempt was made for Baillions Crake without success, though two Nightjars hawking insects I've the reeds as darkness fell was worth the extra effort. So ended our last full days birding in Oman...

Cuckoo at last light, bathing by the roadside.