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

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Oman; 3rd November 2016; Wadi Darbat and Seawatching at Ras Mirbat





Arrival at Wadi Darbat, what a stunning location it was, packed with birds...



This area was full of birds, including one much sought after species..


Out for dawn and Wadi Darbat was our destination. Wadi Darbat is situated in the mountains and had a number of species we were interested in, as well as boasting amazing scenery. At the turn off we stopped in the car park to consult a map and were flummoxed to flush several Arabian Partridge with the car! The birds had been feeding in the car park! This was one of our top targets, we had just lucked out again. From the car park we had great scope views of the birds on the slopes across from our position. We took some time to enjoy a species that had eluded us until this point, we were truly thrilled to have this one out of the way. What a great start to the day...
 On arrival at Wadi Darbat we were struck with the sheer beauty of the place. Our appreciation was interrupted by an adult male Pallid Harrier, never a bad thing. The bird was distant and quickly disappeared though and we moved along the stream in the Wadi bed.  The Wadi had very little water, but 12 Little Egrets, Greenshanks, Common Sandpipers and a single Snipe were feeding here nonetheless. The latter was of interest to us and we got closer for a better look, the closer we got the more interested we got. The birds general build and structure immediately had our pulses racing. It was not in the least bothered by our presence and we were soon close enough to allow excellent views of all the features and plumage detail, we took it all in until there was no doubt, this was a Pintail Snipe! In the field the dumpy appearance, large head and short looking, deep based bill reminded us of Woodcock. The barred tertials, coverts and lower scapulars and head pattern reinforced the impression, a solid identification. A great species to finally get nailed down...

First up the video, good quality despite the light early morning and also shot in 4K resolution. Close cropping of the 4K footage seems to show two white tipped quills on th isides of the outer tail.


Pintail Snipe; Detail of the tail from behind. Bad light meant the digiscopes were not as bright as I would of hoped...


Pntail Snipe. Note the large head, thick bill base and short billed appearance. Structurally, a heavy Snipe, which recalled Woodcock.


Pintail Snipe. A head on view of the feeding bird. Again note the large head.


Pintail Snipe. With regar to plumage note the pattern of the lower scapulars, the duller, less contrasting head and markings on the head. There was a curious dark effect to the outer greater covert's also noted. Given a good view, this bird was easily separable from Common Snipe, despite the fact we had no direct comparison.


Wouter and Danny post Pintail Snipe...


Video; Eastern Imperial Eagle at Wadi Darbat




 The whole site was full of birds. In the trees there were lots of Abysinnian White Eye, Tristam's Grackle, Blackstart, Bruce's Green Pigeon, Weavers, African Buntings and African Paradise Flycatchers. A few Tree Pipit were closely scrutinized, one or two calls seemed odd to us, it seems likely the birds were of eastern origin. Good numbers of Hoopoe fed in the shade. Overhead Imperial Eagles, Greater Spotted Eagles, a pale morph Booted Eagle, Short Toed Eagle and Kestrel were present. A Honey Buzzard showing oriental features was more difficult, we spent time chasing it around in the hope of resolving the identification. We eventually settled on a hybrid being more likely for this individual. With time moving on, we grabbed some photos and left it until later.

Arabian Partridge


Wadi Darbat early in the morning...


 Bonelli's  Eagle was a feature. We had birds overhead, but a memorable event was a perched juvenile that simple did not mind my presence. The views were so good I could zoom in on the birds head in the scope. The video footage and photos speak for themselves. This was a special moment, one of many on this trip. After twenty minutes it casually moved to a close by tree and I left it to hunt in peace...

Above and below, a host of disiscpoes of a wonderful juvenile Bonelli's Eagle....











Above; Several images of a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle that allowed incredible close views as it hunted. It was completely unaffected by my presence. It was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me, getting so close to this wonderful raptor. Mind blowing...

Video; Juvenile Bonelli's Eagle. Stunning footage of a stunning bird...

 A Chameleon was welcome to, a large beast it was too. At 11pm we decided enough was enough and decided to move on to Mirbat...

Video of an African Paradise Flycatcher; Adult Male. Jaw dropper....


Wadi Darbat. Lots going on here, Tree Pipits, Blackstarts, Hoopoes, African Paradise Flycatcher to name just a few species...


Wadi Darbat


Wadi Darbat


Wadi Darbat. Bruce's Green Pigeon were seen at this point...



Looking at raptors, this was a wonderful site for them..



Rush hour in Oman...


Ras Al Mirbat; Time to seawatch Danny...


The view from Ras Al Mirbat...


Given that the tropical cyclone had passed close by southern Oman and the seas were high we decided to capitalise on the conditions and try for seabirds. We therefore had lunch at Mirbat, before doing a recon to the sea to see if there were any seabirds passing. We could see immediately that there were shearwaters passing further out, too far to identify with certainty. We had only been there five minutes when I picked up a storm petrel low over the waves in the troughs. We moved to get a better view, getting the sun behind us in order to determine if we were seeing things, or was this a dark rumped petrel? We picked the bird up again, which seemed to be holding its position and feeding. There it was, in the scope, Swinhoe's Petrel. A revered species for seawatchers, it was a joy to see this species finally. We had excellent views as it quartered the same area of sea.  It was in view for about five minutes before disappearing into the open sea and out of view. We decided at that point to make for a well known seawatching point, only to find ourselves in a department of defense project! We were very politely asked to leave and made our way to a second headland. This one had no birds close to it, so it was full steam ahead to Ras Mirbat where we sat out on the headland and began to seawatch. From the beginning it was clear many Shearwaters were passing further out to see, we decided to ignore these and concentrate on the closer birds in order to enjoy the birds better and be able to identify them with certainty. From the start we had Wedge tailed Shearwaters, beautiful dark birds, on regular occasion giving close views. Things then ramped up a gear when an adult Red billed Tropicbird blasted past to the east! What a way to start a seawatch! The bird showed full tail streamers and gave a great view as it passed...
The next bird of note was a Flesh footed Shearwater, a bigger beast than the more numerous Wedge tailed Shearwaters, with a heavier flight, slower wing beats and more direct flight path. Then another Swinhoes Petrel was picked up, whilst regular Masked Booby and Bridled Tern passed offshore. The odd Persian Shearwater was also present, some quite close too. All this time there were many Wedge Tailed Shearwaters passing, especially further out. The light was not ideal on arrival, though it was improving as time went by as the sun moved around to our right side. We had made the decision to concentrate on the closer birds in order to maximise our chances of both solid identification an to try an gain good views. Throughout the day the conditions were very difficult, with high seas in the aftermath of the tropical cyclone. There was much heavy surf and we had no way of elevating our position. This meant birds such as Shearwaters an Petrels were dissapearing in the troughs and were hard to pick up, making missing individual birds easy. Despite the difficulties, there were good numbers of birds moving, some quite close in and there was plenty to see. It was exciting stuff given our location.
 A short while later I picked up two more Storm Petrels, in improving light the white wrap around rumps were visible at range, Wilson's Storm Petrel, a lifer for Wouter and another target species in the bag for the trip. After that it was really enjoyable. Time flew past as we sorted through the passing seabirds. Another Swinhoes, another Wilsons and more shearwaters passing, with Bridled Terns passing in small numbers. Swift Terns were also passing, as did a couple of Saunders Terns and a single Caspian Tern. Then an unforgettable moment  happened, 3 Red billed Tropicbird went last us together! Somebody pinch me...
  Right at the end of the evening we were all delighted when a stunning Jounin's Petrel went by really close inshore, just beyond the surf. It had made us sweat, it left it late, but when it finally appeared it did not disappoint! Then we had an amazing view of a fourth Swinhoes Storm Petrel, which Danny got on to to enjoy. A great seawatch ended a few more Jounin's Petrel, a fitting end to a great seawatch, what a list of species. We had seen all the species were had wanted to see in a few hours and the views were good. All the boxes were ticked and we left very happy with ourselves...


A wonderful days birding ended after a seawtch that saw me see some quite amazing seabirds....



No comments: