Bird watching trip report

Bird watching trip report


Introduction

I had planned to stay for a week of bird watching in United Arab Emirates. I had found a Guide on UAEBIRDING.COM An excellent web page regarding everything about bird watching in the United Arab Emirates.

But I was running in to trouble, arriving to U.A.E with a boat and I only get a 72 hours visa. If I arrive by air I get 90 days. So I bought a ticket to Muscat and I started to look for Oman bird watching information on the internet. I bought air ticket online and I will do my U.A.E birding when I come back from Oman.


VISA

I applied online and I think I paid 5 US Dollars for the tourist visa. I got my visa confirmation the day after. Nothing to print out, just a confirmation number and I never had to show any number and no one was asking for a visa at the immigration so I was in the system.

Apply for visa online HERE

WARNING!! I wanted to go back to Dubai in a taxi to see the views along the way. But I was told that I had to leave by air if I arrived to Oman by air. They would have refused my exit at the land border.


Flights


Salam Air Flight OV 102
Dubai Intl Airoport   -   Muscat Intl Airport
25Nov2018 10:45       25Nov2018 11:50

 
Salam Air Flight OV 101
Muscat Intl Airport        -   Dubai Intl Airport
29Nov2018 08:30            29Nov2018 09:45


Ticket booked on Salam Air´s web page without any problem.


Accommodation

Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat, booked on Radisson Blu´s web page

Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat

Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat, well, I will stay there if I come back to Muscat. Good service and excellent food in the restaurant. Only thing was the bed sheets, I expect them to change every day when I stay at a hotel. Otherwise, I can recommend this hotel if you come to stay in Muscat.


Land transportation

Radisson Blu have a car with Driver that you can rent. I used this service when I went to the Botanical Garden. All the trips was done with my Guide´s 4WD car. 4WD is a must when leaving the paved roads. I was also using taxi that I stopped on the street. The taxis, well, they were small and not very comfortable comparing to the hotel car.


Guide

I never found any bird guide. A few tour companies that could take me on a half day tour. But I had a list of places from Fatbirder that I wanted to visit. I found Majan Views Tourism and he replied to my e-mail that I had sent to a couple of tour companies in Oman. We can see his comments in blue.

1) Masarih Island The island of Masarih (Musarih) is a very good area - 330 species.
### ( this island is far from Muscat around 500km )

2) Sawadi, Fahl and Daymaniyah
The islands off Muscat (Sawadi, Fahl and the restricted Daymaniyah) hold breeding Sooty Falcons and Red-billed Tropicbird, White-cheeked Tern, and the country's only breeding Sooty and Roseate Terns (Daymaniyah). Common Noddy is often present. Some years also good numbers of seabirds (Jouanin's and Wilson's Petrels, shearwaters, Masked Boobies) can be seen offshore.
###( this ok we can use the speed boat but Sooty falcons coming on August to watch .We can see Common Noddy . This nurture some time Nothing.)

3) Sohar Sun Farms
Sohar Sun Farms is a vast farm complex with restricted access in the north. Good for farmland species and rarities. Small Skylark, Sociable Plover, Caspian Plover, birds of prey, large flocks of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Black-crowned Finch Lark, Richard`s Pipit and rarities such as Long-billed Dowitcher and Blyth`s Pipit (possibly overlooked).
###( this one it's far 200km from Muscat we can do it day trip but from outside we can watch NOT from inside)

4)Sunub Rubbish Dump
The Sunub rubbish dump near Muscat is a haven for close-ups of raptors. Large numbers of eagles (Imperial, Spotted, Steppe); Egyptian Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture are always present at this smelly place. Tawny Eagle is a vagrant.
#((This one is ok close Muscat we visit with Lagoon) but need to do primates to go in.We can do it.

Al-Ansab Lagoons
The lagoons have turned into the most interesting site for birds in the capital area. To date almost 200 species of birds have been recorded here. A visit any time from September to May is likely to produce a list of over 50 species. Migration time is very exciting as almost anything can turn up. From early autumn waders from their high Arctic breeding grounds start to arrive. Little stint (Calidris minuta); Temminck`s stint (C.temminckii); dunlin (C. alpina) and curlew sandpiper (C.ferruginea) are there in good numbers. The noisy wood - and green sandpipers (Tringa glareola and T.ochropus) are easy to find and even the two uncommon Tringa species, spotted redshank (T.erythropus) and marsh sandpiper (T.stagnatilis) usually put in an appearance…

5) NP As Saleel NR Al-Dimaniyat Islands Al-Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve is located in Wilayat AlSeeb in the Muscat Governorate and Wilayat Barka in Al Batinah South Governorate , and lies about 18 kilometres off the coast of Barka (70 kilometres west of Muscat, the capital). Its total area is 100 hectares (247 acres) and is composed of nine islands.

6) NR Wadi Sireen
The Reserve is located in the eastern AlHajar Mountains about 45 kilometres south of Muscat. There a large number of wild animals in the area, such as the Arabian Tahr and deer.
This one we can't go because protected


Equipment

Canon 5D Mk. III
Canon EF 28-300/3,5-5,6 L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200/2,8L IS II USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
Canon Speedlite 600EXII-RT flash
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
Panasonic HC-W585 video camera

Sound recorder
ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder


Weather

I have been to Africa and the Middle East before so I knew what weather to expect. No need for any winter clothes, shorts and shirt would be enough during my time in Oman.

Muscat, Oman - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from www.climatemps.com

Muscat, Oman - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from www.climatemps.com


Sur, Oman - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from www.climatemps.com

Sur, Oman - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from www.climatemps.com



References/Resources

Birds Watching - Ministry of Tourism, Sultanate of Oman

ebird - Find birding hotspots with bird checklists from all over the world

Avibase - is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world, containing over 25 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information for 12,000 regions, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages

Cloudbirders - Read birding trip reports from all over the world

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Fatbirder

Fatbirder is a fantastic web page with information from, I think every country in the world. My first stop when I plan for my bird watching trips. There is information about sites and guides, well, pretty much everything you need to know. Sometimes this is the only place I need to visit to plan my trip.

BirdingPal - find a birding Guide around the world

BirdingPal


And the web page you cannot live without. I have been around the world looking for birds. I usually have a Guide, but sometimes it is not possible to find a Guide. So, well, I have lost count on how many times I have had help to ID birds at BirdForum. Joining this forum have been very very good.

www.birdforum.net

ClimaTemps.com is the place to learn about the worlds climates with more than 4000 locations documented. Each aspect of the climate is represented using colour enhanced tables and professional graphs so that data can easily be compared by switching between locations in different tabs in your browser.

“Birds of the Middle East”


Birds of the Middle East

The Birds of the Middle East is the first comprehensive field guide dealing exclusively with the birds of this region. It covers all the species, including vagrants, found in the Arabian Peninsula (including Socotra), Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Cyprus. Over 700 species are described in concise texts giving full details of the plumage and voice of all recognizable forms. Distributed maps appear opposite the plates and are annotated with details of each species status and preferred habitat.

Four artists have prepared a magnificent set of specially commissioned plates which show all the forms described in full color. The authors have extensive ornithological experience in the Middle East spanning over 30 years of research into the identification, biology, and conservation of the many wonderful species to be found there.

This authoritative book will not only be an indispensable guide to the visiting birder, but a vital tool for those engaged in work to conserve and study the avifauna of the region, which is especially important for both the indigenous species and those which pass through it on their migrations between the Palaearctic and Africa.

Key Features
* The first comprehensive field guide devoted solely to the Middle East
* Every species is illustrated in color in all distinctive plumages
* Authors are experts, each with 30 years field experience in the region
* Serves as an entirely authoritative reference


Places to visit

Oman Botanic Garden

Permanently closed
It was not a waste of time to go there. On the other side of the village All Koud Old is a river, dry when I was there. We spotted some birds in the area and you can see some old remains of forts.

Al Ansab Wetland


A MUST VISIT FOR BIRD WATCHERS COMING TO MUSCAT!

Make sure to reach Al Ansab Wetlands just before 7 o´clock in the morning. Before you are going to the Al Ansab Wetlands you need to book a visit. Just go to their web page https://www.haya.om/en/Pages/Wetland.aspx and you will find a booking form. They say it will take 3 days but I got my permission to enter in 24 hours. Anyway, my permit will never use the permit as my Guide have a permit.

Al Ansab Wetland

Al Ansab Wetland is a natural wonderland in the heart of Muscat. It provides a showcase for Oman’s impressive nature with its abundance of bird´s life.

The Wetland is home to an amazing 293 species of birds that may be present at different times throughout the year Visitors can see wading birds such as the Black-Winged Stilt that are resident at the Wetland all year. Magnificent Eagles arrive in November and may spend the winter in Muscat.

Al Ansab Wetland is not just a special place for birds, it is also a safe haven for Oman’s plants, butterflies and other life species.

From www.haya.om


Al Ansab Dam


You can find the Al Ansab Dam across the Muscat Expressway from the Al Ansab Wetland. When I was there is was dry and the river bed was dry, just a small stream but there was some waders in the puddles.

Qurum Beach


A road where you can park and there is some restaurants. One side of the road you have the ocean with sea birds and on the other side of the road there is a mangrove. We could not get in to the mangrove and my Guide told me that they might make it to a nature reserve.

Al Qurum Park


You have the Al Qurum Park on the other side of the mangrove. Al Qurum Park is a public park and there are several different birds in the park.

Sunub Rubbish Dump


The Sunub rubbish dump near Muscat is a haven for close-ups of raptors. Large numbers of eagles (Imperial, Spotted, Steppe); Egyptian Vulture and Lappet-faced Vulture are always present at this smelly place. Tawny Eagle is a vagrant.
- fatbirder.com


I don’t know if we visited the right place. But according to my guide this was the place. And I believed him, it was a giant garbage dump. We were not allowed to enter through the main gate and we could not come in from the mountain side. And there was no signs of any raptors flying over the garbage dump

Ras AlShajer Nature Reserve


Ras AlShajer Nature Reserve is located 14km south of the Bimmah Sinkhole. You have to pick up a Guide at the gate/ office and then you drive up a Canyon until you reach the end of it.

Bimmah Sinkhole

Bimmah Sinkhole

(Arabic هـويـة نـجـم Hawaiyat Najm) is a water-filled depression, structurally a sinkhole, in the limestone of eastern Muscat Governorate in the Sultanate of Oman. A lake of turquoise waters, it is 50 m by 70 m wide and approximately 20 m deep. It is only about 600 m away from the sea, between the coastal towns of Ḑibāb and Bimmah.

The sinkhole was formed by a collapse of the surface layer due to dissolution of the underlying limestone. However, locals believe that it was created by a meteorite, ‘Hawaiyat Najm’, which translates to ‘The Falling Star’ in Arabic, and hence the name.

To preserve the sinkhole, the local municipality developed a park, Hawiyat Najm Park (Haweat Najm Park), around it, along with a stairway leading down to the lake.


The road along the coast between the Bimmah Sinkhole and Ras AlShajer Nature Reserve was the best area for birding. A lot of Egyptian Vultures, Ospreys and a lot of other small birds to see while driving along the coast road.

Al Bahri Road in Muttrah

Muttrah

Muttrah, (Arabic: مطرح‎) administratively a district, is located in the Muscat province of Oman. Before the discovery of oil, Muttrah was the center of commerce in Oman (Muscat). It is still a center of commerce as one of the largest sea ports of the region is located there.

Other landmarks include Souq Muttrah, a traditional bazaar and Sour Al-Lawatiah, a small community of houses surrounded by an old wall. To the south lies Muscat District.

Walk along the Al Bahri Road is a must if you are in Muscat. Takes 20 minutes with taxi from Muscat. Walking along the water front and there is a lot of sea birds and all kinds of Herons and Egrets fishing along the water front. If you start in the city centre you reach the Riyam Park حديقة الريام‎ at the end of the Al Bahri Road

Riyam Park حديقة الريام


Spend an hour in the park walking around the small park and you will see the normal park birds. The attraction is the water fountain outside the park on the Al Bahri Road. Common Mynas and Crows, don´t sound so exciting but it was very fun to see the huge groups of birds at the fountain.

Wadi Sireen Reserve


The Reserve is located in the eastern AlHajar Mountains about 45 kilometres south of Muscat. There a large number of wild animals in the area, such as the Arabian Tahr and deer.
- Fatbirder


The best with this day trip was the gorgeous sights driving through the barren mountain landscape. There was date plantations and this was the place to stop and look for birds.

Al Qurum Park


This park is worth a few hours. You enter from the parking area and you walk across a plaza and then you reach a big lake/ pond. I spotted quite a few interesting birds. I had seen them before, but it was nice to walk around.

Middle East bird watching map


Bird checklist

I never use any bird lists, but since I try to make it in to Cloudbirders. A very helpful site when planning your birding trips. And if I use their service, of course I want to contribute as well.

Well, my bird watching trip reports was rejected. I posted 2 that was rejected. So I started to take ideas from the reports I found on Cloudbirders. They have Bird checklists so I will put them here but they will not be used as bird checklists. I will post my birds on eBird and on my different “BIRDS THAT I HAVE OBSERVED” pages.

But the list can come in handy to find out the local name of the bird etc. And Avibase have a list with pictures and sounds, excellent!

So I will post bird checklists here and if my Guides provide me with checklists I will also post them here.

Cloudbirders


Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

Oman bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE

Avibase is providing you with bird checklists from all over the world. And I´m impressed by their web page. Select country and area and you get the bird checklist. Like the PDF files I got from Avibase on the links above. You also get the checklist with pictures and sounds.

The best part is that you get the local names of the birds and the online checklist gives the names in English plus the language you have selected. But it seems like the PDF cannot handle some alphabet.

For example the Japanese language so it is blank in the PDF checklist. But it worked excellent with Swedish. But you get them in the local language on the online version.


Bird list

I only listed birds I have got on picture before I started with eBird in November 2019. Now I record all the birds that I can identify. Before that see the DAY TO DAY reports and my lists of observed birds in different countries.

And you can visit my list of “Birds I have seen in the Middle East

My eBird checklists can be found HERE


Itinerary

It would be too much to downlaod this trip report as one web page so I have split the bird watching adventure in to DAY BY DAY reports. Click on the dates below for daily bird watching results:

Sunday 25 November 2018: Flying to Muscat, Oman

Sunday 25 November 2018: Bird watching Oman Botanic Garden outside Muscat, Oman

Monday 26 November 2018: Bird watching in Muscat:
• Al Ansab Wetland
• Al Ansab Dam
• Qurum Beach
• Sunub Rubbish Dump

Tuesday 27 November 2018: Bird watching at Ras AlShajer Nature Reserve and Bimmah Sinkhole

Tuesday 27 November 2018: Bird watching in the Riyam Park and along the Al Bahri Road in Muttrah

Wednesday 28 November 2018: Bird watching Wadi Sireen Reserve in the Al Hajar Mountains and Al Qurum Park



Bird watching trip report


       
                  


                                       

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