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Bulbul Indian Roller Chukar Purple Sunbird

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0800 - 1200 or 1200 - 1600 RO 35 per adult * Refreshments included Click to book
0800 - 1600 RO 70 per adult * Refreshments included Click to book
* Special rates for children - u/12 (half fare) - u/5 (free)

Over 450 species of birds have been identified in the Sultanate of Oman: some are passage migrants, some are resident while others are breeding visitors. There are just over 85 resident birds living in Oman all year round, while the majority are "migratory" birds which visit the country only at certain times of the year. In Muscat, Indian Rollers, Little Green Beeeaters, Yellow-Vented Bulbuls, Graceful Prinias and the Purple Sunbirds can be seen at any time of the year. Muscat is also one of the best places in the world to study the Steppe Eagle and one may see up to 100 at any one time. Travel by boat to the Daymaniyat Islands nature reserve. The birds that visit the islands to breed in summer include the Sooty Gull, Roseate Tern, White Cheeked Tern, Bridled Tern and the Western Reef Heron.

The Batinah Plain stretching between the mountains of the Western Hajar and the Gulf of Oman from Muscat to the UAE border holds farmland which is attractive to birds flying high during migrations. There are several important bird sites in this region: the offshore Sawadi Islands have breeding Sooty Falcons in summer, and the Daymaniyat Islands in the Gulf of Oman have breeding Ospreys in winter and thousands of Bridled Terns and other tern species in summer.

Al Ansab Lagoons lie about 30kms west of Muscat. In summer hardly any water can be spared for the ponds and water-level drops daramatically, exposing large muddy areas - ideal for waders. During the winter months when less water is needed for irrigation, the ponds fill up again. 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. From early autumn, waders from their high Arctic breeding grounds start to arrive. Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper are there in good numbers. The noisy Wood - and Green Sandpipers are easy to find and even the two uncommon Spotted Redshank and Marsh Sandpiper usually put in an appearance.

Members of the Crake family are usually very hard to see as they tend to hide in reedbeds and other dense vegetation during the day. At Al Ansab Lagoons, however, we have often seen Spotted Crake and Baillon's Crake completely out in the open in clear sunshine. During the autumn months the number of Black-Necked Grebes gradually increases at the lagoons until a maximum of 30 to 40 is reached in December. The fact that the numbers build up slowly indicate that these birds regularly migrate through the area. The Grebes must just have continued unnoticed before the lagoons came into existence. Now the birds find the area to their liking and settle in for winter. Their cousin, the Little Grebe stay all year and a few pairs have nested in recent years.

From November raptors of several species become more apparent. On hot days we have seen 25 to 30 Steppe Eagles sitting next to each other drinking water from one of the ponds. In addition to Steppe Eagles, Imperial and Great Spotted Eagles are commonly encountered. The whole area must be one of the best in the world for large birds of prey. More than once have we seen five species of eagles within half an hour. In mid-winter ducks are common. About ten species are usually seen with Green-Winged Teal being the most numerous. Various species of herons frequent the ponds and even White Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis are regularly recorded.

During the spring months the number of birds gradually declines as they start to move north. Attention now turns to the breeding populations of Black-Winged Stilts and Red-Wattled Lapwings. It is amazing that the eggs and chicks can survive, as both species breed in the hottest time of the year: May and June. The first breeding record of Black-Winged Stilts in Oman was here at Al Ansab lagoon in 1987, when three pairs successfully raised their young. Since then up to 15 pairs have nested there each season.

Witness the arrival of Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse. These birds come to drink only when it is almost dark. Then they seem to drop straight out of the sky. Suddenly they are there. Hundreds of Pied Wagtails take off in groups of 20 to 50, presumably to head north towards their breeding grounds. Scores of Barn Swallows and Sand Martins are in abudance. In addition to birds the area is well endowed with plant and insect life. Even the shy Arabian Gazelle has been sighted having a drink at midday.

 

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