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Oman Day 5 Ayn Hanram

31st January 2023

I return to Ayn Hanram hoping that I might get a pic of yesterdays BLYTH’S REED WARBLER, I did, but I also came away with a few on goodies, 3 Eastern Olivacious Warbler, including the one above and single Song Thrush and Oriental Honey Buzzard!

First of all, great new. It turns out that the Grey-bellied Cuckoo that I thought I discovered yesterday at Ayn Tabraq, is in fact a different individual to the one that was found by Dutch birders two week ago!!! What is the chances of that? Photos were compared and you can see clearly that they are not the same cuckoos. Ideal!!

This is the cuckoo that I turned up…

…and here’s the individual that Thijs Glastra took at the same sight and you can clearly see that they are different! Crazy!!!

I didn’t arrive at Ayn Hanram until gone 09.00 and by that time, it was already roasting as I got out of the car. Fortunately, the shade of the trees I was birding under and the stiff breeze played it’s part in keeping me cool. The first birds I see as I step out of the vehicle, Bonnelli’s and Booted Eagle. I gave it a good 30 minutes by the car park but there was no sign of the Blyth’s Reed Warbler. In fact there wasn’t any of the species I saw yesterday, except African Paradise Flycatcher and they were all over the shop. By the end of the day there must of been well over 10 birds. I moved on and bumped into a Red-tailed Shrike followed by a Wood Warbler. It wasn’t until over an hour and a tac call in front of me, got my attention. It was still calling hight up in the canopy 40 minutes later and all I got were glimpses as it flicked around. So many species give the tac call and eventually it gave itself away, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler! Pretty rare for these parts and after getting some record shots, I turned up another, just around the corner! This was great news because I confirmed the 2 birds that Dutch Birders had as 2 possible Olivaceous two weeks ago. Same guys who had the cuckoo. The second bird never called. While at the same time the first individual I could still hear. I left both warblers and with my naked eye, I up, another warbler which I thought was goin to be the third Olivaceous. As it was it turned out to be it or another BLYTH’S REED WARBLER! Who knows how many there could be with the 2 Hippo warblers that I had just seen.

This Bonelli’s Eagle was the first bird I layed my eyes as soon as I got out of the car

Only two shrikes including this Red-tailed Shrike

This the second Wood Warbler I’ve had in this area

Above, 3 different Eastern Olivacious Warbler Two of the birds were discovered by Dutch birders while one of them, I turned up today. How many of this rare visitor are wintering in this area? And out of all three warblers, this is all I got as they always stayed high up in the canopy and proved hard to follow with all the leaves on the trees.

Just got this record shot of it or another BLYTH’S REED WARBLER keeping low before it continued to skulk deep in cover where I lost it

I continued south, following the stream when I heard what I thought was a Song Thrush in the distance but dismissed it thinking that it’s probably another species that I don’t the call of locally. Then I flushed the Song Thrush out of the stream and it flew off out of sight. Surely this is a Oman rarity? In the next hour I kicked it out four times to see it fly miles down the road calling. As it’s probably a good on, I was hoping to get a pic but gave up and walked on sulking. Another shrike, this time an Isabelline Shrike followed by another vocal Eastern Olivaceous Warbler! How many Olivaceous are there in this wadi?? Managed to get some record shots and when I reached where the stream had dried up and now near to the plains, I turned around and followed my footsteps to hear the bloody Song Thrush. It perched distantly on the hillside in a tree and I just pointed the camera and hoped for the best. It was a shite BOC shot but I got it and you could clearly see what it was. Relief and I never saw it again after that. I passed just the very vocal Olivaceous Warbler and by 14.30 when I was just about to get in the car, I was watching my second Oriental Honey Buzzard of the trip to end another crackin day of scarce and rare birds.

So lucky to get anythin on this very flighty Song Thrush As it turns out, later on I was told that the thrush is just uncommon in this area

The second Oriental Honey Buzzard since arriving in Salalah was circling above when I returned to the car park

There was also this Green Sandpiper in shade by the car park with up to 3 Common Sandpiper

At 10 Africian Paradise Flycatcher, maybe more

And good numbers of Shinning Sunbird as well

Emperor sp?

Grasshopper sp?

And some stunning butterflies

Lee Anderson Calls For Civil Servants To Be Sacked Over Stopping The Boats!

Tory MP Lee Anderson, Tom Hunt and others who are part of an internal WhatsApp group have called on the government to sack civil servants who refuse to carry out Suella Braverman’s anti-asylum policies. Anderson went as far as to suggest that the civil service was engaged in “treason”!

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30th January 2023

With less than five Oman records, I was very pleased to find this GREY-BELLIED CUCKOO while having a very close encounter with a Arabian Grosbeak at Ayn tabraq. Later tonight, back at my digs, James Lidster informed me that it was discovered two weeks ago by two Dutch birders. Not as rare as the cuckoo, with less than 10 Oman sightings, I turned up a BLYTH’S REED WARBLER later on.

I left my pad ten minutes earlier than yesterday morning, 07.20 and it turned out to be another awesome day. The obvious place I was heading to first, was to find out if the White-tailed Plover that I had yesterday at Khwasi Sawli was still present. Unfortunately, the only plover in the area were a mixed flock of 127 Kentish and 41 Lesser Sandplover. Other waders included 8 Little and 4 Temmink’s Stint, 6 Dunlin and single Black-tailed Godwit and Wood Sandpiper. Except for a Bluethrost, Red-tailed Shrike and Osprey, it was pretty quiet compared to the events that happened yesterday. Even the gulls and terns were in very low number. On the way out to the main road, there were 2 Tawny Pipit and a single Richard’s Pipit and a low flying Greater Spotted Eagle.

41 Lesser Sandplover

There were also up to 127 Kentish Plover

Osprey hanging out with a Purple Heron

Great Spotted Eagle

2 Tawny Pipit were an Oman tick for me

This Richard’s Pipit was the forth in two days

Also had a few Isabeline Wheatear nearby including this male in sub-song

I had enough of water birds and decided to try my look up road at Ayn Tabraq for the Arabian Grosbeak. Four years ago, on two attempts, I failed, giving it over hour on each visit. I pulled up, got out of the car and settled down in the shade next to the water trough where the grosbeaks come in to drink. Suddenly, one dropped in at very close range only to see fly off into a nearby tree. I duno why I crept up to it, as it sang, because after ten minutes it was still there and I was now a few meters away, directly underneath it. It then flew off but pitched into a tall acacia in a gorge behind the water trough. Such a stonking bird I had to see it again but it flew off out of sight before I got there. I’m here to look at the specialties in Salalah area but also to hopefully find Oman rarities. And as usual, I found myself off wandering searching in likely spots for a vocal Dusky warbler Maybe. I had only been off the road for five minutes when I could see a small Cuckoo in a large Acacia close by. It was back on and I took some record shots as I knew whatever species of small cuckoo it is, it’s a good on. It was all grey and that’s all I got as it flew off and despite me giving it a good 30 minutes, nothin. I looked it up online and identified it as a GREY-BELLIED CUCKOO and thought, how rare is it for Oman? Whatever it’s status, it was new species for me. While seaching for the cuckoo I also had Short-toed, Booted, Steppe and Imperial Eagle overhead. 2 Namaqua Dove flew in and 12 Arabian Partridge flew over into the next valley.

It’s seems I was very fortunate in seeing this Arabian Grosbeak. Shortly after it flew off, a Dutch birder arrived and he told me that this was his third attempt. Later on I bumped into some Danish birders and also told me that they tried twice with no luck. Before this and had never come across any birders in Oman before.

A good selection of eagles including this Short-toed eagle

And a very high dark morph Booted Eagle


2 Rock Martin were sweeping in to drink from the water trough

Pleased with both the cuckoo and grosebeak, I drove to the next wadi to the west for my first visit of this trip at Ayn hamran. Last time I was here, it was alive and after coming to the area a few times, rarities I came across were Grasshopper Warbler, Black stork and a Rufous Turtle Dove. And late this afternoon I got one species even better. I started walking south, following the narrow strip of trees and bushes. I had only been out the car less than a minute, I heard a rattle of an acro but not as harsh as a Reed Warbler. Then it started tacking. The only thing that came in my head was a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. I give a pish and out came 3 African Paradise Flycatcher and a single Lesser Whitethroat and Red-breasted Flycatcher and then the small acro warbler flew overhead into the next tree still calling. To cut a long story short, it shut up, I lost it and in trying to relocate and of note I got 2 Clamours Reed warbler, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Hoopoe, 3 more African Paradise Flycatcher and a single Arabian Warbler. It was almost dark when I gave up but as I was returning to the car park, I could hear taking and immediately recorded it. I even managed to see it and was very pleased that I discovered a BLYTH’S REED WARBLER! Great end to the day and I think I’ll be returning here tomorrow as I only covered a fraction of the area. I’m expecting for someone to tell me that the Blyth’s Reed Warbler has beenn there for over three years now!

There were 2 Desert Lesser Whitethroat

And this Red-breasted Flycatcher very briefly

It was a good area to see African Paradise Flycatcher four years when I was here and today I got 6 birds altogether.

Before this one, I’ve only seen a single Arabrain Warbler and that was down the road in the same wadi.

Always a delight to see a Hoopoe

And 2 Grey Wagtail were chasing each other all over the shop

If Zahawi Was Sacked Why Not Home Secretary Suella Braverman?

All Tories MP are corrupt!

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Nadhim Zahawi was sacked by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Sunday for breaches of the ministerial code. But why not Suella Braverman the Home Secretary who also breached the code when she was a member of the cabinet under Liz Truss and then rehired by Sunak? Well, Helen Whately the Health Minister explains when she spoke to Nick Ferrari…sorta.

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Oman Day 3 Khawi Taqah and Khawi Sawli

29th January 2023

What a day!!! So many highlight Including this stonking summer plumage Great Black-headed Gull at Khawi Sawli with some 5000 gulls!

As it turned out to be an incredible day, there are quite a few photos to go through below and I’m warning you, there’s gulls! I was out of my digs at 07.30 and drove out east. The idea was to bird Ayn Hamran to the north but I missed the turning and ended up at Khawi Taqha instead. Last time I was here, four year ago, I was hoping for a Yellow Bittern. As I was at Taqha now, I might as well give a crack again at the bittern. Ain’t it funny how things work out if you end up somewhere where you didn’t want to go to. So many times today this happened and it proved to be the right move every time including covering Khawi Taqha instead of my original destination.

As I drove onto the plain, there were 5 Marsh Harrier dancing around and as a result they kicked up 4 Purple Heron, 2 Snipe, 2 Crested Lark, 2 Citrine Wagtail and 3 Richard’s Pipit. Out of the car, I kicked through the reeds to scan from the waters edge but it was no good as the groud was giving way to easily and I was sinking in parts. I did flush a Bluethroat, got some pics of an Isabeline Shrike and through a gap in the reeds I could see a Red-wattled Plover. I returned to car and spotted a male harrier sp in the distance and immediately got my bins on it. Pallid Harrier! This was followed by a single Great Spotted Eagle, that landed on the border with the reeds and 2 Imperial Eagle flew through. While dots in the blue sky, turned out to 2 Steppe and a single Booted Eagle. Hirindines over the water included 5 Rock Martin and 2 Swallow and in the far SW of the plain was a Red-tailed Shrike. On the plain itself was a flock of 60 Pacific Golden Plover which were all put up by 2 Osprey. A scan on beach produced 17 Kentish Plover and nearby at the river mouth were a mix of 40 Little and 30 Timmink’s stint, 100 Sanderling, 8 Ringed Plover and a single Curlew Sandpiper. Cracking morning and it was time to go and have look at the area where I was meant to be goin to. But not until I’ve looked at Taqa Park just around the corner from Khawi Taqha.

There up to 5 Marsh Harrier quartering the area

Greater Spotted Eagle

All 4 Purple Heron were adults

The only other male Pallid Harrier that I’ve seen, is a male in Egypt and also 2 ring-tails back home on Scilly. So this was a bonus although it was distant.

2 impressive Imperial Eagle took off from the nearby beach.

5 Rock Martin were hawking over the water

Western Reef Heron distantly with a Red-wattled Plover

On the plain were up to 60 Pacific Golden Plover

This Curlew Sandpiper was hanging out with the stints and 100 Sanderling

Temmink’s and Little Stint sharing the bank together

I gave it half an hour in the park and got a few Syke’s Wagtail, Ruppel’s Weaver and 2 Fan-tailed Raven. However, 2 Arabian Bee-eater kept me entertained and showed off superbly at close range.

Also male and female Palestine Sunbird

Leaving the park, I headed towards Ayn Hamran but was distracted when I saw a small pond to my right as I was driving. I pulled over and thought I’d have a quick look around. That quick look lasted over two hours! Was I ever goin to get to Hamran today? There were a good selection of waders, 2 Wood and Green Sandpiper, 3 Black-winged Stilt, 2 Snipe, 2 Temmink’s and 1 Little Stint and a single Marsh Sandpiper. I could here 2 Glamourous Reed Warbler and Striated Bunting were on the waters edge. The marshy produced 7 Citrine Wagtail and 2 Bluethroat but it wasn’t until some 50 Cameral came in for a drink and waded through the water and ploughed through the reeds. They wrecked the place but as a result they flushed a small crake that landed on the mud at close range, very briefly out in the open before darting into cover. Baillon’s Crake! I was hoping for a Yellow Bittern but that will do. As I left there were 2 Isabeline Wheatear near to where I parked the car.

There were up to 7 Citrine Wagtail in the marshy area

Record shot of one of the 2 Bluethroat

Black-winged stilt

Little Stint

Thirsty camerals

Wreck the pond camerals

It was now getting on to 16.00 and Hamran can wait for another day. Instead I crossover the main road and drove towards the beach, Khawi Sawli. Immediatly on arrival there were 1000s of gulls and just below me, where I pulled up, a quick scan through, 60 White-winged, 11 Whiskered, 9 Great Crested and 3 Gull-billed Tern resting or having a bath. I panned right of the terns, Red-necked Phalarope on the waters edge with 16 Little and 4 Temmink’s Stint, 2 Common Sandpiper and a single Dunlin. Waders in the water, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Greenshank and a single Redshank. A scan up the channel and there were 3 Tufted Duck and a single Coot. The gulls were in there 100s, between 5-6000, all streched out across the beach. I stayed put in my car and used as a hide and waited. Terns and gulls were coming in to have a quick wash and out again. I started looking for Caspian Gull and gave it a rest when I had reached 7 individuals. Then suddenly I shouted ‘NO WAY!’ A corking summer plumage Great Black-headed Gull dropped down from nowhere! I took a few shots and then settled down to observe this beauty only to see it fly off over the beach. I can’t repeat what I shouted as it disappeared. It was almost dark when I picked up another Caspian Gull and was ready to return to my digs. I was just about to drive off when in front of me I could see a car struggling in the sand on the track I was on. I think I’ll give that a miss and turned around to drive off the way I came. A plover came in and landed on the mud where all terns had been. White-tailed Plover! As soon as it hit the ground it was off again and I just got a few record shots in what light I had before it flew off north. There you go again. If it wasn’t for that car stuck, then I wouldn’t of seen that Oman rarity! And to end a cracking day, another Purple Heron. I duno what I missed at Ayn Hamran, but after the birds I’ve seen today and at very close range, I reckon I’ll be returning to Khawli Sawli tomorrow.

Great Crested Tern dwarfing the White-winged Black Tern

Gull-billed Tern

A pleasant surprise was this Red-necked Phalarope

little Stint


Black-tailed Godwit

3 of the 8 Caspian Gull

And the icing on the cake, was this stunner.

Wasn’t exspecting to see these 3 Tufted Duck with this Coot

It was almost dark when this White-tailed Plover came in only to see it fly out north. By far the rarest bird of the day. How often do these plovers turn up in Oman? I’ve only ever seen them in Kuwait.

This is why the country must unite against the Governments outrageous anti-strike bill

Oman Day 2 West Khawr

28th January 2023

Not a gull this time but a tern and there were some 30 Great Crested Tern at West Khawr Beach with 1000s of gulls!

What a contrast today with intense hot sun from the dull, cool, light rain of yesterday. With a mix up with hiring the car, I didn’t get out on the road until mid-afternoon and I made the short drive to West Khawr. I made many visits the last time I was here and drove around the flooded land just north of the beach. Then there were birds all over the shop, mainly egrets, herons, terns and waders. Today there was not a dicky bird in sight!! The floods had dried up! Disappointed I drove to the beach where I followed the coastal track for a few miles west. Then I saw the gulls! 100os of them stretched out miles west and also in large flocks following fishing boats close inshore. I couldn’t resist and joined them as I walked along the tideline. Unfortunately, it was the same species of gulls as yesterday, although I only covered 10% of them. On the deck were also some 30 Great Crested Tern with others flying and the light was spot on for photography.

Great Crested Tern

Also a small flock of Bar-tailed Godwit feeding on the beach

Oh yeah, there were the odd one or two gull as well

That was on the east side of me. This was the west side and they had taken over the beach for as far as I could see along the beach

100s also out at sea with the fishing boats

Sooty Gull

Heuglin’s Gull

Steppe Gull

Just across from the beach is West Khawr Pool and flloded area. To my surprise there were up to 10 Shoveler with 5 Cotton Pygmy Goose. Also present were a single Wood Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, and Little Grebe, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Glossy Ibis, 5 Squacco Heron, 3 Western Reef Heron, 2 Citrine Wagtail, 2 Caspian Tern, 4 Greater Flamingo’s and 3 Temmink’s Stint and an Oman tick, a single Snipe fly through. An Isabeline Shrike was nearby. It was now getting on for 18.00 and my belly was rumbling. 5 minutes later I was back at digs and around the corner I got stuck into a Turkish dish.

Duno if 10 shoveler is a high count for this area and it was another Oman tick for me

One of the 3 Temmink’s Stint

Greater Flamingo

Crested Lark

Blue Pansy was ba

Oman Day 1 Salalah

27th January 2023

After the Oriental Honey Buzzard I had yesterday in Abu Dhabi, I didn’t think I see another in Salalah, Oman and the following day!

The wet weather is still with me after leaving Abu Dhabi as I flew into salalah, Oman, mid-morning. Abu Dhabi was cool but as I stepped out of the airport, I was immediately hit by the warm air. I checked into my digs in the city and mid-afternoon, I was getting stuck into a Lebanese dish. The dark clouds were looming overhead but at 15.00 I slowly headed south towards the beach. The roads I was walking, I had driven on before when I visited Oman 4 years back and it was over a week ago I booked to return. And what’s the first bird I see of note, a male Oriental Honey Buzzard! In the dull conditions, the raptor continued north towards the city. Nearing the beach were 3 Rock Martin, a single Syke’s Wagtail and 4 Ruppell’s Weaver. As I came around the corner from the main road towards Coconut Beach, I was confronted by 100s and 100s of gulls. Cars pull up and feed them!! Well the cars don’t, the people in the vehicles throw out scraps and the gulls invade with House Crows. A quick scan and I managed to pick out a single Caspian Gull with the very large numbers of Heuglin’s and Slender-billed Gulls. There were also Steppe and Sooty Gull but in less numbers with the odd Black-headed Gull. Martin Elliot asked me to get as many pics as I could of the three large larus gulls, Heuglin’s, Steppe and Caspian. So for the next 30 minutes I found myself on my knees trying to get shots of the gulls in different ages and posses.

This male Oreintal Honey Buzzard was my second sighting in Salalah, after having a very close encounter 4 years ago with another male in a park, just up road from where I saw this one.

Syke’s Wagtail

The 4 Ruppell’s Weaver I’m came across showed well

I came across 2 Red-vained Darters on the side of the main road.

Where this local was attempting to knock down fruit from this tree with a long stick. He offered me one and I discovered that, I gona try one of those again. It tasted like a mix of a very bitter pear and apple and left the inside of your mouth very dry. Similar to that feeling when you put a sloe in your mouth. It was only a fraction bigger than a sloe and as a result, the guy was finding it hard work to pick one off.

Just a tiny fraction of the 100s of gulls

Gulls squabbling and noisy as they grab the left overs thrown out for them

Sooty and Hueglin’s Gull

Sooty, Heuglin’s, Steppe and behind almost out of sight, Slender-billed Gull

Caspian Gull

Steppe Gull

Heuglin’s Gull

Sooty Gull

Slender-billed Gull

That’s enough of gulls and I turned to scan the ocean. A small flock of Socotra Cormorant moved west and there were both Great crested and Caspian Tern fishing out at sea. Closer in there were a single Gull-billed and up to 4 Whiskered Tern and on the shore mixed in with the terns and gulls were good numbers of waders including, Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Common sandpiper, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher and east overhead, 13 Glossy Ibis passed through. As it was a Friday, the beach was overcrowded but not one single body was in the water. The dark clouds made it dark earlier than usual and I began making my way back to my digs. I had to pass the gulls on the way out and I found myself with even knowing it, goin through them again!

Whiskered Tern

Common Sandpiper

It’s Friday and the beach was overcrowded as far as the eye could see

So many folks, mainly from east Asia, would see me with my camera and super duber long lens and ask me to take a photo of them. The SLR clicks and they rush over to see what they look like on the back of the camera. Some immediately walk off while others I chat to. It got kinda of crazy when I was asked repeatably over and over again and I refused. I’ve discovered this happens all the time when I go abroad in the Middle East or Asia.

THE DAILY MAIL: “It’s All The Fault of the Poor”!

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This is the headline that attracted my attention. “Shocking rise of something for nothing britain”. I read the article so you don’t have to, and, surprise, surprise, the story is based on a report from a shady think tank based at 55 Tufton Street, and is an obscene manipulation of the facts about Tory Britain in 2023. I appreciate all of you who share my videos with friends and social media to get the word out there. Together, let’s bring this extreme right wing government to an end. Unlike those weird new right wing TV news channels and ultra right wing “think tanks” that are always on the telly, I receive no hidden funding. Or any funding, come to that, except YouTube partner programme advertising revenue, and YouTube $uperthanks donations from viewers. As well as sharing the videos on social media and with your friends, hitting the Like button and subscribing to the channel is also really helpful, as it tells YouTube to offer my videos to a wider audience. Subscribe here:… Follow me at less

Umm al-Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi

26th January 2023

I observed 2 Oriental Honey Buzzard, including this female, drifting over the park

From Birmingham Airport, I arrived at Abu Dhabi, UAE, last night for a transfer to the next destination. I’ve passed through this airport many times before but this time, I had to stay overnight before I flew out to the country where I’ve planned to stay for a few weeks. As I was staying in Al Jazira Club Hotel, I was only a twenty minute walk from Umm Al-Emarat Park. This morning, I was at the entrance just before 10.00. Twenty minutes in and it was the usual common species that were on show. Red-vented and White-eared Bulbul, Laughing and Collard Dove, Grey Francolin, Alexandrine Parakeet, White Wagtail were all over the shop. While Indian Silverbill, Delicate Prina and Purple Sunbird were in smaller numbers. The latter three were the only new species that I had never seen before. The area just didn’t give me that vibe as when I’ve been in other parks in the Middle East, Kuwait and Oman for example.

One of the most commonest birds were White-eared Bulbul

But only a handful of Red-vented Bulbul.

Grey Francolin were widespread in the open areas

And included this leucitic individual

Collard Dove having a strench

Sleeping Indian Silverbill

White Wagtail

I guess the dull weather played it’s part in keeping the butterflies low down but I did manage to catch this Plain Tiger.

It was coming up to the hour and it was while climbing the steps of The Shade House that I caught onto an Oriental Honey Buzzard headed towards me. I immediately rushed up to the third level and as the buzzard passed, I was the deck trying to get my breath back. I was now looking down at the female as it easily flew by into the stiff SW breeze. Once that had disappeared, being above the trees, I could see all over the park and picked up 2 Gull-billed Tern hawking the only large open areas. Standing on the lawn, trying to get pics of the terns, my attention was on the nearby acacias as there were 2 Shrikes in them. A last, the birding was improving. The first I had a look at was a male Isabeline Shrike but the another had a tan crown and I identified it as a Red-tailed Shrike. After leaving the shrikes I got onto distant raptor and it turned out to be a male Oriental Honey Buzzard. This was followed by a Marsh Harrier, high north followed by a Steppe Gull, south. For the next hour, nothin else of note although the female OHB made three more appearances over the park and after over two hours, it turned out to be not so bad in the end.

By the time this female Oriental Honey Buzzard flew over the park, the sun had gone in and for most of the rest of the day, it was dull.

However, this male Oriental Buzzed was distant

There were 2 Gull-billed Tern spending all their time hawking over the large open area.

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This crackin male Isabeline Shrike was only on show briefly.

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But this male Red-tailed Shrike performed very well out in the open

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In and out of the park, stray cats were very common and often you would come across bowls of water and food put out for them on paths put by locals.

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Looking south from the structure, The Shade House.

I left the park and made a twenty minute stroll to the nearby Abu Dhabi Golf Club. After goin through security, I was on the south side of the golf course looking at a tiny pool and on it were 2 Little Grebe and a single Ferruginous Duck. On the banks of the pool and area were 6 Red-wattled Plover with over 100 Black-headed Gull. Unfortunately, I could see the dark clouds coming in and my time here was cut short as I returned to my hotel before I got soaked to the bone. The downpour only lasted over an hour and I was told later on that it only rains here twice a year!! Well I didn’t pack any waterproofs as the one day that I’m in Abu Dhabi, I really didn’t expect that I needed them.

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Hidden behind a large boulder, the Ferruginous Duck and Little Grebe had no idea I was there and as a result I got very close range views.

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While the Red-wattled Plover stayed put as I was only a few meters away from them

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Just before the rain

Mick Lynch in South Wales – “It’s time for a general strike”

Voice Wales

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Amazon workers are now on strike. The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch, delivers a powerful speech to a packed church in Aberdare, south Wales, and talks to about the need for a general strike. Also featuring the brilliant Cwmdare male voice choir.

Shot and edited by Adwitiya Pal in January 2023

Yellow-legged Gulls at Trench Pool

19th-23rd January 2023

This 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull I spotted on the first day and was still showing surperbly four days later

Once again Trench Pool proves to be one of the top sites in Salop for Yellow-legged Gull with as many as possibly six individuals in a space of four days. I Reckon that it’s probably the top site for YLG photographer also in the county with birds coming to bread and showing off at very close range. Unfortunately there was no Caspian Gull this time. My first morning, 19th, I scanned the pool and got onto a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull. However, it was later on in the roost that it was joined by 2 adult and another 2nd winter. The following day, the temperature had dropped overnight to freezing and the pool was 90% frozen over. As a result, the Lesser black-backed Gulls, the highest count was 150, gather in good numbers resting on the ice before moving on. And with them, I observed more adult Yellow-legged Gulls. It also appears as though the 2nd winter that I first spotted, might be hanging around as it was present every day. It was on the last day, 24th, there were single 4th winter and an adult. Other highlights on the pool included a 1st winter Common Gull. This was only the second record after 3 adults a few years ago. 4 Wigeon was also my second sight record after a male over 10 year ago. However, the main highlight was a male Peregrine, west over the pool making this first that I’ve seen in this area.

4th winter Yellow-legged Gull

Maybe up to 4 or more adult Yellow-legged Gull moved through Trench Pool

It possible that this 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull might be wintering for the area repeating what an adult did a few year back.

Only my second site record weas this 1st winter Common Gull

Up to 7 Shoveler were present throughout the 4 days

There was only a handful of Tufted Duck

But only 2 Great Crested Grebe

Second site record were these 4 Wigeon

Managed to get a record shot of my first Peregrine for Trench Poool

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2 Caspian Gull at Newlyn

18th January 2023

One of the Caspian Gull distance at Newlyn

As I was in Penzance, early afternoon I met up with the main man, Martin Elliot at Newlyn hoping to connect with his Azorean Gull that he discovered a few days ago and Mashuq Ahmed’s American Herring Gull that he turned up a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of the two species. However, I still had a crackin time hanging out at the fishing port and scanning the 1000s of gulls present in the area. As a result we picked out 2 Caspian, 2 Glaucous, single Iceland and Scandinavian Gull. Martin also picked out a CaspianxYellow-legged Gull at the river mouth where there was also a single Purple Sandpiper feeding a handful of Turnstone.

1st winter Caspian Gull (centre left)

Juvenile Iceland Gull

One of the 2 juvenile Glaucous Gull

Probable 2nd winter CaspianxYellow-legged Gull

Another 1st winter Caspian Gull half a mile out nect to a sleeping Grey Seal

Scandinavain Gull

Also a few Kittiwakes in the harbour

Purple Sandpiper

Back home on Scilly, 16th, Richie Aston and I found our own Glaucous Gull at Porthloo and was still showing off on the beach today seen by others. Two days ago it was drifting back and forth over the garden. In the last two weeks, I’ve managed to also see a single Firecrest and also the long staying Arctic Skua, Stone Curlew, Great Spotted Woodpecker and 4 Cattle Egret in various parts of St Mary’s.

Richie Aston and I discovered this brute of a Glaucous Gull at Porthloo, 16th

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Kayaking with ‘PI’ the Humpback Whale off Scilly!

2nd January 2023

Only meters away from ‘PI’ the Humpback Whale south off Porth Hellick Down this afternoon

For the first time in the last month, the weather was ideal for kayaking and I took advantage of it and was making my ways towards Samson, mid-morning. It was almost high tide when I reached the Samson Flats but there were still good numbers of waders including, 120 Ringed Plover, 150 Sanderling, 40 Turnstone, 2 Whimbrel and Purple Sandpiper and a single Grey Plover. After a few minutes, they flew off from being pushed off by the tide and I switched my attention to Green Island where there was an adult Yellow-legged Gull and the 3 Spoonbill. It was while taking pics of the latter species that news came on that the ‘PI’ the Humpback Whale, was off Deep Point! Going to Samson, I thought that if ‘PI’ is seen today, it will be off Gugh, just a twenty-minute row from where I was now. Instead, it’s chosen to return to where it was a month ago, an hour kayak off Deep Point!

The 3 Spoonbill that arrived in November last year were still present on Green Island

There 2 Whimbrel on the east side of Samson

There were up to 9 Mediterranean Gull off Samson

There were over 50 Kittiwake off the south of Samson

Common Gull

Looking towards the Eastern Isles from Samson

It was so still, it felt like I was almost rowing on glass as I took my time just off Tresco South Beach before turning SE towards Guthers Island and then south deep into the Eastern Isles where I got onto a Common Scoter. Scanning the horizon to the SW, I could make out a small cloud of Gannet diving. It wasn’t long until I had reached the Gannet, ploughing through good numbers of Razorbill and Guillemot along the way. I heard the sound of the Humpback but due to the sun in my eyes, I couldn’t see it. After a brief call to Julian, who was observing the beast from Tolls Island, he let me know that it was south, about 300 meters away from I was. I heard it again close by and another call, this time from Joe Pender, who was looking down from Deep Point on the whale, and he told me to continue SW. That I did, and as I paused to scan, over the crest of a wave, there it was! Directly in front of me, facing north at the tip of my kayak!!! As soon as it went down, I stayed close behind only to see it this time, fluke it’s tail as it came up again. There was a large swell, making both photography and videoing very difficult. For the next thirty minutes, I followed it WSW, just off Porth Hellick Down. Here it surfaced many times from all directions and on one occasion it came up to my right side. I was online to where I thought it might surface again and immediately got out of the way. I was right as it blew to where I had just been but I had moved a few meters to the north and I was now behind it. On two occasions, it got crazy! I had no idea where it was until it rose only meters away from me! That was a little too close for comfort and I felt it was getting to the point that I thought I better move on as this could turn out to be dangerous if it came any closer. I didn’t have to worry. as the next time I saw it, it was distantly to the south. WOW!! By far one of the most incredible, exciting, sometimes damn scarey close encounters in my lifetime! It doesn’t get better than this. I made my ways back following the coastline of St Mary’s before reaching the shore of Sharks Pit where I put my kayak to bed. My butt felt sore after sitting for over 5 hours in a kayak and covering some ten miles of water but it was well worth it after that truly remarkable, insane experience that I just had with ‘PI’.

Approaching the Eastern Isles

This was the only pic I got with the SLR as it was too close to focus when it appeared from out of the water.

At times, the whale was getting too close for comfort but I got some insane views as I observed it As it was so close, I couldn’t focus onto it with the SLR!

Whale watchers looking off Deep Point

On the 28th December, four of us were very fortunate to observe ‘PI’ breaching six times in succession, off Morning Point.

Returning to this afternoon, over 70 kittiwake feeding 0ff the east of Deep Point

Also to the east off Deep Point were good numbers of Guillemot

Up to 4 Black Redstart were at Porthloo Beach

Where there was also this Stonechat

And 5 Chiffchaff

On the 30th December, this 1st w Scandinavian Gull was off Morning Point

With this distant adult Yellow-legged Gull

Yesterday I had a 3rd w Yellow-legged Gull at Morning Point. At the same site on the 29th December, there were 2 adult and this 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull

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