Omani Owl (above the right edge of the acacia, Mike Watson)

OUR FINAL OWLING SESSION saw us back at the new Omani Owl site early on our last morning with Johnny Mac again, who had sped back from the east coast the previous day. Teasingly it started to rain as we approached our destination but to our relief the drizzle subsided and we could have one last crack at the owls. Following our usual routine we played the hooting call for some time and continued until after the time of the sighting of a couple of days earlier. We did not hear anything, however, subsequent events suggest that the owls probably did respond very softly and inaudibly beyond around 100m. I usually end each effort with a torch scan just in case anything came in silently… and bingo! Two pairs of eyes looked back at us from the cliff face, occasionally flying short distances as they changed perches. To our delight they remained in view as it got lighter and we eventually managed some daylight scope views as well as some tiny image photos from the track below. Even better was that we saw one bird, now known to be the female, disappear into a hole in the cliff face, its partner sitting on lookout for a few minutes more. This time we could see the vertical flank streaking and even the rusty tinge to the side of the breast as well as gaining a good impression of the owl’s facial disk, its size and round-headed Strix form. A couple of Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse flew over as it was time to leave for yet more shiny airport concourses – I have seen a lot of the latter over the last few years. Needless to say it was a relief to have some more substantial evidence as we passed the baton to the Sound Approach guys, they can now study the first nest site of this enigmatic bird!

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