New bird species found wintering in Oman
February 20, 2018 | 10:14 PM
by Times News Service
Canada Goose Photo_Supplied

Muscat: A new bird species was spotted for the first time in Oman this winter while two others were seen after long intervals, a biologist observed.

The Canada Goose was spotted for the first time, while the Lesser White-fronted Goose and African Sacred Ibis were seen after long gaps.

It was further revealed that Lesser Flamingo, a migratory bird, wasn’t spotted in the Sultanate at all this winter. There is a good chance, however, that it will show up later.

Confirming the report, Reginald Victor, professor of biology at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), said: “This year, we definitely know of three species of which two, Lesser White-fronted Goose and African Sacred Ibis are rare and one, Canada Goose has not been recorded before.

“Lesser White-fronted Goose had been recorded once as single bird in southern Oman seven years ago and was considered as a vagrant. African Sacred Ibis has visited Salalah this year as a single bird after three years according to one source.”

The professor remarked that sometimes, birds that do not turn up during the winters show up the next year or the year after that.

“Lesser Flamingo was here in 2016, but we have not seen it in the last two years. It does not mean it won’t come again. As far as I know, no species has stopped migration. They may not be here one year, but will come the next year,” Victor added.

The SQU professor further said that Oman is home to a host of bird species, both native and migratory. “Oman Bird Records Edition 7 by Eriksen and Victor 2017 records the bird species of Oman. Even their exhaustive records will offer an underestimated number. This number will not include the rare and the vagrants. As many as 513 bird species were recorded in 2013 but now the record is 528. Nearly 15 new additions are migratory vagrants,” he added.

The book also mentioned the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status of the bird species listed, Victor remarked. “Of all the migratory bird species, only the Egyptian Vulture is seriously endangered,” he said.

Victor said tagging of birds would lead to useful information, adding that there were three such important studies taking place in Oman currently and he was a part of one such study.

“There are three studies going on at present.

“Tagging of Egyptian Vultures is being done by the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), tagging of Steppe Eagles is being done by Mike McGrady, and tagging of Bar-tailed Godwits involves Dr Andy Kwarteng and the Remote Sensing Centre of SQU. I am a part of the latter study,” he added.

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