Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Omani-experience

Some (many) of you knew that I was off for field work in Oman for almost two months. At the beginning of November I headed to Muscat and further to Barr al Hikman, a wonderfull tropical tidal mud flat. We would stay there for about 6 weeks for doing research on the stunning Crab Plover.
Pinna-country: biodiversity hotspot in this tropical area
Crab Plover - Dromas ardeola: my study object

My goal of these weeks was to film colour ringed Crab Plovers as long as possible. Easy goals and never satisfied. I came back with about 100 hours of film material. For me now the noble task to note down every step they take and how long they will handle that catched crab :). As a result I will hopefully be able to say what they eat and what they do all day. Fundamental knowledge for a better understanding of the ecosystem.

It was a easy living: wake up, shorts and t-shirts on, breakfast, when will it be low and then onto the flats for filming, be back before high water and start again the next day. No people to bother us, no traffic, only birds and an occasional fly-by by the pilots of the nearby military base. The world could have been devestated and we wouldn't know.

With my unsatisfying goal and no weekends (or days off really..) it was not a holiday but hard working. Of course not in bad circumstances. During high tides or waiting for birds to show up, it was possible to record some species. And so I did! Came back with 85 good recordings, including 4 new species for XC (thanks for the credits XC, I appreciate it!). I still have to dig into the differences in sound between Saunder's Tern and Little Tern.. And the same for Greater vs Lesser Sand Plover. Will save that for other days :)

One of the funniest things on the mud flats are the feeding flocks of Slender-Billed Gulls and Western Reef Herons, especially the latter. In small gulleys, they will feed on the many fishes and shrimps that will flow by. The herons, not knowing how and where to look, run, jump, fly and look hysterically in order to get as many food as possible. This, of course, will cause some trouble as your, also hysterical, neighbour takes your fish or you will accidentally trip over another bird... This hysteria (you can maybe compare it with the 'mine mine mine' from the gulls from Finding Nemo), combined with these sounds:

Now all the recordings are put on Xeno-Canto (took some time as batch-uploading was renewing), more posts will follow! Stay tuned

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