Friday 27 March 2015

Drinking and singing

On Tuesday and Wednesday I went out birding in the late afternoon to Ayn Hamran and on Wednesday I also finished off at Sawnout farm which is on the way home. I still had intentions then to look out particularly for any March passerine passage.

Well I can tell you what I had suspected for some while, there is hardly any such thing. In the autumn I saw at least 60 rufous bush robin and they lingered too. So far I have seen 3 in spring and that's my best passerine (equal with common redstart) in the Salalah area excluding yellow wagtail. Of course further north in the desert farms I got two wheatears but things have been thin even there too so far. 

In Salalah, there has not been a single bee-eater yet of either blue-cheeked or European variety.

In the autumn birds meander and Salalah is green and worth the diversion. However in spring they move directly and Salalah is not on a direct route for many.

Odd birds such as Amur falcon and pied cuckoo come this way but they aren't heading to the western palearctic or even Iran.

So at Ayn Hamran, having looked so hard again in bushes and trees, I resorted to watching a watering place to see good birds.

One good bird was striolated bunting which likes rocky slopes. However it does come down to drink.

striolated bunting

I find it is best separated from cinnamon-breasted bunting by the colour of its wings which are deep rufous.

striolated bunting facing me

Cinnamon-breasted bunting were also drinking to ease the comparison.

cinnamon-breasted bunting

Indeed the spot I chose saw many species visiting to drink. Any stray warbler could be picked up.

Abyssinian white-eye (with cinnamon-breasted bunting)

I had to make do with Abyssinian white eye.

Namaqua dove

The rarest of the four locally breeding doves is Namaqua dove. Three visited the stream while I was watching.

White spectacled bulbul

The much more common white spectacled bulbul and laughing dove also made appearances.

laughing dove

Ruepell's weaver are busily making or visiting nests depending on gender. It must be thirsty work.

Ruepell's weaver (left)

Still without moving from the same spot, a common sandpiper joined in.

common sandpiper

Other birds seen near-by were common greenshank and two common snipe.

common greenshank

On Wednesday, I also stopped off at Sawnout farm. I need to check there regularly so as not to miss any Amur falcon passing through. This is a well-known place for them. There is also a small chance of passage ortolan bunting which from my experience in Saudi Arabia likes farms. It's still early for either.

I did get lucky with one bird. A very confiding singing busk lark was on the perimeter fence on the west side. It allowed excellent views.

singing busk lark 1

Singing bush lark were numerous at both Sawnout farm and Jarziz farm over the winter. They still are. 

singing bush lark

Though they are very noisy they can be difficult to see except when they launch into their aerial display.

singing bush lark 3

Seeing one so close and on a fence was a real treat.

singing bush lark

Other notable observations at the farm were that the wintering birds of prey are thinning out. I saw just one marsh harrier and a lingering greater spotted eagle.

marsh harrier at Sawnout farm

I will continue to monitor the passage. Who knows? It may be strong in April. In the meantime I went to the Mughsail area today without the focus any focus on passage. I don't know weather it was the more relaxed approach but I did add to my Oman list and the birding was very satisfying indeed. My next two blogs will cover this.

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