Sunday, 26 April 2015

Purely palearctic passage

I went to the United Arab Emirates birding for the first time last weekend. However late afternoon on Tuesday and Wednesday I managed some birding in Salalah.

I visited two places: Ayn Hamran and Raysut settling pools specifically looking for passage birds. This blog is about the passage I saw.

Ironically the first bird I feature could conceivably be a wintering bird. Some Turkestan shrike do winter here but for some reason there are proportionately more adult males. However the species numbers are swollen currently by migrants.

female Turkestan shrike

This bird didn't look perfect to me as a standard female Turkestan shrike. It's tail is red rather than brown, it's neck isn't grey, it's mantle is moderately warm and its got a small white primary patch so in the end red-backed shrike is ruled out.

Turkestan shrike 2

The vermiculations on the throat, flanks and belly are possibly stronger than average. 

Turkestan shrike 3

One shrike at the pools which definitely is a migrant was a female masked shrike. A male wouldn't have caused so much over-exposure!

masked shrike

There were five European roller on site. There is a major passage of this species at the moment.

one European roller

Once again they seem to be a loose flock. All of the birds were in one quarter of the site.

Two European roller

I found a warbler in the short bushes next to one settling pool. This is the second marsh warbler I have seen this season and they are known to travel through Arabia in large numbers.

marsh warbler 1

The second picture is more decisive though not as pretty. You can see the dark primaries with their pale tips which are characteristic of marsh warbler in spring. You need to be careful with both pictures as the green of vegetation was reflecting off the bird and particularly its undersides.

marsh warbler 2

Flying over the pools were over 50 common swift. Once again there was a single alpine swift too.

two common swift

The sky also contained plenty of barn swallow and a few house martin and sand martin.

spotted flycatcher facing right

In some bushes at the side of the pools were at least two spotted flycatcher.

spotted flycatcher facing left

Spotted flycatcher and rufous bush robin were two passage birds present at both Raysut settling pools and Ayn Hamran.

Rufous bush robin at Ayn Hamran

One target bird I haven't yet seen in Oman is semi-collared flycatcher. Part of the reason I am picking up so many spotted flycatcher is that I am searching areas liked by flycatchers a little more intently than most.

spotted flycatcher at Ayn Hamran

Just before dusk at Ayn Hamran and close to the car, I spotted my first common whitethroat of the spring season.

common whitethroat

While the passage was weak or at best patchy up to mid April, I am more satisfied with it now. It's almost a shame I am away. My next blogs will be about my trip to UAE.

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