Monday, 5 October 2015

Local farms

Having made desert trips every weekend and during Eid since I came back from the summer, I will now concentrate on more local birding in October.

The desert stops give the best potential for new additions to my country list as the migration is concentrated and also better further north. However, I rent a car with annual maximum mileage and I have to make shorter journeys for a while.

On Thursday evening and parts of Friday, I visited local farms. 

It turned out that doves became an important feature of what I saw.

Indeed two of the early birds seen at Sawnaut farm on Friday morning were turtle doves.

Oriental turtle dove

There were two but one was an Oriental turtle dove while the other was a European turtle dove.

European turtle dove

From the poorly marked throats it can easily be seen that both are young birds.

both turtle doves together

It's not often you can get close to one of each and do such a direct comparison. However, apart from other features the oriental bird is distinctly larger.

female Namaqua dove

Along the same stretch of the farm's western perimeter, I came across nine Namaqua dove. This is the largest number I have seen in Oman where they are much less common than in some parts of Saudi Arabia.

male Namaqua dove

Eurasian collared dove is the most abundant at the farm but it was the only one I didn't photograph.

laughing dove

Laughing dove is the second most common. On some days I can count both species at the farm in their hundreds.

laughing dove taking off

Actually, I managed to count another species in their hundreds at the farm on Friday and that was chestnut-bellied sandgrouse.

The evening before, I had checked out the small farm at Taqah.

Doves or more exactly a dove became my primary interest there.

unidentified dove 1

There was one bird among the European collared dove which was different and obviously so. It was more uniformly more earthy-brown coloured.

unidentified dove 2

I have not managed to positively identify it though some sort of miscoloured European collared dove or escaped dark form of a barbary dove are most likely.

distant shots of the dove by Michael Immel

My birding friend Michael Immel also took photos and is kindly allowing me to show his crops of them.

another distant shot by Michael Immel

Even with these extra photos a positive identification is not certain.

spotted flycatcher

I haven't visited the farm at Taqah before. Other notable birds apart from the residents were yellow wagtail and spotted flycatcher.

The third farm that was visited was Jarziz farm in the city. Doves were not a feature there.

European roller

Six European roller were counted on the main pivot bar which straddles the huge field.

Montagu's harrier

Two Montagu's harrier and one marsh harrier were patrolling the field for locusts and presumably any tired birds. They must be a constant danger to the many singing bush lark which reside there.

red-backed shrike

Other notable birds included a male red-backed shrike and a golden oriole.

In some ways it was good to be back at local locations but I already miss the desert birding.

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