Wednesday, 13 April 2016

An exotic wadi

I was told about a new site for birding in the Sahalnoot area during the week. It was first birded by local birder Haitham Shanfari and I was invited there by Saeed Shanfari and Hedi Khecharem.

At first the area looks typical for a foothills site near Salalah. However it is not as I will reveal.

Ruppell's weaver weaving

The many weavers nests and busy Ruppell's weaver making them gave a sense of normality.

The site has plenty of water in troughs and a water channel. That in itself is not too typical.

Palestine sunbird

A hint of the abnormality of the site is the presence of several Palestine sunbird. This species is thought of as an upland species around Salalah. That opinion may now have to be reviewed.

Tristram's starling

The sources of food look good. There are plenty of fruit and seeds. Tristram's starling, cinnamon-breasted bunting and white spectacled bulbul are attracted to the area particularly near water.

White spectacled bulbul

The density of both laughing dove and Eurasian collared dove is high too.

Eurasian collared dove

I found my first rufous bush robin in the Salalah area this spring there. 

rufous bush robin

However what is most unusual about the place is the presence of not one but two exotic species.

first Zebra finch

There is a small flock of zebra finch. All the birds I saw were male.

second zebra finch

The natural males have orange cheeks.However at least two of the birds were of recessive black-cheeked zebra finch.

two more zebra finches by Saeed Shanfari

Two tambourine dove (also known as white-breasted wood dove) had been reported and recorded there. However on my trip with Saeed and Hedi I didn't see any.

Tambourine dove by Saeed Shanfari

I returned alone the next afternoon to search for the birds. I finally found one deep in some undergrowth beneath a very large tree over 400 metres from the former site.

a hiding Tambourine dove

Tambourine dove has a known natural range that reaches southern Ethiopia. While the Zebra finch are definite escapes, this species is a little less certainly so.

Tambourine dove peeking

In the past two years I have previously seen only one other exotic species in Salalah and that was a flock of 11 red avadavat. To see two more over the space of only two days and in a small, non-urban area feels surreal.

Finally I would like to thank Saeed Shanfari for permission to use two of his photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment