Thursday 23 June 2016

Pre-monsoonal Salalah

Salalah received the first rain of khareef (monsoon) season yesterday. It was heavy rain too.

I have tried to do some birding locally in the days running up to the monsoon. However it has been hot and extremely humid. These conditions are energy sapping.

This blog shows a few of the highlights. 

There was visit to Sahalnout farm a week ago. 

Ruepell's weaver

Ruepell's weaver were out and about and busy. Many of them have two breeding seasons: in spring and during the khareef.

Seven Namaqua dove

Looking over the fence, which is the only allowed birding at Sahalnout, I came across a group of 17 namaqua dove perched on three sets of dead branches. Namaqua dove is not common in Oman. This may be the largest number ever recorded in one place. it is a shame I got such poor pictures peering through a fence.

singing bush lark

Singing bush lark are easily seen in the fields or on the perimeter fence. Many more are heard and not seen.

common kestrel

Birds of prey are at there minimum at Sahalnout farm at this time of year. Though four kestrel were seen. A bonelli's eagle was perched way over the other side of the farm. The only other predictable bird of prey in June would be yellow-billed kite. None were observed that day.

rose-ringed parakeet

Rose-ringed parakeet meant the volume of noise was high. 

On another day I went over to Raysut to the lagoons and to the settling pools. The bad news is that all eight pheasant-tailed jacana present at the lagoons in early June have left. There will be no breeding of these birds in Salalah this year. 

common tern

I visit the lagoons in particular to look for spoonbills. The seven Eurasian spoonbill appear to be staying all summer but there was once again no sign of a vagrant African spoonbill which I meticulously look for.

red-throated pipit

At the settling pools, the drying piles of fertiliser have the most activity at the moment. Each time over the past six weeks, there have been a group of cattle egret browsing. However it is the other birds which are my interest.

I suspect this would be a good place for any lost passerines. Indeed three weeks ago there was a long-billed pipit there and last week was a red-throated pipit. The latter bird is very late for migration.

red-wattled lapwing

The odd couple of one red-wattled lapwing and one spur-winged lapwing have been at the settling pools on and off for well over a year. There can be found over the fertiliser piles at the moment and are very territorial.

Black-tailed godwit

There is a sprinkling of over-summering black-tailed godwit at several places in the Salalah area including at Khawr Rori where the one above was seen.

young yellow bittern

One of my best birding sessions was at West Khawr on Tuesday evening, the evening before the monsoon broke. In my opinion this is the best mangrove area in the south of the country.

There are yellow bittern there and they seem to have bred well.

adult yellow bittern

Both juvenile and adult birds were observed.

stalking yellow bittern

I checked all the moorhen for lesser moorhen. it seems to me the most likely place if that vagrant were present.

immature moorhen 1

The only candidate birds were small and swimming without obvious parental supervision. However I am confident they were just common moorhen. The bill on the bird above is too dark for that age of lesser moorhen

immature moorhen 2

Another candidate has too much red on the bill.

There were five types of herons on site. Two were purple heron.

squacco heron

There also at least four grey heron, two striated heron, eight squacco heron and one Indian pond heron. In addition, four flamingo were wading out in the water.

little grebe

Other water birds included nine little grebe and one red-knobbed coot. I wonder if the monsoon will bring any thing else there?

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