Monday, 29 September 2014

Caspian plover and lots more

On Friday the plan had been to visit Raysut treated water lake but an issue with a "recommended" driver caused this to be delayed for 24 hours hours. So at the last moment I made an impromptu decision to revisit central Salalah. This entailed starting at Wadi Salalah, moving down to Khawr Salalah on the coast and then walking up to the Central Park.

I had no high hopes as they had been visited a week before. I decided I would concentrate on getting better photos of birds already seen in Oman.

As it happened things turned out very well.

Indian pond heron

It didn't look that way to begin with. The wadi had far fewer birds than the week before. Perhaps this was due to the presence of a female marsh harrier. Either way, for example there were no garganey or ruff to be seen this weekend.

A close Indian pond heron allowed me better photos than I had had before of this species. 

Black tailed godwit

A black-tailed godwit was one of the fewer waders around.

common redshank

I got closer to common redshank than they usually allow. Since the wadi wasn't very productive I quickly moved on to the Khawr. It was here that things got interesting.

grey plover with pacific golden plover

Among the 40 or so Pacific golden plover scattered around the site but concentrated on the sand bar was a grey plover

grey plover

Grey plover is often a solitary bird on passage and in winter. This one was no exception. It soon flew off down the coast 50 metres to be alone. I followed it.

Caspian plover

When I turned back towards the sand bar that separates a khawr from the sea, there were tens of lesser sand plover and greater sand plover mixing with the pacific golden plover.

I suddenly realised that one of the closest plovers to me was none of these three species but a Caspian plover. It is far more graceful than the sand plovers.

Caspian plover with greater sand plover

Incidentally there is a big discrepancy between the size quoted for a greater sand plover in my three guides. Helms and, Madge and Beaman have it 10-15% larger than Collins. By comparing against other birds including the Caspian plover then Collins is right.

Caspian plover running

By scanning around, I saw there were actually three Caspian plover in the mixed group. More like Kentish plover than any other species, their preferred escape strategy is to run.

Caspian plover running further

My good run continued because as soon as I left the khawr to head to the Central Park I passed my first Isabelline wheatear since I came to Oman.

Isabelline wheatear

The route to the central park means walking past the wadi again. A quick look there showed a several little ringed plover had turned up. This is another first for me in Oman.

Little ringed plover

Little ringed plover love little pebbly islands in fresh water and that is exactly where they were this time.
common redshank

I was also pleased to see another common redshank but this time in part summer plumage.

Golden oriole

When I arrived at the park, I was lucky enough to get a clear view of one of the golden oriole. Last week I saw two. This week there were three: two females and a male. One female gave me a clean photo. 

spotted flycatcher

There were no new birds from last week but I am hopeful about this location for this winter. A spotted flycatcher was also photographed.

grey-headed kingfisher

I am still seeing plenty of grey-headed kingfisher around the city. This is supposedly a summer visitor. I am beginning to wonder when they will leave.

a splash of colour

Finally one of the things I like about salalah is its sub-tropical feel including its flowers. 

In the next blog, I'll report on my visit to Raysut treated water lake.

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