Sunday, 2 November 2014

Black stork and more in Wadi Darbat area

On Friday I went east out of Salalah but not far. I visited Ayn Hamran before breakfast and then returned to the area after breakfast to Wadi Darbat and then up the hills further passing Tawi Atair.

The plan was to look for migrant passerines as apparently the peak migration time for them. I also wanted to look again for Palestine sunbird which is an upland bird here and this was suitable terrain.

The plan didn't work out.

black stork lands in the river at wadi Darbat

The best bird was not a passerine at all but a black stork seen at Wadi Darbat. Actually I saw it in the air first when it started to fly away from my area (not because of me I don't think).

black stork originally flews away

There was greater spotted eagle sharing its air space. Suddenly the stork turned back and landed in the river about 40 metres from me.

black stork turns

The main regional guide calls black stork a vagrant to Oman but I have seen it reported in trip reports form the Dhofar area before.

Interestingly Dave Kilmister, a birder on holiday from Saudi texted me to tell me he saw one days before in a Khawr near Mirbat. It could easily be the same bird.

willow warbler

Before seeing the stork I had busied myself checking the woods for passerines. In the canopy in one area I found three willow warbler and a wood warbler. There were spotted flycatcher and white wagtail near-by. However there was no big breakthrough. My search for palestine sunbird drew a blank too.

tree pipit

Tree pipit was arguably the most abundant migrant.


At the river itself, four pintail were the most interesting migrants. However they were all asleep most of the time.

grey headed kingfisher with big meal

I think all the Dideric cuckoo have gone. I have seen or heard one in a week.
Grey headed kingfisher are still here though. One in the woods at Wadi Darbat certainly had a big meal before his travels.

grey headed kingfisher later

He stood there with his catch for minutes on end presumably making sure it was dead.

After Wadi Darbat I headed up the mountain further to Tawi Atair and out the other side of that village and up. I welcomed the lower temperatures with the altitude. Its still hot here in the afternoons and very difficult to bird.

rufous tailed rock thrush

At the higher elevations I reacquainted myself with rufous-tailed rock thrush on the wires. European roller were there too.

I had no luck with passerines or the sunbird.

I stopped the car on the way back as I had seen a greater spotted eagle high in the sky. As I got out, I realised a lesser kestrel was on a bush in front of me.

first lesser kestrel

It flew off quickly but as I tracked it I noticed it flew straight over a second lesser kestrel perched at the top of a tree and in a better viewing position.

second lesser kestrel

I hadn't been unlucky at all during the day. I may have been after passerines but I ended up with two difficult additions to my Oman list.

I haven't written about visiting Ayn Hmaran before breakfast as it was mostly uneventful. However I did see white morph African paradise flycatcher there which was my first time in Oman. The regional guide says this morph is rare in Arabia.

white morph African paradise flycatcher

Otherwise I was scanning for the elusive palestine sunbird and picking up views of other small birds as I looked including this grey wagtail which was momentarily sharing a tree with sunbird candidates.

grey wagtail

All I got was more shining sunbird.

female shining sunbird

In the end I rated the day a success but not in the way I planned.

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