Sunday, 9 November 2014

Palestine sunbird and more at Tawi Atair

It is still too hot in the afternoons to bird for any length of time unless you go up in the hills. That's what I did on Friday afternoon. I visited the Tawi Atair area.

Around the famous sinkhole, Yemen serin can be seen although I have failed to see them yet. The cooler months of December and January are the best for that when they spend more time out of their cold environment down the hole. An early morning visit might do it too.

Nevertheless I spend an hour around the top searching for them. Ironically it was here where I came across a male Palestine sunbird which was a target bird in the morning.

head of male Palestine sunbird

I got prolonged views of this bird too. When sunbirds are feeding they are easy to view. Otherwise they are near impossible.

Palestine sunbird

This was the last of the "easy" birds of the area to get on my country list. From now on list growth will be slow and I just enjoy the birding and see what happens.

Abyssinian white-eye

Around the sinkhole were many birds. Tristram's starling, cinnamon-breasted bunting, Abyssinian white-eye and Eurasian collared dove are all common. Plenty of pale crag martin were flying over the top too.

Pallid harrier

Each time I have visited, the occasional bird of prey has turned up. This time I observed two. One was a juvenile pallid harrier. The other was an adult Bonelli's eagle.

Bonelli's eagle

There is much more to the Tawi Atair area than the sinkhole. This is farming country with many cattle. The farmhouses in particular attract birds.

Barn swallow

I stopped near a small cattle farm which was buzzing with barn swallow. White wagtail aren't common in southern Oman but this site had a few.

white wagtail

There was a scattering of desert wheatear and Isabelline wheatear on wires throughout the area including near this farm.

Isabelline wheatear

The wires also had crested lark and a European roller.

crested lark

Tristram's starling is particularly attracted to small settlements. 

Tristram's starling

Finally, Tawi Atair is looking like one of the best places to see lappet-faced vulture. I have not seen them anywhere else in Oman but I saw one again in the area on Friday.

Lappet-faced vulture

On Saturday, I went to Raysut on the west side of the city. The next blog will report on that.

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