Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sawnout farm revisited

On Wednesday evening before dusk I returned to Sawnout farm. I spent most of my time at the western perimeter with the sun behind me giving the best views. I viewed from outside looking in as visitors are not allowed. 

There was a large flock of common myna at this end but two birds that were associating with them were not mynas at all.

first rosy starling

They were rosy starling. Indeed the last time I saw a rosy starling was in Kharj near Riyadh, it was associating with common myna too. Incidentally, they are much rarer in central Arabia. 

first rosy starling

The first rosy starling was definitely a juvenile.

second rosy starling

My understanding is that the second bird is as well.

second rosy starling

In the second bird you can see some adult male plumage.

common myna

Common myna seem to tolerate rosy starling and not bully them like so many other birds. The same is true of Tristram's starling which can also flock with common myna.

barn swallow

Also on the west side were many tens of barn swallow mostly perched on wires having foraged over the fields.

rosy wash to barn swallow

When there is a large group seemingly of one species it is always good policy to search through looking for exceptions.

In this case a small number had a rosy wash on the breast. This is indicative of certain sub-species mostly from the near east.

sand martin

There were also two sand martin in with the group. A small number of this species winter in southern Arabia.

dark looking European roller

While looking for anything exceptional, I noticed a very dark European roller.

70 Abdim's stork

Meanwhile in the middle of the farm a flock of 80 Abdim's stork (71 shown in the picture) followed a crop cutting machine from the air around for about ten minutes before moving on. I don't think any of them landed.

Eastern Imperial eagle

Once again there was plenty of bird of prey activity. You can see there was an Eastern Imperial Eagle with a common kestrel and possibly a hobby or other falcon.

greater spotted eagle -first view

I observed two greater spotted eagle.

greater spotted eagle - top view

As a general rule farms and khawrs attract greater spotted eagle while drier places including the Raysut rubbish dump attract steppe eagle.

greater spotted eagle  - under side view

Marsh harrier was the most common bird of prey. I counted five this time.

I also saw my second yellow billed kite in Oman. This one was a juvenile. This is most easily seen by its bill colour. It is yellow near the base but the darker areas are just starting to turn yellow suggesting an older juvenile.

juvenile yellow billed kite

Superficially it could be mistaken for a black kite if you look at the bill. However the overall chestnut colouration places it as yellow billed kite. This identification was confirmed on BirdForum.

rear view of juvenile yellow billed kite

The Oman bird recorders recently changed it status to local breeder in southern Oman. The main regional guide's map still paces the nearest residents in central Yemen.

front view of yellow billed kite

I will keep looking out for this bird which should be of the sub species aegyptius.

aerial view of yellow billed kite

In the next blog I will write about a recent visit to Khawr Swali (Soly) where I again added to my list and had good views of a crake.

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