Thursday, 11 December 2014

Frustration with the farm

In previous years, the two big farms in Salalah have housed large numbers of social lapwing in the winter. Unfortunately one of the farms has closed to make way for a youth sports complex.

The remaining farm at Sawnout is still very large. However it is out of bounds as it is a cattle farm as well as arable. To prevent any animal diseases transmitting it is closed to all outsiders.

Birders have to resort to peering over the fence.

You can't see anything from the north side which gets the sun all day long. The south side is on the main road but at least the sun is always in the right direction. The east side is better in the mornings but there is no cover. The west side is best in the afternoons and there is some cover outside the farm.

A spotting scope is a good idea. Either way, no one has reported sociable lapwing this year as yet. I go about five times a week to look for them and other interesting birds.

European roller

Sometimes a pivot bar is parked near the western fence.  This is an opportunity to see perched species such as roller, kestrel, rosy starling, common myna and many tens of both laughing dove and especially collared dove. The hope is always to see something rarer.

common kestrel

Looking into the distance into the farm you can make out there are many hundreds of birds. the problem is identifying them.Yesterday there were around one hundred chestnut-bellied sandgrouse in a fallow field along with three cream coloured courser. However I was viewing them from two hundred metres way.

female chestnut-bellied sandgrouse facing

In other fields which were being watered were a hundred cattle egret and ten or so white winged black tern. Barn swallow fly over most fields.

male chestnut-bellied sandgrouse facing

I saw the strange sight of eight curlew grazing in a particularly sodden field which has just been re-sown.

The best prospects are when a field is being watered close to the fence but that doesn't occur very often.

graceful prinia

You can be lucky enough to see some birds actually on the fence such as this graceful prinia.

rose ringed parakeet

On the western side a long row of palm trees are next to the fence. They can house birds such as rose ringed parakeet and often birds of prey.

female shining sunbird

Even sunbirds can sometimes be seen on the fences.

unidentified pipit

Occasionally birds will spill over from the farm to the outside. I saw a single unidentified pipit on the eastern side that way. I am checking its identity.

second view of pipit

I have seen tree pipit seeming commute from outside trees into the farm. There is lots of evidence some of this species winters here. I saw more of them in the trees yesterday at wadi darbat.

tree pipit

Birds of prey are in the sky above the farm all the time except very early morning.

Some times you can get good views as with this steppe eagle.

steppe eagle

Mostly the views are poor due to distance like with these two bonelli's eagle.

bonelli's eagle

One thing is for sure, no matter how frustrating the birding is, I can't ignore the place.


  1. I'd say the bird you've labelled Greater Short-toed Lark is either a Richard's or a Blyth's Pipit. It has more of the latter about it but Richard's is a very variable species and the dark centres of the median coverts seem to come to a point. Blyth's is usually frostier-looking than this. Perhaps you should ask some of the guys on one of the forums?

  2. Andy, I think you may be right. I hope you are right too! I have changed the text. I have plenty of pictures of this bird.