Sunday, 14 December 2014

Muntasar Oasis and Al Beed farm

As I had driven as far as Qatbeet I decided I might as well drive on an extra 25 kilometres to Muntasar oasis. I also stopped off at Al Beed farm half way back towards Salalah.

cream-coloured courser

Muntasar is a natural oasis with some ground water and plenty of reeds with a few scattered trees. I suspect it is a very good birding destination during the passage seasons.

There are plenty of Eurasian collared dove in the trees. When I arrived though the first bird I noticed was a lone cream-coloured courser on the far bank.

part of Muntasar oasis

It was a case of several single birds. In the water was a single green sandpiper.

Asian grey shrike (aucheri)

As I walked round I came across one Asian grey shrike. 

northern pintail

Near by was one northern pintail.

Asian desert warbler

Back near the car was an Asian desert warbler.

spotted sandgrouse

A flock of spotted sandgrouse flew over but didn't stop. I don't know whether my presence prevented them from landing. Two minutes later just as I was leaving two spotted sandgrouse arrived separately and did land to drink. It was 12.30.

In my experience, I have seen sandgrouse drink at all times of day with only a preference for early morning or late afternoon. Much must depend on how close their eating places are to the water. If they are close I suspect they will pop into drink at all times.

160 kilometres north of Salalah is a cluster of three or four desert farms. One is very large but strictly private. However Al Beed which could be the smallest is accessible to birders.

black crowned sparrow lark

I didn't stay too long as I was very tired. On the adjacent ground to the fields I was particularly looking for Dunn's lark but failed. Female and immature black crowned sparrow lark look similar to Dunn's lark and great care must be taken. 

There was Montagu's harrier which almost took out a desert wheatear while I was there.

white stork

Two white stork and a grey heron were together in one of the fields with longer grass.

On the road back and in the Thumrait area, I invariably see a few spotted sandgrouse by the side of the main road. This time I stopped to photograph a pair.

pair of spotted sandgrouse

The female is the one with the spots.

female spotted sandgrouse

You can see by the shadows that it was getting late. It had been a very long day.

male spotted sandgrouse

The overall trip was very long but productive. I will probably do it again in two or three months when the cast has had time to change.

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