Thursday 8 January 2015

Common starling at the farm

I went to Sahnawt farm twice on Monday. The first time in the early morning and the second time in the late afternoon.

Both times I visited the western perimeter which is where most of the cover is and where plenty of birds roost. It is also a good place to look into the farm in the afternoons being east facing. However it is truly awful looking inward in the mornings.

On arrival I found a large flock of rosy starling and almost as many common myna in the field right next to the fence. Of course the views were poor. However I was looking to see if any common starling were among them. It may be called common but it is rare in southern Oman.

There were no common starling among them. However I continue walking down the lane northward and I found five in a tall tree next to the farm fence. 

common starling

The lighting was good for photography.

second view of common starling

Common starling was never common even in Riyadh and Jubail, KSA which are 800 kilometres north but they were more likely to be seen in mid or late winter than earlier in the season. They are a few other birds like them that seem to be pushed down by a cold snap further north. 

third view of common starling

The rosy starling were fairly close but remained stubbornly in the fields where visibility was much poorer.

rosy starling in field

Common myna were hopping either side of the fence frequently and so were sometimes in good view.

common myna

As I have said before, the fence itself often has birds perched on it which afford good views.

graceful prinia

Here is a graceful prinia seen the same morning.

squacco heron

On a wire just back from the fence was a squacco heron.

crested lark

Just by the fence on the ground were a number of crested lark.

tree pipit

On the same wire as the squacco heron but some distance away was a tree pipit.

tawny pipit

Tree pipit wasn't the only type of pipit near by. Tawny pipit can easily be seen.

I returned to the same place in late afternoon.

One of the first things that happened was that I flushed a common quail. I saw roughly where it landed and followed it. Unfortunately it flushed again and away. This was species 237 on my country list. I really believe there can't be that many more available before the spring migration. Let's see.

The fence itself keeps turning up interesting birds. On one fence post was a European turtle dove.

European turtle dove

This was the second time I had seen one at the farm but this one was much closer. The overall impression of this bird is quite dark but component features point to European turtle dove rather than oriental turtle dove. For example it has broad orange scapulars and vague dark centres to these feathers.

laughing dove

I wouldn't normally take a picture of a laughing dove but this one was unusually tame as well as being next to the turtle dove.

Pallid harrier

Hundreds of doves took to the air when a pallid harrier turned up.


They seem more comfortable next to a kestrel for some reason.

desert wheatear

The fence itself keep producing more and more perched species. Here was a desert wheatear.

yellow wagtail

There must be several hundred yellow wagtail in the farm and of course one or two of them are on the fence when I walk by too. 

I will keep visiting the farm two or three times a week to see if the cast continues to change.

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