Wednesday 11 February 2015

Coming back from the desert

Having left Dowkah desert farm on Saturday morning I made my way south towards Salalah but only as far as Al Beed desert farm.

My stop there was short as I still hadn't eaten at all that day. One obvious observation was that the number of white stork had multiplied from 2 to 4 since my last visit.

one of the white stork

The bad news was that there was no sign of the lanner falcon I saw the time before. Instead a marsh harrier was occupying the same small cluster of trees.

marsh harrier

As usual there were four or so kestrel patrolling the fields.

Isabelline wheatear

Again as is usual in winter this desert farm had many desert wheatear and a much smaller number of Isabelline wheatear.

After leaving Al Beed, I stopped off at the near-by petrol station to buy some breakfast. It is the only station for  100 kilometres in either direction and was very welcome.

desert lark

I then drove directly towards Salalah stopping only briefly when I saw a lark at the edge of the road. Unfortunately it turned out to be a desert lark rather than one of two species of lark I have yet to see in this area.

desert lark picking

The last stop of the weekend turned out to be fortuitous. I decided to explore the northern slope of the mountain pass between Thumrait and Salalah. I did this by walking part way up the disused road parallel to the main road.

It didn't look like a good choice at first. 

male Arabian wheatear

Initially I saw just a male and female Arabian wheatear followed by a sighting a little further away of a young Arabian wheatear sheltered in a rock crevice.

young Arabian wheatear

Then the hills echoed with the sounds and sights of both tristram's starling and fan-tailed raven.

However as I looked up the mountain side I noticed a large group of sand partridge climbing up.

The choice of stopping place had been a good one after all.

male sand partridge

Sand partridge became species 251 on my Oman list.

young sand partridge

This was a fine end to a varied weekend of birding in the desert.

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