Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mid February round up

I was pretty restless over the weekend. Apart from visiting Jebel Samhan twice to look for Verreaux's eagle, I toured various sites in the Salalah area. 

The birding has been very settled for the past month. Most migrant birds had found a comfortable wintering spot and there was very little movement. This has made chances for seeing new birds, over and above my 251, low.

My touring has been as much as anything to see if there is now signs of passage and with that a new cast of birds.

A few remaining Abdim's stork

A trip to Raysut settling pools provided some evidence that the passage has begun. 90% or more of the Abdim's stork seem to have gone. This is consistent with birding friend Lou Regenmorter who has seen some in Saudi Arabia recently. Having lost the Abdim's stork, in return I could only make out there were more yellow wagtail at the settling pools than all winter. This is not the most exciting passage.

After the settling pools on Friday I made whirlwind stops at the central park followed by Khawr Soly on the way to Ayn Hamran. I saw absolutely nothing at the central park which was different. At Khawr Soly the sole white tailed lapwing which has been there all winter except for a couple of days transfer to near-by Khawr Taqah was still there.

white-tailed lapwing

Ayn Hamran is always interesting even when there are no new birds. it is the best place I know for Arabian partridge and I saw two tucking into left overs from a picnic alongside Abyssinian white-eye, Ruppell's weaver and White spectacled bulbul.

Arabian partridge

Shrikes still cause me headaches.There is one at Ayn Hamran which has no primary patch and shows only 5 primary tips in keeping with a brown shrike. Its front is deeply coloured too. The mantle however is too grey. It doesn't fit the idealised version of either brown shrike or Turkestan shrike though playing safe I should go for Turkestan shrike.

shrike at Ayn Hamran

I would like to spend some time in India to view more brown shrike to see what variation there is.

second view of the shrike

Ayn Hamran is also one of the best places to see black-crowned tchagra.

black-crowned tchagra

My other visit last weekend was to Khawr Rori back on Thursday afternoon. It was the last time I will try to twitch the long billed dowitcher. This time I came across a danish birding group and asked if they had seen the dowitcher. They said they had but only by scope from a distance of about 150 metres. They told me it was over the other side of the lake next to the geese. One of them offered me the scope to see it. My error was to say no and to head straight to the other side for a "real" view. They didn't know you could get round to the other side but I know the place very well now and could access it.

pheasant-tailed jacana

I ignored the ducks,  pheasant-tailed jacana and other water birds to head straight there.

As I was walking across the sand bar to the other side, a marsh harrier disturbed many tens of birds and many in the group round the geese went up.

two white fronted goose

My worst fears were realised. Several waders had stayed with geese. These included a greenshank, four dunlin, a marsh sandpiper and a pin-tailed snipe.


Unfortunately the dowitcher had scattered with the marsh harrier. I regret not looking through the scope but not that much. I regret the disturbance much more.

I really don't like twitching anyway particularly over such a large area. It can take so much time without a guaranteed result. This was also my fourth visit and so has taken me away from more varied birding.

marsh sandpiper

If birding were easy, I wouldn't do it.


  1. Oh no! Should have had a quick look through the scope at least! 150m isn't that far either - should have been visible with bins?

    Is that shrike the same one as before? As you say, it doesn't look right for either species. Rather puzzling.

  2. I think it probably is the same shrike as before. R