Sunday, 8 March 2015


Ghaftain rest house is 88 kilometres nearer to Salalah then Haima where I spent Thursday night.

The rest house is listed as a hotspot in the e-bird database and I can see why. It has plenty of natural trees and appears undisturbed. It is also in the middle of the desert so must surely act as a magnet for birds.

I hadn't even arrived in the rest house confines when my birding started. I was about to pull into the drive when I noticed a flock of 4 larks.

I still have Dunn's lark as a target and it was this in mind that I surveyed them closely.

The first bird had a few of the right features: a broad white eye ring, long tertials and a poorly marked breast.

single greater short toed lark

However the stance and the face pattern weren't right  and the birds showed the classic dark neck markings of greater short toed lark. The overall hues of the birds were too grey-brown rather than sandy brown too.

two greater short toed lark

Dunn's lark was one of my Nemesis birds in Saudi Arabia. I have seen all the others since in Oman but this species remains. It's now my number one Nemesis.

two more greater short toed lark

I had much more luck as I pulled into the car park of the rest house. Ready and waiting for me was a pied wheatear on a post.

pied wheatear

Pied wheatear almost all avoid the Salalah area and migrate to the north. It was one of my targets for the trip.

This bird became number 258 on my Oman list.

profile of pied wheatear

The bird was very approachable probably because it had other concerns being busy feeding all the time. This is classic behaviour of a passage which want to get on with its journey.

back of pied wheatear

Elsewhere on the site, I once again checked the collared doves for African collared dove. However once again they were all Eurasian collared dove.

Peering over the garden wall, there is a clump of trees which contained several more Eurasian collared dove, several house sparrow and a Menetries's warbler. The latter bird was only seen by me for the first time in Oman a couple of hours before in Haima.

Eurasian collared dove

Back within gardens there were also two Isabelline wheatear and one northern wheatear along with the one pied wheatear. Wheatears are among the earliest migrants in spring.

Isabelline wheatear

I am beginning to formulate a new plan for the April's desert trip (remembering I go into the desert once a month). I may base myself at Ghaftain. I like what i have seen so far.

After leaving Ghaftain, I stopped next at Muntasar. This was on top of the stop at dusk the day before.

It was too late for the typical morning visits of sandgrouse and there were only a few changes from the day before. 

wood sandpiper

The two wood sandpiper which have been present most of the winter were more approachable.

Tawny pipit

The six yellow wagtail had moved on. Instead I found two Tawny pipit in nearly the same spot.

With their upright stance and seemingly long tail, I initially mistook them for Richard's pipit. However on examination on photos I can see their backs are poorly streaked, the hind claw isn't long and the face pattern is better for Tawny pipit too. I would also expect more streaking on the breast.

second picture of tawny pipit

After Muntasar Oasis I pressed on to Dowkah farm where I added another species to my Oman list which I hadn't expected but which in retrospect was always possible. I will blog about that next.

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