Monday, 6 April 2015

Dowkah farm before the sandstorms

I started out my monthly long distance trip with a stop off at Dowkah farm about 180 kilometres north of Salalah. I arrived there in late afternoon on Thursday.

It was not the best start in terms of passage birds which was my main reason for going north this month. 

Almost the last bird of the stop provided the most interest. A female Menetries's warbler decided to come right out into the open for a prolonged time.

Menetries's warbler 1

As I have written before in previous blogs, I can't be sure that all Menetries's warbler are passage birds since some winter in suitable clusters of trees and bushes in the desert and semi-desert areas especially in wadis and near farms.

Menetries's  warbler 2

As I was watching the bird, an ominous dust storm was heading towards me. In the distance I could see the bright blue sky being eaten up by dust clouds.

Menetries's warbler 3

As the dust approached, the bird went for cover. The skies went pink and all birding was finished for the day. All that was left was to drive on carefully to my over-night stop at Ghaftain resthouse a further 230 kilometres north west.

red-throated pipit

Earlier at the farm I had trouble with identifying a pipit which at one stage I thought could be a vagrant meadow pipit. However in one photo there is a vaguest hint of a red throat even though the mantle is very poorly marked for that species. The long hind claw helped me rule out tree pipit which is the most common migrant pipit seen on pivot bars. So I believe it must be a poorly marked red-throated pipit.

red-throated pipit 2

As usual many larks were seen at the farm. The greater short toed lark may no longer be there but the resident hoopoe lark and black-crowned sparrow-lark were easily seen.

hoopoe lark

Black-crowned sparrow lark is incredibly common in the desert areas directly north of Salalah.

black-crowned sparrow lark

Only one type of wheatear was observed. These were a very small number of lingering desert wheatear which have been on site all winter. Wintering and passage Isabelline wheatear weren't seen. The other wheatears were probably only here fleetingly on passage.

desert wheatear

Two harriers were observed in different parts of the farm. A pallid harrier was seen over a remote pivot field.

pallid harrier

A marsh harrier was observed near the large cluster of trees and bushes.

marsh harrier

Dowkah farm didn't give me anything special but the weekend was young. I was more than happy by the time the weekend was over.

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