Friday 1 May 2015

More migrants in late April

On Monday morning at work, a work colleague sought me out to tell me he had seen a bird hidden high in the canopy of a tree and seemingly asleep. He knew it was a nightjar too because of discussions we had had on birds I was looking out for.

European nightjar

Paul must have eagle eyes because it was hidden deep and high. Once he showed it me I realised no one had a camera other than on their phone. As I live locally, I immediately dashed home and back.

Luckily the European nightjar was still there.

European nightjar 2

It wasn't possible to photograph from many angles are the line of sight was limited. 

I am really grateful to Paul as I had not seen European nightjar in Oman before and it became species 273 on my country list.

The bird is paler than the nominate species and looks like unwini which breeds in Iraq and Iran. Dhofar is an understandable migration route for such birds.

I don't bird on Sundays and Mondays as work commitments take me late in the day so this was a real bonus.

On Tuesday though I found time in the late afternoon to visit Raysut settling pools. It is very hot now in Salalah during the day so I thought that being near water was my best hope of bird activity.

It turned out to be a correct assumption.

spotted flycatcher

The settling pools are all full and surplus water is being fed into the fields inside the plant perimeter. This is creating an excellent environment for birds as vegetation grows and the make shift marsh establishes. The water is flowing outside in places too. I visited the area outside first.

I immediatley came across a spotted flycatcher where I parked the car. It was the first of five.

marsh warbler

I could see warblers flitting about in considerable numbers. One was a common whitethroat. However the others were all marsh warbler. I counted five in the area outside the perimeter fence. One went deep into a bush and felt safe enough to sit still for three minutes and allow me excellent if partially obscured views.

outside the perimeter fence

One marsh warbler actually sat for a few moments on the fence itself.

marsh warbler on fence

After 20 minutes or so investigating this area, I headed back to the car to drive up to the main gate and go inside the plant.

However I stopped next to the car to observe the first grey-headed kingfisher of the summer. It has returned from Africa and is a breeding bird here.

grey headed kingfisher

It looked very thin but should soon recover once it starts eating the local lizards.

grey heron

This blog is solely about migrants and that includes not only passage birds and summer breeders but also wintering birds. There have been grey heron at Raysut settling pools most of the winter. I don't know whether this was one of them or is purely on passage. Either way it will go north soon along with other two seen on site.

little ringed plover

Likewise the little ringed plover and wood sandpiper present will migrate.

red-wattled lapwing

A red-wattled lapwing and the vagrant spur-winged lapwing are still associating. They wintered here but I have no idea what there next moves will be.

spur winged lapwing

Indeed they have been so close since the other red-wattled lapwing left, I had to check if they hybridise! Apparently the only known hybrids involving either of these species is spur-winged lapwing and blacksmith lapwing in parts of Africa.


The fifteen or so flamingo are still present too.

As well as looking out for the larger birds inside the site, I could hardly miss the marsh warbler in the long grass and short bushes.

marsh warbler

I counted a further 18 making 23 in total for the afternoon.The two in the pictures above and below may be on the same bush but they are different birds. Both were on the same bush for a while.

another marsh warbler

Marsh warbler are known to travel through Arabia in large numbers especially in spring even though it may not be the most direct route. When I input the number 23 in e-bird I had expected the database to say the number was excpetional. It didn't.

European roller

Needless to say, there were also European roller passing though and a rufous bush robin was also seen.

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