Thursday 28 May 2015

Jarziz round up

Work is very busy at them moment so most birding is very local to home as this takes up less time. Jarziz farm is one of the closest sites.  I have been visiting regularly not only because it is close but also to study the Amur falcon making their way through as much as I can before they are all gone for another season. 

They have not been the only birds of prey present.

Lesser kestrel have been observed in roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the numbers of Amur falcon.

female lesser kestrel

In many ways they are similar. Both eat mostly insects and both can be seen hovering before they catch prey which is near or on the ground. Their profile in the air is not dissimilar either.

lesser kestrel hovering

Less frequent birds of prey visitors have been Bonelli's eagle and Osprey.

Bonelli's eagle

Osprey is actually more common at the site in winter. It is only one kilometre directly from the sea and is not as surprising as you might think to see them there.


Between April 28th and my last visit on May 26th, there have always been at least two Amur falcon in the field.

perched female Amur falcon #1

I have noticed quite a lot of variation presumably between immature birds and adult females.

perched female Amur falcon #2

A few do not have an all white ground colour to their underparts.  This is also accompanied with a very short or non-existent moustache. I presume these are young birds.

perched female Amur falcon #3

The immature males can be subtly different too.

flying male Amur falcon #1

One of the main variations is the amount of dark streaking in the underparts.

flying male Amur falcon #2

The other main one is the lightness or otherwise of the neck.

chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

I still chestnut-bellied sandgrouse every time I go to the farm. It's a guaranteed place to see them.

marsh warbler

Marsh warbler are a spring passage phenomenon. Some days in late April and in May there are several in the long grass. Other days there are none.

pallid swift

One day there was a big influx of Forbes Watson swift early in the morning. There were at least 60 birds. My guess is they had just returned to Dhofar for the summer and were gorging. It only happened once. Most other days there are only a handful of swifts now the main passage of other swift types has finished.

In among the Forbes Watson swift I believe have been a small number of pallid swift though they are very difficult to separate. Not the very pale forehead in the bird above which helps me think that this one was a pallid swift.

European roller

European roller have still been passing through until the last few days. I think their spring passage has just about finished now.

One thing I like about birding in Dhofar is the unexpected. This happened this evening when I snatched a little bit of birding time before dusk. Continuing to see Amur falcon this late in the month was a little unexpected but almost walking into two spotted thick-knee was more so.

first spotted thick-knee

I hadn't see one this year but every time I have seen them I have been on foot.

both spotted thick-knee

I have also been lucky enough to see them in daylight each time though they are more active at night.

second spotted thick-knee

This was the most exposed place I have observed them without a bush within 200 metres. Despite this they were very difficult to see.

It was an enjoyable moment at the end of a hard week.

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