Thursday 21 May 2015

Mudayy in the heat

Sunday was my first birding since getting a bad cold. I chose to make a desert trip starting before dawn. The idea was to head to Mudayy oasis looking for my target Dunn's lark on the way, look for African collared dove in the village and then head on to the Shisr desert farming district by a back road.

I had no luck with the lark on the way to Mudayy. Dunn's lark is a true nemesis bird for me and now in two countries: Saudi Arabia and Oman.

However the birding around Mudayy village was still worthwhile.

Every time I have been there, chestnut-bellied sandgrouse have been near the ayn (spring) itself.  

I went into hiding behind some bushes at the ayn at around 8.30 am to see if they would come into drink.

Several groups flew past or circled round almost continually.

chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

Then at 8.50 am, the first group landed to drink. These were followed by successive groups in the next ten minutes then it all went quiet.

two chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

They mostly only stayed at the water's edge for less than two minutes.

several chestnut-bellied sandgrouse

The most common visitors to the water while I was hidden were European collared dove. There was no sign of the hoped-for African collared dove.

European collared dove

Buzzing around the spring were several Nile valley sunbird. I found them easily compared with my very first visit back in November when I came to Mudayy for the main purpose of a "guaranteed" sighting of them. Of course they are found throughout Dhofar but this is more certain than most.

headshot of male Nile valley sunbird

This time the males were in breeding plumage which apparently they gain in February or March.

male Nile Valley sunbird

Near-by there were several blackstart. Indeed below was the first picture I took with my new camera. House sparrow and white spectacled bulbul were other obvious birds there.


I moved away from the spring and into the main part of the village still looking for African collared dove but only finding European collared dove in large numbers and laughing dove.

Indian house crow

On strange sight was an lone Indian house crow. These are normally coastal birds. Apparently a single bird has been there for several months now but I hadn't seen it before.

Namaqua dove

Not sure I have a Namaqua dove in the village before either.

male hooded wheatear 1

Another surprise was the presence of both a male and a female hooded wheatear. This was a first for me in Dhofar although I had observed one a 1000 kilometres north east near the town of Adam. They are supposed to like "desolate, barren, rocky ravines gorges and deserts." This one was on a wire in a village!

male hooded wheatear 2

After leaving Mudayy I took aback route to Shisr. I added another bird to my country list which was also in an unexpected place. I will blog about that next.


  1. So what is your new camera?

  2. John, you may not believe this but I am light infantry when it comes to cameras. I like to move fast and see a lot so I go for bridge cameras. This one is Nikon P610. I do research before I buy and both the Canon SX60 and Nikon P900 have too big a zoom for the size of sensor. In other words they are worse and more expensive. I know these ideas are contentious but we all bird in different ways and believe different sources. R