Friday 22 May 2015

Mudayy to Shisr

On leaving Mudayy, I took the Mazyunah road for the first time rather than the road back to Thumrait. The Mazyunah road lead to the border with Yemen.

I was still looking for Dunn's lark and I knew that golden eagle had occasionally been reported in the area. Although I saw the odd desert lark and hoopoe lark, neither of the target birds were observed.

About 32 kilometres from Mazyunah there is a turning off right which is signposted to Shisr and Dowkah. I took it.

The road is reasonably flat but it is not paved. 

The birding at the start of this road was very good indeed.

crowned sandgrouse

At a hamlet I stopped to look at some larks which proved to be desert lark (and a single black crowned sparrow lark).

Having stopped it soon became apparent there was more to this place than larks.

There was a single sandgrouse which I accidentally flushed. In flight its underwing looked like crowned sandgrouse and luckily for me, it landed where I could see it. I was extremely pleased to see it was male crowned sandgrouse. This has been a target bird for some time.

It has not been to drink the three times I have been to Muntasar Oasis. This is "standard" way that birders have tried to find this bird. 

I saw it in a completely different way. It was away from a watering hole and grazing.

crowned sandgrouse walking away

This hamlet was also unusual in another way. The doves here were all European turtle dove and I suspect this is a breeding site.

three turtle dove

I counted eight turtle doves.

desert lark 1

While this was the most interesting and fulfilling part of my journey from Mudayy to Shisr, more time was spent fruitlessly inspecting every lark I came across.

desert lark 2

The most common lark by far was desert lark whether the terrain was sandy (as in the start of the journey) or stony (as later).

desert lark 3

In the more rocky area, which was most of the 85 kilometres to Shisr from the original turn off, there was hardy a bird at all.

Just before Shisr, the terrain turns back to sandy again.

At Shisr, it was very hot indeed and it was towards the hottest time of day. I couldn't bird for long but I found an interesting spot.

spotted flycatcher

It was on the edge of a field with a row of trees and bushes adjacent to it. Here one of the sprinkler valves was leaking causing localised flooding of a small part of the field. It was a magnet for birds.

barn swallow

Each time a barn swallow made a sortie around the field, it would return to perch under a tree next to the flooded area.

two barn swallow

The bushes close to the valve held two marsh warbler. On two occasions they dashed for the water and bathed in it for a few seconds.

waterlogged part of a field

There was a common whitethroat in the same bushes.

common whitethroat

Every bird looked hot and most held their months open including the local house sparrow.

house sparrow

Apart from the barn swallow, the most common migrant was spotted flycatcher. I counted five. Even they took baths.

spotted flycatcher

By 1.30 pm it was time to drive home. However I have no regrets venturing into the desert on this hot day. The crowned sandgrouse alone made it worthwhile.

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