Sunday 8 November 2015

East side compendium

I continue to visit some regular haunts east of the city. Three of the four places receiving the most attention have been Ayn Hamran,  East Khawr (Khawr Dahariz) and Wadi Darbet. The fourth has been Khawr Rori which I will blog about separately.

I am picking out only some highlights for this blog.

At Ayn Hamran, I always consider it a success if I see black-crowned tchagra. This probably happens in about one in three visits.Most success is at the bottom end of the site but not exclusively.

black-crowned tchagra

On my most recent visit I encountered a masked shrike.  Last winter one stayed all season even though its normally an uncommon migrant. I have yet to check if this one will do the same.

masked shrike

The local lizard population gets hammered while grey-headed kingfisher is here over the summer.

grey heron eating a lizard

This time it was a grey heron I found eating one.

grey heron continues to eat a lizard

The grey-headed kingfisher population is starting to fall. This is peak time for their winter migration to Africa.

grey-headed kingfisher at Ayn Hamran

Water levels rose last week in the khawrs following rainfall associated with cyclone chapala. I have made a mental note to check out East Khawr for crakes now that the reeds edges are wet again.

In the meantime, East Khawr has not been very accommodating to me with special birds.

squacco heron at East Khawr

One of my jobs there is to check all the squacco heron for any Indian pond heron. I don't really understand why I have only seen one this season so far compared with many more this time last year.

squacco heron 2 at East Khawr

Varying numbers of marsh harrier roost directly to the east of East Khawr. Each day they terrorise the local birds.

marsh harrier 1

This one looked particularly ominous.

marsh harrier 2

Dahariz Park is only a 3 minute walk from the khawr but it is surprising how many birders give it a miss despite its proximity.Two oriental honey buzzards spent much of last winter there. 

leucistic common myna

My last visit was not so exciting though with a partly leucistic common myna provided some interest.

leucistic common myna

Trips to Wadi Darbet are normally eventful. Not infrequently they include a Bonelli's eagle chasing its favourite food of grey heron or other heron family member if it can't get it.

I saw this plated out again on my last visit though the heron got away screaming.

greater spotted eagle

In total contrast to Bonelli's eagle, the grey heron and western reef heron down by the waterside seemed relaxed near a visiting greater spotted eagle.

tree pipit

Not too many tree pipit winter in Arabia but Wadi Darbet is the best place I know to find them.

African paradise flycatcher

Though a much more common bird in Dhofar, the density of African paradise flycatcher in Wadi Darbet is probably as high as anywhere in Arabia.

long-billed pipit

Long-billed pipit is a bird of the slopes but some come down into the valleys on occasion.

The next blog looks exclusively at another site east of the city, Khawr Rori. Among the birds, it features a look at a colourful vagrant.

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