Wednesday 23 December 2015

Birding for larks in Sohar

There is substantial flat land with plenty of seed bearing plants in the Sohar area. It looks good for larks and so it proved to be on Saturday.

Hanne and Jens Eriksen took me to this area which we had also visited for a shorter time late on Thursday. 

On Saturday we were out birding early hoping for plenty of larks. Instead of larks the first species we saw apart from myna and house sparrow around the hotel was grey francolin.

grey francolin

The most important place to find was a water filling station for trucks where spillage meant small but effectively permanent small pools.

crested lark

Parking up and just waiting for larks to appear was a good strategy. The crested lark with the very large crest above was actually seen on the Thursday visit.

All the other birds pictured on in this blog were observed on Saturday.

black-crowned sparrow lark

Crested lark and black-crowned sparrow lark were about equally numerous in this area and made up the majority of birding visitors to drink.

bimaculated lark (back) with greater short toed larks

The third most common lark is a winter visitor unlike the previous two which are probably resident. It was greater-short-toed lark.

However a much more interesting lark joined one small group of greater short-toed lark at one of the pools. This was a bimaculated lark.

bimaculated lark

It was not unexpected as it had been reported in the area. Nevertheless it was another addition to my Oman list in what was becoming a very good weekend for the list.

house sparrow and Indian silverbill

A couple of times we moved away from the pools to search for a putative tree sparrow which has been reported but not confirmed. If confirmed it would be a first for Oman. Unfortunately our search found only house sparrow and Indian silverbill despite our best efforts.

skylark 1

On our return, a skylark was among the visitors to the pool. We had seen two briefly on Thursday afternoon but these views were much better. It was yet another addition to my list.

skylark 2

Larks were not the only birds drinking. From time to time Namaqua dove and laughing dove would arrive too.

Namaqua dove

A final non-lark sighting was a single corn bunting which came to drink twice.

corn bunting 1

This was the seventh new bird for me in Oman over the weekend. This left me feeling the trip was highly successful.

corn bunting 2

I am indebted to Hanne and Jens Eriksen for their company and help on this trip. They chose the sites and I could not have hoped for better on one of my rare northern visits.

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