Sunday 20 March 2016

Mid March at Al Beed

Last Friday was a very long birding day for me. I left Salalah well before dawn and arrived back well after dusk. In the meantime I birded four desert stops: Al Beed farm, Dowkah farm, Qatbeet Motel gardens and Muntasar Oasis.

I was very pleased with the results as hopefully be revealed in my next 3 blogs.

Al Beed was the first stop being only (sic) 90 minutes drive north of the city. Birding there was relatively pleasant as the temperatures are manageable early in the morning.

This was a story of pivot bars and wires. All my best birds came from them and not off the ground or in the sky.

As always there in early morning the first impression is the large number of European collared dove, black-crowned sparrow lark, house sparrow and sandgrouse. This time there were plenty of spotted sandgrouse and chestnut-bellied sandgrouse.

I knew things were going well when I spotted a male black-headed bunting on a pivot bar loosely associating with the house sparrow.

black-headed bunting 1

This bird is still in winter plumage and is very early on passage. It is only my second sighting in Oman.

black-headed bunting 2

It was not the only uncommon bird present. Near the main outbuildings a hypocolius suddenly flew out and landed on a wire near me though not in perfect light.

hypocolius 1

A small number winter at Mudhai about 80 kilometres to the south west to al Beed farm. Otherwise the bird is rare in Oman. It is plausible that this is one of the Mudhai birds on back migration.

hypocolius 2

Also near the main outbuildings was a flock of rosy starling which I have seen there on and off all winter.

A Tristram's starling in among the rosy starling

However one of the starlings was not rosy, It was a Tristram's starling. It belongs further south in the khareef zone (monsoon zone) near Salalah. Although this is only 90 kilometres directly south, Tristram's starling is described as a vagrant outside it.

rosy starling (l) and Tristram's starling (r)

The rare birds did not stop there. On a pivot bar was a strange looking pipit.

probable olive-backed pipit 1

With a strong but split supercilium as well as the rather plain and olive tinged back it is probably an olive-backed pipit. Furthermore, it also has a rusty tinge in front of the eye. 

There have only been 38 previous records and eight of these were at one place at one time (Hilf).

probable olive-backed pipit 2

I will have more discussion on olive-backed pipit in a forthcoming blog combining this observation with what was seen later the same day. 

wood sandpiper

As I have said so many of my observations at Beed were on wires and bars. Even wood sandpiper got in on the act.

Arabian grey shrike

At least the Arabian grey shrike (aucheri) was photographed on a bush.

Friday's desert trip started well. However there was more to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment