Monday, 28 March 2016

Plenty of passage at Ghaftain

Ghaftian is my preferred over-night stop when I do desert weekends. It is however 140 kilometres further away from Salalah than the main alternative at Qatbeet.

It is a difficult call as to whether the extra 280 kilometres during the weekend is worth it. In return for the extra driving and extra time you add the location of Ghaftain itself but also near-by Muqshin. The two prospects together make me more certain of its value as the overnight stop.

I will blog about Muqshin next.

Ghaftain was showing signs of heavy passage as I hoped.

There were no fewer than five pied wheatear crowding the small gardens.

pied wheatear at breakfast

One of the pied wheatear which is shown in the first two pictures dropped down into the internal courtyard as I was eating breakfast outside. Luckily my camera was on the table.

pied wheatear at breakfast 2

I had earlier seen a different one which was ridiculously tame.

second pied wheatear

It walked up to me within two metres on two occasions. It wasn't stupid though. It kept a wide berth from the feral cats which are such a hazard here (and also at Qatbeet).

second pied wheatear 2

There were both male and females around.

third pied wheatear

From the black and white of pied wheatear to the vivid colour of a blue-cheeked bee-eater. One was seen on Saturday morning which was clearly intent on resting. It didn't move from the same tree for over an hour.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

My first common redstart of spring was also seen at Ghaftain. I wish it had chosen a different part of the garden further away from where the cats prefer. Nevertheless it was still alive when I left.

common redstart 1

This area of the garden is where the rubbish is dumped. It didn't seem to put the common redstart off.

common redstart 2

The pool and trees behind the walled garden often give the best birds of all.

rufous bush robin

A rufous bush robin was there. Another one was in front of the resthouse some 100 metres away.


However the main spectacle at the back were the warblers. I counted at least 12 chiffchaff. Though some have been present all winter, this is a higher number.

lesser whitethroat

There were slightly fewer lesser whitethroat.

second lesser whitethroat

There was a common whitethroat too which I failed to photograph.

two Menetries's warbler

Views of Menetries's warbler were exceptionally good.

Menetries's warbler

Cats were not the only feral animals at the resthouse. I often see foxes early in the morning. A fearless one gave me good views this time. By the way you may notice the house sparrow in front of it.

red fox (vulpes vulpes arabica)

In the next blog I will report on Muqshin which is 70 kilometres from Ghaftain. In desert terms this makes it a near neighbourhood.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting-looking Lesser Whitethroats - very pale and washed-out, without much of a mask. They look like some of the individuals in the article below. Presumably either halimodendri or blythi.