Tuesday 12 April 2016

Dowkah and Shisr

On the second half of Friday in the desert I visited Dowkah farm and then on the way back towards Salalah I deviated off to Shisr.

The weather become duller and duller as the day worn on. Finally at 5.30 pm at Shisr it began to rain moderately and for a prolonged period. My birding day was done.

As I have previously reported, I haven't had too much success with this season's passage.

The cluster of palm trees and the near-by bushes were virtually barren. Some really good rarities have been found there over the years.

One highlight at Dowkah was a rufous tailed rock thrush on a pivot bar.

rufous tailed rock thrush

All the wintering desert wheatear have gone. One late northern wheatear meant it wasn't a complete blank for wheatears.

northern wheatear

The number of summer breeding European turtle dove continues to increase liek at other desert stops.

European turtle doves, a collared dove and house sparrow

I counted 12 European turtle dove around the farm.

spotted sandgrouse

All the desert farms are good places to see both spotted sandgrouse and chestnut-bellied sandgrouse.

Abdim's stork

The collection of misfit herons and storks is still partly present. One each of western reef heron, Indian pond heron and Abdim's stork were still there. All other western reef heron have apparently gone.

Black-crowned sparrow lark are everywhere. Hoopoe lark are many fewer.

greater short toed lark 1

I spent some time trying to follow and identify a sole lark in the last field before I left. it turned out to be a greater short toed lark.

greater short toed lark 2

When they are in a flock, each bird is a look-out for all. Once one flies they all do. They are as nervous as the most nervous bird. However I found this single bird was much more easily approached.

My last stop was Shisr. 

Arabian grey shrike

In Shisr as at Al Beed and Dowkah there were plenty of young Arabian grey shrike around. This adult bird was close to a juvenile. It had been using the spikes on the palm bush as a ladder. When I arrived it was just finishing off a locust.

common redstart

I searched hard in limited time for any passage passerines. My best result was a common redstart.

developing male house sparrow

My birding was curtailed by a sandstorm which brought rain. The rain was welcome, the sand was not.

My three last sightings of note included a juvenile house sparrow just starting to moult into adult male plumage.

pallid harrier

The last two were both harriers. One was a female-type pallid harrier. The other was a female marsh harrier. As the pallid harrier flew up it crossed with the marsh harrier. Then the heavens opened.

If persistence really does pay, I should be rewarded eventually as I intend to go into the desert again on Friday.

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