Saturday 16 April 2016

Mazyunah road on Friday morning

In recent weeks I have been alternating Friday drives into the desert between going north along the Muscat road and going north west towards Mazyunah on the border with Yemen.

Yesterday it was the turn of the drive to Mazyunah with the oasis of Mudhai and Wadi Aydam at Tudho being the main stopping points.

The passage is more concentrated in the desert than in the Salalah area but passage birds are not the only sights.

The first big stop was at the camel pens on the outskirts of Mudhai village. Camel pens are without doubt the easiest places in Dhofar to see sand partridge. Yet I have never seen the attraction of pens, particularly remote ones addressed in guide books. It's not just in Dhorar. For example in northern Saudi Arabia they are good for larks and rare winterers such as Finsch's wheatear.

female sand partridge

Although I left home well before dawn, I didn't reach Mudhai until past 8 am. I had driven slowly trying to pick out birds in the true desert on the way. My perennial target of Dunn's lark was not seen. However I collected a Turkestan shrike, Rufous bush robin and two willow warbler in isolated bushes.

Turkestan shrike in the desert desert

The bird density is much higher at the camel pens and if trees are around you could see the same birds with less effort.

a pair of sand partridge

The birds are often semi-habituated to people too and the resident birds are much less flighty.

European collared dove

This European collared dove is looking inside a tin drum which contains camel food pellets. Doves come in and out of these containers all the time.

European turtle dove

This European turtle dove has just come out of the container where it had been eating. Striolated bunting, laughing dove and sand partridge do the same or just take from spillage on the ground.

Inside the village I found two other doves: African collared dove and Namaqua dove. Along with wild rock dove (as opposed to pigeons) there are six types of doves relatively easily found in Mudhai at various times of year. All six are here at the moment.

African collared dove

It took me over a year to see my first African collared dove in Oman but now I pick them up regularly. 

Namaqua dove

Nothing extraordinary was seen next to the oasis pool. Though it where Nile Valley sunbird are most easily observed.

Nile Valley sunbird

In a shaded area next to the pool, I came across my first Dhofar toad. Apparently it is most readily distinguished from the more wide spread Arabian toad by the size of its ear drums.

Dhofar toad

As I have written before, passerine passage in spring in Dhofar is not great. It is also patchy which occasionally means many in one place.

rufous bush robin

I found no rufous bush robin in Mudhai except in one small spot where there were three. Near-by an eastern olivaceous warbler was seen in a bush.

I left Mudhai around 10.15 am. My next stop was Tudho for which I had bought a seat, some water and a bite to eat and aimed to sit for hours watching what birds would visit the water trough in Wadi Aydam.

I started well enough. Two striolated bunting were drinking on arrival. This was one species I had not seen at the water trough before.

striolated bunting

I had arrived too late for the morning's show of crowned sandgrouse and chestnut-bellied sandgrouse which drink there routinely. On the other hand was there at a different time from previous visits and so I expected the cat to be different.

desert lark

Desert lark were the coming and going all the time.

Since this blog only covers until midday I will blog next about what was seen in the afternoon at the trough and then on to Mazyunah. I am happy with the results.

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