Dowkah in early November

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Monday was the day of maximum impact of cyclone Chapala in southern Arabia. It’s main effect missed western Oman and struck central Yemen instead.Nevertheless it had some effect on Saeed Shanfari’s and my birding when we went out into the desert north of the Dhofar mountains.

Having set off at 4.30 am we arrived at Dowkah farm at 6.30 am. The cyclone gave us cloudy weather there all through the session there. Although the cyclone was very bad news for many, ironically it was good news for us. Birding was very pleasant.

We visited a field that was being watered next to the farm house first. Here we noticed a red-wattled lapwing. This is a bird normally found in northern Oman though some wander including this one.Saeed Shanfari captured it in flight.

Indeed many of the pictures in today’s blog are Saeed’s and I am very grateful that he has allowed me to reproduce them.

red-wattled lapwing (by Saeed Shanfari)

Two grey heron were attracted to the sprayers.

grey heron

Two little egret were present there too.

little egret


Having looked at this field we headed on foot towards the bushy and wooded area which is famous for its migrants.

steppe grey shrike

On the way we came across a pallidirostis steppe grey shrike. This is an uncommon wintering bird to Dhofar. In the bushes, we saw several migrants. There was a male common redstart, a male blackcap and two lesser whitethroat.

first lesser whitethroat

I came across them when Saeed and I divided up looking in the bushes. I took one end and he took the other.

second lesser whitethroat

At Saeed’s end there was a common whitethroat.

common whitethroat

At both ends and indeed throughout the farm there were spotted flycatcher.

spotted flycatcher

Huge numbers pass through Dhofar especially in autumn. Though the numbers are highest in September, they still keep coming.

close-up of a spotted flycatcher

Resident house sparrow are numerous in both the bushes and the near-by trees which included rows of palms.

house sparrow by Saeed Shanfari

Only one golden oriole was seen at the farm and this was high in the tallest tree. This was noticed as we moved from the bushes to the trees. The palms held two European scops owl, presumably the same birds I had seen a month before in the same place. Saeed has a passion for owls and he took some very good pictures.

European scops owl peeking (by Saeed Shanfari)

 I have been told that many European scops owl don’t survive the winter in Oman and the main evidence, if I understand correctly, is that they aren’t seen much after November.

European scops owl (by Saeed Shanfari)

I wonder if survival is the issue or whether many seen at desert stops further migrate to places such as the mountains of Dhofar alongside Arabian scops owl. I don’t think that people should automatically assume they have seen an Arabian scops owl just because it is a scops owl in a Dhofar wadi.

peeking again (by Saeed Shanfari)

All the time we were at the farm we kept seeing three marsh harrier. Mostly they were over the fields but sometimes over the wooded area.

marsh harrier (by Saeed Shanfari)

After the trees, we headed out to more fields. Desert wheatear numbers are now typically high for winter.

desert wheatear

Although only one golden oriole was seen, several European roller were still present.

European roller

Towards the end of our session at the farm, a flock of blue-cheeked bee-eater arrived.

blue-cheeked bee-eater

There are groups of tawny pipit as well as white wagtail in the fields.

tawny pipit

While desert wheatear are numerous, there was also a scattering of Isabelline wheatear.

Isabelline wheatear

One late common rock thrush was seen as one of the last birds before we left the site.

common rock thrush

 The cloudy sky had meant temperatures were much lower than usual. We left without the usual tiredness caused by three hours walking in the desert heat.  We went on to visit three more desert stops during the day. By the end of the day I had another addition to my Oman lst. I will blog about this next.

 

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Robert Tovey

Robert Tovey

Dr Rob Tovey is a scientist by training and more recently an English teacher. His profession allows him to travel to some of the more difficult-to-get-to places and stay there for years if his inclination takes him. He is a keen bird watcher, blogger and amateur photographer. He has worked in Azerbaijan and Libya and is currently in Saudi Arabia. Rob also has a base in Bulgaria so overall is becoming a bit of birding specialist in very general terms where East meets West.

Robert Tovey

Robert Tovey

Dr Rob Tovey is a scientist by training and more recently an English teacher. His profession allows him to travel to some of the more difficult-to-get-to places and stay there for years if his inclination takes him. He is a keen bird watcher, blogger and amateur photographer. He has worked in Azerbaijan and Libya and is currently in Saudi Arabia. Rob also has a base in Bulgaria so overall is becoming a bit of birding specialist in very general terms where East meets West.

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