SOHAR LAPWING SPECTACULAR

The critically endangered Sociable Lapwing, Sohar Sun Farms, Oman (Mike Watson)

SOHAR SUN FARMS IS UNFORTUNATELY CLOSING DOWN and we were very lucky to make what will probably be our very last visit to one of the most productive birding sites in the whole country. It has been noticeable that business operations have been winding down here for a number of years but the farm has finally reached the end of the line and even the cows were being trucked out during our brief visit. Many of the cow pens have fallen into disrepair but the sewage treatment tanks are still intact and we were delighted to find a couple of recently cut pivot fields of alfalfa grass. These have always been magnets for migrants, such as lapwings, larks, pipits and wagtails and it was the former that was the highlight of the day. After an extensive search we eventually found the small wintering flock of Sociable Lapwings. At first eleven birds were feeding on a sandy track by one of the pivot fields, before moving out onto the grass to join the many Red-wattled and a couple of smart White-tailed Lapwings gathered there. Counting again it became apparent that another three birds had joined them, making a total of 14 of this critically endangered species. WOW! This was more than most of us had seen in total in our lifetimes and flocks like this will soon be a thing of the past as they slip further towards extinction. It was a wonderful experience to watch them around our vehicle, feeding by shuffling a foot forward in the grass to disturb invertebrates and flashing their black-and-white wings as they moved to another area of the field. Few other birds could put the nearby super-smart White-tailed Lapwings in the shade! The grass fields also held some other good birds like: Pacific Golden Plover (10) Oriental (3) and Eurasian Skylarks; Richard’s and Water Pipits (both c.10) and a singing Corn Bunting, our first in Oman. Wagtails were scarce this time with predominantly White but there were a couple of Citrine and a single Black-headed.

White-tailed Lapwing, Sohar Sun Farms, Oman (Mike Watson)