07 January 2015

Skulkers and posers

Week 46, 15 November 2014 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

Here we are in the New Year and I'm still trying to post my backlog from 2014, but I will persist until I'm up to date.

For this post, I was back down in the south of the country at the Sea City project in Khiran. A stop in the pre-dawn light at some suitable reed habitat produced a skulking Water Rail, my first record in the south of Kuwait.

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
A single winter plumaged Common Redshank was seen on the edge of some standing water

Winter plumage Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Later on in the morning, a single winter plumage Dunlin was also seen in the same open water

Winter plumage Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
On the banks of the lagoons a few large white-headed Gulls were seen, this was Heuglin's

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)
In and around the project, I had Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
and this stunning male Pied Wheatear (thanks Yoav)

Stunning male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
and a very similar looking male Desert Wheatear on the same fence

A young Great Reed Warbler played hide and seek with me in one of the larger trees in the project

1st year Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
I found a small flock of Western Cattle Egrets foraging in some of the ground cover - hey Dad!

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Exploring the desert area, there were unusually large numbers of Asian Desert Warbler passing through.

Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana) with stunning yellow eyes
As well as a few more Desert Wheatears, this one a female

Female Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Under the bush with the Desert Warbler, a Libyan Jird popped out of it's burrow.

Libyan Jird (Meriones libycus)
On the invertebrate side, I found a few Western Pygmy Blue butterflies

Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis)
as well as a few Mediterranean Pierrot butterflies

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosacea)
Although not many birds today, there were some good sightings to be enjoyed.

14 December 2014

A mixed bag

Week 46, 14 November 2014 - Sulaibikhat and Jahra Pools Reserve

I was able to get out for a few hours in the afternoon (which made a change from early morning birding) and started at the outfall in Sulaibikhat; it was heaving with wintering Common Black-headed Gulls and a few larger white-headed Gulls amongst them.

Masses of Common Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
The next stop was near Entertainment City in Doha where earlier Neil had found Finsch's Wheatear - luckily I was able to connect to the same bird, but it proved elusive and kept it's distance using any available perch to have some elevation. No toilet humour, please!

Male Finsch's Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)

Last stop was Jahra Pools which has water, extensive reed beds and is looking good for the coming winter. Late afternoon in the reserve creates a few challenges from a photographic perspective as for many of the pools you have the low winter sun in front of you. In one of the open marshy areas there were good numbers of waders; primarily Dunlin, but also numbers of Little Stint

A vocal Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Squabbling Little Stint's (Calidris minuta)
and a single Temmincks's Stint

Temminck's Stint (Calidris minuta)
In the same area, I watched what I assume was a family of Pied Kingfishers and managed to catch some mid-air interaction and squabbling between them

Mid-air squabble; Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)

I found at 3 male Citrine Wagtails, each with differing plumage's.

One of the 3 Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola) seen

A vocal Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

as well as a late Yellow Wagtail

A late Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)
Near the outfall, a Purple Heron passed by overhead

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
In the pools, I captured a few of the duck species present; Northern Pintail

Male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) in the late afternoon
a male Northern Shoveller in eclipse plumage

Male Northern Shoveller (Anas clypeata)
and a Eurasian Teal

Female Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
and the Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck that has bred and been resident all through this and last year. I quite like the concentric ring frame around the duck.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
I have yet to capture a Grebe, Moorhen or Coot running across the water in panic - against the light, this Coot is the best I have managed so far. So, this action shot is still work in progress

Departing Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
As the sun started to dip toward the horizon (and it does so pretty early now), an Eurasian Sparrowhawk was seen looking for a opportune snack before bed.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
A Western Osprey came in to roost for the night

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) roosting for the night
A female Caspian Stonechat looked serene in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun

Female Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

Female Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii) in the golden hour

and lastly a Daurian Shrike that had found it's perch for the night, before I headed home for my dinner.

1st year Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

30 November 2014

The Start of a Mega Week in Kuwait

Week 44, 01 November 2014 - Jahra Area

We had an early cold front that probably had some influence on the week that was to come, but it started with a flock of 7 juvenile Greater White-fronted Geese that were seen off the Jahra coast. As it transpired, ours must have been part of a much bigger flock that found their way to the western Arabian Gulf; as there were multiple reports of flocks of varying sizes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and UAE.

This was the 3rd record for Kuwait which absolutely delighted the local birders and photographers and as they were 1st year birds, turned out to be very tolerant of people, which was to their detriment in the short term. Initially there were 7 birds and this increased to almost 30 by nightfall when they found their way to a roost site. I was among the lucky few who was able to enjoy these special Geese for a short time.

1st year Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

A dedicated and committed photographer/birder with a tolerant and bemused Goose
Sadly, there is no happy ending to this 3rd record, as the small flock was decimated and killed by local shooters who trespassed into the area that they were roosting and obliterated them in one selfish and irresponsible act - depriving many others from enjoying what was a rare sighting of a very special species. Although the new environmental protection laws are supposedly in place, it wasn't evident on this occasion - but we live in hope that prosecutions will be forthcoming for the unmitigated and continuous killing of migratory birds in the future!

After enjoying the Geese, I spent a little more time in the Jahra area and found a roosting Steppe Eagle that was quite obliging and must have just been resting after an arduous flight. Quite spectacular to get so close to one of our bigger migrant raptors.

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Portrait of Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
A few other birds of interest were seen, a female Northern Pintail that was way more wary than the Geese

Female Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
A Little Egret 

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Followed by a White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
and a late Tree Pipit...

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
To follow on from what was the beginning of an epic 2-weeks in terms of rarities and vagrants we also had; 

3rd Greater White-fronted Goose (as in this post)
20th Dead Sea Sparrow
1st Hawfinch (new record for Kuwait and also part of a much larger eruption)
8th Sociable Lapwing
3rd Lesser Flamingo
12th Desert Finch
2nd Purple Sunbird