19 January 2019

A slow start to 2019

Week 02; 12 January 2019 - Al Abraq, Dairy Farm Pivots and Jahra Farm

The 2-weeks spent in South Africa for Christmas and New Year was most enjoyable; really great to see my family again, catch-up with friends, enjoy good food and wine and relishing the time in our own house after many years of having it rented. All too soon, it was time to head back to the desert....

The sunrise this morning while waiting for Paul Scott was reminiscent of a tropical island, but this was mid-winter Kuwait (and it was cold) - it was still spectacular.

Tropical Sunrise in Kuwait

We headed west to Al Abraq and stopping to photograph a few camels grazing in the desert just after sunrise. The desert is a fine carpet of 'green' following the unseasonable rains in December.

Post rain grazing

Birds take a lot longer to become active in winter, so for the first hour we were a little lost. Eventually we came across a pair of European Stonechat's that were still roosting in one of the fields.

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

As it warmed up, so the numerous Painted Lady butterflies became active - they were literally everywhere.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

We had a couple of other species, but really nothing out of the ordinary. We cut our losses and headed to the Dairy Farm Pivots, only to have it cloud over. No Skylarks, but there were a few Greater Short-toed and numerous Water Pipits.

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus s. coutelli)

Back toward Kuwait City and a detour to Jahra Farms, at least here there was a little more diversity. We had a pair of obliging Rose-ringed Parakeets feeding on fruit in one of the trees.

Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

I found Hypocolius for Paul, one of his 'wanted' birds

Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

And most of the other regular resident's were also present.

Yesterday, Paul and I planned to have a fresh fish lunch at All Kout fish market. while we waited for them to open after Friday prayer, we found a place behind the market to check out the Gulls. Many of the adults have completed their moult's, so this made ID a little easier only one Caspian

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

A couple of Heuglin's

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)

And many 1st/2nd year birds that are still tough to separate (at least for me they are)

Gull - tbc

Gull - tbc

Gull - tbc

A couple of Continental Great Cormorants passed by..

Continental Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sinensis)

In the end, we didn't have our fish, as it was over a 2-hour waiting time to have it grilled - so that was a little disappointing. Next time we will be earlier.....

19 December 2018

A wild Pipit chase

Week 50; 15 December 2018 - Pivot Fields

Paul Scott and I met Neil Tovey at the Pivot Fields just after sunrise on a glorious winter's morning - no wind, clear sky and just cool enough for a fleece. Visiting birders had reported a possible Blyth's Pipit earlier in the week - a first for Kuwait if accepted by KORC. So we thought it was worth a try to see if it was still around. After meeting at the gate, we split up to better cover the farm. The Daurian Shrike seen yesterday was still present.

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Neil was the first to get onto a big Pipit that flushed in one of the more open fields and we joined him to try and re-locate it. We managed to find the bird, but it was distant and flighty. Paul and I managed to get some record images that had us all a little uncertain. Certainly the shape of the dark centers in the median wing coverts seemed to change shape, depending how the bird was standing and it was difficult to assess the size of the bill at the distance we were and we never managed to see the legs exposed. We later concluded that this was a Richard's Pipit

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

We then got onto another or 2nd bird and this was a lot more approachable - no doubting that this bird was a Richard's

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

We suspected there were definitely two, but possibly three birds present amongst Water and a few Meadow Pipits as well as Skylarks and Crested Larks. While scanning the fields we had a single Eurasian Golden Plover give a low fly by - this bird is still a rarity in Kuwait

Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

After Neil left, Paul and I continued finding a couple of raptors overhead as the temps warmed up a little. A few Black-eared/Eastern Black Kites

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)

With a Steppe Buzzard together with them

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus) and Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

We also had 3 Long-legged Buzzards

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

The highlight though, was a magnificent Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

Today there were two Indian Rollers, but still we weren't able to get as close as we would have liked

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

After this we called it a day, but agreed that this is one of the better sites in Kuwait and are really fortunate to have access again. Sadly Jahra Pools seems to be a little neglected in terms of both reed and road management lately.

This is my last post for 2018 and I'm really pleased to have overcome the backlog and am now current. Wishing all who celebrate, a very happy Christmas may 2019 be all that you wish for and more. 

South Africa here I come for 2-weeks!

Pottering around the Pivots

Week 50; 14 December 2018 - Pivot Fields

I had a few hours to spare in the afternoon, so headed to Pivot Fields to see if there was a marked difference in birds between the usual morning sessions. 
The road around the entrance gate was still very soggy and muddy following the rains a few weeks back.

Although the afternoon session felt quieter some good birds were still to be seen - I was alerted to this cracking Masked Shrike by it's alarm call and spent a good few minutes watching it hunt from the pivot. It's amazing how frequently it wagged and cocked it's tail

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

A slow drive around the farm, produced some Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

A single Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)

and a couple of vocal Graceful Prinia's in their usual spot

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

I surprised an Arabian Red Fox who sprinted across the fields - of course when they feel they are a safe distance away, they always stop and look at you. They look so much 'healthier' with their thick winter coats

Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes v. arabica)

There were a few Raptors, although I expected a few more coming in to roost for the night - nevertheless, Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

a few Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

and a Steppe Buzzard was not a bad haul

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

The flocks of Northern Lapwing had increased in size. I didn't manage to find the Sociable Lapwings, but there are at least 4 somewhere in the dispersed flocks of Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

In one of the fields a single Siberian Stonechat

Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

I managed to connect with the Indian Roller, but it was difficult to get close - but he did fly past with the sun behind me for a change

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

There is still a large standing pool of water in one of the fields, but surprisingly very few birds. I had this Little Egret coming in to land

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Then shortly thereafter, leaving

I enjoyed the antics of the 'Camel' Egrets feeding on the numerous flies on the Camels back

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

I tried to photograph some of the Larks/Pipits flying out of the fields and this was the only one I was successful with - I suspect it is a Skylark

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Before I knew it, the light was going and it was time to head home. These days it is now dark just after 5pm!