22 May 2017

Raptors and reedbeds

Week 42, 02 October 2017 - Khuwaisat and JPR

We had a day off for the Prophets Birthday, so I was able to get out for a few hours to check on the raptor migration.

I took a slight detour to reach the same location as last week, but not quite as early, so I did miss some of those that had already departed. 

I found a roosting pale morph Booted Eagle.

Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
Later, I had both morphs soaring above and past me - I cant make up my mind which of the two I prefer?

Dark morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

I found a good spot, parked the car and waited. I was unexpectedly rewarded when a large female Sparrowhawk burst out of cover and nailed a Eurasian Collared Dove - I only managed a record pic as it flew back to the trees with it's breakfast

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) with Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Much fewer Steppe Buzzards were seen this morning and also not much in terms of plumage variation

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

Synchronised Steppe Buzzards (Buteo b. vulpinus)

A single soaring Steppe Eagle was also seen

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
As well as another Pallid Harrier pretty high up.

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) 
A few more Sparrowhawks burst out of cover and flew low across the desert

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Another raptor flew out and directly away from me - the record shot suggests one of the Falcon species - but that is as far as I can get - it never did bank or turn!!

Falcon sp?
By now the raptors had thinned out completely, so I headed to JPR to check if any had stopped for a drink - obviously the winds were favourable, so they had all continued on their way south. A Common Snipe was seen in one of the pools

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Warblers were also seen foraging on the edges of the reedbeds, first a Great Reed

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
and later Indian Reed

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)
White-throated Kingfisher are almost guaranteed at JPR

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
This female Pintail had me going for awhile, as a female Red-crested Pochard (2nd for Kuwait) had also been present earlier in the week - but not to be on this occasion

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
A couple of White-winged Terns were foraging over one of the larger pools

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
and a Turkestan Shrike (karalini) was seen in the drier part of the reserve.

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius p. karelini)
From one of the observation towers, I saw a few fish - clearly there are a couple of pretty decent size fish in these pools - great for the Osprey when it eventually turns up.

Fish sp.

Finally, the anticipated raptor fest

Week 40, 30 September 2017 - Khuwaisat

I'm sure many of you may have thought I have given up birding and blogging, due to the long absence since my last post. It was just one of those 'slumps' where the number of pictures I took surpassed the time I had to process and post them and the further behind you get, the harder it is to motivate yourself to start again....

Giving up birding - that wont happen, but there are times when it does slow down or other priorities take precedence or are more important. Well, I have made a dent in my processing backlog - at least for 2016, so will post these and in parallel try and catch-up those captured in 2017.

The end of September is always anticipated as this is when raptors start passing through Kuwait on their way south. The trick is to find an area where they may have roosted overnight and then find a place early enough, to watch them depart.

I did arrive before sunrise and while trying to find a good spot came across a juvenile Egyptian Vulture, that was probably the star of the morning judging by how many birders/photographers photographed it. The light was not great, but a good start nevertheless.

Juvenile Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

A Steppe Eagle was also still on the deck on the pre-dawn gloom - but didn't stay too long.

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Both morphs of Booted Eagle were seen, although light was not great as there was dust in the air which is never great for decent images

Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Dark morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
The predominant species were Steppe Buzzards, some roosting on the stunted desert flora and others on and in the trees on the inside of the farm. Almost all colour morphs were seen during the course of the morning.

An assortment of Steppe Buzzards (Buteo b. vulpinus)

European Honey Buzzards were also seen and again a number of different plumage variations in the younger birds. No Oriental Honey Buzzards on this occasion...

Juvenile European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) 

Juvenile European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus) 

During the course of the morning, birds were passing overhead all the time, so you really do have to keep alert and watching. Eurasian Sparrowhawks had a different tactic - they burst out of the trees, opting to fly low and fast across the desert, rather than soar with the Buzzards

Female Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Male Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
A few Asian Shikra's were seen a little higher up than the Sparrowhawks

Asian Shikra (Accipiter badius cenchroides)

A Black-eared Kite also drifted by

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)
As did a Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) 
The Egyptian Vulture stayed for some time and was more photographic later in the morning when the light improved.

Juvenile Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

A drive across the desert gave a wary Short-toed Snake Eagle surveying the land from the top of a berm

Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
And a pretty unperturbed Greater Hoopoe Lark foraged seemingly oblivious to the raptors overhead

Greater Hoopoe Lark (Alaemon alaudipes) 
All in all a most enjoyable morning, with pretty good abundance and diversity of raptors. 

I'm also glad to break the 'camels back' (excuse the desert pun) and get back on track with my posts!