24 February 2013

Jahra Delivers

Week 07, 18 February 2013 - Jahra Pools and Farms (Click to enlarge image)

We had a perfect clear and calm morning and I needed to get out of the apartment as options were limited, I headed to Jahra Pools hoping to see one new species and get better views of another.

I headed to the area where I had previously glimpsed Afghan Babbler, but after some patient waiting had no luck, nearby however I did find a cracking male Little Crake skulking around the reed base of one of the smaller pools.

Male Little Crake (Porzana parva)
I enjoyed a male Graceful Prinia singing and displaying his heart with lots of tail wagging and posturing in an attempt to attract a seemingly disinterested female.

Displaying male Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

Checking the bigger pool I noted a mixed flock of Ducks, consisting of Gadwall, Mallard and Shoveler but they were too far off for an image. A slow drive to the bigger and more open western pool produced a number of Common Chiffchaff

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
A pair of White-tailed Lapwings were sitting quietly on the side of the road

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
followed by an obliging Common Kingfisher..

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
A Harrier flushed a few ducks from this pool and I was able to get a grab image of a pair of Ferruginous Ducks (10th record for Kuwait) flying overhead. 

Male and female Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca)
There were good numbers of young Green Toad's (not more than `1.5 cm in length) hopping around on the road and around the reeds

Young Green Toad (Bufo viridis)
Whilst driving slowly around on a 2nd loop, I was talking to my late Dad as if he was sitting in the passenger seat next to me and comparing the Pied Crow I used to have as a pet growing up to the Mesopotamiam Crow that has been seen at JPR on a number of occasions - when all of a sudden, a shadow passed over my car and I got a brief glimpse of the Crow flying over. It landed in some distant trees and I was able to get a distant view before it dropped into the cover of the tree. Not much later it came flying out with something in it's beak and landed on a mound a little closer this time, but into the sun. It seemed to be a young bird (sparrow) that it had perhaps pulled out of a nest in the tree. These are just record images and I hope to get better images if I can get closer next time.

Mesopotamiam Crow (Corvus c. capellanus)

Thanks Dad and I continued driving to the Babbler location, again without luck. There was a rather large explosion from where the workers were working on the trench for the pipeline that put up many birds, including 4 White-tailed Lapwings. 

Two of the four White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
I found where they had landed and just as I was watching them, a single Western Cattle Egret landed in front of me and this bird is synonymous with my late dad and was his way of confirming that he was with me this morning when I was talking to him.

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
I really felt great and thought it was a good time to leave, but stopped to chat to Khaled Al Ghanem at the gate of the reserve. We had just started chatting when I saw out of the corner of my eye the Afghan Babbler drop off the roof of the office into some shrubs - we both grabbed our camera's and enjoyed the next 15-minutes having this amazing bird hopping about 5m in front of us....we couldn't have asked for better views of what is a relatively difficult bird to see up close.

Afghan Babbler (Turdoides c. huttoni)

While we were watching the Babbler, a Libyan Jird popped out of it's burrow amongst some flowers. Abdulrahman confirmed that it is Libyan Jird as it is the only species with dark claws. The dark colouring and banding threw me off a little, but we concluded it may be moulting.

Libyan Jird (Meriones libycus)
Before heading home, I popped into Jahra Farms to check for early spring arrivals, but instead found a single male Hypocolius feeding quietly and quite cryptically on what appeared to be the last date palm with any dates left. 

Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)
Today turned out to be quite spiritual morning and with some great birds seen, so I drove home with a warm feeling in my heart.

20 February 2013

Sahara Alba's

Week 07, 16 February 2013 - Sahara Golf Club (Click to enlarge image)

Whilst my son was having his golf lesson on the simulator at Sahara due to inclement weather, I had a quick stroll around the 18th hole.

At this time of year, there are still many White Wagtails around though the majority are still in winter plumage. On the 18th there were two Wagtails, this one in  typical winter plumage

Winter (non-br) White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
and another almost in full breeding plumage

Summer (br) White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

A morning in the South

Week 07, 14 February 2013 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City (Click to enlarge image)

I spent a morning down at Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City in the oldest part of the project exploring the pristine lagoons and each of the 4 small islands.

Interestingly, very few passerines were seen, but I did photograph a few of the many large Dragonflies seen on the islands. I believe this is the male, but not sure of the species - however one of my readers has suggested that it could be Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger), so I will go with this identification.

Male Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger)
And this is the female of the same species.

Female Vagrant Emperor (Anax ephippiger)
In the shallow water just off one of the islands beaches, I came across a massive shoal of small fish that should have been a smorgesbrod for the few Grey and Western Reef Herons that were about...but strangely, no birds were taking advantage of this easy meal. I quite liked the symmetry in this image

Shoaling Fish
Swimming against the flow

Coming through
Time to change direction

Organised chaos
I quick trip off shore gave a single Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
And a few of the expected Great Cormorants with some males now in full breeding plumage.

Male Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
After the boat, I explored some desert areas finding two early Spring arrivals in the form of a distant Marsh Sandpiper

Early Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
and a few Ruff against the light

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

11 February 2013

Fahaheel Park Delivers

Week 07, 11 February 2013 - Fahaheel Park (Click to enlarge image)

Andy and Nicola Hulet had notified me of a possible Ashy Drongo that they saw at Fahaheel Park. Later they were able to get a distant image that clearly showed the long forked tail of a Drongo.

I visited the Park yesterday to see if I could relocate the bird, but without success probably because the park had quite a lot of pedestrian traffic. This morning I was back much earlier and relocated the bird as it aggressively chased some of the resident species around the Park near the MacDonalds.

3rd record Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)

This will be the 3rd record for Kuwait if accepted by KORC, the 2nd record was one of two birds recorded at Jahra Farms on 7th December 2010.

Of interest an early Masked Shrike was also seen

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

A male Ruppells Weaver in full breeding plumage, possibly coming from the breeding pair at Green Island was in full cry, but was not co-operative to have his picture taken?

02 February 2013

Mr and Mrs Rüppell's I presume

Week 05, 01 February 2013 - Green Island (Click to enlarge image)

I had a spare hour before I needed to attend a meeting, so had a brief walk around Green Island on a gloomy and rather drizzly morning.

There were no dates left on the date palms, so no Hypocolius were seen, although the weather may have also played a role.

I did however find the 'resident' Rüppell's Weavers that have been at this site for almost 2-year now; first the female

Female Rüppell's Weaver (Ploceus galbula)
and right behind her, the male

Male Rüppell's Weaver (Ploceus galbula)
The trees were quite barren, so I was able to count the nests the male has made that were still hanging abandoned in the trees - 15 all together. What is interesting, is that it seems it is just this pair present on Green Island - so not sure if fledged juveniles have dispersed or if they have been unsuccessful in breeding?

3 of the 15 Rüppell's Weaver (Ploceus galbula) nests
Also seen was a single Spanish Sparrow

Male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
and this rather dark form or just plain dirty Eurasian Collared Dove

Grubby Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)