31 October 2013

A grey wader day

Week 43, 24 October 2013 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

I again visited the Sea City project at Khiran, but this time did not get out on the water.

Driving around the project, I came across an area flooded with some ground water being pumped out of a construction site by a generator. When I stopped to scan the area I saw that a number of waders had dropped in to forage for food in this temporary wet zone, which is quite typical of migratory birds - they will generally take advantage of any area where there is water, especially in a desert environment. As can be seen from the image below, this surface water is hardly worth a look - but it was!

Temporary surface water
There was a pretty good variety of mostly winter plumaged birds in various stages of moult. 

A few Common Redshank's made a quick getaway as I got closer, but the Common Greenshank was a little more obliging.

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
The majority comprised of Dunlin which are not as common in the south as they are in the north of Kuwait

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

This was followed by a number of Little Stint's

Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Also present were a few Common Ringed Plovers

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

And Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)

Today there were almost no autumn passerine birds, as most have now passed through - it wont be long before the winter visitors start arriving as the temperatures slowly start cooling down.

20 October 2013

The Season Turns

Week 42, 19 October 2013 - Jahra Pools Reserve

The wind picked up a little yesterday and we had a fantastic full moon, so these conditions can favour both the lingering autumn migrants as well as the returning winter visitors.

Full moon
I was at the JPR gates around 6am on what was a calm, clear, initially cool and very pleasant morning. I must say, JPR is gaining popularity with birders and photographers alike and there were a few times where we had to exercise some patience all trying to photograph the same bird.

I found two Red-breasted Flycatchers, which was a first for me at this site. They really are charismatic little birds, but have a habit of always turning their back to you

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
Other winter arrivals included some distant; Black-necked Grebe's

Winter plumage Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
A couple of Common Black-headed Gulls

Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
White Wagtails which are now outnumbering the few remaining 

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), a winter visitor

Yellow Wagtails

Sykes Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)
Duck numbers are increasing, with a large mixed flock of Northern Shoveler and Northern Pintail seen in the large pan.

Mixed flock of Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Male and Female Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
All 3 species of Kingfisher were seen; White-throated

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
and Common have been around for some time

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

But Pied was a new addition during the week

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)
Great Reed Warbler were having a veritable feast on the swarms of insects around one patch of reeds

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) gorging itself
There was a small gathering of cars watching this juvenile Little Bittern (they probably bred in JPR this season) hunting along the side of the road. It seemed to favour the bright orange/red dragonflies and we watched it catch 3 in quick succession. I didn't have time to take the extender off my lens, so the images of the last dragonfly being quickly dispatched are almost portraits

Juvenile Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus )

I noticed a juvenile Purple Heron enjoying the less than intense sunshine

Juvenile Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
I caught up with Abdulrahman who was showing 2 new birders around the reserve. Chatting to Markus, we discussed the possibility of Pin-tailed Snipe occurring in Kuwait, since it has been recorded elsewhere in the Region. It is a bird I have also considered and looked for, but with no success. Checking on all the Common Snipes again

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
My heart did skip a beat when I found a much paler Snipe skulking in the reeds, but on structure I guess this is a young Common Snipe - but for sure we will keep searching

Juvenile Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
The White-tailed Lapwings were seen again

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
As was a distant Black-tailed Godwit; a Near Threatened species

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
and now only a few Spotted Flycatchers are left and should be departing soon.

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Rashed alerted Omar and I to a pale Greater Spotted Eagle that had landed behind the reeds to drink. After some time, it took off and soon thermaled out of site - this was fulvescens, the more uncommon form of Greater Spotted Eagle and a really smart looking raptor.

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga fulvescens)

Not long after it had departed, a Short-toed Snake Eagle drifted by overhead

Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)
Overall, a very pleasant morning out - but over the next week, autumn migrants will have passed through to their summer wintering grounds - no mega's this season, yet!

Some early winter arrivals

Week 42, 13 October 2013 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

Another visit to this impressive project in the south where I spent some time on the boat and the balance exploring various parts in a SUV.

Not much was to be seen on the lagoons other than the resident Kentish Plovers, however there was a small flock of Gulls that were roosting on the beaches. A few were Heuglin's

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)
But the other, more pale and lighter grey backed birds created some confusion, as they all had pale eyes. Generally Caspian has a small dark eye, and is the paler of the gulls that are found in Kuwait (I suspect these are Caspian), but if anyone would like to venture a different opinion, that would be great. Thanks to Yoav for confirming that it is Caspian.

Possible Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

Once out in the SUV, I explored one of the trenches that was brackish water and some regenerating habitat and found a single Common Redshank with it's red legs contrasting against the desert habitat

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
A Common Ringed Plover

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
and a juvenile Grey Plover, that had a yellowish tinge and appeared out of place in this habitat (the are almost always found on the coast in this location), so created a brief bit of unfounded excitement

Juvenile Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

A Greater Short-toed Lark was foraging along the banks of the trench

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
as were a few Pied Wheatear's that have now made an appearance

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

I drove further south toward Khiran town, but only added Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
and a male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)