Late on the 6th December news filtered through that Dennis O'Sullivan who was part of an international group of birders birding in Kuwait had seen a dark-throated Hirundine at Jahra Pools Reserve that was initially thought to be a Plain Martin. Later in the evening the group had checked field guides and a few pictures that were taken in the fading light and confirmed that it wasn't a Plain Martin, but rather a vagrant Streak-throated Swallow! The images that were subsequently posted indeed highlighted the key features of this diminutive Swallow and further confirmed it's ID.
Despite its small size this is mega Swallow for Kuwait that resides primarily in India and Pakistan and is not considered migratory bird.
Aside from being a first for Kuwait, it also become the milestone 400th species on the Kuwait bird checklist and is certainly a fitting species for this title.
Searching the records, it appears there are 9 records for UAE (the last in January 2013), a record from Oman and 1 record for Egypt which was as far back as November 2003. So, for those the follow the BWP Cramp and Simmons 1977 definition of the WP, this Kuwait record appears to be the 2nd for the Western Palearctic.
Of course, as with all vagrants, you are never sure if they are one-day birds or not. With this in mind, I verified all the salient features again from the field guides as I surmised that the bird must have roosted overnight at the pools along with some of the other Hirundines that are still present during winter.
Needless to say I was at the JPR gate way too early with mixed emotions of doubt and some excitement the following morning and was content to watch the Black-crowned Night Herons returning to their daytime roost.
|Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) in pre-dawn light|
|Winter sunrise at JPR|
|Dew hung heavy in the air|
|Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) in pre-dawn light|
|Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) flying in for the day|
|Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia) busy with morning grooming|
|Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) contemplating the start of a new day|
|1st year Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)|
|Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)|
|1st-year Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)|
|Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) in the mixed flock|
|Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)|
Even with 800mm of glass, a small bird 50 - 100m away was a challenge just to track and hold it in the viewfinder to get a few record images (these are all pretty heavily cropped).
|Streak-throated Swallow (Petrochelidon fluvicola), a 1st for Kuwait and the 400th species on the Kuwait checklist|
At one stage it landed on one of the dead trees where 2 Barn Swallows were roosting, but seemed to be harassed by a Sand Martin who didn't appreciate this 'stranger' on it's turf
|Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) together with the Streak-throated Swallow (Petrochelidon fluvicola)|
|Streak-throated Swallow (Petrochelidon fluvicola)|
Lets hope it decides to stay with it's fellow Swallows and Martins, it should, as it really has nowhere else to go and given the great condition of JPR there is enough food to go around and of course a safe place to roost at night.