13 January 2014

Banter, humour and target birds

Week 02, 08 January 2014 - Green Island to Jahra

I assisted Abdulrahman with guiding a group of birders (Phil, Trevor, Simon and Joel) who were in Kuwait for a few days after first visiting Socotra Island. We discovered that when planning a winter trip, always plan for around 4-days. As it turned out, their first 2-days was miserable weather (overcast, cold, rain and gusting wind), the 3rd day was almost perfect and the last day was a bank of thick sea fog all morning. 

When I picked the group up at 6:30am there was some pressure to find 2 of the target birds, Hypocolius and Crab-plover which they had not yet connected with, not surprising given the conditions. But also this late in the winter, Hypocolius is not as easier as at the start of the winter and not a given. The only place to go was Green Island, but of course at this time of the morning it is not open. We opted to speak to the guard on duty to see if he would let us in for 15-minutes to have a quick check, but he was adamant that he was not allowed to do this and firmly stood his ground. During our unsuccessful negotiation, I was scanning the tree's near the arch when I saw a single male Hypocolius fly in and immediately got the group onto it. While we were watching a few smaller groups flew in and in the end we counted 21 birds. When the shift changed, we were able to get a little closer to enjoy crippling views and all were in Hypocolius heaven.

I was able to get few in-flight images before my battery inexplicably died...

Part of the 21-strong flock of Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

Pretty striking in flight, Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

Nesxt stop was Kuwait Towers for Bank Myna (I know from Hypocolius to Bank Myna is anti-climatic, but it was a want species). No luck with the Bank Myna, but we did find a solitary Rose-coloured Starling (amazing for this time of the year). This picture was from the following foggy day, when I went back later in the morning after charging my battery

Rose-coloured Starling (Pastor roseus) in the fog
But, more surprisingly was the large number of White-vented Myna's seen (we counted over a dozen later in the afternoon). I had seen this species in late 2006 and parts of 2007 in Salmiya and then have not seen them again. It seems they did not disappear, but have rather multiplied in the last 5-years and may have displaced the Bank Myna's normally  seen at the Towers. This image, also from the following day in the fog.

White-vented Myna (Acridotheres cinereus), part of the unexpected flock
At Sharq Harbour, we found what seemed to be a large 1st year Gull that we couldn't id. Phil was able to get a few images and the consensus was that it was a large Caspian Gull. Again I was back the next day, but couldn't re-locate the larger gull from yesterday, but was able to photograph some of the other first year Gulls that I presume are Caspian's.

Probable 1st-year Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) in the fog

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We spent the rest of the day looking for the 2nd target bird and found a flock of 90 Crab-plover in Sulaibikhat Bay which we came back to later in the day for better views on the incoming light and also finding both Greater and Lesser Sand Plover. Near the Maternity Hospital we picked up a single Armenian Gull.

Our last stop in Jahra gave Dark-throated Thrush at Jahra Farms and Moustached Warbler, Red-spotted Bluethroat, Indian Reed Warbler, Little Crake and Citrine Wagtail at Jahra Pools.

Aside from the good day's birding, I enjoyed the good humour and banter with this experienced group of international birders.

And the quizzical look from this blue-eyed or is it green-eyed cat at Sharq Harbour, as I searched in vain for the large gull from yesterday.

You wont find that Gull today, mate!

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