24 October 2014

Finally, some Raptors

Week 39, 26 September 2014 - Khuwaisat, Mutla'a Ranch and Jahra Pools

This was a boys birding morning when my son Jaden joined Neil Tovey and I to check for migrating raptors. We were at Khuwaisat just as the sun started peeping over the the Gulf; sadly so were quite a few shooters - although most seemed to be targeting Quail judging by the volume of the calls that were being played out of boom boxes to attract these diminutive game birds.

One not so lucky Quail; big gun for such a small bird!
As the sun slowly rose, we had a few Harriers and Kite on the move and then we came across a medium sized raptor that had us going for some time, as it was flying away. It eventually landed in a distant tree and we managed to get around 100m away without disturbing it - we had debate as to its identity but finally agreed on Bonelli's Eagle. A few gun shots from the shooters chasing Quail put it up again and it landed quite a distance away before disappearing over the 801 and into SAANR.

Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciatus)

There were a few larger raptors that had also roosted overnight, from a distance these were Greater Spotted Eagles.

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
A few Steppe Buzzards also came out of the Casarina Tree's from the farms in this area later in the morning where they had roosted for the night. This image giving an idea of the desert habitat these birds pass through on migration

Migrating Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)
An Isabelline Wheatear was seen sitting high on one of the berms enjoying the early morning sun

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
As we were leaving, Omar Al Shaheen alerted us to a European Honey Buzzard that was still roosting on the deck.

European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
We then headed to Mutla'a Ranch on the top of the ridge hoping to see some other raptors as they came soaring over - but no luck with that idea. However, whilst we were there we got the message that two Levants Sparrowhawk had been found soon after we had left the Honey Buzzard - damn!

Nevertheless, we worked the Farm, finding a few Pallid Harriers

Male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
and one of the first Red-breasted Flycatchers of this autumn passage

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
My son found a Darkling Beetle and was patient as I took a photo of it crawling up his arm. According to Wikipedia; the Darkling Beetle is the common name of the large family of beetles the Tenebrionidae. The number of species in this family is estimated at more than 20,000 and the family is cosmopolitan.

Darkling Beetle from Kuwait
Soon after, we also found a Schmidt's Fringed-toed Lizard

Schmidt's Fringed-toed Lizard (Acanthodactylus schmidti)
Without much more to be seen, we headed back to sea level to spend an hour at Jahra Pools Reserve although by now it was pretty hot. A few waders were seen in their winter plumage; Little Stint

Winter plumage Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
and Dunlin

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
and finally a juvenile Grey-headed Swamphen disappearing quickly into the reeds proving another successful breeding season for this species at JPR

Juvenile Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)


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  2. great information... thank you sir.