16 February 2015

Guiding to kick the year off

Week 01, 02 January 2015 - Al Abraq and Jahra Pools Reserve

We enjoyed and survived the festive season and a here's to a prosperous new year to us all.

Neil Tovey and I were guiding a keen Australian birder Jono Henshaw who was passing through Kuwait on route to Sweden.

It was an early pick-up as we had decided to first head west to Al Abraq to be at the farm just after sun-up. On route from the city to the farm, the temperature dropped 6 degree's, so we had a much colder than planned start. We picked up 2 Steppe Eagles that had roosted on the deck overnight. Once at the farm, we elected to walk first, but unfortunately not too much about - disappointing in fact, considering how the year ended off with many good birds found at the farm. Nevertheless, we did find the Hume's Leaf Warbler and a small Flycatcher that was more likely to be Taiga than Red-breasted at this time of year - unfortunately, it was Red-breasted (see poor record shot below).

Poor image of Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva), enough to show it isn't Taiga
There was a small flock of Corn Buntings, but no sign of anything interesting amongst them.

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Neil picked up the Goldcrest on call and after some time we finally got eye's on them (there were 2) - even more difficult to photograph

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus coatis)
As the farm was not producing, we cut our losses and headed back to Jahra. First stopping at Jahra Farm where we 'lucked' a single Hypocolius (a much wanted bird for Jono) and saved ourselves a trip to Green Island.

Male Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)
We then headed across the 80 highway to Jahra Pools where we spent a productive afternoon picking up a few good birds for Jono. We got the hat-trick of Stonechat's;


Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)


Female Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

And Byzantine

Male Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus) showing it's distinctive tail pattern

Male Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)
A number of Greater Spotted Eagles

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

The impressive talon's of  a Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

In one area, we found around 10 Jack Snipes and I was able to catch-on in flight as it whizzed past - no mean feat with a heavy piece of glass - again a testament to the 1DM4 AI Server and good follow focus technique!

Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus) at speed
Grey Herons and Western Great Egrets were down on the sea side

Departing Western Great Egret (Ardea alba)
As was an Isabelline Wheatear which Jono was happy to twitch

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
White-winged Terns were in full breeding plumage and had us scratching our heads as to their timing

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) in breeding plumage
The pools had a number of duck species, all but these Mallards were quite some distance away

Flock of Mallard's (Anas platyrhynchos)
At one of the pools, Neil picked up and called a Ruddy Shelduck - a bird I have been wanting to see for a good many years. Later on I reported the sighting to the manager of the reserve only to discover that it had been released into the reserve after been donated from a private collection, so that was disappointing but also encouraging, I guess.

False Alarm - Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)
As the day wound down, I picked up a 'murder' of Starlings in the distance trying to figure out where to roost for the night. But in doing so, the flock created some unusual shapes in the sky as they wheeled and turned in unison

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

No comments:

Post a Comment