01 March 2015

Winter to Spring Transition

Week 08, 20 February 2015 - Al Abraq to Jahra Pools

Neil Tovey and I spent a good part of the day birding from the west to the east of Kuwait. We started off at Al Abraq at first light, but had a real challenge navigating to and getting to the farm as a heavy desert fog rolled in and enveloped us. It was quite weird driving blind in the general direction of the farm, trying to follow a faint track with less than 5m visibility.

We finally arrived, almost driving into the gates of the farm as they suddenly appeared out of the fog in front of us. We opted to walk first hearing lots of birds, but not being able to initially see them.

There was heavy moisture in the air with dew hanging off the tree's. It felt like we were not in Kuwait for the start of the morning - quite surreal and wonderful. Actually, this was the first time I have had such thick fog so far west in the desert.

Dewdrops from the desert fog
At the pond, a male Byzantine Stonechat seemed quite reluctant to move.

Male Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

As was a Mauryan Grey Shrike sitting in the gloom (some heavy editing in PS helped brighten an otherwise dull image)

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
Only around 8:30am did the sun start burning the fog away and this was when I discovered a solitary Western White Stork that appeared to have perched overnight on a fence. However, it wasn't too long before it decided to try and get airborne - but it still wasn't warm enough to generate the updraft required to get the lift it needed, so it stayed around the farm until later in the morning. 

Western White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

By this time, we had bright blue skies and many birds around. We picked up a late and skittish Red-breasted Flycatchers, but we were really surprised with the number of Byzantine Stonechat's with more males than females recorded.

Female Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

Male Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

There were small numbers of Willow Warbler interspersed with the many Common Chiffchaff's

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
And the few remaining White Wagtails

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
were now joined by Yellow Wagtails, all Feldeggs

Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. feldegg)
Bar one, which could be an integrade between two ssp

This could be a 'feldegg' x 'iberia' or 'supercilliaris' x 'melanogrisea'
A pair of Grey Wagtails were also recorded near the entrance and later at the reservoir

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

We had a single male Eurasian Sparrowhawk briefly overhead

Male Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Also a good few Eurasian Hoopoe's

Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
A flock of Barn Swallow had both Common House Martin and Red-rumped Swallow amongst them

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)

Near the fields, we picked up a Song Thrush, this one of the few that stayed a little longer out in the open

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
A Turkestan Shrike

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
And also a skulking Sedge Warbler (note the long PP) in the acacia's.

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
By now we had worked the farm pretty well, so decided to head east. 

On the road south back to the freeway, Neil picked up a small flock of thermalling Steppe Eagles

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
I went to Jal Al Zour to look for Crag Martin, but only found the White-crowned Wheatear which remained right at the top of the wadi against the light

White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

Neil tried Al Shallah Farm, but did not add anything new.

We met up again at Jahra Pools, finding a few Greater Spotted Eagle overhead

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
and for me a single European Stonechat in amongst a few more Byzantine's

Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) with a warm backdrop
Spring was certainly in the air this morning, but this changed later in the afternoon when Kuwait was hit with a sudden and severe dust storm that lasted through the night. By Sunday, we were back to winter temperatures following the heavy snow that fell in the western Middle East (Jordan, Lebanon etc.)

1 comment:

  1. Never thought that there was such a wide variety of birds in Kuwait..., good pictures!