25 August 2015

In memory of Dr Torben Larsen

Week 30, 19 and 20 July 2015 - Al Abraq, Mutla'a Ranch and Jahra Pools

Markus Craig and I decided to take the long drive to the west and explore the Al Abraq farm. We left the city early, to be there at first light, to check if there were any early autumn passage arrivals.

Initially we walked around the farm, a surprise was a single Steppe Buzzard that may have roosted overnight.

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)
When it heated up a little, we then drove around the farm and near the small cultivated fields found Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
and then a single Greater Short-toed Lark that challenged us for awhile, as we couldn't see the whole bird.

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
As there was not much else about, this turned out to be a short visit. 

The next day, I went out to Mutla'a Ranch on my own to look for birds and butterflies. 

The only bird of interest was a Common Kestrel sitting in the shade in an area where the fields were being watered.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
I found and photographed a butterfly I was unfamiliar with and sent it off to Dr Torben Larsen (who has kindly assisted me on numerous occasions in the past and also encouraged me to submit a paper on the Western Pygmy Blue that I found in Kuwait, which was a first for Kuwait) to help me with the ID. 

I was shocked and saddened to hear that this knowledgeable man had passed away since we had last 'spoken'. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge and author of many books and publications for butterflies of Middle East and Africa and for sure the world of Lepidoptera will be poorer without his presence in his field of expertise. However, his passion was infectious and will have undoubtedly spurred on many others to continue his work in this field andn in these regions. 

Dr Torben's good friend Steve Collins has since assisted with the ID and confirmed it is Lederer's Cupid, a new butterfly species for Kuwait

For you Torben; Lederer's Cupid (Chilades galba)
In one of the Alfalfa fields, I found a Crimson Speckled Footman, a small and distinctive moth

Crimson Speckled Footman (Utetheisa pulchella)
As there was very little else to be seen, I headed south to Jahra Pools and had a Black-headed Wagtail

Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. feldegg)
Calling Graceful Prinia that are breeding residents of this reserve

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
The Grey-headed Swamphen young are now fully grown

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)
A few early Little Stints have arrived

Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
The Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck are now present all year round and have successfully bred again this year

Adult and juvenile Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

An Upcher's Warbler was seen foraging in and around the reeds

Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida)
This Common Tern caught and managed to swallow this small fish whilst in flight.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) feeding on the wing
By now the temps were heading to the unbearable stage, the light was unsuitable so it was time to call it a day.

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