02 March 2016

2-days with Dr. Matthew Binn - Day 1

Week 44, 30 October 2015 - Sulaibikhat and Jahra

At the end of 2015, my resolution was not not fall back into a processing and posting backlog - well here we are in March, and I have done exactly that!

In late October, I had the pleasure of guiding Matthew Binn for 2-days and this was guiding with a difference. Matthew's brief was to get great photographs of as many new species as possible, over the 2-days.

Unfortunately, the weather for the first day was inclement and cloudy to start when we arrived at the Sulaibikhat, to check out the Gulls feeding in and around the outfall. There were masses of Common Black-headed Gulls, interspersed with lesser numbers of Slender-billed and a few large white-headed Gulls. Some of which were quite challenging to ID....

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)

For comparative purposes, a Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) in an almost identical pose

Foraging Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

I suspect this brute is a possible Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

I'm unsure of  the ID of this pale-eyed Gull with light grey upperparts
Above the foraging Gulls, there were a few Tern species in non-breeding plumage - Whiskered

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)
And White-cheeked

White-cheeked Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
With not much more to be seen, we headed to Jahra Pools Reserve, where we spent most of the day, with the sun making an effort to burn through the cloud on a few occasions.

Matthew got on to a number of new species, the first was a female Ménétriés’s Warbler that provided a photographic challenge in the low light, as it popped in and out of a shrub it was foraging in.

Female Ménétriés’s Warbler (Sylvia mystacea)
Not much further along, we had this roosting Greater Spotted Eagle, but against the light and there wasn't much we could do to get into a better position

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
Driving around the reserve, Matthew asked if there was a chance for Citrine Wagtail, just as I got my bins onto one feeding on the edge of a small pool!

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
A female Stonechat proved to be a challenge and didn't turn around once. I suspect it is European, as there appears to be some subtle streaks on the rump.

Probable female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
There were loads of Common Chiffchaff feeding and foraging in the Phragmite Reeds around the pools

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Before lunch, we had a few Black-eared Kites fly up from one of the pools where they had landed to drink

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)

We had a lunch break and a quick stop at Jahra Farms where we got onto a few more new species; a Red-spotted Bluethroat that Matthew enjoyed and a pair of Eurasian Blackcap's

Female Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Back to Jahra Pools, where a Common Kestrel passed by quickly.

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
A Bonelli's Eagle had been present a few days back and when I picked up a medium sized raptor flying low over the reeds in the distance, I thought to myself that must be it. It never did come close, but when it gained some elevation, I could confirm it was indeed the Bonelli's

A distant Bonelli's Eagle (Aquila fasciatus)
There wasn't too much of interest on the pools themselves, other than this male Common Pochard, that appeared to be injured.

Male Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Also quite a few Western Marsh Harriers about, these 2 seemed to have some sort of aerial dispute.

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

During October, we had somewhat of a Pied Kingfisher eruption - not just in Kuwait, but seemingly across the Region. We found a spot in the reserve, where there must have been over 10 birds sitting on the causeway bridge, waiting for the right opportunity to dive onto a unsuspecting fish. I must say, their success rate was pretty good and we enjoyed a good 30-minutes enjoying their antics.

A clique of Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)

Female Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)

Male Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)

Successful catch - now to beat it to death....

The last bird of the day in the fading light was a good one; pity we had to push the ISO to get a half decent image of a White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
We had a great first day, lots in common and with a number of photographic firsts for Matthew, so that was really satisfying. 

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