05 March 2016

Sea and Desert and the Year End

Week 50, 12 December 2015 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City, Khiran

This will be my last posting for 2015, before we head off on our much anticipated winter holiday to Austria. Prospects don't look encouraging for a white Christmas as Europe experiences one of it's warmer winters in December. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the break and enjoying the culture of a new country.

The usual stop produced a few expected winter birds; Water Pipit

Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Desert Wheatear

Female Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
and this 'darkish' Wheatear hunched up in the cold is probably Isabelline (thanks Yoav)

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
Driving to the Marina, I had a small flock of Desert Finches (a small localised population in the south) feeding with a larger flock of House Sparrows

Desert Finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta)
Out on the boat, I found a pair of Black-necked Grebes on the lagoons, my first record of this species in the south of Kuwait

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

A Great Black-headed Gull was another welcome 'new' arrival - this is one Gull species that I really do enjoy

Great Black-headed Gull (Leucophaeus ichthyaetus)

There were also numbers of Gulls on the beaches, with one of the birds showing a particularly orange rather than yellowish bill...

My friend Yoav has given a few pointers for these few below; the moult of the bird below is more typical for heuglini

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)

The two below could be the same taxon, either heuglini or barabenis. But if they are heuglini, then they are extremely pale individuals

Heuglin's or Steppe Gull (Larus f. heuglini or barabensis) with a more 'orange' bill

In amongst one of the Gull flocks on the water, was a possible Baltic Gull was present. Yoav mentions that this Baltic is not 'perfect' - it is on the very pale end of Baltic and head streaking is too heavy for a classic Baltic. 

Perhaps a winter plumaged Heuglin's could also be considered, as the light at the time was pretty dull and that can play a role?

Possible Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)
A couple of dark phase Western Reef Herons were also patrolling on the beaches

Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)
After the boat, I found some reed habitat where a Little Grebe was seen - this also my first record of this species in the south of Kuwait.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
I then headed to the desert area finding Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
and a female Finsch’s Wheatear

Female Finsch’s Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)
a good bird to end the year on!

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