13 November 2018

After the rain

Week 45, 09 November 2018 - Al Abraq, Dairy Farm Pivots + Jahra Farm

We had very heavy rains all through the night, resulting in flooding in some coastal areas. It took quite a few detours due to road closures to pick up David Syver from Holiday Inn in Salmiya before we headed west to Abraq under dark skies. The road across the desert to the farm gates were also flooded and this is the first time I have seen this amount of water in the desert in 10+ years.

Many of the roads in the farm also had big pools of water, quite a spectacle and this should be good news for desert flora in the coming weeks and month.

Driving through the gate, the first bird we heard then finally saw was a Common Chaffinch in the gloom (record image). There was also a Coot on the newly filled pond at the house - quite bizarre.

Common Chaffinch

Slowly the clouds lifted and it got a little lighter and it was only then that birds became a little more active. Many Common Chiffchaff's were seen and heard

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Two Eurasian Sparrowhawk's barreled past us, with one landing briefly in a tree in front of us. This one had unusually red and blotchy underparts, but also with a supercilium! We suspect it is a young male, but the supercilium is not right?

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Omar Al Shaheen had found two Hume's Leaf Warbler (11th record for Kuwait) a few days back. Whilst checking the one location, we suddenly had a flying ant eruption that suddenly caused a lot of bird activity for the passerines. Chiffchaff's were the most prevalent, but Blackcap and Red-breasted Flycatcher also put in an appearance. We knew the Hume's should be around and a brief play of the call got a response and it was soon actively feeding amongst the Chiffchaff's - but very seldom stayed still for long. Nevertheless we still got some decent views

Hume's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)

By now the clouds had parted and the sun was shining, in one of the fields we had numerous Water Pipits and lesser numbers of Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

A single Pallid Swift was seen passing by overhead

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

We then headed to the Diary Farm Pivots and amazingly almost all of the water in the desert had soaked in. Walking around the pivots, we had numerous Eurasian Skylarks, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtails, one Northern Lapwing and two Caspian Stonechat's

Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

As there was not much else and weather was still favourable (more rain was coming later), we headed east to Jahra and spent an hour walking around the various farms. A small flock of Hypocolius was a pleasant surprise at Ali's farm

Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

And this rather large Persian House Gecko on the farm pump-house

Persian House Gecko (Hemidactylus persicus)

This time amongst the Water Pipits, we had three Tree Pipit's

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Along with the wintering White Wagtails.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

And a Squacco Heron that we flushed unexpectedly

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

By now the clouds had rolled in and obliterated the sun and rain was imminent. Walking back to the car, we saw a medium sized raptor drop down from high in the sky and watched it land in a Palm Tree for a safe roosting place ahead of the coming storm - a dark form Booted Eagle

Dark form Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)

It had started to rain again, so rushed back to drop David at the hotel and by the time I got home through hectic traffic, it was raining full tilt again.

06 November 2018

Passerines and predators

Week 44; 03 November 2018 - Pivot Fields

I had the opportunity for a few hours at the Pivot Fields which was appreciated. as usual, I was at the gate pretty early and the morning started off quite overcast and gloomy following some well overdue and enjoyable rain earlier in the week. 

I first checked for roosting raptors, no big eagles, but the Long-legged Buzzard was reasonably tolerant before flying off to a different part of the farm

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

At the big pool, an unexpected Eurasian Wryneck popped out of the reeds.

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

Whilst a very young Daurian Shrike was sitting out on a stem waiting for the morning to warm up

Juvenile Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Close by, there was a pair of European Stonechat's

European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

A slow drive around the pivots produced a few more Daurian Shrikes

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

This one quite well-marked compared to the others seen

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Only one Pied Wheatear was seen today amongst the more numerous Isabelline's

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

And a striking male Desert Wheatear also put in an appearance

Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

I recorded three Mauryan Grey Shrikes 

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius l. pallidirostris)

By now the clouds had dissipated and it had warmed up a little and a few Greater Spotted Eagles drifted overhead

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Both Marsh and Pallid Harrier were present with the Pallid giving some impressive flyby's as it scattered Wagtails and Pipits in its path

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

Birds scattering from below

I saw a small pocket rocket streaking low over the field and was really impressed my camera could get focus with such a busy background, it was a Merlin which I was thrilled to see hunting

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

A little later a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk made a dash to the row of tree's - possibly the same one seen last week?

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

I went to search for the Northern Lapwing flock which is now 100+ birds - they were pretty skittish and when they flew by I checked for Sociables without success, but there was a Black-winged Pratincole in the flock

Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni)

There were a few more Common Kestrel than last week also seen hunting over the fields

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Whilst this one had managed to catch a rather large Grasshopper

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

I found a pool of water on the side of one of the roads and enjoyed some of the wintering passerines coming in to drink, feed and bathe. Caucasian Water Pipit numbers have increased dramatically from last week

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus s. coutelli)

As has White Wagtails

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

This one had me scratching my head - but it was a 1cy Western Yellow Wagtail in transition from breeding to non-breeding plumage

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)

I then called it a day and on the way back to the gate saw the unmistakable silhouette of a Roller on the wires - I briefly slowed down and only then realised it was an Indian Roller. But it flew off when I made a u-turn, so it took some time to relocate it as the clouds rolled in and the sun disappeared. My camera struggled to lock focus even though the bird was static albeit quite far off - so these images just for record purposes

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

As it flew, I noticed the Black-winged Kite was sitting on the telephone pole close to me - I managed a few images as it flew by and later had it hovering over the field. I think the heavy cloud had brought in some water vapour as again I struggled to get clear images

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus)

Oops, he has seen me!

So, despite the inclement weather to start it was a pretty successful and productive morning