08 October 2019

Raptor Bonanza

Week 40; 05 October 2019 - Al Abraq

It had been some time since we last visited Al Abraq; the reason for not visiting is mostly due to the shooters who camp on the boundary of the farm shooting at everything that flies in or out of the farm during migration - so it is not a pleasant situation for any birder.

However, we are reaching the tail end of autumn migration, so Paul Scott and I decided it was worth the drive. Before reaching the farm we had seen Steppe Eagle, Pallid Harrier and the first Greater Spotted Eagles. There were a few shooters outside the farm, but fortunately they didn't stay too long.

No sooner had we arrived, when I heard the unmistakable call of Red-breasted Flycatcher. We stopped to walk and found 3 birds, but getting clear views was a real challenge.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)

There was also Thrush Nightingale, Blackcap's, Willow Warblers and a number of Spotted Flycatchers

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

I heard a raptor calling and found an adult Asian Shikra being harassed by an active juvenile bird. The adult was one of the most cooperative and relaxed that I have encountered for some time, although getting close and clear views was difficult, as I didn't want to put the bird under any pressure

Adult Asian Shikra (Accipiter badius)

Juvenile Asian Shikra (Accipiter badius)

Driving around the farm it was evident there were quite a number of Accipiters, most were Eurasian Sparrowhawk, but one with dark eyes stopped me in my tracks - Levant Sparrowhawk. It was quite hidden in the foliage of a tree, so getting clear views was difficult. This is only the 2nd time I have seen this species during my time in Kuwait

Levant Sparrowhawk (Accipiter brevipes)

Elsewhere we had Black Kite and a few perched Steppe Buzzards

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

A Long-legged Buzzard seen disappearing from view when we checked some standing water were the raptors were coming to drink

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

In the same pool, an unexpected Wood Sandpiper was seen with a Moorhen

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

On the way out, a dark Buzzard passed by overhead - it was a mad scramble to stop the car, haul out the big glass and get it in focus before it disappeared. Initially I thought dark phase Steppe Buzzard, but looking at the images on the back of my camera saw it was a juvenile European Honey Buzzard - sometimes tricky to separate if you don't get clear views in the field.

Juvenile European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

We met with some Falconers who kindly allowed us to photograph their birds - truly magnificent close up, although I would prefer to see them wild and free - but for sure, these birds are well taken care of. They do look pretty impressive with their headgear

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

So, 10 raptor species in 3-hours was a pretty good haul and I'm sure if we had stayed longer, may have added one or two more species that could have passed by overhead.

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