20 December 2011

West and then East

Week 48 - 03 December 2011, Al-Abraq, SAANR and Jahra Pools Reserve

It had been months since I headed to the oasis farm at Al-Abraq, so this morning I was dressed warmly as the temperature was around 1 degree when I arrived just before 7am in the morning.

A Mistle Thrush had been reported here a few days back and that was my target species. This oasis can be hit and miss for the long drive, but today I wasnt disapointed - especially as the first bird I found was a Goldfinch and a new bird for me, which was chased off by a territorial Water Pipit before I could get my camera on it.

I was alerted by the call of a European Robin and eventually got onto it - I still find it surreal to see this bird in a desert, when we are so used to seeing it depicted on Christmas cards sitting on a tree covered in snow

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

I also found this quite 'cold' coloured Chiffchaff, but photographed against the sun - not sure what sub-specie it may be?

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

However, I did eventually get onto the Mistle Thrush, although it was very wary of me in the car, but not of the workers in the field.

Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)

The Mistle Thrush was certainly much bigger and paler (almost like a Rosy Starling from behind) than the many Song Thrushes that were about

Song Thrush spooked by a White Wagtail (Turdus philomelos)

Another Flycatcher had us debating the ID for quite sometime after I had shared the images with fellow birders as it showed features of both Red-breasted Fly and Taiga Flycatcher. However, after careful scrutiny we had consensus that it was Red-breasted Flycatcher and possibly a 2nd year bird.

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)

By now it was time to head to the next site, stopping only for this Masked Shrike still huddled on a branch trying to keep warm

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
Winter is the time for desert camps in Kuwait and in some areas there are literally hundreds packed together, but not so for this camper

Winter desert camp
I reached SAANR in mid-morning and by now the wind had really picked up, so that diminished some of the birding opportunities. Macqueens Bustard has been my bogey bird since arriving in Kuwait and only the week before did I get a distant view of one flying away from me out in the desert. So, what a surprise to find another a week later - but not easy swinging a 600mm in the strong wind with the bird flying at speed against a busy background - AI Server and Auto focus on my 50D was challenged. Nevertheless, this is the image I have until I get the opportunity to get a more obliging bird.

Macqueens Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii)
From here I headed to Jahra Pools, as I wasnt going to find much else in the wind. I parked off in a sheltered spot and waited for the birds to come to me, photographing Marsh Sandpiper

Non-breeding Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa Stagnatilis)


Male Gadwall with Coot (Anas strepera)

Female Gadwall (Anas strepera)
A Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
A few Coot

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
A single White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
And an early or late Little Crake

1st year Little Crake (Porzana parva)

The Pallid Swifts were hawking low over the water in the wind and using my older 20D and 400mm I tried to track them in flight. It was only then I realised how Autofocus technology had changed for the better between the 20D and 50D

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

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