14 December 2014

A mixed bag

Week 46, 14 November 2014 - Sulaibikhat and Jahra Pools Reserve

I was able to get out for a few hours in the afternoon (which made a change from early morning birding) and started at the outfall in Sulaibikhat; it was heaving with wintering Common Black-headed Gulls and a few larger white-headed Gulls amongst them.

Masses of Common Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
The next stop was near Entertainment City in Doha where earlier Neil had found Finsch's Wheatear - luckily I was able to connect to the same bird, but it proved elusive and kept it's distance using any available perch to have some elevation. No toilet humour, please!

Male Finsch's Wheatear (Oenanthe finschii)

Last stop was Jahra Pools which has water, extensive reed beds and is looking good for the coming winter. Late afternoon in the reserve creates a few challenges from a photographic perspective as for many of the pools you have the low winter sun in front of you. In one of the open marshy areas there were good numbers of waders; primarily Dunlin, but also numbers of Little Stint

A vocal Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Squabbling Little Stint's (Calidris minuta)
and a single Temmincks's Stint

Temminck's Stint (Calidris minuta)
In the same area, I watched what I assume was a family of Pied Kingfishers and managed to catch some mid-air interaction and squabbling between them

Mid-air squabble; Pied Kingfishers (Ceryle rudis)

I found at 3 male Citrine Wagtails, each with differing plumage's.

One of the 3 Citrine Wagtails (Motacilla citreola) seen

A vocal Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

as well as a late Yellow Wagtail

A late Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)
Near the outfall, a Purple Heron passed by overhead

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
In the pools, I captured a few of the duck species present; Northern Pintail

Male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) in the late afternoon
a male Northern Shoveller in eclipse plumage

Male Northern Shoveller (Anas clypeata)
and a Eurasian Teal

Female Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
and the Near Threatened Ferruginous Duck that has bred and been resident all through this and last year. I quite like the concentric ring frame around the duck.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
I have yet to capture a Grebe, Moorhen or Coot running across the water in panic - against the light, this Coot is the best I have managed so far. So, this action shot is still work in progress

Departing Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
As the sun started to dip toward the horizon (and it does so pretty early now), an Eurasian Sparrowhawk was seen looking for a opportune snack before bed.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
A Western Osprey came in to roost for the night

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) roosting for the night
A female Caspian Stonechat looked serene in the warm glow of the late afternoon sun

Female Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

Female Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii) in the golden hour

and lastly a Daurian Shrike that had found it's perch for the night, before I headed home for my dinner.

1st year Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

30 November 2014

The Start of a Mega Week in Kuwait

Week 44, 01 November 2014 - Jahra Area

We had an early cold front that probably had some influence on the week that was to come, but it started with a flock of 7 juvenile Greater White-fronted Geese that were seen off the Jahra coast. As it transpired, ours must have been part of a much bigger flock that found their way to the western Arabian Gulf; as there were multiple reports of flocks of varying sizes from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and UAE.

This was the 3rd record for Kuwait which absolutely delighted the local birders and photographers and as they were 1st year birds, turned out to be very tolerant of people, which was to their detriment in the short term. Initially there were 7 birds and this increased to almost 30 by nightfall when they found their way to a roost site. I was among the lucky few who was able to enjoy these special Geese for a short time.

1st year Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

A dedicated and committed photographer/birder with a tolerant and bemused Goose
Sadly, there is no happy ending to this 3rd record, as the small flock was decimated and killed by local shooters who trespassed into the area that they were roosting and obliterated them in one selfish and irresponsible act - depriving many others from enjoying what was a rare sighting of a very special species. Although the new environmental protection laws are supposedly in place, it wasn't evident on this occasion - but we live in hope that prosecutions will be forthcoming for the unmitigated and continuous killing of migratory birds in the future!

After enjoying the Geese, I spent a little more time in the Jahra area and found a roosting Steppe Eagle that was quite obliging and must have just been resting after an arduous flight. Quite spectacular to get so close to one of our bigger migrant raptors.

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Portrait of Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
A few other birds of interest were seen, a female Northern Pintail that was way more wary than the Geese

Female Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
A Little Egret 

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Followed by a White-tailed Lapwing

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
and a late Tree Pipit...

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
To follow on from what was the beginning of an epic 2-weeks in terms of rarities and vagrants we also had; 

3rd Greater White-fronted Goose (as in this post)
20th Dead Sea Sparrow
1st Hawfinch (new record for Kuwait and also part of a much larger eruption)
8th Sociable Lapwing
3rd Lesser Flamingo
12th Desert Finch
2nd Purple Sunbird

15 November 2014

Residents, migrants and visitors

Week 44, 31 October 2014 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

The weather did not play ball today, with wind and rising dust. Normal people stay indoors, but as birders we know that blowing dust gets the birds on the deck; so you have to be out and worry about valeting your car once the dust has settled, so to speak.

I started at some reed habitat just as the late autumn sun was rising, where I found a 1st year Long-legged Buzzard that had roosted overnight

1st year Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

A few Common Chiffchaff's were feeding along the perimeter and there were at least two sub-species

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita abietinus)

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - this could be fulvescens or menzbieri
A territorial Eurasian Reed Warbler made a brief appearance toward the intruders. This is the furtherest south that I have seen this species. No light and dark reeds; so I had to push the ISO

Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
A 1st year Red-spotted Bluethroat darted out and disappeared; I sat quietly for 5-minutes and it popped out again.

1st year Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

A Daurian Shrike as atop some reeds enjoying the early morning rays.

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
I inadvertently flushed a Squacco Heron who then proceeded to hunt stealthily along the edge of the surface water

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

A couple of White Wagtails dropped in and their numbers will increase over the winter

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
A female Desert Wheatear made a brief appearance

Female Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Inside the project, a few other species were seen; 1cy Pied Wheatear

1cy Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

and an Asian Desert Warbler, that stayed in the vicinity of the Pied

Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)
A female Mallard which was quite unexpected, this from the same habitat where I had seen a Garganey last month

Female Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
A brief excursion off shore had a few wintering gulls; this Steppe Gull was feeding on a dead Cuttlefish and it was a challenge in the big swells to stay on the bird

Steppe Gull (Larus f. barabensis)

Surprisingly a single Lesser Crested Tern was present on the buoy

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
As were 6 Socotra Cormorants that may over-winter as did a few last year

1st year Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
Slender-billed Gulls are also more prevalent in the south than Common Black-headed Gulls

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Finally, I explored around Khiran village, finding Mauryan Grey Shrike on the telephone pole

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)
and a distant Red-backed Shrike

1st year Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
In the desert area there were a number of Tawny Pipits

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
and a single Greater Short-toed Lark

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
A few more Wheatear species were seen; here a female Pied Wheatear

Female Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Another female and much darker Pied Wheatear

Female Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
as well as a good looking male Eastern Mourning Wheatear

Male Eastern Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens)
This rounded off a pretty productive morning's birding, despite the less than ideal weather which shouldn't keep you indoors!