05 January 2014

2013 - The Year That Was!

I thought that there is merit to provide a summary of the birding high's and lows for Kuwait in 2013. I arrived in Kuwait in late 2006 and in that time local and visiting birders have added on average 4 new species to the checklist each year.

2013 exceeded the average with 6 new species added, including the magical milestone of the 400th species. Fittingly this bird, a Streak-throated Swallow, seen in the last month of the year was a true vagrant and only the 2nd record for the Western Palearctic.

So, below is a month-by-month blow of some of the highlights of what was a great birding year for Kuwait.

The 2nd Horned Grebe found at Jahra Pools Reserve

Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
The 16th White-crowned Wheatear seen at Jal Al Zor

White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

The 3rd Ashy Drongo that was in Fahaheel Park for a few days

Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
The Mesopotamian Crow at Jahra Pools Reserve was a new species for me

Mesopotamian Crow (Corvus c. capellanus)
The 3rd Masked Wagtail arrived at Jahra Pools Reserve

Masked Wagtail (Motacilla a. personata)
The 1st Collared Flycatcher, European Greenfinch and Taiga Flycatcher all found at the oasis farm of Al Abraq - unfortunately I couldn't connect with any of these vagrants.

I found the 18th Black Stork soaring over Jahra Pools Reserve

Adult Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)
Pretty exciting was the discovery of a pair of Near Threatened Ferruginous Ducks breeding for the very first time at Jahra Pools Reserve. In fact we observed 3 clutches of ducklings over a few months, but are not sure if these were produced from one or more pairs of Ferruginous Ducks. Water levels at the reserve had been consistent and still are and this produced the conditions required for these ducks and many other species to breed at Jahra Pools in 2013.

First clutch of Ferruginious Duck (Aythya nyroca) ducklings at Jahra Pools Reserve
I also added the two sub-species of Red-throated Bluethroat to my Kuwait list; White-throated Bluethroat taken by my son Jaden at Jahra Pools Reserve

White-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia s. cyanecula) 
and Caucasian Bluethroat seen at both Jahra Pools and Al Abraq

Caucasian Bluethroat (Luscinia s. magna)
The 5th Grey Phalarope was found at Jahra East Outfall

No vagrants or rarities were recorded in the hottest month of the year

The 17th Black-winged Kite (2 birds) were resident at Jahra Pools Reserve for around a week

1st year Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
The 2nd Indian Pond Heron (2 birds in breeding plumage) were at Jahra Pools Reserve for a few days

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii) in breeding plumage
The 3rd Pygmy Cormorant was also found at Jahra Pools Reserve, but was a one-day bird

The 1st Striolated Bunting was seen at Tahla in SAANR and also only stayed a day. I managed to see the bird, but had a photographic lapse of memory, so missed capturing the bird on pixels.

The 4th Booted Warbler was seen again at Tahla in SAANR, almost a year to the date of the 3rd record in the same location

Booted Warbler (Iduna caligata)
Numerous records of Crested Honey Buzzard during the autumn raptor passage migration

The 11th Sooty Falcon was seen at Khuwaisat

The 13th Spur-winged Plover (2 birds) as seen at Jahra East Outfall

The 7th Pallid Scops Owl as seen at Jahra Pools Reserve (late Oct) and Jal Al Zor (and early Nov; we suspect the two records may be of the same bird). This image courtesy of my friend Bouke Atema who found the Jal Al Zor bird

Pallid Scops Owl (Otus brucei)
The 10th Eversmann's Redstart at Al Abraq - a cracking and obliging male bird

Male Eversmann's Redstart (Phoenicurus erythronotus)
The 1st Goldcrest, also at Al Abraq. Initially one bird was seen, but on a subsequent visit 2 birds were seen

Female Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
The 6th Zitting Cisticola was also found at Al Abraq by yours truly and Markus Craig

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)
The 2nd Striolated Bunting for the year was discovered in Wafra

The 1st and 400th bird for the Kuwait Checklist, a Streak-throated Swallow was discovered in a mixed Hirundine flock at Jahra Pools and sadly was a one-day bird

Streak-throated Swallow (Petrochelidon fluvicola) and 400th bird for Kuwait
The 2nd Taiga Flycatcher for the year was discovered at Sabriya Farm

Taiga Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla)
The 10th Desert Finch was found by yours truly south of Khiran Village

Desert Finch (Rhodospiza obsoleta)
A pair Common Chaffinch were present at Al Abraq for a couple of days and was a new species for my list

Female Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 

As you can see, another pretty good year for both vagrants and rarities in Kuwait.

In terms of personal highlights, I was able to connect with 4 of the 6 vagrants (but dipped on the Collared Fly and Greenfinch) and finished off the year with 250 species (out of the 400). Plus, there were a number of species recorded during the year that I didn't catch-up with, although I had seen these in previous years.

Some of the notable omissions or species not recorded during the year (as far as I am aware) include; 

Great Crested Grebe, Common and Demoiselle Crane, Red-wattled Lapwing, Eurasian Golden Plover, no Sandgrouse (other than those killed by shooters in the north), Rufous Turtle Dove, Indian Roller, Bimaculated Lark, Dunn's Lark, Oriental Skylark, Ring Ouzel, Mistle Thrush (in fact another poor year for Thrushes in general), Kurdistan, Humes and Hooded Wheatear, Richards Pipit and Cinereous Bunting.

We trust that with the growing interest in birding and numbers of new birders and photographers joining the more experienced birders that 2014 will be another bumper year in Kuwait

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review.. and great shots... love the bird count.
    please include me in your next birding in Kuwait.. thank you.