17 May 2014

The birds and the butterflies

Week 16, 19 April 2014 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

I'm spending a lot more time in the south at Sea City and around Khiran. This is primarily due to no access again to SAANR for reasons unknown to most (unless of course the real reasons are not being divulged) and restricted access to JPR. Access to JPR is now only during week-days and for only 3-days a week from 8 - 12; far from ideal timing for summer photography. These restrictions in a period when visiting birders are planning trips to Kuwait for spring migration. With these constraints, promoting Kuwait as a birding hotspot (which it is) is becoming a lot tougher.

Around the project, I came across a few Sykes's Wagtails, it seems most Yellow Wagtails have already moved on.

Sykes's Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)
A new butterfly for me was this Caper White

Caper White (Belenois aurota)
Moving out of the project, I explored much of the desert and coastal area to the south of Khiran village.

There weren't many spring migrants to be found in the desert area, but I did get Blue-throated Agamid, a lizard I hadn't yet recorded in this area, but one which should be more common

Blue-throated Agamid (Acanthocerus atricollis or Agama blanfordi) 

The coastal area was the most productive with many species of shorebirds sheltering on the spur and keeping out of the wind.

A few late blooming Cistanche lutea parasitic plants were still in flower

Cistanche lutea
A few Little and Lesser Crested Terns were roosting amongst the waders but took flight long before I even got close

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
I was able to get a few BIF of the larger waders like Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
And a Eurasian Oystercatcher, which was a new species for me this far south in Kuwait. They are certainly more abundant north of Kuwait City and around Sulaibikhat, Jahra Bay and Doha Spur

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Mid-sized waders were predominantly Grey Plovers

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
And Lesser Sand Plovers were present in quite large numbers.

Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius atrifrons)
In between the mixed waders a few Terek Sandpipers were also seen.

Mixed shorebirds; Grey and Lesser Sand Plover and Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
On the coastal side, a few Ruddy Turnstone  and Sanderling were seen foraging together.

Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Sanderling (Calidris alba)
And Willow Warblers were literally found gleaning on every bush on this small spur, fattening up for the last stretch of the journey north

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

07 May 2014

From Spring to Summer

Week 15, 12 April 2014 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

I was back down in the south and spring had suddenly been replaced by summer with temperatures now hovering close to 40 degrees by mid-morning.

I spent some fruitless time in the boat with very little seen other than the resident Kentish Plovers.

However, birding picked up when I walked a few of the islands in the main Khor with many of the usual passerine migrants making use of the habitat, as well as a few species that I hadn't encountered this far south before.

A single European Turtle Dove was found roosting in the top of one of the bigger tree's and later I found a small flock of 3

European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)

More unusual was a skulking male Little Bittern in the dense perimeter vegetation, the most southern record for me.

Male Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
Many of the other usual suspects were seen including, Eurasian Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
and Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Erythropygia galactotes)
Willow Warblers were the dominant Warbler and were literally seen everywhere

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
An Eastern Orphean Warbler was also the most southern record for me

Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris)
Also present was an Upcher's Warbler

Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida )
and numbers of Lesser Whitethroat, although with the con-colourous neck and nape, this one could be a possible candidate for Hume's

Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)

There were a number of Shrike species, most were Turkestan

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)
But one Masked was also recorded

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
A single male Whinchat dropped in

Male Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
The resident White-eared Bulbul's also made an appearance

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus l. leucotis)
and I struggled to get close to this White-throated Robin, as the temp turned up and started creating heat haze which a long lens really compounds.

White-throated Robin (Irania gutturalis)
I found a Dragonfly sp that I normally find around fresh water ponds, so this seemed out of place - unless it was migrating?

Dragonfly sp
I was quite pleased with my Clouded Yellow flight shot, considering it was hand-held with the big glass.

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)
The spring migration does appear to be tailing off, but there should still be some good birds to be had in the final couple of weeks