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

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