08 December 2015

Early Winter Visitors have arrived

Week 43, 24 October 2015 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

I was back in the south of Kuwait and enjoyed my Mac breakfast just after sunrise.

I almost dropped my coffee as a Short-eared Owl flew in front of my car and only managed a quick 'grab' shot as it dropped behind some Sabkha against the sun. Unfortunately, it only stayed a minute before it was off again, so I didnt have any chance to get any closer. A great record for the south..

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
The first winter visitors have arrived; White Wagtail amongst a few Yellows

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
And Water Pipit

Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
A resident pale form Western Reef Heron was foraging in some shallow ground water

Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)
A single female Pied Wheatear was seen briefly

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
A Mallard was unexpected this far south

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
From the boat, a few Lesser Crested Terns were still present, but the bulk appears to have departed

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
I came across a few Gulls that appeared to have their bills taped shut - so their lives were cut short, as they would slowly starve to death. Apparently, this is done by falconers who use Gulls as prey when training their Falcons. The Gull's bills are taped shut, so as not to let the Gulls bite and peck the Falcons and cause any injury - never mind the misery and eventual death that will come to the Gulls. Very disappointing and sad!

Destined to die

And this Gull
This Heuglin's was more fortunate and had everything in tact

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)
Not sure what species this young Gull is?

Gull sp.
Back on terra firma, more Wheatear species; again Isabelline

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
and Desert

Male Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
Along with the first Asian Desert Warblers of this autumn

Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)
As well as my first Tawny Pipits of this passage

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris) keeping out of the sun
The bulk of the Bee-eaters have already passed through, but there are still a few late Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters about..

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Lastly, I noted some Asian Grass Blues enjoying a particular desert plant whose name I don't know.

Asian Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra karsandra)

A Full House

Week 41, 09 October 2015 - Jahra Pools

I spent a quick 2-hours in Jahra Pools in the late afternoon and came away with a full house; trip Kings and a pair of raptors..

White-throated Kingfisher is a breeding resident and the most common Kingfisher in Kuwait

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) checking out a Marsh Harrier passing by over the reeds

Common Kingfisher is a scarce passage migrant

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
As is Pied Kingfisher, although this year Kuwait, together with the rest of the Region has had an 'eruption of sorts' for this species. I converted one image to B+W - which do you prefer?

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

The 'pair' of raptors included the more common Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)
as well as the now annual Black-winged Kite which had come in to roost for the night

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus)

I guess, the last image is the Joker - but I love the reflection, serenity and dark tones of this Little Grebe image

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Autumn passerines

Week 40, 03 October 2015 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

After my obligatory McDonald's breakfast, I stopped on route to the Sea City project to check out some desert habitat that has some ground water.

In amongst a few Western Yellow Wagtails was a single Citrine - my first record for the south of Kuwait

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
A pair of Common Kestrel's had stopped for a drink in the same area, but didn't stay long

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Wheatear's were represented by Isabelline

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

and Northern

Female Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Out on the boat, I checked a few off-shore buoys and found roosting Lesser Crested Terns

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
A number of Socotra Cormorants

1cy Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
And a single 1cy White-cheeked Tern

1cy White-cheeked Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)

with a Purple Heron enjoying the warm sun on the beach

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Exploring some other desert habitat, I came across a few late passerine migrants; a skulking Eurasian Blackcap

Female Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
And undoubtedly the best bird of the day - Hume's Whitethroat

Hume's Whitethroat (Sylvia althaea)

Although a male Byzantine/South Caspian Stonechat wasn't too be discounted either

Male South Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

However, a few Tree Pipit's

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) in a Tree......
and Spotted Fly's rounded off the day..

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

Raptor Route

Week 39, 26 September 2015 - Mutla'a to Jahra

I was hoping to catch-up with the raptor migration that had started earlier in the week and made my first stop at the site on the coast where large numbers of Steppe Buzzards roost overnight.....

The thought, you should have been here yesterday sprung to mind - as there was not a single Buzzard to be seen - at all! Just a solitary Pallid Harrier and that was it.....

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
I cut my losses and headed north to Mutla'a Ranch, finding another Pallid Harrier flying adjacent to the freeway.

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)
Once at Mutla'a it was also pretty quiet, from a raptor perspective, other than a some Greater Short-toed Larks

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
A few Tree Pipits

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
and a single Ortolan Bunting.

Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)
A final drive around the farm before I moved on, did produce a few raptors, as by now it had warmed a little and there were thermals to assist. First up was a Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

Followed shortly by a dark phase Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Birds eye view
And a young Egyptian Vulture, which is always great to see

Egyptian Vulture (Caprimulgus aegyptius)
From the farm, I headed to lower elevation near the coast and stopped by Jahra Pools where a Long-legged Buzzard cruised by overhead

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)
But a few 1cy Black-eared Kites had dropped in to drink and were just leaving the pool as I came down the road. A few of these birds over-winter in Kuwait

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)

Other birds of interest was a group of Little Egrets hunting in the same pool.

Little Egret stand-off (Egretta garzetta)

A trio of Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
There was a good number of young Purple Herons about to - here a portrait of one

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) portrait
A couple of Grey Herons also dropped in to feed in the shallow pools.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
A winter plumage Citrine Wagtail on the other side of the pool, was of interest.

A distant Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
On the invertebrate side, I recorded a number of butterfly species today;

Asian Grass Blue

Asian Grass Blue (Zizeeria karsandra karsandra)
Mediterranean Pierrot

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)
Quite a few Pea or Long-tailed Blues

A pair of Pea Blue's (Lampides boeticus) in cop

Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus)
and a good number of Salmon Arabs which added a splash of colour to the desert flora

Salmon Arab (Madais fausta fausta)

So, after a slow start, it turned out to be a fairly good morning..