29 May 2017

Winter Gulls

Week 44, 29 October 2016 - Souk Sharq

At the end of autumn, the wintering Gulls arrive in Kuwait. The large white-headed Gulls are a challenge, as they are moulting and there is a mix of adult and all other age birds.

At this time of the morning, many of the Dhows are returning from wherever they fished through the night, quite often accompanied by Gulls looking for scraps.

Returning Dhow's
Here a probable Caspian Gull being chased by two younger birds for its food, not realising that the adult bird had already swallowed the food. 

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Not 100% sure of this Gull, as the lack of primary mirrors aren't any help, but the pale eye could be good for Heuglin's 

Possible Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)

Fortunately, the Common Black-headed Gulls are more straight forward and early morning light is perfect at Souk Sharq for a bit of BIF photography. This morning the Black-headed's were the predominant Gull around the harbour - excuse the gluttony of images.......

Winter plumage Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

First year Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

Almost all of the Sandwich Terns have deformed lower mandibles and I haven't been able to find out what is causing this - possibly some deficiency in their diet?

Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)

Chasing a Crane - Part 2

Week 43, 22 October 2016 - JPR

The Crane was seen again after my previous visit, so this was an early and quick sojourn back to JPR for a last ditch attempt.

Thwarted again, so had a quick drive around the reserve finding a roosting Black-crowned Night Heron in the reeds, in pretty low light, so I had to up the ISO considerably.

Those eyes!

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Again, a few Little Crake's were seen one still looking a little exhausted.

Knackered Little Crake (Zapornia parva)

I played hide-and-seek with a skittish male Common Redstart until it eventually stayed on its perch long enough for a distant image.

Male Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
A few Daurian Shrikes were present in the soft morning light, this adult

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
and a first year bird

There was a large noisy flock of Spanish Sparrows feeding in the reeds feeding on flowers that look like feather dusters

Male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
Driving past one of the bigger pools, a Western Osprey was quite low down on a dead tree, having an early breakfast

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
I couldn't stay much longer, as I had to get to my son's baseball practice and the Crane was not seen again either!

I had a walk around the baseball grounds, no birds of significance, but numbers of Mediterranean Pierrot's

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)

Male and Female Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)
In some leaf litter, I found this cryptic Moth - Euchromius cambridgei. This is a species of moth in the Crambidae family and no English name that I can find.

Euchromius cambridgei - A species of moth in the Crambidae family

26 May 2017

Chasing a Crane - Part 1

Week 43, 20 October 2016 - JPR

Markus Craig had found a Common Crane at JPR earlier in the week, but I had to wait for the end of the week, before I could make an attempt to see it.

The Crane had been seen in the morning, so after work I headed to JPR and straight to the area where it had been seen. I searched for a good 30-minutes, but to no avail. Disappointed, I did a few circuits of the reserve, hoping that it had moved elsewhere.

White Wagtails were one of the early winter visitors. Here a classic adult and another with very grey flanks, perhaps yarrelli race?

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Possible White Wagtail (Motacilla a. yarerelli))
As were quite a number of Greater Spotted Eagles, as many of them roost overnight in the reserve.

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

A poor record image of a fulvescens Spotted Eagle that passed overhead. This individual stayed in the reserved for a number of weeks 

Fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
Eurasian Teal were seen in one of the smaller pools and were quite relaxed - the benefits of having the reserve fenced.

Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)

I was able to lock the focus onto a Common Snipe as it passed by at speed

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
JPR is one of the places in Kuwait to get cracking Crake views, today I had Little

Little Crake (Zapornia parva)

and Spotted

Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)
White-tailed Lapwing have been present for some time, lets hope they stay and breed in the spring. Love their diffuse and soft plumage

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
A couple of Little Egrets were hunting in the shallow pool, the white plumage quite pure against the watery background

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
As a Squacco Heron quickly flew from one side of the pool to the other

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)
Western Marsh Harriers were seen hunting over the reeds, this a female. Strangely, very few male are seen at JPR

Female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
A few Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters came landed in the reeds, where they would roost for the night

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
Daurian Shrike was seen in the late afternoon light after a last check for the Crane, which was still nowhere to be seen

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

23 May 2017

WAG's of Kuwait

Week 42, 14 October 2016 - General

I had been to a few places informally this week with the family, but had my camera just in case, for any lone migrants.

If you were expecting Wives and Girlfriends, you may be a little disappointed..

A short visit and walk around the new Al Shaheed Park on the southern boundary of Kuwait City gave a young Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)
A single Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) 
As well as a young Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
and a really scrawny looking Indian Reed Warbler (fresh juvenile or post breeding moulting adult?)

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)
At Baseball with my son, there were 3 White Wagtails foraging next to the pitch, before the practice started

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
A visit to one of the Malls on the coast had some early winter Gulls, the first a probable Steppe, but Caspian cant entirely be ruled out either

Caspian Gull (Larus f. barabensis)
and the second, well your guess is as good as mine.....any opinions are welcome

Gull sp..

22 May 2017

Raptors and reedbeds

Week 42, 02 October 2016 - Khuwaisat and JPR

We had a day off for the Prophets Birthday, so I was able to get out for a few hours to check on the raptor migration.

I took a slight detour to reach the same location as last week, but not quite as early, so I did miss some of those that had already departed. 

I found a roosting pale morph Booted Eagle.

Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
Later, I had both morphs soaring above and past me - I cant make up my mind which of the two I prefer?

Dark morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

I found a good spot, parked the car and waited. I was unexpectedly rewarded when a large female Sparrowhawk burst out of cover and nailed a Eurasian Collared Dove - I only managed a record pic as it flew back to the trees with it's breakfast

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) with Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Much fewer Steppe Buzzards were seen this morning and also not much in terms of plumage variation

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

Synchronised Steppe Buzzards (Buteo b. vulpinus)

This raptor was not so straight forward, initially I thought Bonelli's, then Steppe - but thanks to Yoav for pointing out that it is a young European Honey Buzzard. I must admit, it was the plain plumage that threw me a little

Young European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
As well as another Pallid Harrier pretty high up.

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) 
A few more Sparrowhawks burst out of cover and flew low across the desert

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Another raptor flew out and directly away from me - the record shot suggests one of the Falcon species - but that is as far as I can get - it never did bank or turn!!

Falcon sp?
By now the raptors had thinned out completely, so I headed to JPR to check if any had stopped for a drink - obviously the winds were favourable, so they had all continued on their way south. A Common Snipe was seen in one of the pools

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Warblers were also seen foraging on the edges of the reedbeds, first a Great Reed

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
and later Indian Reed

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)
White-throated Kingfisher are almost guaranteed at JPR

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
This female Pintail had me going for awhile, as a female Red-crested Pochard (2nd for Kuwait) had also been present earlier in the week - but not to be on this occasion

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
A couple of White-winged Terns were foraging over one of the larger pools

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
and a Turkestan Shrike (karalini) was seen in the drier part of the reserve.

Turkestan Shrike (Lanius p. karelini)
From one of the observation towers, I saw a few fish - clearly there are a couple of pretty decent size fish in these pools - great for the Osprey when it eventually turns up.

Fish sp.