19 December 2018

A wild Pipit chase

Week 50; 15 December 2018 - Pivot Fields

Paul Scott and I met Neil Tovey at the Pivot Fields just after sunrise on a glorious winter's morning - no wind, clear sky and just cool enough for a fleece. Visiting birders had reported a possible Blyth's Pipit earlier in the week - a first for Kuwait if accepted by KORC. So we thought it was worth a try to see if it was still around. After meeting at the gate, we split up to better cover the farm. The Daurian Shrike seen yesterday was still present.

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Neil was the first to get onto a big Pipit that flushed in one of the more open fields and we joined him to try and re-locate it. We managed to find the bird, but it was distant and flighty. Paul and I managed to get some record images that had us all a little uncertain. Certainly the shape of the dark centers in the median wing coverts seemed to change shape, depending how the bird was standing and it was difficult to assess the size of the bill at the distance we were and we never managed to see the legs exposed. We later concluded that this was a Richard's Pipit

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

We then got onto another or 2nd bird and this was a lot more approachable - no doubting that this bird was a Richard's

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

We suspected there were definitely two, but possibly three birds present amongst Water and a few Meadow Pipits as well as Skylarks and Crested Larks. While scanning the fields we had a single Eurasian Golden Plover give a low fly by - this bird is still a rarity in Kuwait

Eurasian Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

After Neil left, Paul and I continued finding a couple of raptors overhead as the temps warmed up a little. A few Black-eared/Eastern Black Kites

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)

With a Steppe Buzzard together with them

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus) and Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

We also had 3 Long-legged Buzzards

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

The highlight though, was a magnificent Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

Today there were two Indian Rollers, but still we weren't able to get as close as we would have liked

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

After this we called it a day, but agreed that this is one of the better sites in Kuwait and are really fortunate to have access again. Sadly Jahra Pools seems to be a little neglected in terms of both reed and road management lately.

This is my last post for 2018 and I'm really pleased to have overcome the backlog and am now current. Wishing all who celebrate, a very happy Christmas may 2019 be all that you wish for and more. 

South Africa here I come for 2-weeks!

Pottering around the Pivots

Week 50; 14 December 2018 - Pivot Fields

I had a few hours to spare in the afternoon, so headed to Pivot Fields to see if there was a marked difference in birds between the usual morning sessions. 
The road around the entrance gate was still very soggy and muddy following the rains a few weeks back.

Although the afternoon session felt quieter some good birds were still to be seen - I was alerted to this cracking Masked Shrike by it's alarm call and spent a good few minutes watching it hunt from the pivot. It's amazing how frequently it wagged and cocked it's tail

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

A slow drive around the farm, produced some Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

A single Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)

and a couple of vocal Graceful Prinia's in their usual spot

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

I surprised an Arabian Red Fox who sprinted across the fields - of course when they feel they are a safe distance away, they always stop and look at you. They look so much 'healthier' with their thick winter coats

Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes v. arabica)

There were a few Raptors, although I expected a few more coming in to roost for the night - nevertheless, Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

a few Long-legged Buzzard

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

and a Steppe Buzzard was not a bad haul

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

The flocks of Northern Lapwing had increased in size. I didn't manage to find the Sociable Lapwings, but there are at least 4 somewhere in the dispersed flocks of Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

In one of the fields a single Siberian Stonechat

Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

I managed to connect with the Indian Roller, but it was difficult to get close - but he did fly past with the sun behind me for a change

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

There is still a large standing pool of water in one of the fields, but surprisingly very few birds. I had this Little Egret coming in to land

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Then shortly thereafter, leaving

I enjoyed the antics of the 'Camel' Egrets feeding on the numerous flies on the Camels back

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

I tried to photograph some of the Larks/Pipits flying out of the fields and this was the only one I was successful with - I suspect it is a Skylark

Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Before I knew it, the light was going and it was time to head home. These days it is now dark just after 5pm!

15 December 2018

Feathers, fins and carapaces

Week 49; 08 December 2018 - Al Abraq, Jahra Farm and Sulaibikhat Bay

Paul Scott was back from UK, so we had an enjoyable day birding, starting off in the west at Al Abraq. The weather is still mild by winter standards, although cool to start in the early morning. Birding was slow early on and picked up a little as the temps increased - we started off driving around the farm and had an obliging pair of European Stonechat's

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

We saw a cracking, but elusive male Western Black Redstart and the one with the white wing panel. It took patience and quite some time before we could finally get close enough to take any photographs - our perseverance paid off.

Western Black Redstart (Phoenicurus o. gibraltariensis)

In the same area, I saw a bird on the deck but it flew up and disappeared - this was all I I got on it - possibly a Chiffchaff, but for now a mystery bird


As it had warmed up a little, we decided to walk and the two Hume's Leaf Warblers were still present - again really tricky to get clear views as they dart around in cover always managing to keep a leaf or branch between them and you. With patience I got the image of the bird in full song

Hume's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)

I saw a butterfly I have not seen in Kuwait before, but knew exactly what it was as soon as I did - a Red Admiral. I was worried that it might be caught by a bird, but fortunately it landed in a tree and stayed quite still. I need to do some reading to check the status of this butterfly in Kuwait.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Just before leaving, we found a party of 5 Eurasian Penduline Tit's - but by now the wind had picked up and these poor birds were hanging on for dear life as they gleaned through the leaves. It was only when I processed my images did I see that they were feeding on small caterpillar's.

Eurasian Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)

With the wind getting stronger we drove east to Jahra Farm which would be a little more sheltered. I enjoyed seeing my Dad's spirit bird pass by overhead and give me a downward glance whilst walking around the farm

Spirit bird; Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

We were alerted by the call of the White-throated Kingfisher and had it fly in and land on top of a dead Palm Tree

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

A few Clouded Yellows are still present and were seen in the fields

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)

We had a break for lunch, so that we could be in time for the high tide a Sulaibikhat Bay (where I was yesterday with the Polish couple). We were a little early, so again enjoyed the antics of the Mudskipper's

Periophthalmus waltoni and Boleophthalumus dussumieri

We also picked up two Crab species in an area close to shore; Austruca Sindensis, one of the Fiddler Crabs

Austruca Sindensis

and Leptochryseus Kuwaitensis with the cool yellow-tipped antennae and endemic to this region

Leptochryseus Kuwaitensis

This is one of the spots for Greater Flamingo - the one species that most locals know about. In this image, you can see the new causeway that will open in Feb 2019 in the background

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Paul was keen to see Crab-plover which weren't present yesterday, however with the tide coming in, I picked up a pair with a really young and still begging juvenile. A little later as high tide peaked, another 20 birds came in

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)

Again many Western Reef Heron's on the inter-tidal zone trying their luck with catching a Mudskipper or Crab. This is the white form with the dark form in the background

Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

A Grey Heron perched patiently as the tide came in below it

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Gull-billed Terns patrolling up and down, this one successfully snatched a Crab before it could disappear into it's burrow

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

Crab for lunch

A single Caspian Tern passed by

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

There were a good number of 1st year Common Terns in the mix

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

A couple of large white-headed Gulls were present, I suspect this one is Heuglin's

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)

Yesterday we had a big flock of Curlew Sandpiper, none today - but quite a few Common Redshank on the mudflats and flying along the coast

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)

A great day out with Paul and some good species recorded