28 October 2018

The Egret and the Toad

Week 42; 20 October 2018 - Pivot Fields

We have an affinity for the Pivots, so Paul and I were back there again this morning just after sunrise. Again, the first migrant calls were heard were those of the Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

Like last week, we first checked for any raptors that had roosted overnight and found 2 magnificent Eastern Imperial Eagles

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

We took a slow drive around the farm finding resident Crested Lark

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

Many Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark in their usual spot

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)

There were numbers of Barn Swallows overhead and foraging above the fields

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

with a single Red-rumped Swallow amongst them

Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)

as well as fair numbers of Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

On one of the overhead lines on the boundary of the farm, a Eurasian Hobby had also roosted overnight

Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

We checked the boggy wet area and found a few Great Reed Warblers

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

A pair of Indian Silverbill's that showed they are happy at the Pivots and already planning their next brood. What was interesting with this interaction was that the male bird plucked a piece of grass that he used to attract the female. When she landed next to him, he offered it to her and after she accepted, he mated with her!

Indian Silverbill (Lonchura malabarica)

Getting the gift

Offering the gift

Paul picked up a bright flash of yellow and with patience a Yellow-crowned Bishop emerged up a reed stem. Obviously an escape from West Africa and will be recorded as a Cat E species - but good to see a real splash of colour on the farm

Yellow-crowned Bishop (Euplectes afer)

Driving back to the big pool, we stopped for Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

a Mauryan Grey Shrike 

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius l. pallidirostris)

We also re-found the Montagu's Harrier

Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)

and a resident Common Kestrel, but no Lesser today

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

At the pool there were a number of Warblers actively feeding in a really densely foliaged small tree - Eastern Olivaceous was easily picked out

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)

A Caspian Reed Warbler briefly made an appearance

Caspian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. fuscus)

However, another greyish warbler with white underparts was briefly seen and I managed to get a few quick images. This bird hovered on the outside of the tree like a Bonelli's or Plain Leaf Warbler, so this added to the mystery. We didn't know what it may be and Bonelli's was the closest. Later I shared the image with a few experts as we then suspected it may be 'fulvescens' Chiffchaff. However, it seems it may be a hybrid of the 'northern' Chiffchaff group, as it has too much yellow in the super and eye ring and olive is too intense for fulvescens

Mystery 'northern' Chiffchaff - hybrid?

We continued with our drive and found the big flock of Western Cattle Egrets where one of them had caught an adult Green Toad. It is always great to see and photograph behaviour. What was amazing was that none of other Egrets tried to steal this frog from the one who caught it - perhaps they were all just saying 'good luck trying to swallow that!'. I took a number of attempts over 15 to 20-minutes to get the frog down and once or twice I almost gagged myself when the frog was swallowed and regurgitated up again. Nevertheless, the Egret persevered and finally got it down - well almost (there was still a toe sticking out when we left). Enjoy the sequence of the Egret and the Toad......

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) vs Green Toad (Pseudepidalea viridis) 

Almost there - one last peristalsis movement!

Raptors at the Pivots

Week 41; 13 October 2018 - Pivot Fields

Following the success of last week, Paul Scott and I spent an enjoyable and more relaxed morning at Pivot Fields and we had some birds today that we didn't record last week. This is one of the aspects I really love about birding - no one day is the same!

It was the calls of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters that we heard when we arrived just after sunrise and in a fog of humidity - it is such a like-able and 'happy' call

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)

The dense humid air really impacted our photography and it is really difficult to get sharp and clean images. 

An Eastern Imperial Eagle had roosted overnight on the pivot and we enjoyed some time with this magnificent raptor

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

On the same pivot, there were a couple of Common Wood Pigeon's, as species I have not seen for quite some time in Kuwait, although they have now been proven breeding in Abdaly in the north of Kuwait

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

In the same area, there was a small flock of Glossy Ibis foraging with a massive flock of Western Cattle Egret

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Again we flushed a number of Snipe, all Common

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Graceful Prinia's were vocal and a little wet from the dew on the grass

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)

We had a few Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

along with Pied Wheatear at various spots around the farm

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

We saw a couple of Red-backed Shrike, all 1st year birds

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

And some Lesser Short-toed Lark's which are not as abundant as the Greater Short-toed

Lesser Short-toed Lark (Alaudala rufescens)

More Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)

And in the same field, the first White Wagtails of the winter had now arrived.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

We found the flock of Northern Lapwing and now 3 Sociable Lapwing were present be too far and too skittish for photographs

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

It had now started to warm up and more raptors started appearing; Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

and a bonus pair of Lesser Kestrel hunting over one of the fields

Male Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

Female Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)

A Eurasian Sparrowhawk passed by overhead

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

and the 'local' Long-legged Buzzard was also seen, but didn't allow close approach at all

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

We found a small flock of feeding Western White Stork, but it wasn't long before they too found a thermal and continued on the southward journey

Western White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)