25 November 2018

Finally, some sunshine..

Week 46; 16 November 2018 - Al Shaheed Park

Finally the sun came out today and everything seemed so fresh and clean along with a clear blue sky with no suspended dust in the air.

I tried to get into the Pivot Fields, but the road on the way too and at the gate entrance were still flooded and too deep to traverse, so decided to go to Shaheed Park for a walk.

I wasn't the only one and the park was pumping with walkers enjoying the bright sunshine. This was mostly a Shrike morning, with a couple of Turkestan/Daurian 

Possible Turkestan Shrike (Lanius phoenicuroides)

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)


Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

And a Red-backed

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

The female Eurasian Blackcap was the odd lady out...

Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

The rain continues.....

Week 46; 15 November 2018 - Jahra Pools Reserve

The government declared a day off work for both public and private sectors due to extreme weather as the rain in the desert continued. The rain abated a little by lunch, so I decided to head to Jahra Pools staying on the freeways and avoiding the roads which had been closed due to flooding.

Unsurprisingly, I was the only one in the Reserve and fortunately the roads in general were driveable, although the cloud was still low and heavy, so had to push the ISO. The first bird I saw was a really soggy and miserable looking Short-eared Owl on the side of the road, trying to dry out. 

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

There were a number of Greater Spotted Eagles doing the same thing - trying to dry their wet feathers

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

The Western Marsh Harrier had been flying around the reserve in the drizzle and then decided it had had enough

Female Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

A flock of Mallard erupted from one of the pools behind the reeds

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Around the reserve, a few birds made an appearance, all seemingly thankful for a break in the weather. A Red-spotted Bluethroat emerged from some cover

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

A couple of Stonechat's were seen in the gloom, first a Byzantine

Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

Followed by a European

European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Here a Daurian Shrike doing some post rain grooming

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

On the way to the outfall, Spanish Sparrows were seen coming in to roost in the reeds

Male Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

At the outfall, I spend quite a bit of time with two Pied Kingfishers that were hunting from the perch that had been setup for them. 

Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis)

Dinner time

The light was not great, but when I left it appeared the rain had stopped, so prospects for the weekend looked dry and sunny

18 November 2018

After the floods

Week 45; 10 November 2018 - Pivot Fields

Following heavy rains earlier in the week, we had much more last night and meteorological department reported a record breaking 253mm rain and the highest ever rainfall recorded in Kuwait's history. Of course, it created havoc and there was severe flooding in many coastal areas and in some cases we had rivers where roads used to be.

The rain had abated a little in the night, so I decided to see if I could get to Pivot Fields and had to take a few alternate roads to finally get there. In fact it was a challenge getting through the gate as the was a large and quite deep pool of standing water at the gate and across the road. A number of roads were not passable in the farm and in some of the fields a couple of large temporary lakes had now formed, so it was not surprising to see some Norther Shoveler take off from one of them.

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

In the gloom of a Tamerisk Tree, I picked up a late Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

Most of the raptors were perched trying to dry out their feathers, up to 7 Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Including one fulvescens

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila c. fulvescens)

And a couple of Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

The Long-legged Buzzard was still present, but still skittish as ever

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

I re-found the Black-winged Kite and it seems to have taken up residence at the farm

Black-winged Kite (Elanus c. vociferus)

Slowly the clouds and gloom lifted a little and other birds started making an appearance. I spend some time with this female Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

I searched again for the Arabian Grey Shrike, finding only Mauryan Grey

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius l. pallidirostris)

The number of Namaqua Doves had increased 10-fold since my last visit

Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis)

Quite a few Caspian Stonechat's were seen

Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

The big flock of Western Cattle Egrets were concentrated around one of the new pools along with numbers of other wader species that were attracted by the new bodies of water

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Vagrant Emperor was taking advantage and already laying eggs in the water

Vagrant Emperor (Hemianax ephippiger)

Elsewhere a few Clouded Yellows were seen.

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)

Common Woodpigeon were seen and this seems to be the small flock of 6-7 birds that have been present for some time

Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

White-throated Kingfisher's were pretty vocal after the rains and up to 4 were seen around the farm.

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

So, despite the inclement weather, the birding improved as the clouds slowly lifted and it was a pleasant morning out.

13 November 2018

After the rain

Week 45, 09 November 2018 - Al Abraq, Dairy Farm Pivots + Jahra Farm

We had very heavy rains all through the night, resulting in flooding in some coastal areas. It took quite a few detours due to road closures to pick up David Syver from Holiday Inn in Salmiya before we headed west to Abraq under dark skies. The road across the desert to the farm gates were also flooded and this is the first time I have seen this amount of water in the desert in 10+ years.

Many of the roads in the farm also had big pools of water, quite a spectacle and this should be good news for desert flora in the coming weeks and month.

Driving through the gate, the first bird we heard then finally saw was a Common Chaffinch in the gloom (record image). There was also a Coot on the newly filled pond at the house - quite bizarre.

Common Chaffinch

Slowly the clouds lifted and it got a little lighter and it was only then that birds became a little more active. Many Common Chiffchaff's were seen and heard

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)

Two Eurasian Sparrowhawk's barreled past us, with one landing briefly in a tree in front of us. This one had unusually red and blotchy underparts, but also with a supercilium! We suspect it is a young male, but the supercilium is not right?

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Omar Al Shaheen had found two Hume's Leaf Warbler (11th record for Kuwait) a few days back. Whilst checking the one location, we suddenly had a flying ant eruption that suddenly caused a lot of bird activity for the passerines. Chiffchaff's were the most prevalent, but Blackcap and Red-breasted Flycatcher also put in an appearance. We knew the Hume's should be around and a brief play of the call got a response and it was soon actively feeding amongst the Chiffchaff's - but very seldom stayed still for long. Nevertheless we still got some decent views

Hume's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)

By now the clouds had parted and the sun was shining, in one of the fields we had numerous Water Pipits and lesser numbers of Red-throated Pipit

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

A single Pallid Swift was seen passing by overhead

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

We then headed to the Diary Farm Pivots and amazingly almost all of the water in the desert had soaked in. Walking around the pivots, we had numerous Eurasian Skylarks, Tawny Pipit, White Wagtails, one Northern Lapwing and two Caspian Stonechat's

Caspian Stonechat (Saxicola m. hemprichii)

As there was not much else and weather was still favourable (more rain was coming later), we headed east to Jahra and spent an hour walking around the various farms. A small flock of Hypocolius was a pleasant surprise at Ali's farm

Hypocolius (Hypocolius ampelinus)

And this rather large Persian House Gecko on the farm pump-house

Persian House Gecko (Hemidactylus persicus)

This time amongst the Water Pipits, we had three Tree Pipit's

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Along with the wintering White Wagtails.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

And a Squacco Heron that we flushed unexpectedly

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

By now the clouds had rolled in and obliterated the sun and rain was imminent. Walking back to the car, we saw a medium sized raptor drop down from high in the sky and watched it land in a Palm Tree for a safe roosting place ahead of the coming storm - a dark form Booted Eagle

Dark form Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)

It had started to rain again, so rushed back to drop David at the hotel and by the time I got home through hectic traffic, it was raining full tilt again.