25 February 2019

Hello Kraai

Week 07; 15 February 2019 - Shuwaikh Port, Free Trade Zone (FTZ)

Neil Tovey recorded a Pied Crow near his Head Office in the Free Trade Zone yesterday.

As we weren't sure of the origin, I decided to check if it was still around today and headed to the FTZ early in the morning. The weather was a little inclement with clouds and some intermittent drizzle. It wasn't in the area where it was seen yesterday, but I figured if I could find the resident House Crows, then it should be close by.

House Crow (Corvus splendens)

Sure enough, the logic paid off and I found the Pied Crow feeding on the ground whilst been harassed by the House Crows. It was quite unperturbed by the fuss of the smaller House Crows though.

Pied Crow (Corvus albus)

Originally we suspected that it might have been a ship-assisted bird, but on seeing the bird and images, we noted quite a lot of wear on the wing and tail feathers, suggesting it may have been in a cage, even if it was on a ship.

It is unlikely that it was from the bird market, since all the birds at the market were culled last week, due to the bird flu outbreak in Kuwait. It is not your typical bird that is kept as a pet and is also not a bird that I have ever seen for sale at the bird market. 

15 February 2019

Birding in the rain

Week 06; 09 February 2019 - Al Abraq, Jahra Farm and Sulaibikhat Bay

I was solo today and although I had low expectations, decided to head out west to Al Abraq. It was raining when I left and the inclement weather continued through most of the morning. It is pretty special to enjoy dark clouds and rain in the desert, with Camels on the horizon

Dramatic clouds and desert scape

Iconic desert scape

The desert still has a carpet of green - but this is not going to last long, as the Camel and Sheep herds enjoy this time of plentiful

A carpet of green

I was last at Abraq 2-weeks back and amazingly the same birds seen then were still present today. The rain continued intermittently along with thunder and lightning and I just 'soaked' it up enjoying the freshness of it all. We have some interesting wintering Common Chiffchaff's and once the rain had stopped a few became a bit active. DNA is really required to nail down the race!

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus c. abietinus)

Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus c. caucasicus/menzbieri)

4 Corn Buntings were the only spring migrant seen

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

The male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was quite active, but looking closely it seems he has been quite lucky. It appears that he has a few shotgun pellet holes through his wing..

Male Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

The pair of European Stonechat's were again holding territory in the same patch and this was the only obliging bird at the farm. I managed to use a few lenses; first up the naked 600mm

Female European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

At one point a Painted Lady flew out and in a flash the male Stonechat had it - he would have made a Bee-eater proud. He struggled to dislodge the wings and eventually gave up without eating it. These Painted Ladies must be pretty tough!

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) with Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Followed by 600mm + 1,4 converter

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

and finally the 100-400 + 1,4 converter

Male European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)

A small flock of Spanish Sparrows was foraging in the grass under one of the Acacia type trees

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

By now the clouds had lightened, so I headed back toward Kuwait City, stopping at Jahra Farm - the first bird was a cracking male Masked Shrike feeding on some emerging flying ants after the rain

Male Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)

A couple of Song Thrush were still about - first time I have seen faint wing bars on this species

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

A single Squacco Heron was flushed into a Palm Tree by one of the workers

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

I found a tiny Green Toad in the small reservoir looking like it was hiding under an air bubble

Green Toad (Pseudepidalea viridis)

Last stop on the way home was Sulaibikhat Bay but it had clouded over and started drizzling again, so the light was far from ideal. A small flock of Greater Flamingo were filter feeding on the incoming tide

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

There were both Common Black-headed Gulls

Winter plumage Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

And quite a few Whiskered Terns feeding up and down the outfall

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

By now the tempo of the rain was increasing, so a good time to call it a day

08 February 2019

A hint of Spring

Week 05; 02 February 2019 - Khiran Area

Paul Scott and I decided a different tactic today and headed south to explore the coastal area near Khiran and the impressive Sabah Al Ahmed Sea City development. Following the previous outings, we had fairly low expectations.

However, our first stop produced a few early spring Wheatear's and we enjoyed seeing Desert and Isabelline, as well as the first Pied for this year which was the only one of the three that we managed to get images of.

Male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

We then drove to the area where I normally find Red-tailed Wheatear and I'm pleased to say we managed to get onto one. Although this bird was not as obliging for images and always seemed to be on a rock above; nevertheless not always an easy bird to connect with

Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe chrysopygia)

We then explored the coastal area and struggled to find a place where we could actually access the beach. Not much other than a fly by Caspian Tern and a dead Hawksbill Turtle on the beach.

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

We checked a few other areas, but no winter or early spring migrants at all.

I did find this active and energetic Moth feeding on Nuwair and a Thistle when I photographed it - again not sure of the ID

Moth sp.

The weather is improving and with that we should start seeing the first of the spring migrants arriving