28 July 2019

The birds and the bees (well sort of)

Week 30; 27 July 2019 - Pivot Fields and Khiran

Options for summer birding are quite restricted and since Jahra Pools is not yet open, the Pivots provide the best opportunity for diversity, even though it is not conducive for good photographs with heat haze and dust in the air. Consider today's effort record images..

We had quite strong winds for the past few days, so I was expecting this to have pushed a few early passerine migrants through Kuwait, but it was not to be!

I was just through the gates when I spotted the Black-winged Kite that has now been present for 3-weeks

Black-winged Kite (Elanus c. vociferus)

I spent most of the time at the two shallow pans but birds kept their distance even while flying past, so that was a little frustrating. The two Pied Avocet's were also still around, but very skittish

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

The 7 Spur-winged Lapwing's seen a few weeks back made an appearance, but no photo opportunities were presented. The number of Green Sandpipers had increased substantially, this one in quite heavy moult.

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

There were numbers of Little Ringed Plover, this looks like a young bird that may have been raised at the Pivots

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

As well as quite a few Collared Pratincole's

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)

Two new birds hawking over the pools were a young Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

and a Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

I had a short drive around the farm and re-located the flock of Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)

I flushed a Broad-billed Sandpiper, but no chance at all of a photograph

I then headed south to Khiran as I was on a quest to relocate the Damselfly I had found a few months ago with Paul Scott and try get better images - easier said than done. Although I did find a Greater Hoopoe Lark, the next series are all invertebrate images

By now it was really hot and the wind had picked up, not ideal for finding small and delicate Damselflies. Slender Skimmers were the most predominant Dragonfly in this habitat.

Slender Skimmer (Orthetrum sabina)

I was quite thrilled to find quite a few small schools of the near endemic Arabian Killifish

Arabian Killifish (Aphanius dispar)

There was one Darter species, this is female and male

Darter sp. female

Darter sp. male

and also a Black Percher (at least that's my take on the ID)

Black Percher tbc (Diplacodes lefebvrii)

I found a Grasshopper in the reeds

Grasshopper sp.

and this striking Wasp that I had not seen before. Thanks to Prof Razzaq Augul from Iraq National History Museum for nailing the ID for me - a female Prionyx niveatus

Female Prionyx niveatus

Not sure on the ID of this wasp

Wasp sp.

or this Bee type insect

Bee sp.

After much searching I finally found a female Damselfly, but it was always below my feet and at the base of the reeds, so really difficult to get close to with a macro lens - this was the best I could do

Female Oasis Bluetail (Ischnura fouontaineae)

With patience, I finally found a male, but it was deeper in the reeds and even more difficult to photograph. Will have to return again, perhaps earlier in the morning when they are more likely to be on the edge of the reed bed

Male Oasis Bluetail (Ischnura fouontaineae)

23 July 2019

Testing conditions at the Pivots

Week 29; 20 July 2019 - Pivot Fields

I was solo at the Pivots this morning. It had been a week of strong winds with blowing dust at times, so I was expecting a few new migrants to have arrived - but there wasn't too much new, from what was seen last week.

With the fine dust in the air, it wasn't great for photography unfortunately. I was off to a great start finding one of the Black-winged Kites we saw last week, fighting the wind, as it searched for food.

Black-winged Kite (Elanus c. vociferus)

The family of Common Kestrel were still present hawking over the fields

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

I saw one of the Kestrel's giving a dark form Booted Eagle a hard time as it came in to find a place to rest and roost.

Dark Form Booted Eagle (Aquila pennata)

I was fortunate with the Lapwings, recording 3 species; Red-wattled (3), Spur-winged (3) and a single young White-tailed

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)

That was flying together with 2 Pied Avocet's which were not seen last week

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta) with White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

There was a good assortment of waders and Green Sandpiper's had increased somewhat since last week

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

Driving around the fields, I found the family of Cream-coloured Coursers

Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor)

And big numbers of Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks which are now dispersing, post breeding elsewhere in Kuwait.

Black-crowned Sparrow-Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps)

By this time, I had enough of the wind and dust blowing through my car - so retreated to a restaurant for breakfast. A few good species were seen this morning and of course over the coming weeks diversity and abundance will only increase.

14 July 2019

Let the autumn migration begin

Week 28; 13 July 2019 - Pivot Fields

Neil Tovey and I spent a few productive hours at the Pivot Fields starting at 6am

Once inside the gates, we had not one, but two Black-winged Kites, both adult birds. One had caught a Lesser Jerboa and we spent some time watching it dismember and devour it. Out of the blue, a cracking adult Woodchat Shrike made an appearance, hovering above the Kite looking for scraps. The Kite was quite unperturbed and continued feeding, but eventually did fly off. The Kites are now considered annual visitors, but it wasn't that long ago when a Rare Bird Report was required for this species

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus) with Lesser Egyptian Jerboa (Meriones libycus syrius)

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus vociferus) harassed by a Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

The Shrike then landed on the same perch to check for any left overs, of which there were none.

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

Down at the two large pans, we had an assortment of newly arrived waders; Green, Marsh, Common and Wood Sandpipers, along with Ruff, Redshank, Little Ringed Plovers, the ever present Black-winged Stilts and half a dozen Collared Pratincole's. Sand Martin and Barn Swallows were overhead and a single Little Tern was actively feeding over the open pan

Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)

Caspian Reed Warblers were active in the reeds and this distant Acro is thought to be a Basra Reed - did it breed as habitat is ideal, or has it recently arrived?

Probable Basra Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus griseldis)

Driving around the farm, we had at least 5-6 Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark numbers had significantly increased, along with a few Short-toed Larks. In the same area, we had a few Cream-coloured Coursers.

Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor)

Overall, 42 species in 2.5 hours birding, with an encouraging number of early autumn migrants

Whilst out, I also check for the invertebrates and Dragonfly numbers and diversity has also increased - here a few seen during the morning

Female Black Percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii)

Possible female Red-veined Dropwing (Trithemis arteriosa)

Male Red-veined Dropwing (Trithemis arteriosa)

Slender Skimmer (Orthetrum sabina)

Along with this cryptically coloured Grasshopper

Grasshopper sp.