24 November 2019

Surprises at the Pivots

Week 46; 16 November 2019 - Pivot Fields and Sulaibikhat Bay

Debbie Barnes was back in Kuwait on business again and joined Paul Scott and I at the Pivots for an enjoyable winter mornings birding. At this time of year, we have welcome clouds, so the sunrises are enjoyable to watch and appreciate

Pivot Field Sunrise

Slowly driving around the farm as the sun rose, we found the Indian Roller, but it was not at all obliging. We did get a single Corn Bunting on the pivot in pre-dawn gloom

Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Water Pipit and White Wagtail numbers seem to grow week-on-week

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus s. coutelli)

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

A few Sociable Lapwings are still present in the growing flock of Northern Lapwing

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

We had both Long-legged and Steppe Buzzard with the latter being a little more accommodating

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

We spent some time at the marsh, where there were numerous Red-spotted Bluethroat

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

As well as Stonechat's, which will remain as Eastern type's for now

Eastern Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)

A Eurasian Sparrowhawk passed by overhead

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

As did some Pallid Swift

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)

a 'dirty' Sand Martin against the light had me going for awhile

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

A couple of White-tailed Lapwing's did a fly past

White-tailed Laping (Vanellus leucurus)

Checking the other side of the marsh, we found a small flock of Eurasian Siskin

Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

We continued driving, flushing two Eastern Imperial Eagle from a field

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

We also stopped to see both Greater Spotted Eagles perched together on a pivot

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila fulvescens and Aquila clanga)

And whilst checking out some Greater Short-toed Lark's, this one popped up into view - by best and closest sighting ever of Bimaculated Lark!

Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata)

Earlier we had seen a couple of Mauryan Grey Shrikes, but this one sitting on the overhead wire was distinctly more grey below and appeared to be slate grey above - a good candidate for Arabian Grey that will need to be submitted to KORC for adjudication

Possible Arabian Grey Shrike (Lanius aucheri)

As time was passing and the tide would be favourable, we drove to Sulaibikhat Bay for the Flamingo flock and to check if our 'pink lady' was still present - she was!

Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)

Again, the Greater Flamingo's were quite entertaining and quite tolerant of our approach

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

I caught one of them doing its 'man with a semafor flag' impersonation, but have often seen quite a number in the flock doing the same thing. The appear to stand upright and erect and then suddenly and deliberately snap open both wings and hold this pose for 10-seconds. This is repeated a few times. I guess it is some kind of display, but it seems odd in winter when breeding is still a few months away?

Displaying Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Hello Old Friend

Week 46; 15 November 2019 - Jahra Pools Reserve

Jahra Pools Reserve has been closed for quite a few months for maintenance and we have all been itching for it to re-open again. 

Well, it finally opened earlier this week, but since it was a week-day, I had to wait until the weekend before I could visit again. I managed a late afternoon visit and it was like seeing an old friend. The roads have been upgraded and new observation platforms have been built along with a visitor center that is still in progress. Reed growth is still a problem and is impacting the water flow, but these will be cut in the coming weeks.

I had forgotten how quickly the sun drops now that winter is upon us - I mean we are almost dark by 5:15pm! Driving slowly around, it was a struggle to find views of open water, but in the reeds, I had Indian Reed Warbler

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)

and good numbers of Red-spotted Bluethroat around the bases of the the reeds and associated cover. I think this bird may qualify as White-throated..

White-throated Bluethroat (Luscinia s. cyanecula)

Whilst enjoying the Bluethroat, a Grey-headed Swamphen slowly crept out of the undergrowth to feed on some reed roots

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)

I had a drive to the beach, finding Mauryan Grey Shrike

Mauryan Grey Shrike (Lanius lahtora pallidirostris)

and a couple of Greater Spotted Eagles that were going to roost on the beach overnight

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

JPR is one of the best reserves to see numbers of Greater Spotted Eagle in the winter

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

By now the sun was setting, so I checked the 'forest' finding a Western Osprey that had come in to roost

Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

I patiently waited from quite a distance to get an image of the setting sun directly behind this Greater Spotted, but unfortunately it flew off before that could happen - there went my end of day creative shot!

JPR Sunset

Winter visitors in the west

Week 45; 09 November 2019 - Al Abraq

It is always worth checking Al Abraq in the west in early winter, although the long drive can also be hit and miss. Nevertheless, with autumn migration now over, it means no shooters and when you have the farm to yourself, it is most enjoyable - even if it is quiet.

Now that the weather is cooler, I park my car and walk and the first bird I had was a Black-throated Thrush perched high in a tree to get the first rays of sun

Black-throated Thrush (Turdus atrogularis)

I still get a kick out of seeing European Robin in the desert as Christmas gets closer; although it was in cover, this one was quite confiding and it is the first image I have of one in full song

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

White Wagtails and Caucasian Water Pipits have arrived on mass

Caucasian Water Pipit (Anthus s. coutelli)

A surprise was another juvenile Common Cuckoo, one always has to wander about the origin of these late birds - since most have already passed through in September. We suspect these late birds could be of eastern origin

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)

A Namaqua Dove was sitting on an exposed branch enjoying the morning sun

Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis)

The birding was relatively quiet, but I was quite surprised at the number of butterflies around for this time of year - still Painted Lady are the most common, but I also had Desert White/Desert Bath White

Desert White (Pontia glauconome)

the gorgeous Salmon Arab

Salmon Arab (Madais fausta)

and the less often seen, Blue-spotted Arab

Blue-spotted Arab (Colotis phisadia)

Along with a smart Brown Playboy

Brown Playboy (Deudorix antalus)

This was also the first time I have seen a Damselfly this far away from permanent water - I suspect this is Evan's Bluetail 

Evans' Bluetail (Ischnura evans)

Not sure of this Dragonfly species?

Dragonfly sp.