18 December 2019

A WP Mega to see out the Decade

Week 50; 14 December 2019 - Jahra Pools Reserve

I started the day just after sunrise at Jahra Farm checking for Thrush and Pipit species, given that UAE had a few Buff-bellied and Olive-backed this past week. No luck at all, but I did have a Masked Shrike and Western Cattle Egret

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

I then headed across the freeway to JPR, blissfully unaware how the morning was to unfold.I stopped at the big pool and watched a male Western Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds.
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

The Gadwall were nervous and took flight frequently

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

The Black-necked Grebes were a long way off, not so for the many Little Grebes

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

On the way to the beach, a White-throated Kingfisher sat patiently in a dead tree waiting for breakfast

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

Not far off, a Greater Spotted Eagle with a bulging crop rested in a tree, while a few others were circling overhead

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga)

Down at the beach, there were small flocks of Spanish Sparrows

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

and a Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

The tide was really far out, so not much to be seen in the inter-tidal zone

Deciding to do a last circuit of the reserve, I took a road that is bordered by tall reeds on either side on the way back to the big pool. Driving slowly as I approached the junction of a road that is closed with warning tape, I saw a dark medium size bird standing motionless on a pool of water, facing away from me. Moorhen was the obvious thought as they are a dime a dozen, but the bill was just too long. As I stopped, it turned to face me and all I saw was white cheeks and underparts - White-breasted frigging Waterhen (I have seen them plenty times in India and Sri Lanka). It is a species we have long considered should be found in Kuwait, as it has been recorded in UAE and Oman. But, this record is especially special as it is a 1st for Kuwait AND the WP!

1st White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) for Kuwait and WP

As I stopped, it darted out of the pool and into cover and I only managed to get off one frame. The only strategy was to sit and wait while I put out the news to the birders on our WhatsApp group who all changed what they had planned for the day and made their way to JPR.

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

Fortunately it stayed in the area and most were able to connect with it over the course of the day and the following day.

It was still present on 17/12/19 for a visiting international birder and should hopefully stay, as quite a few more international birders have planned to arrive in the coming days!


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