29 March 2020

Lockdown - Day 13

Week 12; 24 March 2020 - Abdullah Al Salem

I was fortunate to spend a few hours in the gorgeous 'Purple Sunbird' garden. Sadly the Sunbird's seem to be long gone, but this dense urban garden has the potential to attract other birds, including spring migrants.

The Bottlebrush Tree's were in full flower and these are absolute magnets for both Blackcap's

Male Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

and Lesser Whitethroat's

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat (Curruca a. hallimodendri)

I had heard a Great Reed Warbler calling when I arrived and after some time, it did show itself resplendent in it's summer plumage

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

However, this Barred Warbler was way more skulky and took some patience get clear images of it as it came down to forage on some strategically placed dates

Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)

A Grey Wagtail also put in an appearance, but not for any photographs. Only last week I had seen Mammoth Wasp at the Pivot Fields and here they were again in this garden

Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata flavifrons)

A Mediterranean Pierrot was a new addition to the garden list

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosacea)

23 March 2020

Lockdown - Day 11

Week 12; 22 March 2020 - Pivot Fields

As my car was still in surgery, Paul Scott picked me up for a morning at the Pivot Fields in really crappy weather. The wind started at 4:30am followed by rain and thunder and during the course of the morning rolling dust on strong squalls. 

Still, so much better than being stuck in the apartment, but not ideal at all for photography although the birding was not too bad.

We met Neil Tovey at the farm and continued birding together. In the Tamarix Tree's on the boundary, we had numerous Common Redstart's

Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)

This morning there were quite a few male Western Marsh Harriers

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Yellow Wagtails have arrived en-mass and quite a few of the races/forms were now represented, although there still are a few odd ones (hybrids?)

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. supercillaris)

A very pale headed Sykes's Wagtail (Motacilla f. beema)

A strange Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. supercillaris)

Odd to see 1st year plumage birds amongst all the bright yellow

Together with the Yellow Wags, there were still quite a few White Wags and many Pipit species amongst the roving flocks; we had 6 in total including Richards, Meadow, Tree, Tawny, Water and Red-throated

Red-throated Pipit (Anthus cervinus)

Down at the marsh, still big numbers of Common Snipe

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

Glossy Ibis numbers were down from last week

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

White-tailed Lapwings were quite active

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)

And a Great Reed Warbler was seen in the reeds

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

Neil had to leave, so Paul and I continued for another hour or so finding Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus)

A fulvescens Greater Spotted Eagle, probably the same bird that has been present for the latter part of the winter

Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila c. fulvescens)

The pair of Red-wattled Lapwing's were found in a different area of the farm to where I had last seen them

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

We found this large 'yellow' locust, but am not sure of the ID - perhaps Desert or one of those from the apocalyptic swarms from last month?

Locust sp.

At the pool, I saw a big wasp I had not seen before and it turned out there were quite a few of them. We got pics and thanks to Huw Roberts in UAE identified them as Mammoth Wasp (the biggest wasp in Europe). The female has a yellow head, whilst the male a black head. 

Male Mammoth Wasp (Megascolia maculata)

Lockdown - Day 8

Week 12; 19 March 2020 - Fnaitees and Abu Hassania

I literally am in self-isolation as my car is in the garage for some major surgery, so the only option I have is to walk around where I live and cross the freeway to the beach at Abu Hassania.

Late yesterday afternoon a walk around the suburb to minimise cabin fever I was struck that the footprints of the new houses going up leave no room at all for any garden or green on the plot which is quite sad. I noted a few Pallid Swifts overhead

Pallid Swoft (Apus pallidus)

And once the sun had set, a lone Northern Wheatear in some scrubby area with a lot of building litter

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Today I had an early morning walk across the Fahaheel Expressway to Abu Hassania beach with little to no people around. There were not many birds to be seen, so I focused on the few butterflies I came across; first up Mediterranean Pierrot

Mediterranean Pierrot (Tarucus rosaceus)

and then a gorgeous female Pea or Long-tailed Blue

Pea Blue (Lampides boeticus)

In one section of habitat just in from the beach there was a small alates eruption and a number of birds were taking advantage of the winged protein. Willow Warblers were the most numerous

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

A single Lesser Whitethroat got into the mix

Central Asian Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia c. halimodendri)

The CatE Oriental Magpie-Robin that I had found earlier this year was still present in the same area and also tucking in

Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis)

But I had the most fun with the aerial antics of the White-eared Bulbul's taking the small flying ants in the air

White-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis)

18 March 2020

Lockdown - Day 3

Week 11; 14 March 2020 - Jahra Farm and Jal Al Zour

This morning was birding with a mission, although I detoured at Jahra Farm on the way (Jahra Pools has now also been closed due to Covid 19!) to Jal Al Zour. I shouldn't have bothered as there was not one migrant to be seen, although the resident White-throated Kingfisher was making its presence known. Just look at those iridescent upperparts!

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)

Earlier this month, Layla one of our local photographers/birders had discovered the 1st breeding record of White-crowned Wheatear for Kuwait in the wadi's of the ridge. Although it was drizzling and overcast (yeah I know, strange for a desert environment) I persisted with getting out there to see if they were still present.

It took some time, but eventually I found 1 adult bird which flew off along the escarpment shortly after I stopped

Adult White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

I continued driving slowly along the base stopping to listen before continuing. Again I was the only person in this area this morning. Eventually I picked them up again feeding high up in the wadi - this time there were still 4 birds (1 pair and 2 juveniles). I spent over an hour watching the interaction between them and feeding in amongst the crap left behind by people who cant be bothered to take their own shit home after enjoying a picnic in the desert!

Adult White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

Juvenile White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

Adult White-crowned Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga)

A Libyan Jird suddenly appeared from a burrow where the Wheatear's had been feeding

Libyan Jird (Meriones l. syrius)

In the same time, I also found a lone Lilith Owl high up on the cliff that was occasionally being harassed by a pair of diminutive Trumpeter Finches. The look of disdain from the Owl was priceless when potential breakfast was being an irritation

Spot the Lilith Owl (Athene n. lilith)

Lilith Owl (Athene n. lilith)

Really! A Lilith Owl (Athene n. lilith) checks out the Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus)

Some life sprouting in the desert adding colour, if you look closely enough

A tiny splash of colour