27 September 2020

Sunrise in the West, Sunset in the East

Week 36; 05 September 2020 - Al Abraq and Jal Al Zour

It has been a long time since I last visited the remote farm in the west of Kuwait. It meant a really early start to get there by sunrise and what a sunrise it was..

Abraq sunrise

On arrival, I spent a productive and really enjoyable hour or so with this golden light at the big pond just inside the gate. It was really active with many species in the surrounding trees and shrub on the banks of the pond. 

Many Willow Warbler's

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Along with Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)

Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler (Curruca nisoria)

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)

Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)

Common Whitethroat, just look at how that white throat pops!

Common Whitethroat (Curruca communis)

A welcome Wryneck

Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)

Tree Pipit's

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Spotted Flycatchers

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

and two weary, but gorgeous Bluethroat's

White-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia s. cyanecula)

Possible Caucasian Bluethroat (Luscinia s. magna)

A flock of European Bee-eater's dropped in for a 'splash + go' and departed as quickly as they had arrived

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

I then took a drive around the farm, connecting with quite a few more species. Here a weary Common Quail

Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)

A number of Wheatear species; Eastern Black-eared

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe h. melanoleuca)


Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

and Northern

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

And a few more Tree Pipit's

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

There are still a few remnant Sunflowers that have long since died, but that still provide a perch with character, from which to hunt. 

A Red-backed Shrike did that for a short time

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Until it was displaced by a Great Grey Shrike

Great/Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor lahtora)

As female Whinchat was in the same field

Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)

shared by this male Eastern (probably Armenian) Stonechat

Eastern Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

There was a bit of interaction when the male wanted the dead flower the female was sitting on - not sure who the winner was?

European and Eastern Stonechat disagreement

In a more open area, an obliging Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

and close by, a field that had been recently watered, attracted Great Grey Shrikes (young and old). The adult bird did quite a bit of posturing in front of the 1st year bird

Great/Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor lahtora)

There were also a few Greater Short-toed Larks

Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)

A Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin in an adjacent field

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)

A Green Sandpiper suddenly dropped in from above, had a drink and was gone in a flash - talk about a quick pit stop

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)

Driving around a little more, I found a Montagu's Harrier catching a quick drink before departing and resting elsewhere, before continuing on its way south

Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)

As it warmed up, I also had Western Marsh Harrier pass by overhead.

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

By now it was pretty hot, so I decided to head back home, only to stop for this little guy who was about to run across the road. It has been quite awhile since I last saw a Hedgehog. The Tick on the ear, must be really irritating - but it is so full, it should drop off soon......

Long-eared Hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus)

Later in the afternoon, I joined Sajan and a few of his birding friends for an Owl excursion on Jal Al Zour. We met at around 4:30 in the afternoon and then drove in convoy to the top of the escarpment. Here we parked and walked some distance to a Wadi I hadn't been to before. I stopped to check an Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

When we arrived at the Wadi, an Arabian Red Fox made a departure in this typical desert habitat scene.

Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes v. arabica)

I got a shout from Sajan to say he had found what we had come for; the 1st year Pharaoh Eagle Owl. One of the 3 youngsters that successfully fledged in this Wadi in the past month. We all just sat on the rim of the Wadi and soaked it up..I had to crank up the ISO as there was very little available light in the Wadi where the Owl was roosting. The last bird in the images below, was the second Owl and possibly one of the adults.

1st year Pharaoh Eagle Owl (Bubo ascalaphus)

It was here we enjoyed the sun roll down the Escarpment. 

Jal Al Zour sunset

We then continued our search, after having waked down into the wadi. We re-found the first bird. I quite like the shadow behind the Owl which gives it a more ominous appearance in the torchlight..

1st year Pharaoh Eagle Owl (Bubo ascalaphus)

We then left them in peace and had a hard chest wheezing walk in soft sand up and out of the Wadi. But a successful and enjoyable evening in the desert after a really early morning start.

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