29 October 2020

Quality at the Pivots

Week 43; 23 October 2020 - Pivot Fields

Last week, we met Christian Meier and I invited him along to the Pivots this morning where John Gurnett and Jules were also birding. We arrived as the sun was rising and then divided and conquered for the morning.

The number of Black-eared Kites have increased dramatically and there were well over 100 birds around the farm and perched on the Pivots.

Black-eared Kite (Milvus m. lineatus)

On the way to the marsh, I had a late Citrine Wagtail

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

Also a Daurian Shrike on a great perch in the early morning light

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

At the marsh, a female Armenian Stonechat

Armenian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

And an Indian Reed Warbler that just didn't behave like others I have seen at the same location

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)

I then took Dr. Riad to show him where the Northern and Sociable Lapwings were and it seems there are now a few more Sociables. Lack of heat haze in early morning, now it is getting cooler, is a real pleasure!

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius)

On the way, I found the Indian Roller and managed to get some images, before some shooter on the boundary fence flushed the birds on the Pivot

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis)

Whilst watching the Lapwing's, a Richards Pipit dropped in briefly 

Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi)

Driving further, I had a great fly by of the Long-legged Buzzard. The last image is a 2nd bird I saw later in the morning

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

Just one Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)

but still a few Pied Wheatear's

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

and a Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)

By now it was warming up and raptors were starting to appear. I had all 3 big Eagles which was a real treat. There was some interaction on a small tree where a Spotted Eagle was roosting, when two other Eagles came in to try and sit in the same tree

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) and two Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

We all enjoyed seeing the magnificent Imperial

Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)

and the Steppe Eagle which is the least common at this location

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

Driving out, I added a Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

a male Armenian Stonechat, that looked exhausted

Armenian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

And a flock of 7 Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

eBird Global Big Day

Week 42; 17 October 2020 - Various locations

John Gurnett joined me for our dawn-to-dusk adventure for the autumn Global eBird Big Day. Although I must admit, the date is not quite suited for Kuwait as many of the migrants have long passed through. Nevertheless it is always an enjoyable days birding. 

I picked John up long before any Sparrows were singing and we headed to our first stop, Abraq in the south west of Kuwait. The focus is on counting birds, but of course we took opportunities to photograph a few of the birds encountered.

First bird up at Abraq was a stunning Asian Shikra warming up in the top of a tree

Asian Shikra (Accipiter b. cenchroides)

Along with a few Steppe Buzzards, one doing it's 'angry bird' impersonation

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

I almost didn't see this cracking male Sparrowhawk in the shade

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

A few of the passerines included; Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

Western Yellow Wagtail

Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka

And a really good looking male Red-chested Flycatcher - I've not seen a summer plumage bird like this before in Autumn. It almost looked like a Robin!

Male Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)

We stopped to look at a female Armenian Stonechat

Armenian Stonechat (Saxicola m. variegatus)

When I saw a smallish Warbler bouncing low through some scrub and it had wing-bars! I got my bins onto it and confirmed it was Yellow-browed. John was not ready for the speed that I jumped out of the car and was after it. It went from bush to bush foraging on the go - like it was on a speed date. Trying to get an image was tough, as it was not static once - but I managed to get a few usable images eventually - but it was a real run around before it just disappeared from sight

Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)

Next stop, Poultry Farm Pivots where we added Steppe Eagle to our list

Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)

This female Pied Wheatear had me going for awhile with its constant wing-flicking, but in the end it was still a Pied.

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

The male was more straight forward

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

By now it was 11am, so we headed east to Jahra Farm for Bank Myna - but dipped on that. We did get another Red-breasted Flycatcher though  - love it's typical pose!

Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)

After stopping for a coffee, it was to Sulaibikhat Bay for the outgoing tide and we timed it perfectly. We boosted our list with many new coastal birds at this and the next site on the coast. Plenty Grey

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

and Western Reef Heron (both forms)

Western Reef Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Along with the many smaller waders, we had Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)

Terns were well represented; mostly Gull-billed

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

and a few Little

Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)

Plenty Slender-billed Gulls and a few large white-headed Gulls with a few challenging 1st year birds too; probable Caspian

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

and Hueglin's

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f. heuglini)

Crab-plover was a species we needed from this site and we managed two!

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)

Next stop was the KISR Outfall where we added Hypocolius, along with Black-headed Gull

Common Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)

and Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida

Last stop was Pivot Fields for the last 2-hours before sunset where we met up with Neil Tovey at the marsh. 

Other birders had been in the morning and got a good few species that were not present in the afternoon. At the marsh, Black-winged Stilt's were vocal and on the wing

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

And the White-winged Tern was still present

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus

We found a Greenshank, which I didn't have yesterday

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

As well as the Red-wattled Lapwing

Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

The Long-legged Buzzard was still present

Long-legged Buzzard (Buteo rufinus)

as was the Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Steppe Buzzards were settling down to roost for the night, but I managed the 'jump' shot

Steppe Buzzard (Buteo b. vulpinus)

As the sun dipped to the horizon, a Red-backed Shrike posed in the afternoon glow.

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)

We could have continued after dark for one more species, but since we started at 4am, we were pretty tired and it was now time to chill and have dinner.

John and I did pretty well, racking up 83 species to contribute to the total of 114 species for Kuwait once all the lists had been submitted and tallied. We did not do as well as the previous 2-years, but still recorded some great species on the day, with all who participated