A BIRDING TRIP TO KUWAIT 24TH -31ST JANUARY 2007
Participants Ilkka Sahi, Keijo Wahlroos, Hannu Palojärvi, Jukka Ihanus, Markku Santamaa
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Kuwait is a very interesting birding country, especially for birdwatchers who are interested in Western Palearctic (WP) species. Many rare WP-species were found in Kuwait in December 2006 and in January 2007. These wintering records inspired five Finnish WP-birders to arrange a common birding trip to Kuwait. Keijo and Ilkka visited Kuwait already in April 2006. For the other members this was their first visit to Kuwait. We managed to have the same flight, but different hotels. We decided to rent two cars to make more efforts for finding the target species of birds.
Our trip succeeded perfectly, both technically and regarding to the amount of rare birds seen. The total number of observed species was 113 and the first-visitors got to 13 new WP-species. The resident birders gave again excellent support and the general hospitality can nowhere be better than in Kuwait.
This trip report includes daily itinerary and a review of most important records. All daily records are in an appendix. The descriptions of birding areas are already in the earlier trip report.
All daily records are in the appendix.We failed to find two target species, eversmann’s redstart (Phoenicurus erythronotus) and indian roller (Coracius benghalensis). The former had left Sabriya Farm and Failaka Island before we visited. We and the resident birdwatchers tried to find the latter every day. Afterwards at home, we read that two birds were found after our visit.
Photos Brian Foster, Jukka Ihanus, Ilkka Sahi, Markku Santamaa and Keijo Wahlroos.
Khalid, George and Brian served us many accesses to the closed and fenced areas, for example to the Nature Reserves. We thank you for this and the excellent guidance. As well, we thank all you and Pekka for the pleasant birding company. Thanks Pekka for good information beforehand. Thanks all residents for the great hospitality, especially Khalid for our first lunch after the long flight.
This is one of the 10 Scops Owls found roosting at Tuhla in SAANR on 18 Ocotber 2006 by the keen eyes of Khaled Al-Nasrallah and shown to Mike Pope and Brian Foster. All 10 were initially recorded as European Scops Owls, regarded as regular passage migrants and this was the only one photographed by Mike Pope. A wintering Scops Owl at Green Island on 6 January 2007 raised possibilities of Striated Scops Owl, which it was not. The photograph of the Tuhla Owl was re-scrutinised and has now been positively identified and accepted as the first Kuwait record of Striated Scops Owl. Sadly, the identification of other 9 remain unknown
Week 4 - Green Island, Sulaibikhat, Falaika Island and SAANR
This week we were birding with Brian Foster, Pekka Fagel and two groups of Finnish Birders who were over to notch up some wintering Western Palearctic specials. The following images are by Mike Pope
This time the Red vented Bulbul at Green Island was a lot more obliging and put on a show for our visitors
Searching for Richards Pipit at Sulaibikhat, turned up this female Stonechat (maura),as a consolation prize
We took the ferry to Falaika Island where an Eversmanns Redstart had been found by George Gregory the day before. Hours of searching produced a Lesser Whitethroat
Pekka Fagel managed to get a good image of a far from obliging Dark throated Thrush at the same locality as the Whitethroat on Falaika
Pekka also photographed this Red tailed Wheatear in the natural reserve whilst birding with the Finns
Week 2 and 3 - Jahra Farm, Sulaibikhat and Green Island
A selection of images from fellow birder and photographer - Pekka Fagel
A flash of turquoise through the date palms at Jahra Farms alerts us to the resident White breasted Kingfisher
This Long tailed Shrike at Sulaibikhat is quite magnificent in its new plumage
The Red vented Bulbul presented itself whilst searching for the Scops Owl at Green Island
Week 3 - Jahra East, Jahra Farm and Sulaibiyah
Birding in these locations with Brian Foster, Pekka Fagel and George Gregory
It isnt very often that you find an Asian Desert Warbler foraging out in the open, like this one at Jahra East Outfall
Jahra Farms is a group of traditional farms in Jahra City and this worker was picking for the market
Cattle Egrets are not common, but are often found around the Jahra Farms
Large flocks of Rose ringed Parakeets roost in the date palms each night at Jahra Farms
A flock of around 140 Lapwings were found at Sulaibiyah pivot fields, this represents the highest daily count for Kuwait
Also at Sulaibiyah, this flock of over 40 Wood Pigeons was also the highest daily count for Kuwait
Week 2 - Green Island and Sulaibikhat
Brian Foster, Pekka Fagel and I were out today
The pale morph Western Reef Heron was basking in the early morning sun
When first discovered as the 2nd record for Kuwait, this Long tail Shrike was moulting - it is now resplendent in its new plumage
The Gulls and Terns were enjoying feeding and skimming over the outfall at Sulaibikhat Bay, this juvenile Black headed was caught as it wheeled to turn
Winter plumaged Black headed Gulls were seen drinking on the wing from the outfall
Gull billed Terns were also in the flock of Gulls over the outfall
Last Day of Week 1
A quick visit to Green Island, the artificial peninsula off eastern Kuwait City
There were many Cormorants fishing and drying off in the early morning sun
The Red vented Bulbuls are almost guarenteed at Green Island, but are quite elusive
White cheeked Bulbuls seem to be all over Kuwait and are more obliging at Green Island
I heard a commotion as the birds of Green Island exposed this skulking Scops Owl, who was most disgruntled that it had been discovered
I had discovered a pair of White vented Myna's (Category C birds) in Salmiya last year and assumed this bird at Green Island was the same species! Richard Bonser, on a winter birding trip to Kuwait in January 08 has pointed out that this bird is a Crested Myna - so now there are 2 Category C species that need monitoring for breeding and further expansion
End of Week 1
Birding with Pekka Fagel and George Gregory, looking for the wintering specials
Common Babbler from a group of 6 at Abdaly Farms to the north of Kuwait
An obliging Bluethroat at Abdaly Farm
This female Black Redstart was far more accomodating than the skittish male
This Indian Roller returned back to Jahra Farm for it's second year
I disturbed a Southern Grey Shrike (pallidirostris)as it was feeding on a lizard it had just caught
A Rook, the 3rd record for Kuwait and last seen in Kuwait over 40 years ago made an appearance at Shuwaikh Port
Start of Week 1
First couple of days of the New Year birding in and around Salwa
Juvenile Kentish Plover on Salwa beach front
Male Stonechat (maura) in non-breeding plumage at Sabah al Salem
Female House Sparrow around the Mosque at Sabah al Salem
Kuwait trip report, April 8th-18th 2006
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Participants: Tommy Frandsen, Andreas Hagerman, Jens Søgaard Hansen, Martin Poulsen, Denmark
This trip report covers the observations and itinerary of a full time birding trip to Kuwait for ten days in April 2006. The main purpose of the trip was to find out about the birding in the country as well as trying to see some specific species difficult to see elsewhere in the Western Palearctic, or maybe finding a surprise or two. Main target species were Socotra Cormorant, Caspian Plover, Egyptian Nightjar, Basra Reed Warbler, and Grey Hypocolius. We saw all but Caspian Plover – apparently it was too late in the season for that species. Other good birds seen were Yellow-browed Warbler, Great Tit (first record for Kuwait), Sooty Falcon, Mountain Lesser Whitethroat, and surprisingly good numbers of migrants such as Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, White-throated Robin (about 61), Isabelline Shrike (about 95) and much more. We also missed out on Syke’s Warbler, but Martin Poulsen who stayed a week longer saw one later.
A Finnish team with Rami Lindroos, Ilkka Sahi, and Keijo Wahlroos was visiting Kuwait in the same period as us. Some of the days we teamed up for birding, other days we just exhanged information with text messages or met in the evening as we stayed at the same hotel. Some of the other days were spent with very friendly and helpful locals Brian Foster and Khaled Nasrallah.
Before going we practically didn’t know anything about birding in Kuwait apart from a few websites such as www.osme.org and www.alsirhan.com and a string of emails with Brian Foster before the very usefull book by George Gregory ”The Birds of the State of Kuwait” was published shortly before our visit.
At the time of writing (May 2006) only one trip report from Kuwait is available on the Internet. That is primarily because it has not been possible for tourists to visit the country. But since 2005 the visa rules have changed, and it is now easy for most westerners to obtain a visa upon arrival in the airport. Kuwait truely deserves to become the next birding hot-spot, not only for its WP specialities but indeed also for its generally high quality birding – as we hope to convey with this trip report. That said, our birding activity was very high and we didn’t spend much time on photographing or doing anything else than birding during daylight, so probably we saw a little bit more than can be expected. We also used walkie-talkies which made it possible to cover greater areas and see more birds. 180 species in total. Rarity report forms have been filled out and sent to the Kuwait Rarity Committee for our observations of Sooty Falcon, Yellow-browed Warbler, Icterine Warbler, and Great Tit.
and other very friendly locals!
A BIRDING TRIP TO KUWAIT 5th-15th April 2006
Participants: Rami Lindroos, Ilkka Sahi & Keijo Wahlroos
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Our trip was made at the best spring migration time, and in our opinion it succeeded well both technically and in the matter of birds seen. The total number of observed species was 160, of which we saw 9 -13 new Western Palearctic species each. In different seasons it should be possible to see some more interesting species, which we missed on this trip. Local birders were most helpful and also the general hospitality was top class. In this report we give some basic instructions for birders planning a trip to Kuwait, as well as details of our own trip.
Pekka Fågel and Jorma Tenovuo, who had visited Kuwait earlier, gave us information about birding in the country and valuable contact details. Jorma also lent us the map of Kuwait. Brian Foster was most helpful by giving information about target species and voluntarily guiding us around; thanks also for pleasant birding company. Also, Brian introduced us to Khalid and Ahmad, who were very hospitable by arranging for us to enter Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve and Bubiyan archipelago. Thanks also for the pleasant Kuwaiti dinner. And last but not least, thanks to the Danish group for nice and professional birding company and well-working co-operation.
Jukka J. Nurmi helped by processing the pictures taken during our trip and adding to this report.
Mobile: +965 9643048
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Bird Monitoring and Protection Team (BMAPT)
Kuwait Environment Protection Society (KEPS)
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