Week 4, 26 January 2008 - SAANR
This week we have our 3rd group of visiting birders from the UK who had a fantastic who cleaned up their winter target list in a day and half. We had a dismal day out in SAANR, but these are to be expected. Images by Mike Pope and Pekka Fagel
Rob Montgomery, a new birder in Kuwait scanning the wadi for signs of life in SAANR
Whilst accompanying our visitors to Kuwait University for the Indian Roller, Pekka photographed a Category C, Crested Myna which now seem to outnumber the White vented Mynas that were seen in Salmiya, late 2006
The two visiting groups from last week, watching 5 Dunns Lark in SAANR. Brit team was Andy Clifton, Richard Bonser, Chris Bell, Chris Batty (out of shot) and Douglas Barr.
Danish birders Christian Leth, Andre Riis Ebbesen, Johnny Salomonsson and Jacob Benzon Hansen (in the car) with Mahmoud Shehab and Pekka Fagel
Week 3, 18 January 2008 - Sulaibikhat
This week we have had visiting birders from both UK and Denmark who had a fantastic week, cleaning up on most of the winter specials Kuwait has to offer. I was out with my son today, doing some casual birding at Sulaibikhat Reserve and Outfall. Images by Mike Pope
On the way to Sulaibikhat I stopped at Sharq Harbour for Gulls, but the only photographic subject to be found was this White cheeked Bulbul
We arrived at the reserve, no sign of the Long tailed Shrike, but had an obliging male Bluethroat scurrying around the shrubs near the hide
A White Wagtail made a quick stopover for a drink
Spanish Sparrows are present in large numbers, feeding off the seeds of the sabkha bushes
Driving along the track to the outfall, I came across this winter/non-breeding plumage Lesser Sand Plover
At the Outfall there were a mixture of Black headed and Slender billed Gulls, together with some Gull billed Terns - I caught this adult in flight
Adult and juvenile Crab Plovers were very obliging at the car park, even though it was low tide. Here I met up with the British group enjoying the saturated views of these birds
Pekka and Brian were out with one of the groups, so there was little chance for photography - but Pekka was able to capture this Cormorant in one of the quiter moments
By Richard Bonser
Douglas Barr, Chris Batty, Richard Bonser, Chris Bell and Andy Clifton
Three of us first visited Kuwait in April 2007 and had an extremely successful spring trip. Though we saw all of the species we expected at that time of year and witnessed some good migration, we quickly realized that another visit would be needed to target the winter specialities. Thus this was the aim of this trip. A group of four Danish birders joined us throughout the trip and were good company in the many fast food outlets that we frequented in the evenings.
In essence the regular winter specialities (in a Western Palearctic context) for us were Shikra and Indian Roller (and Persian Wheatear for a couple of us). We were also in luck as a couple of Purple Sunbirds were discovered the week before we departed representing the first record of this species for Kuwait and the Western Palearctic. The lads who hadn’t visited Kuwait previously also had the opportunity to see a load of species that three of us had seen in April.
This report goes about things very much like my April 2007 report - for specific site details please see this report. This winter trip was well worth the effort and packed with quality birds but, if you’re looking at the whole birding experience, for the obvious reason of spring migration our April trip was probably better. Nevertheless Kuwait is the only reliable place in the Western Palearctic for Socotra Cormorant, Lesser Sand Plover, Red-vented Bulbul and Bank Myna and all of these occur in winter with the exception of the Cormorant. Added to this other quality species we recorded during our visit included MacQueen’s Bustard, Crab Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing, Dunn’s Lark, Persian Wheatear, White-eared Bulbul and Grey Hypocolius. The Long-tailed Shrike and Common Babblers that we had seen in spring were also seen once again.
Week 2, 11 January 2008 - Subiya
Rashed Al-Hajji on 5 January 08, continued his good form in locating the first mega of 2008 for both Kuwait and Western Palearctic, in the form of 2 Purple Sunbirds.
Purple Sunbirds are breeding residents in northern Oman and the United Arab Emirates. This record possibly constitute a range extension from either eastern province of Saudi Arabia or Iran. There are no records from Saudi Arabia, so this could probably be a western expansion from Iran and the very cold winter being experienced in Iran currently, could be further reason for this 'expansion'to the west. Images by Mike Pope
Brian Foster, Pekka Fagel and I headed out to Subiya in less than ideal conditions - very cold, overcast with some drizzle, not considered ideal for Sunbird watching in our opinion. Once we found the site, it was difficult to comprehend that this was where the sunbirds would be found. This image gives you an idea of the sparse habitat, made up of flowering Lycium Bushes
A close up of the Lycium Bush showing the small and delicate flowers that only appear in winter
This appears to be a juvenile Purple Sunbird, showing the yellow base to the bill
These images of the same bird are by Pekka Fagel. Today, we were only able to photograph one of the two birds present
Cold and satisfied twitchers, after successfully finding the Purple Sunbird. From the right; Mike Pope (SA), Pekka Fagel (Finland and impervious to the cold) and Brian Foster (UK)