Week 05 - 30 January 2010, Pivot Fields, Jahra Pools and Khiran
After the coldest day of winter last week, the weather warmed up nicely for the weekend. The French Group (Pierre-Andre Crochet and Eric Didner) and the Brit Group (Richard Bonser, Andy Clifton and Alan Clewes) were still here. As we were all out, we decided to make this weekend a winter bird count - the lists are still coming in, but it bodes well for an impressive winter total. Images by Mike Pope
My first stop was Pivot Fields where Pierre and Eric birding first thing this morning. Photography was hampered a little by moisture in the air from the SE breeze that upped the humidity level today. Raptors were well represented and I had Hen and Pallid Harrier, as well as an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle high up on the pylon
A couple of Spotted Eagles
A male Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
Water Pipits are still to be found at most sites in Kuwait
It is not often you hear birds singing in winter, this Corn Bunting however was in full cry
I saw 4 Wood Pigeons roosting on the overhead irrigation and got this image as they flew past me
I checked the spot where Brian and I had seen the 11th record of Buff bellied Pipit and found it close by - good news that it has remained for some time
Following the good rains and mild weather, Kuwait is awash in a sea of yellow flowers
I headed to Jahra Pools, usual suspects in the form of Moorhen, Coot, big flock of Black headed Gulls, Little and Black necked Grebe, Shoveller, Mountain Chiffchaff, Spotted and Imperial Eagle and Marsh Harrier and this female Siberian Stonechat
I then got a call from Brian Foster who passed on the news that Rashed Al Hajji had found a Pharaohs Eagle Owl (Bubu ascalaphus desertorum) south of Khiran. This was too good to pass up and most of the locals, made the 95km trek south to meet up with Rashed to see this great bird roosting in a hole in the jebel
Whilst we were in the vicinity, Rashed said he would show us the location of some Wheatears. On route he pointed out this Cynomorium coccineum which he hadnt seen for many years. The good rain and mild weather can only be responsible for it to suddenly sprout up
Once we got to the site, two birds were seen on some of the rubble and sand heaps - the first turned out to be an autum plumaged Black eared Wheatear
The second was the one we were after, also an autumn plumaged Finsch's Wheatear
A third Wheatear in the same area was Mourning
Week 04 - 23 January 2010, Sulaibikhat
The Lesser Flamingo (2nd record for Kuwait) found by Rashed Al Hajji on 16 January 2010 hadnt been seen for over a week. Pekka had confirmed Hume's Wheatear this morning, so I headed out to Sulaibikhat Bay in the late afternoon to check the big flocks of Greater Flamingo on the incoming tide to see if I could confirm the presence of this rarity. Images by Mike Pope
The first stop at the Maternity Hospital was fruitless, only a small flock could be checked. The much bigger flock was into the sun, so I headed to Sulaibikhat Reserve where I could have the sun behind me. There is still water at the reeds with the hide which is heartening and the first bird seen on the way in were a few calling Graceful Prinia's.
I drove to the part of the reserve closest to the flock, disturbing a flock of around 100+ roosting Kentish Plovers
A lone Dunlin in amongst the Kentish Plovers
I found an undisturbed spot and got myself comfortable. The big flock of Greater Flamingo's was some 500m away and was soon joined by the flock I had checked earlier - making the flock even bigger
After around 30-minutes of scanning back and forth through the flock, two Greater Flamingos parted and I saw the smaller Lesser Flamingo in the middle of the flock, before it got closed in again by the moving birds. The bird is in the middle of this image, but this is to give an indication of how far they were and how easily it could be overlooked
The same image cropped to show the dimunitive Lesser Flamingo amongst the larger Greaters.
Satisfied in confirming its presence for our visitors who arrived last night, I headed to Manchester Club to check what could be seen from the spur. Saturday afternoon is not the best time for this location, as it is used as a launch site for small fishing boats. There were big flocks of Gulls, Terns, Curlews and Greenshank that would roost here overnight.
White Wagtails were preening on the berm after a wash in the outfall
After a productive hour out, it was time to head home when I spotted this large flock of Crab Plovers on the Kuwait City side of the spur
Week 02 - 09 January 2010, Pivot Fields, SAANR and Jahra Pools Reserve
After a relaxing vacation in Thailand interspersed with adventurous excursions and some good forest birding we are back in Kuwait. We continue to experience mild winter weather and look forward to good birding in 2010, following above average winter rainfall. Brian and I were out on the weekend, checking a few locations ahead of visits by a UK and French Group later in the month. Images by Mike Pope
Almost a regular circuit now for a mornings birding, we started at Pivot Fields. At the crocodile pond we had 2 Pied Kingfishers and a smattering of Black Crowned Night Herons, including a juvenile.
One of the 4 crocs was thawing out in the morning sun - this is the scary side of a crocodile!
A smallish acciptor put up all the Collared Doves as it came in low over a field and landed. We suspect it to be a first year male Sparrowhawk
This Long legged Buzzard also catching the first rays of the morning sun
We were quite surprised to find two Steppe Buzzards in what is pretty much mid-winter
Namaqua Doves are most abundant at Pivot Fields
The large flocks of Northern Lapwing are scattered around the Pivot Fields, however no sight of the Golden Plover
A male Pallid Harrier in place of the Hen Harrier which is still present
On the way out a good Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike hunting from the overhead irrigation structures
After 2-hours we headed to SAANR and straight to the wadi where we were thrilled to find the Hume's Wheatear; almost a month after first being seen. Good news for our visitors!
There is still a bit of ground water around SAANR and birds are dispersed, so we headed to Jahra Pool Reserve where water levels have been maintained and this bodes well for coming spring and summer. Purple Gallinules are still present and I'm sure will breed this year, so we will monitor closely.
Jahra Pools has been fantastic for ducks, today however only Gadwalls were present
Little Grebes bred at Jahra Pools in December, when they should in fact be in winter plumage. We dont know if they took advantage of the mild winter? By comparison, the Black necked Grebes at the same site have remained in winter plumage. We are also doing some research to see if there is any similarity to the Iraq and SW Iran endemic subspecies of Little Grebe or Red throated Dabchick (Tachybaptus ruficollis iraquensis)
31 December 2009
I thought that it would be useful to share the rarities recorded and accepted by KORC (Kuwait Ornithological Records Committee) for the year 2009, before we head into what may be another exciting birding year in Kuwait. We believe this will be the case, following the above average winter rains and temperatures recorded over the winter.
1st Records (7 species) - Asian Koel, Mongolian Finch, Sombre Tit, African Darter, Dusky Warbler, Indian Pond Heron, White tailed Eagle
2nd Records (5 species) - Pallid Scops Owl, Grey necked Bunting, Red footed Falcon, Rustic Bunting, Greater White fronted Goose
4th records (3 species) - Grey Phalarope, Arctic Tern, Common Crane
5th records (2 species) - Stock Dove, Sociable Lapwing
6th records (3 species) - European Golden Plover, Ferruginous Duck, Stock Dove
7th records (3 species) - Crested Honey Buzzard, Rufous Turtle Dove, Ferruginous Duck
8th records (1 species) - Hume’s Wheatear
9th records (3 species) - Black Stork, Spur winged Lapwing, Dead Sea Sparrow
10th records (2 species) - Black Tern, Dead Sea Sparrow
For Excel version please email Mike Pope