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Bahrain Bird Report Bahrain Kuwait Birding

A BIRDING TRIP TO KUWAIT 5th-15th April 2006

 

 

 

Rami Lindroos, Ilkka Sahi & Keijo Wahlroos

 

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.

 

The location of Kuwait at the top of the Persian Gulf, in the south-east corner of the Western Palearctic (WP), makes it an interesting birding country, especially amongst birdwatchers who are interested in counting WP species. Despite that, there is surprisingly little written about birds of Kuwait and birding in Kuwait. For example on the internet there are only a couple of trip reports (connected to work trip, meeting friends, etc.). The recently published 'The Birds of the State of Kuwait' by George Gregory is the most useful guide by giving highest counts of each regular species in each third of a month and short descriptions about birding areas in Kuwait. Besides that, interesting bird observations are summarised in a yearly report, which should be possible to obtain from Brian Foster.

There are no charter flights to Kuwait, but the country can be reached from some major airports of Europe. Prices of the flights are relatively high - our own two-way tickets Helsinki-Amsterdam-Kuwait City cost about 790 euros per person.

The currency of Kuwait is the Kuwaiti dinar (divided into 1000 fils), and the rate is roughly 1 KD = 3 euros. Booked well in advance, the cheapest hotels cost about 35 euros per person per night. There were also some very cheap youth hostels mentioned on the internet, but they all seemed to be out of use. Car rental is clearly cheaper than in many other countries (a normal saloon car costs about 25 euros per day), and the petrol is nearly free (less than 20 cents per litre) Prices of food, etc. are also somewhat lower than in Finland. However, at least officially alcoholic drinks are not available at all.

Traffic in Kuwait is concentrated around Kuwait City, where it is relatively heavy and some drivers speed dangerously. However, the road network is in really good condition, and it is easy to get in any wanted direction from Kuwait City by using several handy ring roads. The only useful map we know is the 1:500 000 map by GEOprojects (available for example at the airport), which is not very detailed. Another useful thing is a table of tide heights, which can be printed from http://easytide.ukho.gov.uk/easytide/. Choose Ash-Shuwaykh, Kuwait for the location. 

 

DAILY ITINERARY

5th April

We arrived in Kuwait on KLM flight around 22.15hrs. Before getting our luggage we fixed our visas (5KD/person). Among others, all Nordic Countries citizens can get their visas (for one month) straight from the airport when arriving, without applying beforehand.

From the airport we took a taxi to Kuwait City, where our hotel, the Continental (room for 3 persons about 45 KD/night, including breakfast) was located. Generally everything at the airport and the transportation worked very smoothly, and about one hour after landing we were already in our hotel room.

 

6th April

After a quick breakfast we met Brian Foster (brian_foster_uk@yahoo.co.uk), a British birder who works as a teacher in Kuwait. Brian had kindly volunteered to show as around the best birding sites during his days off. Therefore we had arranged Thursday and Friday as our first birding days (corresponding to Saturday and Sunday in Europe).

However, after driving some distance, Brian´s jeep suddenly broke down. After considering the matter briefly we took a taxi to Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve, and Brian left to organise the fixing of his jeep. We were birding at the reserve until afternoon, when Brian arrived with a taxi and we checked together some other places around Sulaibikhat Bay.

 

7th April

Because Brian´s jeep was still broken, he had kindly asked his friend Mike Ling (with his car) to join us for this day. Most of the day was spent at the Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, where especially Tulha oasis held good numbers of birds.

After the Reserve we quickly checked Qaisat and Jahra Farms, and Brian and Mike dropped us at our hotel. Brian also gave us more information and driving instructions to other birding areas of the country and arranged a possibility of visiting Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve again in subsequent days.

 

8th April – 115km

After a quick breakfast we took a taxi to the airport, where we rented a Mitsubishi Pajero for the rest of our trip. We used the local Al-Mulla rental company, which we can warmly recommend. The car cost 16KD/per day without any limitations on distance. Besides that, the driver had to take out required insurance for an extra 10KD (valid for one month). The insurance covers all damage to the car in case of possible accident. The police must be called and arrive to write a damage report. KW was chosen as driver for rest of the trip. RL and IS read the map and made field notes about observations.

After car renting we still wasted a couple of hours by searching for cheaper accommodation, without result. Then we continued to Green Island for several hours of birding. After that we worked out the timetables of the ferry to Failaka Island (but eventually we didn´t have time to visit that place during this trip). The timetables and other useful information are available from a small booth at Ras Al-Ardh with a security sign.

For the rest of the afternoon we continued to Doha South, were we met Brian and a newly arrived group of Danish birders – Tommy Frandsen, Andreas Hagerman, Martin Poulsen and Jens Søgaard Hansen. Because of the relative emptiness of Doha South we then moved to nearby Doha Spit for the last moments of daylight.

After sunset we found out that the Danes were staying just next to our hotel, so we drove back together and then met at dinner and made plans for the next day.

 

9th April – 195km

We met the Danes again at breakfast, and left for Qaisat oasis, where we spent about an hour. After that we drove to Sabah Al-Ahmed Nature Reserve and met Hussain Al-Qallaf and Khalid Al-Nasrallah, who had kindly promised to guide us around the reserve. The rest of the day was spent in the reserve with Khalid and the Danes. As a refreshing surprise Khalid had arranged the reserve workers to bring us a large cooler box of cold drinks during the hottest hours of the day!

 

10th April – 420km

After a quick breakfast we started again at Qaisat. Then we moved to a raptor watch point nearby at Jal Az-Zor, where, according to Brian, it should be possible to see relatively good migration. We spent there about an hour, and after that it started to be clear that at least today the weather was too calm and hot to see many birds moving.

Most of the afternoon was spent at Abdaly Farms in the northern part of the country. On our way back we made a quick stop at Rawdatain water pumping station and we still had time to check Jahra East Outfall before dusk.

 

11th April – 350km

After breakfast we left together with the Danes to try some sea watching at Ras Az-Zour. At the gate to the area the guards were friendly but made it clear that it is not possible to go inside the area. That was why we decided to try sea watching from Pipeline Beach nearby, from where the sea was easily visible. In principle the beach is also guarded because of the oil pipes running along it, but when the guards saw that we were only focused on birds, they let us stay there.

We spent a couple of hours at the beach, and then continued to nearby Power Plant Reeds, while the Danish group continued birding around the beach area. After that we wasted several hours by trying to find a suitable sea watching place at Khiran resort and from the shore south of Khiran. However, the whole shoreline from Khiran to the border of Saudi Arabia is built over, and we gave up after briefly watching the empty sea from a space between two buildings. The rest of the afternoon was spent at Wafra Farms.

Later in the evening Brian came to pick us and the Danes up to go to a Kuwaiti restaurant for a nice evening meal arranged by Khalid and the chief of the Voluntary Work Centre, Ahmad Al-Mershed. The dinner consisted of traditional Kuwaiti dishes and our hosts had invited also some other Kuwaiti birdwatchers (in fact most of the Kuwaiti birders) to meet us. We got back to our hotel a little after midnight.

 

12th April – 310km

After breakfast we started birding at Sabah Al-Salem, where we spent a couple of hours. After that we drove to Doha Spit to watch waders gathered for high tide roost. The wader count was interrupted by the Danes – we got an SMS-message that they had found an Egyptian Nightjar resting on the dunes at Pipeline Beach.

After about an hour and 100 km driving we were watching the bird together with the Danish group. After a short time sea-watching we also twitched a Yellow-browed Warbler found by the Danes at the western end of the beach. Then we had a short break in MacDonald´s, and started to drive unusually early back towards Kuwait City, because due to overbooking we were supposed to search for another hotel for our last night.

Back in our hotel we heard, that because of cancellations they actually still had room and we could continue to stay there. Although there were still a couple of hours of light left, the rest of the afternoon was used mainly for sleeping.

 

13th April – 260km

We started at dawn at Jahra East Outfall, where the first daylight hour was spent. Then we made a short stop at Qaisat and continued to the entrance of Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, where we met Brian and the Danes. Together we birded around the reserve for couple of hours.

After that we met again Khalid, Ahmad and some other Kuwaiti birdwatchers, and continued together to a coast guard base, from where Ahmad and Khalid had arranged for us a boat trip to strictly closed Bubiyan and Warba Islands. For example Brian had visited the area only once before this trip. We circled the islands with the coast guard boat for some hours, and part of the group visited briefly some breeding colonies to check and estimate the stage of breeding. Ahmad and Khalid had also arranged a large cooler box of cold drinks on the deck of the boat as well as some delicious sandwiches.

After the boat trip the group was split, and we continued with Brian, Ahmad and Khalid to Hujaijah, a place Brian calls 'a shooters' spot'. Rather strong wind and afternoon heat kept the birds hiding, but two Pallid Harriers, two Eurasian Sparrowhawks, a Booted Eagle and a Scops Owl were found shot, explaining the name of the place.

 

14th April – 360km

We met Brian and the Danes early in the morning at the beginning of the road leading to Salmi, and continued together to Al-Abraq Al-Khabari oasis. We were birding around the bird-rich oasis for some hours. The only negative thing was the locals shooting at birds. We found recently shot a Roller, a White-throated Robin and a Grey Hypocolius. Besides that, in principle the very friendly owner of the oasis showed us proudly a group of shot birds, which included about eight Night Herons, a Black-winged Stilt and a Grey Hypocolius. He was also clearly proud of his two hunting falcons (looking like Gyr Falcon and Saker), of which the more expensive Gyr Falcon had cost 8000 KD.

After the oasis we drove around good looking desert areas near the Iraq border, mainly following the eastern edge of Wadi Al-Batin. Then we said goodbyes to Brian and the Danish group and took a short break at Burger King in Jahra City. The last daylight hours were spent at Jahra Farms.

Finally we drove back to the airport, delivered back our car, and started to wait for our return flight. Again everything worked smoothly at the airport.

 

15th April

Our flight back to Finland took off soon after midnight, and during a stop in Amsterdam airport, we used the opportunity to have the only pints of beer on our trip.

 

BIRDING AREAS

Most good birding areas in Kuwait are located fairly close to Kuwait City, and because of the small size of the country and fast roads, it is possible to reach even the more distant places using Kuwait City as a base. Many of the places are reachable with a normal saloon car, but especially in desert areas a 4x4 wheel car is needed.

There is a short introduction to birding areas in Kuwait in both Abdullah F. Alfadhel`s and George Gregory´s books, but no driving instructions are given. That is why local contacts make birding much easier. Also nature reserves are closed to the public and local contacts are needed to arrange a visit to those. Besides that, some places are private property (farming areas, etc.), and permission to enter must be asked from the owners (excluding Ras Az-Zour, we were allowed to get into every place we asked for). At this time, there are few visiting birders in Kuwait, so the locals are just glad to have a chance to show how good birding opportunities are there.

This part includes short description of all birding areas that we visited during our trip, with overall driving instructions. While reading the list, one must remember that some places were visited just briefly, and numbers of birds and their activity can vary a lot depending on daytime and season. The only disturbance was caused by locals shooting at birds; otherwise it was easy and safe to do birding in all visited places.

 

BUBIYAN AND WARBA ISLANDS

Large complex of sandbars, islands and channels near the Iraq border in the north-eastern corner of the country. The area is reachable only by boat, and it is controlled by the Kuwait army and coastguard. Normally tourists cannot enter the area.

The world´s largest known population of Crab Plovers (about 1600 pairs) breeds on the islands. Other numerous breeding species are for example Gull-billed Tern, Slender-billed Gull and Western Reef Egret.

 

SABAH AL-AHMED NATURE RESERVE

Over 300km˛ fenced and guarded nature reserve north of Kuwait City. Tourist birders can enter the area only with help and co-operation of local birders. The area represents the original semi-desert of Kuwait (nowadays most of the country is overgrazed by camels, goats, etc.) and is a good area for observing different species of larks and other desert species. Tulha oasis inside the reserve is an excellent place for observing birds resting on migration.

 

ABDALY FARMS

Large farming area (signposted from the motorway leading to Iraq border) in the northern part of the country, consisting of hundreds of small private farms. The area is important for wintering birds and as a stopping place for migrating birds. However, the area is too large to check it systematically, and permission of the owners must be asked to enter each different farm.

 

RAWDATAIN WATER PUMPING STATION

Wall-covered water pumping station near Abdaly Farms, on the west side of the motorway leading to Iraq border. Leaking water attracts some migrating passerines, but not that spectacular a place.

 

WAFRA FARMS

Like Abdaly Farms, but in the southern part of the country (signposted from King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz Road).

 

AL-ABRAQ AL-KHABARI OASIS

A rather small private oasis farm in the western desert with some agricultural activity. From Jahra, take the road to Salmy and drive about 41 km. Then turn right onto a tarmac road (not in the map) and drive about 20 km and then turn south-west (green car tyre at the junction) to a dirt road leading to the oasis. Permission for birding must be asked from the owners.

Excellent place for observing resting passerines during migration. A negative thing is that the locals shoot at birds as a hobby in the area.

Large desert areas outside the oasis seemed to be very good for various larks, especially beside Wadi Al-Batin. The wadi itself is a border zone and it is strictly forbidden to go into the wadi over its northeast-southwest berm (sand wall).

 

PIPELINE BEACH

Sandy shoreline in the northern side of Ras Az-Zour in the south-eastern part of the country. The tip of the ras (cape) is a closed area and it is not possible to get in there. The beach can be reached from the road leading to Ras Az-Zour. Park near the gap in the roadside fence (several hundred meters before the  checkpoint at the tip, 6.9 km from the junction of King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz Road) and walk to the dunes, from which the sea is easily watched.

The beach seems to be the best place to see Socotra Cormorants in Kuwait (maybe excluding boat trips), and with suitable winds it should be possible to see good numbers of interesting terns. Also, on the two mornings that we spend there, the passerine migration followed the cape´s northern edge, and the dune vegetation and roadside trees held good numbers of resting passerines. Also, flowering acacias at the western end of the beach on the side of Az-Zour village´s fenced houses held good numbers of passerines.

 

POWER PLANT REEDS

A small and easily observed reed-covered sewage pool (completely dry during our visit) just next to Ras Az-Zour. Take the road heading south from Ras Az-Zour (not shown on the map) and then turn right onto a dirt track leading to the pool. A good place for passerines resting on migration.

 

KHIRAN RESORT

A large holiday resort in the south-eastern corner of the country (signposted from King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz Road). Getting in depends on your negotiation skills with the guards at the entrance. Probably a good spot for observing passerines resting during migration, and at the lagoon in the middle were some terns. From the marina it should be possible to arrange boat trips to the sea for example to see better terns and Socotra Cormorants.

 

SABAH AL-SALEM

A small and rather easily covered area with reeds and sewage water at the south-western corner of the Fahaheel Expressway and the 6th Ring Road junction. You can enter the area by turning onto a suitable track from a slip road leading from the 6th Ring Road to Fahaheel Expressway (to south). A good spot for waders and crakes. The locals shoot at birds as a hobby.

 

GREEN ISLAND

A small cape on the eastern side of the Kuwait City. The cape is used as a picnic area and a small entrance fee must be paid (500 fils). By the entrance there is a large parking area on the side of Arabian Gulf Street.

Red-vented Bulbuls breed in the area and it can also be a good place to observe migrating passerines. On weekends (Thursday-Friday) the area is crowded with local people having a picnic.

 

SULAIBIKHAT BAY NATURE RESERVE

Small and easily covered fenced nature reserve on the western side of Kuwait City. Entering the area requires arrangements with local birders. Quite a good place for observing passerines resting on their migration, and at low tide the shores nearby hold some waders.

The southern shore of Sulaibikhat Bay outside of the reserve is a good area for Crab Plovers during their breeding season (when most of these birds are unreachable on Bubiyan and Warba Islands). Best spots for the species are on the side of Gamal Abdul Nasser Street with a small car park area and near Falcon Hospital.

 

JAHRA FARMS

Small-scale, wall-covered farming area in the middle of Jahra City. Entering the area needs permission from the owners or local workers (not a problem).

Some migrants stop in the area, but the place is probably better in winter. Outside the farm area Bank Mynas can be seen rather easily, for example on the electricity wires nearby.

Driving instructions are rather complicated. We turned from Jahra Road to Jahra City and then turned left just before a Burger King (needs U-turn to get left) and then left again immediately after kind of a small market square (on the left side of the road). Then we turned right from a T-junction and drove towards a well-visible mosque. Behind the mosque, a narrow wall-sided track leads to the farm gate (left side) in the wall. There is room to park just after the gate.

 

JAHRA EAST OUTFALL

Good-looking, reed-covered sewage channel in the south-western corner of Kuwait Bay, north-east of Jahra City. Turn north onto road 605 (camping area) from Jahra Road and quite soon choose suitable tracks heading northwest.

The area is good for Acrocephalus warblers and birds resting during migration (passerines, waders). At low tide the shore nearby attracts plenty of waders. The locals shoot birds in the area as a hobby.

 

QAISAT

A rather small oasis in the south-western corner of Kuwait Bay. You can reach the place from the road leading to Subiyah. Turn right at a place where there is a wall-covered army camp on the left side of the road and couple of small mobile shops on your right (the oasis is the first ”wooded” area east side of the Subiyah road).

Many passerines and some raptors rest in the area during migration and there are a couple of small water pools, where birds can come to drink. Besides that, the shore nearby attracts some waders at low tide. The locals shoot birds in the area as a hobby.

 

DOHA SOUTH

A couple of reed-covered pools east of Doha Spit Motorway. There is a gap in the motorway side fence with the sign 'Motorway ends 500m' (before Entertainment City). The area was checked only briefly, but seemed good for Acrocephalus warblers, etc.

 

DOHA SPIT

An excellent place for waders south of Doha Village. Drive on the road leading to Doha Village and after a check point turn right onto dirt tracks towards the shoreline. Keep driving on a track close the shore until you find flocks of waders. The place is best at high tide, as waders gather there for the high tide roost.

 

 

SPECIES LIST

In the following section there is a systematic list of species observed during our trip with some details. Most observations were made together with Brian, Khalid and/or the Danes. Explanations for some markings: c = circa, m = migrating, p = local, a = flock, ad = adult, juv = juvenile, cy = calendar year.

Our numbers are clearly lower compared with the Danish group birding in same time on same areas – that is mainly because of the more effective birding technique of the Danes covering larger areas in each place, not because of different way of estimating number of birds. However, some of our numbers can be underestimates.

 

GARGANEY Anas querquedula

Only observation was on 8th April at Doha South, 1 flying-by.

 

COMMON QUAIL Coturnix coturnix

In total 5 birds; all were flushed by walking around suitable habitats.

 

GREAT CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo

About 15 birds in total; all observations around Kuwait City - Sulaibikhat Bay area. Also a couple of dozens of unidentified Cormorants were seen far at sea from Pipeline Beach.

 

SOCOTRA CORMORANT Phalacrocorax nigrogularis

From Pipeline Beach on 12th April 3 immatures and on 13th April 2 immatures relatively close the shoreline. According to local birders, usually the species is seen mainly between May and early autumn, but all close-distance Cormorants we identified at Pipeline Beach were Socotra Cormorants.

 

LITTLE BITTERN Ixobrychus minutus

On 8th April at Doha South 4p and on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert a9 in the middle of the day searching for a place to land.

 

NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax

On 6th April at Doha South 2 2nd cy birds. Also on 14th April local shooters had at Al-Abraq oasis a group of half dozen shot birds.

 

SQUACCO HERON Ardeola ralloides

Some individuals were seen in several days mainly around small reedbeds. Also one shot bird was seen.

 

CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis

On 9th April at Jahra Motorway junction 1p, on 10th April at Qaisat 2p and on 13th April at Subiyah 1 flying-by.

 

WESTERN REEF EGRET Egretta gularis

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Nature Reserve 1p, on 8th April at Green Island 1p and on 13th April at Bubian and Warba Islands c150 birds mainly in several breeding colonies. Interestingly, most pairs were pure white or grey pairs – only one mixed pair was seen.

 

LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta

Only few birds were identified.

 

GREY HERON Ardea cinerea

Clearly the biggest counts were on 6th April at Sulaibikhat Nature Reserve c100p feeding at muddy low tide shore and on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands c50 birds in breeding colonies. The nests of Grey Herons were on bare ground just next to Western Reef Egrets – in Finland Grey Heron nests high up in trees. Also a few single birds were seen at various places.

 

PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea

Only observation: on 9th April at Qaisat 1 ad m. Probably the same bird was found shot at the same place couple of days later.

 

GLOSSY IBIS Plecadis falcinellus

Only observation: on 6th April at Doha South 1m.

 

EURASIAN SPOONBILL Platalea leucorodia

2 single birds on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands were the only observations.

 

GREATER FLAMINGO Phoenicopterus roseus

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Nature Reserve a30 p and on 13th April at Qaisat shore a3p were the only observations.

 

BLACK KITE Milvus migrans

On 9th April at QaisatSabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 5m and on 10th April 1 at the same area. All birds were typical eastern form Black Kites with brighter colours than normal European ones.

 

SHORT-TOED EAGLE Cirgaetus gallicus

At Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April 1m and on 9th April 1m1p.

 

WESTERN MARSH HARRIER Circus aeruginosus

In total 10 birds were seen in two days.

 

PALLID HARRIER Circus macrourus

In total 10 birds were seen. Also 2 birds were found shot.

 

MONTAGU`S HARRIER Circus pygargus

On 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve ad was the only observation.

 

EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK Accipiter nisus

In total c10 birds were seen. Also two shot birds were found.

 

COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo

In total c10 birds were seen. All birds belonged to eastern subspecies (probably vulpinus).

 

GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE Aquila clanga

Only observation: on 8th April at Kuwait airport 1 2nd-3rd cy m.

 

STEPPE EAGLE Aquila nipalensis

In total c13 birds, both local and migrating. Almost all birds were seen at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve area.

 

IMPERIAL EAGLE Aquila heliaca

At Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April 2 2nd cy and on 9th April 1 2nd cy.

 

BOOTED EAGLE Hieraaetus pennatus

On 9th April at Qaisat 3 birds left the roost and started migrating. Also one shot bird was found.

 

OSPREY Pandion haliaetus

In total 6 birds were seen around shores of Sulaibikhat Bay.

 

LESSER KESTREL Falco naumanni

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve a3m, on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 2ad and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall a3p.

 

COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus

Clearly the most common raptor. Highest count on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve c50p.

 

EURASIAN HOBBY Falco subbuteo

Only observation: on 14th April at Jahra Farms 2m.

 

WATER RAIL Rallus aquaticus

Only observation: on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 1 calling.

 

SPOTTED CRAKE Porzana porzana

On 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 8p and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 1 calling.

 

COMMON MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus

Especially common at Sabah Al Salem and at Jahra East Outfall, couple of dozen birds in both places. Also few birds were seen/heard elsewhere in suitable habitat.

 

EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus

In total 20 birds were seen in two days around shores of Sulaibikhat Bay.

 

BLACK-WINGED STILT Himantopus himantopus

Was seen only at Jahra East Outfall, where on 10th April a5p and on 13th April c10. Besides that local shooters had one shot bird at Al-Abraq oasis.

 

CRAB PLOVER Dromas ardeola

On 6th April at southern shore of Sulaibikhat Bay a45p (mostly immatures). At Doha Spit on 8th April a26p and on 12th April c10p. On 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands in total c1000 birds in three flocks.

 

COLLARED PRATINCOLE Glareola pratincola

In total c55 birds were seen, all migrating in small flocks.

 

BLACK-WINGED PRATINCOLE Glareola nordmanni

On 13th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1m in a flock of Collared Pratincoles and at Bubiyan and Warba Islands a8 m. On 14th April at Al-Abraq desert a2 m. Also one recently shot bird was found at Jahra East Outfall on 10th April.

 

LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius

Only observation: on 10th April at Qaisat Shore 1 flying-by.

 

COMMON RINGED PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula

Highest counts were on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem c30p, at Doha Spit c20p and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall c60p.

 

KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus

Some birds were seen almost everywhere on the shoreline. In many places the adults were alarming and in some places also downy young were seen.

 

LESSER SAND PLOVER Charadrius mongolus

Was seen only at Doha Spit high tide roost, where on 8th April 150p and on 12th April 300p.

 

GREY PLOVER Pluvialis squatarola

Some dozens of birds mainly on shores of Sulaibikhat Bay.

 

RED-WATTLED PLOVER Hoplopterus indicus

On 9th April at Qaisat 1p, on 10th April at Abdaly Farms 6p and at Rawdatain Pumping Station 1p. At Abdaly Farms numbers include one probable pair and one badly injured bird. Other three birds were surprisingly sitting on their nests (two nests were checked with 4 and 2 eggs) on dry sparsely vegetated field areas over 1km from each others. There is only one earlier breeding record of Red-wattled Plover in Kuwait – from Abdaly Farms about 5 years ago. Couple of weeks later the area was checked by Brian and Khalid, and it looks like all three breeding attempts failed.

 

SANDERLING Calidris alba

At Doha Spit on 8th April 1p and on 12th April c10p. Also on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 1p.

 

LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta

Small flocks on best shores for waders. Highest numbers c50 at Doha Spit on 8th April and on 12th April.

 

CURLEW SANDPIPER Calidris ferruginea

At Doha Spit high tide roost on 8th April 250p and on 12th April 700p.

 

DUNLIN Calidris alpina

Highest count on 8th April at Doha Spit c100p.

 

BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER Limicola falcinellus

Was seen only at Doha Spit, where on 8th April 35p and on 12th April 50p.

 

RUFF Philomachus pugnax

Only a few birds were seen.

 

JACK SNIPE Lymnocryptes minimus

On 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 1p.

 

COMMON SNIPE Gallinago gallinago

On 12th April at Sabah Al Salem c5 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall c8 were the only observations.

 

BAR-TAILED GODWIT Limosa lapponica

On 10th April at Qaisat Shore c10, on 12th April at Doha Spit c40 and on 13th April at Bubiyan Island c20.

 

WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus

On 12th April at Doha Spit 2 flying-by.

 

EURASIAN CURLEW Numenius arquata

Highest count on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands c50. Besides that some dozens of birds were seen. Well-seen birds seemed to be subspecies orientalis.

 

COMMON REDSHANK Tringa totanus

In total c.50 birds were seen.

 

MARSH SANDPIPER Tringa stagnatilis

On 6th April at southern shore of Sulaibikhat Bay 2p, on 8th April at Doha South 1, on 10th April at Jahra East Outfall 4, on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 8 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 2.

 

COMMON GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia

On 10th April at Jahra East Outfall 2, on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 2 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 2.

 

GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus

On 10th April at Jahra East Outfall 4, on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1.

 

WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola

In total c20 birds were seen in best areas for waders.

 

TEREK SANDPIPER Xenus cinereus

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve 1 flying-by, on 8th April at Doha Spit c40p, on 10th April at Qaisat Shore c20, on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem c10p and at Doha Spit c150p, on 13th April at Qaisat Shore c90 and at Bubiyan Island c400 birds in several flocks.

 

COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos

Some birds were seen almost daily at various shores. Clearly the highest count was on 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve a35m c15p.

 

RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres

On 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 1p and at Doha Spit high tide roost 300p and on 13th April at Bubiyan Island c20.

 

BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve c50, on 12th April at Sabah Al-Salem 1p and on April at Jahra East Outfall c 20.

 

SLENDER-BILLED GULL Larus genei

Was seen almost daily. Highest counts on 6th April at southern shore of Sulaibikhat Bay c120, on 10th April at Qaisat Shore c150 and on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands c2000 birds in some breeding colonies.

 

LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus fuscus

The only observations were on 8th April at Doha Spit 1 ad flying-by and on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands 2 ad p. All birds seemed to be subspecies heuglini.

 

CASPIAN GULL Larus cachinnans

On 10th April at Qaisat Shore c10p. Also at the same place c30 large gulls, probably Caspian Gulls or Lesser Black-backed Gulls of subspecies barabensis.

 

GULL-BILLED TERN Sterna nilotica

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve 6, on 10th April at Qaisat shore 1 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 3 and at Bubiyan and Warba Islands c200 birds in breeding colonies.

 

CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia

On 6th April at southern shore of Sulaibikhat Bay 4, on 8th April at Doha Spit 1, on 10th April at Qaisat shore 1, on 12th April at Doha Spit 1 and at Pipeline Beach 1 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 35p and at Bubiyan and Warba Islands 1.

 

GREATER CRESTED TERN Sterna bergii

On 11th April at Khiran Resort c8p and on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands 4p.

 

LESSER CRESTED TERN Sterna bengalensis

On 11th April at Khiran Resort 1 and on 13th April at Bubiyan and Warba Islands c40.

 

SANDWICH TERN Sterna sandvicensis

On 8th April at Doha Spit 2, on 10th April at Qaisat Shore 1, on 11th April at Khiran Resort 4, on 12th April at Doha Spit 1 and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 2.

 

BRIDLED TERN Sterna anaethetus

Was seen only at Pipeline Beach, where on 11th April c40 and on 12th April 3.

 

LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve 7, on 8th April at Green Island c25 and on 11th April at Khiran Resort 3. There should be chances to see also Saunders's Tern in Kuwait. After checking some pictures of Little Tern taken during our trip, it looks like amount of black outermost primaries of Little Tern varies quite a lot thus making the identification problem even trickier.

 

ROCK DOVE Columba livia

Some hundreds of birds were seen daily. Common in Kuwait City and other urban areas. All seen birds were domesticus-form Feral Pigeons.

 

EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto

A couple of dozens were seen daily.

 

EUROPEAN TURTLE DOVE Streptopelia turtur

Only observation: on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Nature Reserve 1p.

 

LAUGHING DOVE Streptopelia senagalensis

Like Eurasian Collared Dove, but distribution more patchy.

 

NAMAQUA DOVE Oena capensis

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve and on 9th April at Qaisat 2.

 

ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri

On 8th April at Kuwait City 2, on 9th April at Kuwait City 2 and on 14th April at Jahra Farms 4.

 

COMMON CUCKOO Cuculus canorus

Only observation: on 14th April at Jahra Farms 1.

 

EUROPEAN SCOPS OWL Otus scops

Only observation: on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 1p. Also one shot bird was seen.

 

EGYPTIAN NIGHTJAR Caprimulgus aegyptius

A bird found by the Danes was twitched at Pipeline Beach on 12th April.

 

COMMON SWIFT Apus apus

Identified Common Swifts in total c25m.

 

PALLID SWIFT Apus pallidus

Identified Pallid Swifts in total c25 birds.

 

BLUE-CHEEKED BEE-EATER Merops persicus

In total c70 birds in small flocks.

 

EUROPEAN BEE-EATER Merops apiaster

Was seen daily. In total c260 birds in small flocks

 

EUROPEAN ROLLER Coragias garrulus

Only observation: on 12th April at Pipeline Beach 1 flying-by. Also one recently shot bird was found at Al-Abraq oasis on 14th April.

 

EURASIAN HOOPOE Upupa epops

In total c10 birds were seen.

 

EURASIAN WRYNECK Jynx torquilla

Only observation: on 14th April at Jahra Farms 1p.

 

BLACK-CROWNED SPARROW- LARK Eremopterix nigriceps

Around Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April 2 , on 9th April 3 and on 10th April 1 . Besides that, on 14th April at Al-Abraq Desert 1 . The reason for observations of males only might be that females were already sitting on their nests.

 

DUNN´S LARK Eremalauda dunni

On 14th April at Al-Abraq desert 1p.

 

BAR-TAILED DESERT LARK Ammomanes cinctura

Around Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April 7, on 9th April 12 (includes ♂♀ + 2pull on their nest) and on 13th April 5. Besides that, on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert 9.

 

DESERT LARK Ammomanes deserti

Only observation: on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert 1.

 

GREATER HOOPOE LARK Alaemon alaudipes

On 13th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert 9.

 

GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK Calandrella brachydactyla

At Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April at least 3 and on 13th April 1.

 

LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK Calandrella rufescens

On 11th April at Power Plant Reeds 3.

 

CRESTED LARK Galerida cristata

Rather common almost everywhere. Was seen daily.

 

TEMMINCK´S LARK Eremophila bilopha

Only observation: on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert ♂♀ and 2.

 

SAND MARTIN Riparia riparia

Small numbers were seen daily. Highest count on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Nature Reserve c60.

 

COMMON HOUSE MARTIN Delichon urbicum

In total c20 birds were seen.

 

BARN SWALLOW Hirundo rustica

Small numbers were seen daily. Migration of this species seemed to become stronger during second half of our trip. On the best day, 11th April, c250 birds were estimated.

 

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW Hirundo daurica

The only observations were on 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve c5 and on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1.

 

TAWNY PIPIT Anthus campestris

Small numbers in several days. Clearly the highest count was on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve c35.

 

TREE PIPIT Anthus trivialis

Some birds were seen daily.

 

RED-THROATED PIPIT Anthus cervinus

Was seen daily. Seemed to become more common towards the second half of our trip. Best daily numbers on 10th April 70 and on 11th April 50.

 

YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava

Was seen daily. Best daily numbers on 10th April and on 11th April 70 and on 12th April 100. Most male birds were flava/beema-type, but also c20 birds of subspecies lutea and some birds of subspecies feldegg and thunbergii were seen.

 

WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve 1 flying-by, on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 2p, on 10th April at Abdaly Farms 2p and on 12th April at Sabah Al Salem 1.

 

WHITE-EARED BULBUL Pycnonotus leucogenys

Common in Kuwait City and surrounding well-vegetated areas. Several birds were also seen at Abdaly Farms, Wafra Farms and Khiran Resort.

 

RED-VENTED BULBUL Pycnonotus cafer

Only observation: on 8th April at Green Island 2p.

 

GREY HYPOCOLIUS Hypocolius ampelinus

On 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1 and on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 1 , on 10th April at Jahra East Outfall 2 , on 11th April at Pipeline Beach 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 3. Also recently shot ♂♀ were found at Al-Abraq oasis.

 

RUFOUS-TAILED SCRUB ROBIN Cergotrichas galactotes

Was seen almost daily, in total c30 birds.

 

BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecica

On 8th April at Doha South 1p and on 13th April at Jahra East Outfall 1p.

 

WHITE-THROATED ROBIN Irania gutturalis

Was seen in most days, in total c20 birds. Seemed to be especially numerous on 11th April, when c10 birds were seen despite of birding just couple of hours in suitable habitats on that day. Also one male was found shot at Al-Abraq oasis.

 

COMMON REDSTART Phoenicurus phoenicurus

Was seen daily. Highest counts were on 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha c20p and on 11th April at Power Plant Sewer c18p. All males were nominate subspecies.

 

WHINCHAT Saxicola rubetra

Some birds were seen almost daily. Clearly the best day was 11th April, when c25 birds were seen.

 

COMMON STONECHAT Saxicola torquatus

On 8th April at Doha South 1 probably subspecies armenicus and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1 eastern subspecies (maurus/armenicus/variegatus).

 

ISABELLINE WHEATEAR Oenanthe isabellina

On 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1, on 10th April at Abdaly Farms 2 and on 11th April at Pipeline Beach 1.

 

NORTHERN WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe

Some birds were seen almost daily, in total c50 birds.

 

PIED WHEATEAR Oenanthe pleschanka

On 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve ♂♀, on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve ♂♀, on 11th April at Pipeline Beach and Power Plant Reeds and Wafra Farms , on 12th April at Pipeline Beach and on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert .

 

BLACK-EARED WHEATEAR Oenanthe hispanica

Was seen almost daily, in total c35 birds.

 

DESERT WHEATEAR Oenanthe deserti

At Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve on 7th April and on 9th April .

 

RUFOUS-TAILED ROCK TRUSH Monticola saxatilis

On 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve and on 14th April at Al-Abraq desert 21.

 

SONG TRUSH Turdus philomelos

On 8th April at Green Island 2ndcy p.

 

REDWING Turdus iliacus

On 9th April at Qaisat 1p. In last 20 years, there were only about five records of Redwing in Kuwait.

 

GRACEFUL PRINIA Prinia gracialis

Was seen around Sulaibikhat Bay at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve, Doha South, Qaisat and Jahra East Outfall. Besides that some birds were also seen at Sabah Al-Salem. Highest count on 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve c40.

 

SEDGE WARBLER Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

The only observations: At Jahra East Outfall on 10th and 13th April 1 singing bird.

 

EUROPEAN REED WARBLER Acrocephalus scirpaceus

In total c10 birds were seen.

 

MARSH WARBLER Acrocephalus palustris

On 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1p.

 

BASRA REED WARBLER Acrocephalus griseldis

On 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 2p hiding well in trees.

 

GREAT REED WARBLER Acrocephalus arundinaceus

In total c12 birds.

 

EASTERN OLIVACEOUS WARBLER Hippolais pallida

Only a few single birds were seen.

 

UPCHER´S WARBLER Hippolais languida

On 11th April at Power Plant Reeds 1p.

 

BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla

Was seen almost daily, highest count on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis c20.

 

GARDEN WARBLER Sylvia borin

The only observation: On 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1p.

 

BARRED WARBLER Sylvia nisoria

On 8th April at Green Island , on 13th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1.

 

LESSER WHITETHROAT Sylvia curruca

Was seen almost daily, c60 birds in total. Birds differing markedly from nominate subspecies were not seen.

 

EASTERN ORPHEAN WARBLER Sylvia crassirostris

The only observation on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis .

 

COMMON WHITETHROAT Sylvia communis

Less than ten birds were seen in total.

 

ASIAN DESERT WARBLER Sylvia nana

On 7th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1p and on 11th April at Pipeline Beach 1p.

 

MÉNÉTRIES´S WARBLER Sylvia mystacea

On 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 2, on 13th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 5. Probably in reality much more common, but hiding really well even in small bushes.

 

GREENISH WARBLER Phylloscopus trochiloides

On 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1p, probably subspecies nitidus.

 

YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER Phylloscopus inornatus

On 12th April at western end of Pipeline Beach 1p. The bird was found by the Danes and later seen also by Brian. In spring Yellow-browed Warbler can be extremely tricky to separate from Hume´s Leaf Warbler, but the characters of this bird seemed to fit better for Yellow-browed. Voice was not heard.

 

COMMON CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita

Only identified birds were on 12th April at western end of Pipeline Beach 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 2. In reality probably clearly more common, much effort was not put to search them amongst Willow Warblers.

 

WILLOW WARBLER Phylloscopus trochilus

Common, at least some tens of birds were seen daily, Highest daily number on 11th April c200.

 

SPOTTED FLYCATCHER Muscicapa striata

In total c20 birds were seen, of which on best day, 11th April, c12.

 

SEMI-COLLARED FLYCATCHER Ficedula semitorquata

On 6th April at Sulaibikhat Bay Nature Reserve 1 , on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 1 and on 14th April at Jahra Farms 1 .

 

EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus

The only observation: on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1 singing bird.

 

ISABELLINE SHRIKE Lanius isabellinus

Was seen almost daily, in total c20 birds. All birds seemed to be subspecies phoenicuroides.

 

RED-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius collurio

Less than 10 birds were seen in total.

 

SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE Lanius meridionalis

In total c15 birds were seen. Subspecies of the birds was not identified.

 

WOODCHAT SHRIKE Lanius senator

Was seen almost daily, c30 birds in total.

 

MASKED SHRIKE Lanius nubicus

On 12th April at western end of Pipeline Beach 1, on 13th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 1 and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis 1.

 

COMMON MYNA Acridotheres tristis

Some birds almost daily around Kuwait City. The only observation outside Kuwait City was on 14th April at Jahra Farms 2ad 7juv.

 

BANK MYNA Acridotheres ginginianus

Was seen only at Jahra Farms, where on 7th April 2ad and on 14th April 5ad.

 

HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus

Very common, at least several dozens were seen daily. Highest numbers were on 10th April at Abdaly Farms c500p, on 11th April at Wafra Farms c900p and on 14th April at Al-Abraq oasis c400p.

 

SPANISH SPARROW Passer hispaniolensis

Was seen only at Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, in where on 7th April 40p, on 9th April 2p and on 13th April 10p.

 

PALE ROCKFINCH Petronia brachydactyla

On 11th April at Pipeline Beach 1 flying-by and on 12th April 1p at western end of Pipeline Beach.

 

CINEREOUS BUNTING Emberiza cineracea

On 7th April Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural Reserve, Tulha 1 p, subspecies semenowi.

 

ORTOLAN BUNTING Emberiza hortulana

Was seen almost daily. Highest counts on 9th April at Sabah Al-Ahmed Nature Reserve, Tulha c.100p and on 13th April Sabah Al-Ahmed Nature Reserve, Tulha c.150p.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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.