South Africa (ZA)   Twitching a rarity  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 03:34:57 pm

Week 40 - 08 October 2011, Pivot Fields

There is nothing worse than getting news of a first and national rarity whilst you are away on a business trip, so I did not have hold high hopes that the bird would still be present when I headed out to Pivot Fields early on the Saturday - 3 days after it was found. Images by Mike Pope

I would really like to thank Howard King for allowing me to publish images of Kuwait birds on his Website for the past 5-years and in doing so; increase the awareness and potential of birding in Kuwait, a country still considered by many to the within Western Palearctic. The archives for the past 5-year on this site will provide visitors and birders alike a glimpse of birding throughout the year specifically in terms of arrival and departure of migrants.

My Kuwait Blog has moved to a dedicated site for Kuwait Birding and can now be found at http://kuwaitbirding.blogspot.com/ should you be interested in continuing the Kuwait birding adventures.

An obliging Pied Wheatear posed nicely in the warm early morning sun

Pied Wheatear

I caught this Hoopoe just before it disappeared out of the frame


One of the Rollers was still around

European Roller

as were numerous Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, this an adult showing its magnificent colours

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

and a first year Blue-cheeked Bee-eater fattening up for its long journey south

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

I checked the spot where the Pectoral Sandpiper was seen earlier in the week by Rashed, but found only a Common Snipe

Common Snipe

and a juvenile Namaqua Dove

Namaqua Dove

The morning was starting to warm up as I explored other parts of the farm, finding Common Ringed Plover

Common Ringed Plover

A first year Daurian/Turkestan Shrike

Daurian/Turkestan Shrike

And a lone Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike

numbers of Black Kites were seen

Black Kite

a few Harriers were seen and I was able to photograph this Pallid Harrier

Pallid Harrier

and Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

I found a Long-legged Buzzard, but they are way more skittish than the more common Steppe Buzzards

Long-legged Buzzard

By now it was just after 11am and I went back to check the field for the Pectoral Sandpiper, when I got a call from Khaled Al-Ghanem to say that it had returned to a small pool and was feeding. I got to the spot just before it was flushed by a Harrier, so was able to twitch this 1st for Kuwait. It took a lot more patience to finally get some decent photographs after waiting for it to return.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper


South Africa (ZA)   A morning at the Pivot Fields  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 03:39:26 pm

Week 39 - 01 October 2011, Pivot Fields

We have had a problem uploading images to the Blog and have only now found a workaround - so I can finally start posting my backlog from early October. Images by Mike Pope

I was at the farm early in the morning, where temperatures are now very pleasant. Just inside the gate I found a Common Snipe sitting quietly at a small pool of water

Common Snipe

In the same area a few Great Reed Warblers were also quite active

Great Reed Warbler

As well as a Tree Pipit foraging in amongst the crops

Tree Pipit

The numbers of Steppe Buzzards are slowly increasing and a good few were found roosting on the pivots

Steppe Buzzard

A small group of Purple Herons flushed as I approached the Croc pond, where they had roosted overnight

Purple Heron

A Bonelli's Eagle has been at this location for sometime and I was surprised to see one come swooping in to try take out one of the unsuspecting Purple Herons - it was unsuccessful, but the Heron had it's wake-up call for the day

Bonelli's Eagle

A Masked Shrike was seen in the cover of the acacia trees at the pond

Masked Shrike

As was a Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Exploring other parts of the farm, I found hunting Marsh Harriers

Marsh Harrier

European Roller

European Roller

and numbers of European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

in the open areas, there were numbers of Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

a single Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

and a small flock of Greater Short-toed Larks

Greater Short-toed Lark

Common Kestrels were actively hunting over the open fields

Common Kestrel

However, the highlight and a lifer for me was the Eurasian Stone Curlew that I almost missed crouched in a small depression

Eurasian Stone Curlew


South Africa (ZA)   Low light at Hunting and Equestrian Club  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 04:26:29 pm

Week 39 - 30 September 2011, Hunting and Equestrian Club

My son has his tennis lessons at Hunting and Equestrian Club in the late afternoon over the weekend. We can tell winter is coming, as temperatures are bearable and days are starting to get shorter. I didnt want to distract him, so walked around the club, where light was already low, but gave me opportunity to test a few images at ISO 1000. Images by Mike Pope

Strangely, there was not much about despite abundant food sources around the horse stables. The most common species was House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). Looking at the latest Clements checklist, it is not straight forward to identify the sub-species - it could be biblicus (Cyprus and Levant to Turkey, n Saudi Arabia, Iraq and w Iran) or hufufae (NE Arabia (south to n Oman)

House Sparrow

There were quite a few White-eared Bulbuls feeding around the stables

White-eared Bulbul

A first year Masked Shrike was found looking for a roost for the night, after which it was time for me to challenge my son on the tennis court

Masked Shrike


South Africa (ZA)   Finally, some Autumn Migration Birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:03:18 pm

Week 38 - 24 September 2011, Pivot Fields and SAANR

After a much enjoyed winter/spring break back to South Africa (see my post under the World Birds tab of this site) and getting back to Kuwait to settle into work and a new school year for my son, I was finally able to get out for some Autumn migration birding this past weekend. Images by Mike Pope

Unfortunately, we did not have a favourable NW migration wind to assist the birds today, as we did last weekend, but nevertheless it was still good to be out and Pivot Fields was my first stop. A Wood Sandpiper looked a little out of place, as I drove in through the gates

Wood Sandpiper

Hoopoes are normally one of the first species to arrive during Autumn migration, there were still a few around, but not quite as many as earlier in the season


Yellow Wagtails are still present in large numbers

Yellow Wagtail

Spotted Flycatchers were seen in most areas of the farm

Spotted Flycatcher

Along the boundary I photographed this pale-throated Wheatear which we suspect to be Eastern Black-eared. However, if this is incorrect - please let me know.

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

The Alfalfa fields are in flower and are attracting hundreds of Clouded Yellow butterflies

Clouded Yellow

The first year Shrikes can be a little tricky at this time of year, I suspect this to be a Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike

I saw a few Orioles (but as always they remain elusive), but the Rollers that were present were a little more obliging

European Roller

Also seen on the Pivot Irrigation were a number of Cuckoo's

European Cuckoo

There were sporadic flocks of Short-toed Larks

Short-toed Lark

as well as small numbers of Pied Wheatears

Pied Wheatear

There were 4 Raptor species present; Black Kites, Pallid and Marsh Harriers and many Steppe Buzzards in a variety of plumages

Steppe Buzzard

The Marsh Harriers were the most prevalant of the two Harriers present. This one flew over me and a little later successfully caught a bird that it finished eating fairly quickly

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

Even though the wind was not favourable, my next stop was SAANR in the hope that there would be a few Raptors. Unfortunately, none were seen while I was there (although Rashed had luck with Harriers later in the day). There were numbers of passerine stopping to drink, so sitting quietly was productive. There were at least 5 Grey Herons in the shade of the acacia, this one flying over to survey the pan below

Grey Heron

A single European Bee-eater that caught and devoured a particularly large dragonfly and then had a quick dip in the pond to cool off.

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

An Isabelline Wheatear stopped by for a drink

Isabelline Wheatear

Although Common Whitethroat, Barred Warbler, Thrush Nightingale and Blackcaps were seen; Lesser Whitethroat was the predominant passerine - this one dropping down from the top of the acacia and working toward the water level. After finding the right perch, really stretching for a drink

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

I found this Turtle Dove sitting very quietly in the shade of an acacia before leaving Tuhla to head home for lunch only to later discover that I missed a lifer in the form of a Wood Warbler found by Rashed who waited patiently for it to return

Turtle Dove


South Africa (ZA)   Wind swept birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 07:40:09 pm

Week 32 - 06 August 2011, Pivot Fields

The wind had not let up, I persevered by checking out the Pivot Fields, but by 9:30 it was not enjoyable any longer. This is my last post until I return back to Kuwait in September from my long overdue summer vacation back to South Africa, some cooler weather and time on safari in the African bush. Images by Mike Pope

My first stop was at the Croc pond, but here the reeds are really overgrown and with the wind blowing through them not easy to see birds through the reeds and the fence. Two Garganey were seen paddling for shelter from the wind


A first year Little Crake deep in the reeds

Little Crake

I then heard a familiar call and with patience found a male Red Bishop (Cat E species), but I think this bird has been here over a year now. I had to switch to manual focus to take out the fence and all the moving reeds, so was quite pleased with the result. We forget that not too many years back, manual focus was the only option available

Red Bishop

I saw a small bat fly out from some cover and land under a bush. I managed to relocate it and after moving away some of the foliage was able to photograph it. I believe there are only 3 species of bat in Kuwait - after a Google search I believe this to be one of the Vesper Bats called Kuhl's Pipistrelle. Information from the net says that this is typically one of the first bats to emerge in the evening when it forages for aerial insects with a slow but acrobatic flight. If my id is incorrect, I would appreciate the correct id

Kuls Pipistrelle

Kuls Pipistrelle

Kuls Pipistrelle

Driving around the farm the Black-crowned Sparrow Larks were in their usual area

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark

In the same area I found a single Caspian Plover

Caspian Plover

and a small family of Cream-coloured Coursers which I havent photographed for sometime. I like the pattern on the crown and nape of these two

Cream-coloured Courser

Cream-coloured Courser

Isabelline Wheatears have returned

Isabelline Wheatear

I found a single Upchers Warbler in some cover out of the wind swaying and bobbing its tail

Upchers Warbler

Yellow Wagtails numbers have increased with first year birds in fresh plumage and adults in tatty moulting plumage. By now, the wind had made birding unpleasant, so I headed to the Mall to get some provisions, but no coffee, as restaurants are all closed until Iftar during Ramadan

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

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