South Africa (ZA)   Exciting birding at the Pivot Fields  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:41:44 am

Week 43, 26 October 07 - Pivot Fields and Sulaibikhat

With thanks to Abdulrahman al Siran for arranging access for Brian, Pekka, Mike and Abdulrahman to the privately owned agricultural pivot fields. This is a fantastic birding location, as it is protected from hunters and general access by the public. We split up to explore this large area, staying in contact with mobiles when exciting birds were found. Images by Mike Pope

A bird that stood out was an oddly plumage Barn Swallow - partially leucistic and having superficial similarity to the many, many White Wagtails that have arrived en masse

Leucistic Barn Swallow

Pekka managed to photograph the Swallow from a different angle. Image by Pekka Fagel

Leucistic Barn Swallow

A White Wagtail perched on the wire next to the Barn Swallow for comparitive purposes

White Wagtail

This Wheatear also came to 'see' the albino swallow - I initially identified it as Isabelline, but am now not as certain and Black eared is also a consideration

Isabelline Wheatear

Driving in between the lucern fields, Barn Swallows and Blue cheeked Bee-eaters took the opportunity to follow my car and ambush the flying insects when they took off from the road - a real freebie

Blue cheeked Bee-eaters

Blue cheeked Bee-eaters

I caught this Black Kite, apparently exhausted in the field. I put it under on the of the irrigation rigs in the shade and was pleased to see later that it had recovered a little, to stand up. Black Kites represented the majority of Raptors seen today, in the 8 species seen in total

Black Kite

Many raptors used the irrigation rigs to rest on and as a vantage point for hunting, including this Common Buzzard

Common Buzzard

A juvenile Cuckoo also used the various perches on the irrigation rig to swoop to the ground and back catching insects


I stopped at the fenced pool to scan the reedbeds and now understand why it is fenced


A juvenile Night Heron flushed from the reeds and eyed me cautiously as I approached to photograph it

Night Heron

A flock of 48 Northern Lapwings were found feeding in one of the fields, it appears they return to this site each winter and this is one of our highest daily counts. The Wood Pigeons had also returned, but I was unable to photograph these birds

Northen Lapwings

I counted at least 2 juvenile Long legged Buzzards. They are really striking with their pale breasts and head

Juvenile Long legged Buzzard

Two Imperial Eagles were seen, this ia a juvenile in flight

Juvenile Imperial Eagle

Pekka got this image, clearly showing the underwing pattern of the juvenile Imperial Eagle. Image by Pekka Fagel

Juvenile Imperial Eagle

I initially thought this eagle with pale and contrasting upperparts was Lesser Spotted, but it was been pointed out that this is a first year Greater Spotted Eagle. Lesser Spotted was seen by Brian and Pekka earlier in the day

Lesser spotted Eagle

Lesser spotted Eagle

The bird of the day had to be this Indian Roller, a big tick for the western palearctic listers. Not the best photograph, as I was only able to photograph against the light

Indian Roller

Pekka and Brian relocated the Indian Roller after leaving the Pivot Fields and Pekka was fortunate to get this great image. Image by Pekka Fagel

Indian Roller

After the Pivot Fields, Brian and Pekka detoured past Sulaibikhat for the incoming tide and found these Crab Plovers very close in. Image by Pekka Fagel

Crab Plovers

South Africa (ZA)   A quiet day out  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:07:07 am

Week 43, 25 October 07 - Sulaibikhat and Jahra East

Pekka and Brian were out on Friday visiting some of the eastern sites. Images by Pekka Fagel

A lone Spoonbill was spotted feeding with a group of Grey Herons, not a common visitor to the eastern shores


A female Marsh Harrier was obliging at Jahra East Outfall

Marsh Harrier


South Africa (ZA)   A quiet weekend  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:12:44 am

Week 42, 20 October 07 - Sabriya Farm and Al Abraq

While I was enjoying a weekend break in Dubai, Brian and Pekka were out and about. They noted that migrant numbers are pretty diminished and this is the lull in the season waiting for the winter visitors to arrive. Images by Pekka Fagel

Red breasted Flycatchers are now back at most sites, this one was photographed at Sabriya Farm

Red breasted Flycatcher

The long drive out to Al Abraq did not produce much at all in terms of passerine migrants - a lone Steppe Buzzard put in an appearance

Steppe Buzzard

A late Hoopoe showing it's crest was also seen at the oasis


The same Hoopoe 'combing'


When the birding gets slow, we also look for new insects. Pekka found this Plain Tiger butterfly, one which is quite rare in Kuwait

Plain Tiger

Clouded Yellows are being found in a few locations

Pale clouded Yellow

The Long tailed Blue butterflies are really small and quite difficult to photograph - Pekka did well with this image

Long tailed Blue

Dragonflies outnumber Damselflies, this is a Common Bluetail damselfly

Common Bluetail


South Africa (ZA)   The Eastern Circuit  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:56:02 am

Week 41, 14 October 07 - Doha South, Jahra East, Jahra Pool and Tuhla, SAANR

Brian Foster and I had a later start after the England/France semi finals and decided to do the north eastern coastal circuit. Images by Mike Pope

After Sulaibikhat, we stopped at Doha South where the reeds have been burnt back - good for birders, but easier access for hunters. We found this Marsh Harrier catching some early morning sun in the reedbed

Marsh Harrier

Marsh Harrier

The Spotted Eagles have returned to Jahra East and will probably stay here all through the winter

Spotted Eagle

A flock of 23 Black Kites passed by overhead on a thermal

Black Kites

This female Pintail passed overhead at great speed

Female Pintail

The first White Wagtails of this autumn had arrived at Jahra East and will replace the Yellow Wagtails in the next few weeks

White Wagtail

We had a quick stop at Jahra Pools and were pleased to see that it is gradually filling up with water - hopefully it will be restored to its former glory as one of the premium birding sites in Kuwait. A Kestrel was seen hawking along the banks


Our last stop was Tuhla in SAANR where we found a Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

A Common Buzzard was circling around the pool, looking for a place to drink

Common Buzzard

The Scops Owls are back and we found two - the first is a brown form Scops Owl

Brown form Scops Owl

Brown form Scops Owl

The second is a pale by comparison to the first dark Scops Owl. If anyone has an opinion on this identification - Scops versus Striated, please drop me a mail at mpope@alghanim.com

Brown form Scops Owl

Scops Owl?


South Africa (ZA)   A Raptor Festival amongst diminished Passerines  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:19:51 pm

Week 40, 06 October 07 - Al Abraq and Tuhla, SAANR

Brian Foster and I visited Al Abraq in the far west of Kuwait and then the pool at Tuhla in SAANR. The passerine numbers have definitely diminished, but today belonged to the Raptors - not great numbers, but fantastic variety - 10 species for a mornings birding and Al Abraq delivering yet again! Images by Mike Pope

The first raptors were some Steppe Eagles still roosting on the desert on route to the oasis. At Al Abraq the second raptor, was a magnificent pale phase Booted Eagle, our first for the autumn

Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle

A small passing flock of Black Kites were raptor number three. These were my first for the autumn

Black Kite

Black Kite

A lone Pallid Harrier followed after the Kites, number four

Pallid Harrier

The Spotted Eagles made their first appearance for this autumn, number five!

Spotted Eagle

Spotted Eagle

We inadvertently flushed a Common Buzzard roosting in some acacia trees, number six

Common Buzzard

There were numerous Sparrowhawks buzzing around the oasis - I managed to photograph an adult male and a juvenile, number seven!

Male Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Sparrowhawk

Suddenly a much bulkier bird flew out of an acacia where it was roosting - a Northern Goshawk, a new bird for me and raptor number eight!

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

We found a heavily streaked Sparrowhawk that has now been confirmed by Dick Forsman as a juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk (narrow wing tip with 4 fingers, dark eye, bold dark spots on breast and bold barring on flanks), a second new bird for me and raptor number nine!

Juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Levants Sparrowhawk

We flushed a Teal that had made a stopover in the raised resovoir on the farm, I was lucky enough to get a half decent grab shot (to assist with ID) before it disappeared over the horizon


We did find some passerines that were still around, this male Stonechat is a first for the autimn and they now replace the Winchats seen earlier in the migration

Male Stonechat

The small flock of Rosefinches were present in the patch where they were previously found by Pekka and Brian


A Willow Warbler departing to gleen the next acacia

Willow Warbler

We found this Snipe hiding in the grass next to one of the irrigation ponds, only to discover it had been wounded by the local shooters


Brian and I had by now exhausted the oasis and quickly headed to the pool at Tuhla in SAANR, where our first bird was a Kestrel drinking from the pool - Raptor number ten for the morning


The numbers of Crested Larks around the pool have diminished substantially - probably due to the temperatures cooling down

Crested Lark

A large swift briefly joined the Barn Swallows and Sand Martins overhead, this Pallid Swift had a particulary large white throat patch that threw us for awhile

Pallid Swift

This skulking male Blackcap proved quite challenging to photograph

Male Blackcap

A dragonfly we have not previously seen - it certainly perches differently to any of the other similar coloured dragonflies


A juvenile Isabelline Shrike despatching a dragonfly, that looks very similar to the one that was earlier seen for the first time - stand out and be eaten?

Juvenile Isabelline Shrike

South Africa (ZA)   Gull and Terns  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 04:31:45 pm

Week 40, 05 October 07 - Sharq Harbour

I have been away on business, hence the delay in updates. I popped up to Sharq Harbour to photograph Gulls and Terns as the fishing boats came in with the mornings catch. Images by Mke Pope

A winter plumage Slender billed Gull

Slender bill Gull

A Caspian Gull, in what I would guess is intermediate plumage

Yellow legged Gull

To my surprise, I also found a few winter plumage White cheeked Terns foraging around the returning Dhows

White cheeked Tern

White cheeked Tern


South Africa (ZA)   Exciting discoveries at KISR and Tuhla  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:15:18 am

Week 40, 04 October 07 - KISR in Kabd and Tuhla

Brian Foster visited KISR in Kabd with Gary Brown and was delighted in 're-discovering' a potential site for Pharoah's Eagle Owl. This is the first record since 2001 and the question now is - is it a migrant or possible resident? Gary Brown was on hand to grab these two record shots as it flew away after being mobbed by a few Steppe Buzzards. Images of Owl by Gary Brown and Duck by Khaled Al-Ghanem

The fleeing Pharoah's Eagle Owl

Pharoahs Eagle Owl

Pharoahs Eagle Owl

Khaled Al-Ghanem visited SAANR and was fortunate to find and photograph a Marbled Duck, the 4th record for Kuwait

Marbled Duck

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