South Africa (ZA)   Another go for the Mongolian Finches  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:45:18 pm

Week 13 - 24 March 2009, SAANR

The weather looked more promising early on, but unfortunately did not stay that way - still the call of a Kuwait rarity beckoned and I headed back to SAANR. Images by Mike Pope

I checked the Finch site first, but local photographers/birders confirmed that they had not been seen, so I headed to Tuhla where Wheatears in breeding plumage were strutting about, the Northern Wheatear was first up

Northern Wheatear

As well as a few Black eared Wheatears

Black eared Wheatear

I havent seen many Shrikes this spring, so this Woodchat Shrike was welcome

Woodchat Shrike

My first Roller of the spring, looking quite regal


A Little Crake was quite unobtrusive feeding below a small overhanging bush

Little Crake

I then saw a Pipit in a plumage that was unfamiliar to me and with the help of Pierre Crochet identified it as Buff bellied Pipit (japonicus) in its breeding plumage. A first photographic record for me

Buff bellied Pipit

Buff bellied Pipit

Buff bellied Pipit

The rising temperature and wind brought along a few raptors, this Steppe Eagle didnt stay on the deck long

Steppe Eagle

Followed by a juvenile Imperial Eagle overhead

Imperial Eagle

It was time to head back up to the ridge and a 90-minute wait only produced this Chiffchaff


and a small flock of Spanish Sparrows -so disappointment again!

Spanish Sparrows

South Africa (ZA)   Chasing Lifers  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:27:00 pm

Week 13 - 22 March 2009, SAANR

Mongolian Finch had been seen earlier in the month at SAANR, so I set out on a less than ideal day in terms of weather to try and find and photograph these birds. Images by Mike Pope

I arrived quite early, but the wind was up and the temp still cold, so I first headed to the pool at Tuhla. Grey Wagtails are passing through in much larger numbers than previous years, this one was trying to keep a low profile to avoid the strong wind

Grey Wagtail

A few Snipes were present feeding in the main pond whose water levels were lower than usual


Although the wind didnt subside, the temperature rose so I headed to the small pool on the ridge and waited quietly for over an hour. This Hoopoe took flight as I arrived


One of the few remaining White Wagtails decided to have a bath with a quick dry in the wind

White Wagtail

A few Spanish Sparrows dropped in for a quick drink

Spanish Sparrow

I dipped on the Mongolian Finch, but was rewarded with a Pale Rock Sparrow which has eluded me since my arrival in Kuwait

Pale Rock Sparrow

Pale Rock Sparrow

South Africa (ZA)   The Jahra Sites  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:15:07 pm

Week 12 - 19 March 2009, JEO and Jahra Farms

I had a quick visit to JEO, this being a Thursday and the start of the weekend the hunters were patrolling the waterways and made birding unpleasant, so Jahra Farm was a less depressing option. Images by Mike Pope

The Spotted Crake was still present, but kept to the available cover - as Crakes are want to do

Spotted Crake

As the birds were staying low, I headed to Jahra Farms and found a few migrants in the form of Blackcap


Chiffchaffs, which are all over Kuwait at the moment


A male Common Redstart

Common Redstart

and beema Yellow Wags now complimenting the feldeggs

Yellow Wagtail (beema)


South Africa (ZA)   Quick stop at JEO  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:39:02 am

Week 11 - 11 March 2009, JEO

I had some spare time and spent an hour at JEO. Images by Mike Pope

Other than a local photographer, JEO was devoid of hunters and I enjoyed watching this Sedge Warbler feeding from its perch and plucking insects off the surface water

Sedge Warbler

I had a little more success with the Spotted Crake that was still present

Spotted Crake

I was thrilled to find this stunning male Citrine Wagtail, the first male I have seen in Kuwait

Citrine Wagtail

Again, I stopped at the open pool near the 80 and found a solitary Little ringed Plover

Little ringed Plover

Tawny Pipits were found foraging in the open scrub

Tawny Pipit

South Africa (ZA)   Warblers and Crakes  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:11:39 am

Week 10 - 07 March 2009, JEO and SAANR

The weather had improved and today was clear with no wind, so ideal for a morning out. Images by Mike Pope

First stop was JEO where I found the place to myself and not a hunter in sight - bliss. Bluethroats were calling and foraging along the reed bases


I had a feast of Warblers during the morning, this is Clamorous Reed Warbler

Clamorouis Reed Warbler

Moustached Warblers have been quite obliging the past few months

Moustached Warbler

European Reed Warblers have arrived in small numbers

European Reed Warbler

I was hoping to see the skulking Cetti's Warbler and was rewarded with a brief view of this challenging bird

Cetti's Warbler

A female Stonechat (maura) flitted up and down the reed fringes


This Green Sandpiper had a stopover for a quick drink

Green Sandpiper

I noticed all the Moorhens were quite agitated and understood why when this large rat popped out the reeds for a drink


On previous visits I had seen Little Crake, today there were 4 birds present

Little Crake

A Spotted Crake was unexpected, but a challenging photographic subject

Spotted Crake

I stopped off at an open pond near the 80 and found a solitary non-breeding Black tailed Godwit

Black tailed Godwit

I was able to get access to SAANR and spent a few hours exploring the wadi and Tuhla. In the wadi I found a male Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

A pale throated Pied Wheatear (vittata) provided an id challenge

Pied Wheatear (vittata)

There were 2 Red tailed Wheatears still present in the wadi

Red tailed Wheatear

By now I had exhausted the wadi, so headed to Tuhla where I found a 'normal' Pied Wheatear in pre-breeding plumage

Pied Wheatear

2 Common Redstarts (samamisicus) were present around the pool

Common Redstart

There was quite a large number of both Grey and Yellow Wagtails present. Feldeggs are usually the first sub-specie to arrive back in Kuwait

Yellow Wagtail

The bulk of the White Wagtails have now left, although a few stragglers are still left

White Wagtail

2 Squacco Herons in transition plumage were present at the pool and feeding on flies that were attracted to a pungent bush

Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron


South Africa (ZA)   Unsuccessful twitch to Abdaly  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 03:16:17 pm

Week 10 - 04 March 2009, Sharq Harbour, Abdaly and Jahra Farm

I decided to try and twitch the Asian Koel at Abdaly, but after 2-hours had no luck and the bird has not been seen since a few days before my visit. Images by Mike Pope

On route to Abdaly, I stopped at Sharq Harbour to check out the gulls, the Black headed Gulls looked far better in their breeding plumage in the crisp light

Black headed Gull

The smaller gulls were outnumbered by the many larger gulls, this one being a Steppe Gull (Larus barabensis)

Caspian Gull

I did not take a single picture at Abdaly, on the way back home I stopped off at Jahra Farm where I found this Grey Wagtail feeding along one of the canals

Grey Wagtail

Searching the skies, I saw a group of 9 Red rumped Swallows pass quickly overhead in silence

Red rumped Swallow

Green Toads are known to breed in and around Jahra Farms, I was fortunate enough to find 2 in the main pond where I had been birding. I think this may be a female

Green Toad

with a calling male

Green Toad

South Africa (ZA)   Another dusty day out  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:47:20 pm

Week 09 - 28 February 2009, Pivot Fields and Sulaibikhat

We seem to have had a lot of dusty days as winter comes to an end, I hope this is not setting the precedent for a dusty summer. Images by Mike Pope

A quick stop at Pivot Fields provided some Larks and Pipits (Buff bellied and Red throated), but conditions were not ideal for photography. I had initially thought this bird to be a Skylark, but Killian Mullarney wrote to me suggesting that it actually is Oriental Skylark which had been seen at this location the previous week by the visiting French group led by Pierre-André Crochet

Oriental Skylark

Killian kindly annotated one of my images of the Oriental Skylarks to point out the salient id features to be considered should the bird not be calling or in flight when the obvious features are more noticeable

Oriental Skylark with annotated id notes

I picked up my son and we drove along the coast at Sulaibikhat Bay. I noted that many of the Black headed Gulls are already in full breeding regalia and look far better than they do in their winter plumage

Black headed Gull

At the outfall my 6-year old son pleaded with me to take a picture of the Black winged Stilt, so I set the camera on the beanbag and let him fire away. I thought the result was quite acceptable

Black winged Stilt

I found a mixed group of Shovellers and Shelduck. They were very skittish and took flight as soon as I approached - these are the Shelducks disappearing into the dust


Scops Owls are fairly common passage migrants through Kuwait and this image was forwarded to me by Moses Kaoiwi who photographed it north of Jahra.

However, Lee Gregory has pointed out that more likely this bird is the rarer Striated Scops Owl and would be the 2nd photographic record of this bird in Kuwait as far as Im aware subect to KORC acceptance.

The salient plumage features of Striated from Lee's mail are: pale grey plumage with fine streaks and no white spots on mantle and folded wing which Scops Owl has, buff brace on back as opposed to white on Scops, fine vertical belly and breast streaks with very faint cross barring on Scops Owl these are more pronounced and appear as thick black streaks with obvious cross barring, the feathering on the feet reach the base of the toes and on Scops Owl it does not reach the toes and wings appear (hard to be certain from photo) to fall short of the end of the tail on Scops Owl wing tips would be level with the tail tip or project beyond

Scops Owl

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