tisdag 1 januari 2008

Rocki’n Roller!!!

Kuwait City Zoo?

Rumors last day from Mr Abdulrahman Al-Sirhan told us that the local birder Rashed had found a Indian Roller in the gardens of Kuwait University gave us last-minute hopes for this outright tricky WP-blaster.

We started our day at Sulaibikhat NR and once more scanned through the Flamingos without finding any small one. At 07:30 we anxiously met up with Abdulrahman, who took us and the Belgian team through the campus guardpost without any problems. After only a short search we managed to relocate the bird and adding a real winter-blaster, and a beautiful bird, to our Kuwait-trip-list. To Arnes great delightment the roller had teamed up with two House Crows (a species his team members decidedly had refused to search for...).

We certainly couldn’t have got a better end to this fantastic trip. Celebrating with a close-to-ten full burger and fries breakfast we decided to spend the rest of the day at Jahra East Outfall (4 Citrine Wagtails and 1 Little Bittern) and Doha spit (160 Crab Plovers, 2 Pallas’s Gulls, 21 Broad-billed Sandpipers and 20 Terek Sandpipers). While we birded Jahra East Outfall we recieved information from the Belgians who told us the had found another two Indian Rollers together at Jahra West, amazing!

Today's Isabella; a Daurian

Birding JEO

Hans, our very special driver of the day, caught a nail on the road at Doha Spit. Pfffffffff... But we managed to change the wheel in 20 minutes or so.

Once again: Great thanks to all Kuwaiti birders who has helped us planning and arranging this trip. A special thanks to Mr Abdulrahman Al-Sirhan for assisting us in the field several of the days.

We will certainly be back during migration period!

Best regards,
Team Swedes

måndag 31 december 2007

Back on track after two full days of birding!

Hardcore birding

Yesterday we started our day at Salmiya Sports Grounds to have a short look for White-vented Mynah. I didn’t take very long before we found two birds of this escaped species, possibly Category C in the future. At the same site we were surprised to find a wintering Masked Shrike.

Masked shrike

We continued to the Sabah Al-Salem area where we found a nice variegatus Caspian Stonechat, a Menetrie’s Warber and a few Lesser Whitethroats of which one was calling with both the normal ”tek” and another chattering ”che-che-che-che...” call. However, the bird looked like a curruca. Probably something of eastern origin... Gullheadz also got some Steppe, Caspian and Heuglin´s at close range.

variegatus Caspian Stonechat

variegatus Caspian Stonechat

Steppe and Heuglin's Gull

From Sabah Al-Salem we drove to the harbour to catch the 12:30 ferry to Failaka Island. Before entering the boat we had a nice brakfast at a café close to the harbour. The boat ride took about 1½ h and produced a Pomarine Skua and a few Pallas’s Gulls.

On Failaka we got a hotel room immediately and then went exploring the island. The scenery was striking as the island still almost is fully abandoned. Lots of empty houses everywhere, some of them full of bullet holes. The only interesting birds we found during the afternoon was a few Steppe Grey Shrikes and a Crested Tern. Unfortunately we also found some shot birds under a few trees; Hobby, Hoopoe, Corn Crake, two Sparrowhawks, Scops Owl, Collared Dove, Slender-billed Gull and Steppe Gull. A sad sight.

Scenery on Failaka

Pieces of the abandoned holiday village

After almost nine hours of sleep we began our New Years Eve birding close to our hotel on Failaka. It was very quiet except for two Poms, four Crested Terns, ten Black-necked Grebes and a Black Redstart. Also today we saw Lesser Whitethroat, this one gave a House Sparrow-ish call; ”che-che-che-che-che-che...”, somewhat faster and higher pitched than the odd fella yesterday, and without any "tek" calls.

halimodendri Lesser Whitethroat?

Black Redstart

Reef Heron

Then we moved on to the abandoned holiday village along the southern shoreline. Not much happening here either, but a Persian Wheatear showed well at the old sewage farm, the only Wadi-like habitat in sight.. On our way back we spotted an adult Steppe Grey Shrike. Always nice, but why do they always fly as far away as possible before any descent digi-shots can be made??

Some dudes on the road

Persian Wheatear

After enjoying a nice snack the sun got more intense and most of the crew suffered from the sudden heat. In the desert we saw a man who was preparing some kind of trap with a living Brown-necked Raven as a bait. Let’s hope he didn’t catch anything. A short stop at the small lake near our hotel produced one Smyrna and three Pied Kingfishers as well as 48 feral Geese, then we didn´t do much until it was time to catch the ferry back to Kuwait City. New Year´s Eve was spent at Pizza Hut :)

NICE snacks

Pied Kingfisher

Chillin' in the sun

In the evening we recieved SMS's from both the Belgians and from Abdulrahman. The Belgians had birded SAANR all day today finding one Persian Wheatear, the five Maqueen's Bustards and eight Dunn's Larks. The had also had a nice cup of tea with the warden at Tulha, since they had got stuck in the sand... Abdulrahman gave us some good news saying that Rashed had found an Indin Roller at the University in Kuwait City today. We'll team up with the Belgians and Abdulrahman at Sulaibikhat tomorrow at 07:30 to go and try to relocate the bird. See you next year!

lördag 29 december 2007

Larks and raptors

The Isabelline Shrike of the day; an isabellinus

In the morning we teamed up with Dirk and Kris at Sulaibikhat NR. There we once again enjoyed the Long-tailed Shrike as it was singing in the same reed bed as usual. Despite fairly high tide we didn’t find the Lesser Flamingo today either.

Long-tailed Shrike

Arne after having scanned the Flamingos

Five Bluethroats were fighting in the Reserve

From Sulaibikhat we drove to Kabd together and there met with Abdulrahman and Gary. Gary got us access to the KISR area where we thanks to Gary’s expertise had good views of at least five Black-crowned Sparrow-larks and eight Dunn’s Larks.

Black-crowned Sparrow-lark

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Tawny Pipit

After Kabd we all drove to the nearby Pivot Fields, which always has a lot to offer. Today was not an exception. The Litte Curlew was still there which made Dirk very excited. Other good birds at this site were: Buff-bellied Pipit 1, Golden Plover 2, Pallid Harrier 1 2cy male, Dotterel 2 and many Eastern Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles. Unfortunately we weren’t able to relocate the other good birds that were seen yesterday.

Hasse, Joppo, Steve-O and Arnie scanning the fields

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Greater Spotted Eagle

Crocodile Dundee

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Eastern Imperial Eagle

Namaqua Dove

Long-legged Buzzard

Tomorrow we might go to Failaka Island. And if we do, we will stay there overnight and won't be able to update the blog before monday. Cheers!

fredag 28 december 2007

Southeast without Österlen

Boys chillin' at Wafrah Farms.
This day was mostly spent at some underwatched or even unknown sites in the south, close to the Saudi border. But first we took a stroll in the park Next-to-the-sea at Fahaheel, where an extremely elusive Lesser Whitethroat (possibly of some subspecies...) caused frustration among the crew members. The two most Larus-damaged of us went in the opposite direction to the pier, smoothly until it was clear we had trespassed into a guard post... The personel weren’t really fond of us watching and photographing the gulls on the beach. And it all made sense when we saw that just behind the gulls, behind three barb wire high voltage fences, Kuwaits oil shipping complex was located. Bright...
Slenders-billed Gull
After this lesson we stopped at two sites, Sewer Plant Reeds and a site that we call Slyshål 1, which was some small pools, bushes and reed south of Sewer Plant Reeds. Slyshål 1 hosted one Menetries Warbler, three Bluethroats and some Desert Warblers, as well as one Jack Snipe, shot dead not too long ago. Sewer Plant Reeds was really empty exept for some hunters in a SUV shooting at a Grey Heron...
Menetrie's Warbler
After visiting these rather small sites we decided to give Wafrah Farms a try. But when we got there we understood that birding this area would be rather hopeless. So after visiting one of the farms and only finding a Daurian Shrike and a Black Redstart we went back to the coast and to a site we call Slyshål 2, a small rubbish dump in the desert surrounded by bushes and some small pools. But also this site turned out to be a rather bad one and the only interesting bird was a Turkestan Shrike.
Daurian Shrike
The rest of the day was spent at Khiran Sand Spit at the coast, a beautiful place with sandy islets off-shore. We arived about three hours before high tide and immediately found three Crested Terns in a large flock of terns, gulls, cormorants and waders. As the tide became higher the birds flew closer to the shore and finally gave really great views. We enjoyed at least 12 Pallas’s Gulls, 20 Lesser Sand-plovers, one Lesser Crested Tern and surprisingly an adult Common Gull among all the roosting birds.
Khiran Sand Spit
Larus rex
Larus rex
Larus rex
Crested, Capsian and Lesser Crested Terns

Crested Tern, Common Gull and some other stuff

Greater and Lesser Sand-plover


Hasse making sketches of the gulls

Yesterday the Belgians saw the Long-tailed Shrike and a male Shikra at Sulaibikhat NR and today the made a cleanup at the Pivot Fields where they saw: Black-throated Trush 1, Pacific Golden Plover 2, Dotterel 2, Red-wattled Plover 1, Bonelli’s Eagle 1, Shikra 1, but unfortunately the couldn’t find the Little Curlew.

After visiting Kabd tomorrow morning with Dr Gary Brown we plan to revisit the Pivot Fields. Sleep tight ya’ll!