Monday 16 September 2019

Kuwait - Part 1

It seems a very long time ago now, but in April this year Nick and I took a week long trip to the gulf state of Kuwait. We joined Abdrulrahman Al Sirhan's spring tour in the company of several other birders from Denmark, Belgium, France and the UK.
For me personnally, the trip took place against a back-drop of an enormously hectic and pressurised period of time in work and there were moments leading up to the trip that I really thought I wouldn't get there! In the end I managed to get away and on 11th April Nick and I flew direct overnight from Heathrow to Kuwait City with BA. Landing early on a Friday morning, we were met by Abdulrahman and transferred straight away to our hotel more or less in the centre of Kuwait City.

My first sighting of Kuwait as our BA flight descends into Kuwait City on Friday morning

Our hotel for the week - more than comfortable despite there being no bar :-(
We had 20 minutes or so to check-in, shower and change before heading out for a day's birding. 
We made our way across the city to Al-Shaheed Park, a perfectly manicured public park set against a back-drop of high-rise financial buildings, not the sort of place I expected to see migrant birds but first impressions can be all wrong.
I was quite pleasantly surprised not to see heavy traffic that first morning in Kuwait City but I was to later find out that Friday is a weekend and everyone was enjoying a lie-in. I was to get quite a shock later when the full horror of Kuwait City traffic was revealed to me - more on that later!!!

A civilised sort of rush hour - 8.42am on a Friday morning in Kuwait City - little did I know!!

Friday morning at Al-Shaheed Park and one tired birder - I had 2 minutes sleep on the red-eye from Heathrow
Our highlights on that first morning included Masked Shrike, Turkestan Shrike, White-throated Robin, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe and Pallid or Montagu's Harrier. In addition to that there were the ubiquitous Laughing Doves and White-eared Bulbuls plus Indian Silverbill.

Turkestan Shrike against a city back-drop - Al-Shaheed Park, Kuwait City

The plan in my mind had been to return to the hotel for the rest of the day and catch up on some sleep however, Abdulrahman had packed us a lunch and instead we scoffed that and continued on to Jahra farms for the afternoon. The birding there was relatively slow but we did have Wryneck, Semi-collared Flycatcher, White-throated Kingfisher, Common Redstart plus Common and Bank Myna. However, the lack of sleep finally caught up with me and I crashed out under this palm tree using my camera as a pillow!

That night we picked up the rental cars at the airport and I shamelessly let Nick draw the short straw and drive back to the hotel through the by now much more scary looking evening traffic.

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