Wednesday 18 September 2019

Kuwait - Part 2

Despite being woken by the call to prayer at 4am (our hotel was right opposite a busy mosque), I still managed to get a decent night's sleep and was fresh and bright when the group assembled at 5.30am in the hotel reception. The previous day we had been joined by WP lister and Parisian native Daniel Mauras, this morning was the start of the tour proper and our ranks were swelled by Danish birders Anders Hammergart, Paul Nilsson and Jim Christensen, British birder Gordon Cox and Belgian Marc Lucas. With me at the wheel about to take on Kuwait City traffic for the first time, the others piled into the cars and we set off once again for Jahra Farms.
We had an enjoyable pre-breakfast jaunt around Jahra with Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Barn Swallow, White-throated Kingfisher and excellent views of this obliging Semi-collared Flycatcher.

Semi-collared Flycatcher - Jahra Farms, Kuwait - April 2019
Nick and I also picked up this delightful Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike on a wire fence, I had only ever seen one of these before (a first winter bird in Ireland on the Old Head of Kinsale in 2006). I had long wanted to see a proper adult and this one didn't disappoint!

Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike - Jahra Farms, Kuwait - April 2019
As there had been a bit of a cock-up on the breakfast front (I'm not sure whose fault that was!), but in any case we needed to find a greasy spoon or equivalent somewhere. We toured around the town of Jahra and stumbled upon what turned out to be a rather smashing little cafe that served us up one of the best breakfasts I can remember that didn't include black pudding, bacon or Hick's sausages!

The full Kuwaiti!
Our rather less than economical 5 litre Toyota Landcruiser parked outside the cafe - fuel is cheaper than water in Kuwait
After breakfast we visited Mutla'a Ranch where we had further Semi-collared Flycatchers including a striking male plus another Masked Shrike, Pied Wheatear, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Namaqua Dove and plenty of Blackcaps.
Driving back out of Mutla'a ranch through dry desert habitat we had Bar-tailed and Desert Lark, Wryneck (an odd place to see one), Kestrel and Hoopoe Lark.
Next stop was Liyah Reserve, a desert reserve that has a small pool where we saw Wood and Common Sandpiper, a superb male Feldegg Yellow Wagtail plus a group of 21 Pale Rock Sparrows. Before lunch we birded around the acacias where we had plenty of Willows and Chiffs, male and female Pied Wheatears, Common Redstarts, Lesser Whitethroat and a White-throated Robin that did its best to elude having its picture taken. This male Pied Wheatear behaved itself a little more!

Male Pied Wheatear - Liyah Reserve, Kuwait - April 2019
I really enjoyed this spot, we visited several times during our tour and it was always buzzing with migrants.
We left Liyah mid-afternoon, stopping briefly to watch an Isabelline Wheatear from the comfort of our air-conditioned Landcruiser before heading across to Doha Spit for some evening wader watching.

Waders were a bit distant at Doha but present in both quantity and quality
Caspian, Lesser Crested, Little and Common Tern, Green Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Greater and Lesser Sandplover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Bar 'wits, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and  Whimbrel were all present but the highlight for me were the large flocks of Terek Sandpipers - my favourite wader maybe??
We switched around to another spot a were fortunate to pick out a single Crab Plover plus Night Heron, Squacco Heron and Whiskered Tern.
We finished the day at a Grey Hypocolius roost - but no Hypocolius! Once the sun had set, we piled back into the car and I drove back into the city through surely the most insane traffic I have ever encountered! It may have had something to do with a big football match that was on that night - I think it was an Egyptian league match - the cafes were mobbed!

Nick captures the sunset at the end of a long and enjoyable day of birding

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