Markus is a Kuwait-based birder who drove me first to Al Braq. This is an oasis in the west of the country close to the Saudi border.
The surrounding countryside is arid and almost completely barren. We couldn't certainly say we saw any thing other that desert wheatear and house sparrow.
That is even more reason the oasis itself is a magnet for birds. It is privately owned and has been landscaped into a reedy pool, woodland, an array of horticultural plots and some cattle sheds. Each component area has its own bird life.
We spent much of our time near the horticultural plots and for good reason. The highlight there was a grey-necked bunting which was associating with a group of eight corn bunting. Markus has some record shots but I sadly don't. It took us some time to identify it but I noticed on the ebird database that it had been seen the day before there by another observer. This species migrates from south east Turkey to India and back so it is a little surprising it is still a vagrant in Kuwait. The bird was also incredibly early for spring migration unless it decides to stay a while.
Also at the plots was a single brambling which has been around for much of the winter. This was one of several birds seen at the farm which are from the north and very rarely seen in other parts of the Gulf.
A European stonechat was observed in one of the fallow plots.
Another sign of early migration was a common redstart. A black redstart was also seen near the cow sheds.
I saw two types of pipit in the plots. There were both tree pipit and water pipit.
Crested lark was pretty much expected at a location like this and it obliged.
Hoopoe were seen in the plots and on the edges of the woodland.
I think all parts of the gulf which aren't desert have white wagtail at the moment.
There was no sign of Spanish sparrow but house sparrow were in evidence near the workers accommodation and the cattle sheds.
The pool was not so productive on the day except for chiffchaff there and in the surrounding trees. These trees were the only place we had white-eared bulbul at the oasis.
The woods were very interesting though.
My one disappointment there was a sparrowhawk which flew off into the middle distance as we arrived.
Otherwise the woods housed several species of northern winterers which are often difficult to see elsewhere. There were at least two mistle thrush, a song thrush and a male blackbird.
two mistle thrush
There was also a European robin.
Given the farm is so close to the Saudi border it must give an indication of species that can be found in far northern Saudi Arabia in winter. I saw four birds in Al Braq not on my Saudi list.
As the birding was so good we stayed well in the afternoon before moving on. Our second stop was Jahra pools which also proved to be fascinating. I will blog about that next.