Monday 26 January 2015

Wintering masked shrike in Kuwait City

I visited Kuwait over last weekend to see friends and to bird. This was my first visit and I am very happy with it.

I birded alone on Friday morning but went to Green Island as suggested by local birder Mike Pope who helped arrange my trip.

masked shrike

Green Island was very interesting for its variety of introduced as well as native species. Nevertheless the highlight of the morning for me was when I left green Island and walked down the corniche. 500 metres south of green Island as I was finishing my birding for the morning I came across a masked shrike.

This is the third one I have seen in mid winter far north of where they are meant to be. One was in the garden of the Intercontinental Hotel Riyadh in 2011/12, the second was in Deffi Park, Jubail, Saudi Arabia in 2013/14 and now this one. Deffi Park is only 250 kilometre from Kuwait and also on the coast.

That was near the end of the morning. The start was nearly as interesting.

One of the first birds I saw was a red-whiskered bulbul. This was a lifer for me.

red-whiskered bulbul

This is a presumed escape but unlike red-vented bulbul which was also there, it hasn't established a sustained breeding population.

white-eared bulbul

The native white-eared bulbul was probably more common than either.

common myna

Common myna is another non-native species which long breed here and other places in the gulf.

laughing dove

Both laughing dove and collared dove were there.

slender-billed gull

There is a sea inlet within the island which contained both slender-billed gull and black-headed gull. Just as the black-headed gull in Salalah are nearly all first winter, near all the black-headed gull here which is over 1200 km north were mostly adults.

Ruppell's weaver

Continuing the them of exotic birds, I saw three Ruppell's weaver. Local birder Markus Craig tells me that they breed on the island now elsewhere but are still category E (escapes) rather than category C birds (escapes with a sustained breeding population). I saw old nests.

male Ruppell's weaver

I spotted a white-throated kingfisher on the island which is a little unusual.

white-throated kingfisher

Returning to the sea inlet before leaving, I observed grey heron and great cormorant.

grey heron

I later discovered the wintering population of great cormorant in Kuwait is very large indeed.

great cormorant

On Fridays Green Island is only open from 9 am until 11 am in the morning. I would have stayed longer if I could.

I chose to walk south from Green island along the corniche.

Steppe gull

Large numbers of slender-billed gull and black-headed gull were present along with a small number of large white headed gulls. The one above has been identified as a steppe gull. The yellow legs and relatively short bill are part of the identification.

black-headed gull

Very few waders were along this beach. Indeed I saw only two greater sand plover and one Kentish plover.

greater sand plover

The greater sand plover was identified by its long and fairly pointed bill, its greenish legs and size compared with the near-by Kentish plover.

kentish plover

Last and possibly least I must comment that many of the beaches in public areas in Kuwait are frequented by large numbers of pigeon.

pigeon along the beach

On late Friday afternoon, I went birding again, this time with Mike Pope. We went to Sulaibikhat outfall. It was here I saw my second lifer of the day. I will blog about that next.

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