In Anticipation of Autumn Migration

Birding with Mike

By Mike Pope
Although the temperatures remain brutal  and it feels like summer is never-ending, however the birds tell us something different.
 
Migration is one of nature’s greatest miracles; every year, migratory birds brave mountains, oceans, deserts and storms on their journeys to survive. Their epic flights connect us all - crossing our borders, cultures and lives. An estimated 20% of all known birds species make regular cyclical movements beyond their breeding grounds with predictable timing and destinations.
 
Migrating birds can cover thousands of miles in their annual travels, often traveling the same course year after year with little deviation in the path followed. First year birds may migrate unescorted to a winter home they have never before seen and return the following spring to the area in which they were born.
 
On Kubbar Island the breeding Tern young are almost all fully fledged and learning to fly and breeding season for many species in the northern Palearctic is over and for many the journey south has already started. On Boubyan the Herons, Spoonbills, Slender-billed Gulls and Crab-plovers have already dispersed from their breeding sites.
 
 
On Kubbar Island the breeding Tern young are almost all fully fledged and learning to fly and breeding season for many species in the northern Palearctic is over and for many the journey south has already started. On Boubyan the Herons, Spoonbills, Slender-billed Gulls and Crab-plovers have already dispersed from their breeding sites.
 
The primary migratory Flyway through Kuwait is the East Asia/East Africa Flyway. This Flyway is the main migratory route from the Palearctic to Equatorial Eastern Africa and Southern Africa for approximately 331 migratory species according to Birdlife International research.  This important flyway passes through Kuwait; one of the 64 countries on this flyway that the migratory birds pass through each year on their annual migration.
 
Unfortunately, many of the world’s migratory birds are in decline. Many characteristics of migrants render them particularly vulnerable to a variety of threats. Undertaking such dramatic movements pushes birds to the limit of their endurance. They are reliant on favourable weather conditions and must find sufficient food resources at multiple sites throughout their migratory journey.
 
In Kuwait, it is the shorebirds or waders that are generally the first migrants to arrive in numbers and can be found along the coastal zones from Doha, Jahra Bay, Sulaibikhat all the way to the south at Khiran. You will find them along the coast in mixed flocks with both adult (often still in breeding plumage) and first year birds. These shorebirds are interesting in that they all have different feeding strategies, based on leg length as well as bill length and shape and this minimizes the competition for food in the shared staging habitat.
 
So, the next time you find yourself at the coast on the low tide – stop and take your time to observe our waders who have stopped to refuel on their long journey to Africa. Marvel in the way that each uses the ‘tools’ it is equipped with to gather food and fatten up for the next long leg of the journey across the deserts of the Middle East.
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