Birding with Mike

Outdoors in Q8

By Mike Pope
WHAT A MONTH…..The past 3-weeks have been almost unprecedented with the number of rarities that have been recorded in Kuwait for this transition period of year when the last of the migrants are leaving and the winter visitors are arriving.
 
It is always difficult to attribute the reason or cause of their arrivals, but we can only summise what may have ‘pushed’ these birds westward. We had a pretty early cold snap in Kuwait to announce the start of winter and shortly after that the birds started to arrive, so weather patterns could be one element and others could be a very successful breeding season for some species and lack of food in their normal wintering sites;
 
It all started when a small flock of very approachable Greater White-fronted Geese arrived in Jahra Bay area at the end of October, this was the 3rd record for Kuwait. I was fortunate to catch-up with them and also an obliging Steppe Eagle that also appeared to be pretty exhausted from its migration
 
Sadly, the shooters of Kuwait who know no boundaries, or care about others and the sustainability of the species, decimated the whole flock overnight and proudly displayed their ‘trophies’ on social media. Fortunately, the few birders and photographers who do appreciate the countries natural history did get to enjoy watching them, albeit for too short a time. Of interest, these Geese were recorded in the same period in other parts of the Region from UAE, Oman, KSA and Qatar.
 
In the first week of November, we then had the 1st record of Hawfinch (pending acceptance by the Rarities Committee) and this was part of a much bigger flock where the majority was recorded in Israel. On the same day the 8th Sociable Lapwing (a critically endangered IUCN species) and 3rd Lesser Flamingo were also recorded in the Jahra coastal area.
 
Other interesting species followed; Mistle Thrush, Brambling, Dead Sea Sparrow and Black-winged Kite and lastly another mega just last week; the 2nd Purple Sunbird for Kuwait was discovered in the desert area near Khiran in the south.
 
We now wait in anticipation of the next cold front of winter in the hope that a few more exciting rarities will find their way to Kuwait before the year-end.
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