Kuwait Day 1, 3 April 2012 - Manchester Club, Doha Spit, Jahra Farms & Jahra Pools

This years spring tour to Kuwait was a mainly British affair with our guests being Dave Woodhouse, Gary Fennemore, Brian Gregory, Colin Butler and Joe Carroll being joined by Canadian Todd Pepper. And a fine group it was too and it was a pleasure to enjoy some great birding in excellent company.
We began with the usual visa and car hire red tape at the airport but despite people arriving on a variety of flights our rendezvous went according to plan. We'd soon met our ground agent, guide and friend Pekka Fagel and were on the road in 2 vehicles.
As the tide was promnising our first port of call was the wader site on the south side of Kuwait Bay known as Manchester Club. On the approach we had our first Daurian Shrike, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears on on arrival Greater Flamingoes, Grey Herons and 2 Western Reef Herons were immediately obvious as we began a sort through the waders on the shoreline. c5 Terek Sandpipers, 2 Marsh Sandpipers and c6 Lesser Sandplovers were picked out from the commoner waders but crucially no Crab Plovers could be found. A variety of gulls had us all in deep discussion. The numerous Slender-billed Gulls and an adult summer Pallas's Gull were easy but Caspian Gull, Baltic Gull and Heuglin's Gull, less so!

In our quest for our target bird we moved the short distance to Doha Spit and hit the jackpot quickly. Initially about half a dozen Crab Plovers were picked out at distance but on closer inspection an impressive 105 were counted. Also on the shoreline were Kentish Plovers, c6 Grey Plovers, 1 Oystercatcher, 2 Terek Sandpipers, numerous Curlew, Dunlin and Redshank and several Bar-tailed Godwits. Amongst these Slender-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns loafed.

The famous site of Jahra Farms was next on the agenda but on arrival we had a bit of a shock. This place is usually well irrigated and lush but due to the water supply having been cut it was completely dry and the crops replaced by weeds. Luckily it hasn't yet had an effect on the birds but it's surely only a matter of time unless the problems described by the tenant farmer Ali are resolved. Before entering the farm we scored with c15 Bank Mynas at their usual breeding well and when birding the farms Red-throated and Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails were the most obvious migrants. With work we also located 4 Black Kites, White Wagtail, Common Myna, Siberian Stonechat, c3 Common Redstarts, 1 Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, 2 Northern Wheatears, 1 Red-rumped Swallow, and impressive 6 Hoopoes, Ring-necked Parakeet, Woodchat and 2 Turkestan Shrikes. Best of all though was a frustratingly brief Chestnut-shouldered Petronia on wires before it flew off.

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, Jahra Farms

Turkestan Shrike, Jahra Farms

Common Redstart, Jahra Farms

Yellow Wagtail (beema), Jahra Farms

Our final stop of the 1st day was site we'd visit several times during the week - Jahra Pools Nature Reserve. On this occasion it was quite quiet but nonetheless we did manage several crakes around a small trackside pool - 5 Spotted Crakes, 4 Little Crakes and 2 Water Rails. Around the reserve 4 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Graceful Prinia, Bluethroat, Sparrowhawk and Marsh Harrier were seen whilst a small group of Glossy Ibis and an Osprey were spotted on the way out as the sun set on an excellent 1st day.                   

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