Kuwait Day 4, 6 April 2012 - Subriya Farm, SAANR, Mutla'a Ranch & Kuwait City University

Our main aim today was to bird the Sabal al Ahmed Natural Reserve (SAANR) to which access had been pre-arranged. En-route a perched Long-legged Buzzard showed nicely beside the main road. On the spur of the moment we decided to call in at the nearby Subriya Farm before heading to the desert - and what an good idea it proved to be!
Initially we walked around the edge of the small farm hoping for a Shikra (but failing). 2 Cattle Egrets were flushed and we also had Daurian Shrike, a nice showy male Menetries's Warbler in some low brush but little else other than the common migrants. Entering the centre section of the farm Todd then called 'what's this?', Pekka shouted 'stay still everyone it's a rarity' and I shouted 'Raddes Accentor' all in the matter of a few seconds! The bird had been in a small concrete gulley but quickly hopped out and went to ground for a while. We relocated it a few minutes later in bushes nearby and then had some more views of it feeding very unobtrusively under bushes beside the path. Throughout the 30 minutes or so we watched it for it remained shy and elusive. If accepted by KORC this will constitute only the 3rd record for Kuwait. We left for the desert a very happy group!

Radde's Accentor, Subriya Farm

Radde's Accentor, Subriya Farm

Access was gained to SAANR without a hitch and headed off along the desert tracks. En-route to the Tulha Oasis we found White-throated Robin, Steppe Grey Shrike and several scattered Isabelline Wheatears before we parked up and began a search of the trees and bushes at the oasis. Another White-throated Robin was quickly found and 2 Ortolan Buntings, c4 Spanish Sparrows, Red-throated Pipits, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Little Egret and 3 fly-through European Bee-eaters followed. A couple of the guys had Pale Rock Sparrow briefly and a juv Pallid Harrier, a Marsh Harrier and 2 Sparrowhawks also passed through. Next we moved on to an area where a dried up lake used to be and the lush grass here was absolutely full of birds. Another Pallid Harrier was busy hunting the numerous Yellow Wagtails (beema, feldegg, lutea and even a single thunbergi), Red-throated Pipits, Tawny Pipits, Crested and Short-toed Larks. With some work we also found some Pale Rock Sparrows for the whole group with up to 40 of this nomadic species counted. A group of 6 Squacco Herons flew through looking very out of place and when returning to the vehicles we found a Common Redstart sheltering in the shade under one of the cars!

Pallid Harrier, SAANR

Pallid Harrier, SAANR

Squacco Herons, SAANR

Yellow Wagtail (thunbergi), SAANR

Yellow Wagtail (mixed race!), SAANR

Yellow Wagtail (lutea), SAANR

Common Redstart, SAANR
Moving on to the lake proper we saw out first wildfowl of the trip - c60 Shoveler and c10 Garganey and scanning the waters edge we also picked up a solitary Collared Pratincole, 2 Grey Wagtails, 3 Black-winged Stilts, several Common Sandpipers and a Kentish Plover while a Steppe Eagle loafed on the shore. Continuing our tour of the desert we had 2 nice Asian Desert Warblers and then a couple of trackside Hoopoe Larks but other than the odd wheatear the open desert was quiet (and sadly Caspian Plover free despite much searching).

Leaving the reserve I suggested we check Mutla'a Ranch, a site we'd visted for the first time on our winter tour back in January. After driving in to the ranch and parking up we were approached by the owner on his quadbike and when we explained what we were doing he welcomed us with warm handshakes and then even returned a few minutes later with a bag of food and drinks to share! The extensive area of date palms and scattered broadleaf bushes and trees here has great potentail for the future and on this visit we had a few goodies despite it being in the mid afternoon heat. 2 Black-crowned Night Herons flew over soon after we left the car and Common Redstarts, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were everywhere. Along the back perimeter fence I picked up a nice Eastern Black Redstart (semirufus) and then the boys spotted a European Roller on distant telegraph wires. Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Daurian Shrike were added, a single Hypocolious followed and then a female Bluethroat as we neared the car.

Eastern Black Redstart, Mutla'a Ranch

European Roller, Mutla'a Ranch  

European Roller, Mutla'a Ranch

Heading back towards the city we decided to finish the day at the Kuwait City University campus where we duly clocked up the regular House Crows, Ring-necked Parakeet, a single Common Swift, several Ortolan Buntings on the lawns and loads of Common Mynas. Best of all was a pair of Red-vented Bulbuls, the first time I'd ever seen them away from Green Island.

Common Myna, Kuwait City University

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