Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Greater Spotted Eagle
We flew by Emirates via Dubai, arriving in Kuwait around mid-day on November 25th. 60 Kuwait dinars was enough for food throughout the week including snacks, with breakfast and most evening meals at the abundant McDonald's restaurants with a Big Mac Meal costing less than 2 dinars.
We soon found that White-cheeked Bulbul, Marsh Harrier, Common Myna, Isabelline Shrike, Water Pipits, Black Kite and Laughing Doves were all common in the appropriate habitat.
Many sites are high security and cannot be visited without a local guide so we decided to use Pekka Fagel for four days. Our first day with Pekka was not until the 26th, so with our first afternoon free, we decided to visit the well-known Green Island which was only a few miles away from our hotel. We had been told that the best chance of Grey Hypocolius was early morning at this site so an afternoon visit didn't hold much promise but to our amazement around 100 of these birds were present on the island during the entire duration of our stay! White-cheeked Bulbuls were abundant, with 3-4 of their scarcer cousins the Red-vented Bulbul also present, as were good numbers of Common Myna and a single White-throated Kingfisher.
Our first day with Pekka Fagel saw us visit the desert crags outside Kuwait where we soon found another target bird, a Red-tailed Wheatear. Good numbers of Mourning Wheatear were present along with lots of Desert Wheatear and a single Finsch's. Our next stop was Jahra Farms where another target, the Shikra, was soon spotted and the female gave great perched views! A visit later in the afternoon produced around 20 Bank Mynas which seemed to return here to roost and a Masked Shrike gave great views.
The morning of 27th saw us visit the excellent Jahra Pools reserve. Birds seen in two visits here included 2 Great Spotted Eagles, 2 Eastern Imperial Eagles, a Black Tern, Little Crake, 6 Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters, 6 Black-necked Grebes, a Black-shouldered Kite, 10 Moustached Warblers, a Mountain Chffchaff, 6 Ferruginous Ducks, 6 Graceful Prinias, 5 Bluethroat, many Penduline Tits, a Mountain Chiffchaff and 2 White-tailed Plovers, with many of the above giving great close views from the car, especially the White-breasted and Pied Kingfishers which we often had down to a few metres.
Another good site was Al Abraq Al-Khabari which held 4 Menetries Warblers and 2 Woodlarks, with another Shikra, this time a male, and 2 Hume's Warblers at Al-Shallal.
The area around Kuwait Bay held thousands of waders but a scope is essential here. The Crab Plovers gave close views at high tide but many gulls and waders disperse on the incoming tide and views often remained distant. Birds spotted included c150 Crab plovers, 100+ Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover and Broad-billed Sandpipers, 25 Terek Sandpiper and a single Marsh Sandpiper. Flamingos were present in their hundreds with a notable winter Bridled Tern spotted flying down the coast. Good numbers of Whiskered Terns and Caspian Terns were around while the many gulls presented a real challenge, with Caspian being common with a few Armenian Gulls present.
The Common (Afgan) Babbler was another of our target birds and a visit to Abdali Farm turned up trumps with at least three giving great views, with another 50 or so Grey Hypocolius present.
The Pivot Fields was another well known and productive site but sadly, at present, access is not allowed. Birders can still drive along the perimeter fencing and view inside and while not as productive we still managed 2 Eastern Imperial Eagles, 2 Greater Spotted Eagles, a male Hen Harrier, a Hoopoe and 15 beautiful Namaqua Doves.
We heard just before our departure from England of the presence of a Black Drongo at a private site at Salmi and Pekka told us he intended to attempt to gain permission for another visit. This he managed to do for our final afternoon on 2nd December. A truly unforgettable experience ensued which included entrance through three high security checkpoints. Soon the Drongo gave itself up and, despite being extremely wary, gave good views perched on buildings and the perimeter fencing. Without a doubt the final bird of the trip was the highlight, especially for much travelled and top Western Pal lister Richard Stephenson who gained 5 new birds on the trip!
A total of 110 species were seen on the trip.