Earlier this year, I was fortunate to represent Kuwait at the 14th Conservation Workshop for the Biodiversity of Arabia. I am pleased to report that the bird team was able to achieve the workshop objective of assessing the regional Red List of all the breeding birds of Arabia.
On the last day of the workshop, the birders were all keen to get into the field and our hosts kindly arranged visits to a few protected areas.
Whilst waiting for the bus, a stroll around the hotel gardens produced numbers of Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus) and finally I was able to photograph a male in breeding plumage, as before I had only seen females and eclipse males – which I also found today.
Overhead a few Pale Crag Martins (Ptyonoprogne obsoleta) were hawking insects.
The first protected area was enjoyed on foot but didn’t produce anything out of the ordinary. However we still enjoyed Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
Numbers of Indian Silverbill’s (Euodice malabarica) which are more prolific in UAE than Kuwait
Red-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus cafer) are also more numerous in UAE than they are in Kuwait
A few winter plumage Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybrida) hawking over the pools
And many Pallid Swifts (Apus pallidus) overhead, always a challenge to photograph
Before leaving, we flushed a White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus) which many of the out of country birders enjoyed.
The next stop was a wader roost and many different species were seen, however the Green Bee-eaters (Merops orientalis) along the shoreline provided some colourful entertainment.
A pale form Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) came in to land, just as we were leaving
Our hosts saved the best to last which was Khor Kalba where we were all anxious to find the Collared Kingfisher. This population is thought to be a localised sub-species in this mangrove habitat and is recorded nowhere else in UAE. The only other known populations is on the south west coast of Saudi Arabia and possibly in Oman. We were searching for this bird across the Khor into the sun, so conditions were far from ideal – but finally we were rewarded with two, albeit distant birds and my last Kingfisher species for the Middle East.
The Kingfisher and a passing Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) were a great way to finish the day and a fantastic workshop hosted by Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah.