Mid-summer is not ideal for photography or conducive for birding in Kuwait, as July is generally the hottest month of the year with temps often exceeding 50 degrees before mid-day.
Generally, it is only the urban resident birds that are found in June/July and when you find them, they are mostly hiding in cover or somewhere in any shade that they can find – beaks open and ‘panting’
Summer does bring Socotra Cormorants to our waters following their post-breeding dispersal further south – predominantly these are all first year birds, but every now and then an oily black adult is seen in the smaller flocks of this species.
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Believe it or not, many of the other resident shore and ‘summering’ sea birds choose this time of year to breed on the off-shore islands as well as on Boubyan. There are 4 species of Tern that breed on Kubbar; Lesser and Great Crested Tern, Bridled and White-cheeked. Whilst further north on Boubyan we have Grey and Western Reef Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Slender-billed Gulls, Gull-billed Terns and of course our iconic Crab-plover who start their breeding cycle from May; most in quite large colonies. Along the coast, the diminutive Kentish Plovers lay their eggs under no cover or shelter whatsoever, but do keep their nests relatively close to water which they use to keep their belly feathers wet to regulate the temperature of their eggs and young.
It is not only the birds that take strain in the heat, but also yours truly. Trying to get sharp images is near impossible at times with heat haze and evaporation, both of which play havoc with the auto-focus systems of modern DSLR’s. They only way to overcome this is to be out very early and be finished by 10am – at least from a photographic perspective.
The end of July is upon us and now we all look forward to the returning Autumn migrants in August and September, all passing through Kuwait, as they head south to their summer wintering grounds. There is also some relief with slightly cooler temperatures – relatively so, compared to June and July!
By: Mike Pope