Kuwait 3.-13.4. 2008

Kuwait – 3rd to 13th of April

3.4. The story begins

We’re driving in a morning traffic from Kirkkonummi to Helsinki-Vantaa airport when I received a call. The rest of our group, Janne Kilpimaa, Petri Kuhno, Tero Linjama and Tero Toivanen, were already at the airport and they had found out that our flight to Frankfurt had been cancelled! Finally we managed to get to the airport too and luckily we had got new flights so we’re now going to fly first to Stockholm, then to Istanbul and then finally to Kuwait city.

So we had a little bit longer time to wait for our first flight and we decided to go to eat to a restaurant. At 1 p.m. our plane left to Stockholm where we were an hour later. Surprisingly we had a lunch also in this flight and at 2.10 p.m. we had the next flight to Istanbul and we ate again…

The Turkish Airlines plane was extremely hot but finally at 6.35 p.m. we landed. The only birds we saw I the last light were Yellow-legged Gulls, Cormorants, Magpies and Hooded Crows.

At 9.45 p.m. took off our last flight to Kuwait city. Also this flight was sweaty but once again we had good dinner so at least we weren’t hungry.

The 4th of April. To Kuwait

Finally at 1.15 a.m. we landed to Kuwait city! Right away we went to get some local money. Then we managed to find a place to get visas and after finding our luggage we went to Trifty office to get our rental cars that we had already booked by internet. We had two really good Mitzubishi Pajeros and I took the wheel of another car and Janne Kilpimaa and Petri Kuhno also had international driving licenses and they were the drivers of the another car. Tero Linjama had also recording equipments so he came to our car with me and Hanna.

Tertsi (Toivanen) was reading the maps and soon we hit the road. It was good to have the first touch to local driving at night, there weren’t too much traffic so we managed to find to Salmiya and our hotel Arinza tower easily.

Even though we had booked two rooms by internet we were offered only one room which wasn’t enough for 6 of us, the rooms were for 4 persons. But after complaining we got to rooms which were unfortunately in different floors. Anyway we’re just so tired that we wanted to go to sleep. In both apartments there were 2 rooms, so we had plenty of space. After all we went to sleep at 4 a.m.

The first day – tough birding

Sulaibikhat

After one and a half of an hour at 5.30 a.m. we woke up and soon we were driving towards Sulaibikhat – a place where a Long-tailed Shrike has been wintering for two winters. Last month the bird had been extremely difficult to find and a year before the last observation had been just on these days.

On the way we got the first lifers and wp-ticks when we saw some Common Mynahs and White-cheeked Bulbuls. But it was impossible to concentrate on birds because of the terrific traffic! We passed a couple of traffic-accidents and on the 4-line road the cars were driving really fast! Some of the sportiest cars passed us more than 200 km/h. And on the outermost line the trucks and buses were driving really slowly.

We arrived at Sulaibikhat at 6.20 a.m. and soon we met Pekka Fågel, a Finnish birder who had been living in Kuwait for 2 and a half years in two periods. Tertsi had been in contact with Pekka many times and they has arranged almost everything ready and Pekka would be birding with us on local weekends which means Friday and Saturday. Brian Foster was with Pekka and soon another 4-wheel drive parked next to us and we met a British group that Brian was going to guide. Surprisingly most of the group was the same than had been in same time in Turkey than rest of our group.

Then we continued inside the fenced birding area. This was one of the many birding places where was impossible to get without the help from local birders. Right away we saw a couple of Isabelline Shrikes, Bee-eaters, Swifts, Graceful Prinias, Spanish Wheatears and Pied Wheatears.

The Long-tailed Shrike wasn’t found easily so we spread and kept on searching carefully around the whole area. Soon the Brits found a flock of 6 Grey Hypocolius and a little bit later even better bird a Common Babbler! This was the second observation in the area and also in a whole country outside Abdaly Farms! But the shrike wasn’t found so soon we decided to continue to Jahra east outfall. Brian and the Brits continued somewhere else.

Jahra east outfall

Jahra east outfall was an amazing good looking reed bed area with a sewage-water canal and the shore was muddy because of the tides. On the canal there was a place where several crakes had been discovered recently and the reed bed was full of warblers and the shore full of waders and sandy areas full of pipits and Yellow Wagtails. We found some Spotted, Little and Baillion’s Crakes, Great Reed, Reed, Clamorous, Sedge, Moustached and Savi’s Warblers and much more, but we couldn’t find any Basra Reed Warblers yet. Other nice birds were 100 Flamingos, a couple of Bluethroats and a Little Bittern.

Doha

Next we continued to Doha which is a great place to watch waders – at least on high tide. On the way we saw a Long-legged Buzzard. In Doha we saw lots of waders but it was a low tide and the light and haze were really bad. We saw a nice flock of 60 Crab Plovers, managed to identify a huge flock of 300 Lesser Sand Plovers. Also 30 Terek Sandpipers and 200 Bar-tailed Godwits were counted from the big flocks. Other nice birds were 80 Lesser Crested Terns, a Caspian Gull, some Heuglin’s and Steppe Gulls, 4 Garganeys and 2 Teals and so on.

Soon we drove to Doha South pools where we easily found some Purple Swamp-hens, Coots and a Little Grebe. Also Steppe Grey Shrike was nice to see.

SAANR Talha

When the day was its hottest we drove to Saba Al Ahmad Nature Reserve (SAANR). Again Pekka helped us to get in from the gates and we were told that we were able to get in also later once the guards knew us. But this was possible only in current situation it is not guaranteed that this or any other of these closed places stays open for birders. Soon we were stopping in a desert in hope to find some desert species. We found some Bar-tailed Desert Larks and a nice Hoopoe Lark. Soon we parked in a beautiful oasis. Talha was an oasis with a pool and some hectares of trees in the middle of the desert, so it was a real magnet for the migrants and also many desert species came to drink from the pool. And even now in mid-day the trees were full of passerines and in the pool there were some waders and even a Spotted Crake. We met the Brits again and they had found 2 Scops Owls sleeping in a dense tree. But soon Kilpimaa found a much better bird – a Basra Reed Warbler was jumping on the sandy ground and it was easy to study and also photograph. Other nice observations were some White-throated Robins and Rufous-tailed Bush Robins, a Booted and a Short-toed Eagle, a Masked Shrike and so on.

Jahra farms

In the afternoon we headed to Jahra farms where we found the famous Bank Mynahs already on the parking place. Soon I saw briefly a Semi-collared Flycatcher and from the farm we found some Rosy-ringed Parakeets, a White-breasted Kingfisher, a Song Thrush and so on.
Once we had managed to get away from the jammed and dangerous traffic back to the hotel we’re so tired that we went to sleep right away at 9 p.m. We had seen altogether 124 species during the day which we later heard was the new record for Kuwait – and we hadn’t really tried (but the recent records were made by using bird race rules). I had already got amazing 9 wp-ticks!

The 5th of April – To new places with Pekka

In the morning we started again in Sulaibikhat, where we were already at 6.10 a.m. Again we failed to find a Long-tailed Shrike, but other good birds were seen, the best one was a Desert Wheatear.

Pivot fields

Soon we continued to Pivot fields, one more place that is impossible to get in before you have been there with a local birder. And if you manage to get in you must know that it is aloud to stay there only between 8 and 12 a.m. The fields are really good for birds: Swallows, both Bee-eaters, lots of wheatears, thousands of House Sparrow and also an Imperial Eagle, 2 Greater Spotted Eagles, 40 Namaqua Doves and a couple of Quails were found easily. While we’re driving from the drier part to the greener we saw a flock of 5 male Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks. A flock of Lesser Kestrels were soaring on the sky and on the wettest field we found 100 of Cattle Egrets, 12 Starlings, more than hundred of Collared Pratincoles and a couple of Caspian Plovers.

Abdaly farms

At the mid-day we started our way to North and drove more than 100 kilometres to Abdaly farms. The Brits that had come to twitch the Caspian Plovers were again with us. After we had parked to a semi-deserted area with low bushes we started to walk in line and soon found a noisy family of Common Babblers. 5 adult birds were feeding 3 still flightless young birds. After some photographing we continued only a couple of hundreds of metres to the field-area where I managed to find a Red-wattled Lapwing standing on a high sand-dyne. But only Hanna and Linjama managed see the bird before it got scared and flew behind the dynes. Unfortunately we couldn’t go to that place because of there were no access to those farms, so we had to just wait for the bird to come back. But after some waiting Pekka went to see if there was some place where we could see the place behind the dynes and he found it. And again when some of us managed to see now 2 birds they got afraid and flew away, even though we were hundreds of metres from the birds. Still not all of us had seen them! But finally after a half an hour searching we saw 2 birds flying on the sky and we could happily keep on going.

We decided to drive straight back to hotel, where we ordered some food to our rooms and after counting the day’s observations we went to sleep at 10.30 p.m.

The 6th of April – To south

Again we woke up at 5.30 a.m. and hit the road. We headed to SAANR where already at the gate we spotted a nice male Semi-collared Flycatcher. We were walking a bit on the first gorges hoping to find Persian Wheatears but they were already gone but some of us managed to see a flock of Pale Rock Sparrows. Also the first big-eared fox was seen. Close to Talha we saw a couple of and near the pool we saw a flock of 30 Pale Rock Sparrows. Also a couple of Lesser Short-toed Larks, Turtle Doves, a Short-toed Eagle, a beautiful leucocephala Yellow Wagtail and altogether 3 Basra Reed Warblers were found. We managed to record their calls too.

At the mid-day we headed to our hotel where we rested a half an hour before we continued South. At 3.30 p.m. we were in Power plant reeds where we found a couple of Barred Warblers and an Eastern Orphean Warbler. At 4 p.m. we were together with Brits and a new Austrian-German group in a parking place of Ras Al Zur harbour-area. Again we were heading to a place where’d be impossible to pass without a man inside – an American birder Mark O. Chichester was working and living in the area where 150 families were living inside a fenced area. Mark told us the area was a Saudi-Arabian harbour and after some id-checks and instructions we drove to the shoreline.

Ras Al Zur

In the village we saw a female Blue Rock Thrush and right away we have parked to the shore we found a couple of White-cheeked Terns. All the Cormorants were unfortunately common ones and the other terns were just Lesser Crested and Sandwiched Terns. A Hobby was seen too.

We were watching to the sea from a couple of places until the darkness but the first Socotra Cormorants and Bridled Terns for the spring hadn’t arrived yet. So we had to plan to come back again.

After a long drive we were back in the hotel at 9 p.m. We were a little bit disappointed, but we knew we still had plenty of time.

The 7th of April – Now west

We started at traditional time and went first to Jahra east outfall. We had only an hour before we had a meeting with George Gregory and British. Se we spread and some of us went to photograph crakes, some record warblers and Tertsi to scan all the pipits and wagtails. Tertsi was the one to find the best birds when he found and directly identified an Oriental Skylark! The bird was surprisingly easy to identify and it was photographed and even recorded. Also 4 Glossy Ibises were seen before we had to hurry.

Al Abraq

At 8.30 a.m. we had driven 50 kilometres west and we met George and the Brits and then we continued another 40 kilometres to Al Abraq farms to try to find passerines and Shikra etc.

It was a bit too late so there weren’t many birds around but while walking around the farm we found a Red-breasted Flycatcher, 4 Upcher’s Warblers and an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

At mid-day we left and drove across the country to Doha where the tide was now high. So soon we were counting Crab Plovers and all the smaller waders. We could find 10 Greater Sand Plovers from the flock of Lesser Sand Plovers and counted 1000 Dunlins, 25 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 150 Turnstones, 20 Marsh Sandpipers, 600 Curlews, 500 Bar-tailed Godwits, 40 Redshanks and an Avocet. Also a Great Black-headed Gull and a Western Reed Heron were seen.

In the afternoon we went again to outfall where the Brits had found out that there were now 2 Oriental Skylarks. So in the evening we were photographing these Oriental Skylarks, pipits, crakes and warblers. There were also lots of birds on the shoreline so there was easy spend the rest of the evening. The best observation was a female Citrine Wagtail; it was also fun to watch a big rat and a Little Crake fighting.

When we were back in the hotel we went to an Indian restaurant to eat. There we also counted the day’s birds and surprisingly we had seen 128 species – again a new record. We were able to go to sleep at 11 p.m.

The 8th of April – To Green Island and south

Green Island

We were lazy this morning and woke up at 5.30 a.m. and 20 minutes later we were driving towards the Green Island. Surprisingly the Brits were there too and because of they had been there also earlier it was easy to locate the best trees for Grey Hypocolius and Red-vented Bulbuls. The weather was really windy but after 10 minutes we could find the target species. Altogether 4 Red-vented Bulbuls were found, Grey Hypocolius, White-cheeked Bulbul and Common Mynah were more common, also a Semi-collared Flycatcher and some White-throated Robins were found, a flock of 5 Purple Herons were migrating and a flock of 21 Lesser Kestrels were soaring on the sky.

At 10 a.m. we started to drive south again. We picked up Pekka from his home and we saw some Pallid Swifts and a Rock Martin species briefly above his house.
South again

In South we went first to Power plant reeds and then to a couple of other places but nothing special was found, some Rufous-tailed Rock Thrushes, White-throated Robins, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins, Menestrie’s Warblers and so on. The wind was now really strong so there was lots of sand in the air and the birding became soon impossible. We were thinking if we should go to Ras Al Zur at all but the Brits were going anyway, but luckily we decided to go because of we saw a nice flock of 30 Grey Hypocolius on the way. And so we were again at the gate at 4 p.m.

Because of the sandstorm the visibility to the sea was bad so Mark decided that we should go to walk to a semi-deserted area where were lots of bushes to try to find an Egyptian Nightjar or something else. Right away when we were spread and started to walk we flushed a flock of 4 buntings and 2 of them were common Ortolan Buntings but 2 were a pair of Cinereous Buntings! We flushed also a couple of Quails and s flock of Pale Rock Finches before we continued to the shore. The weather was getting better all the time but we saw even much less birds than in our first visit – only 8 Cormorants, some White-cheeked Terns and a Western Reef Heron.
In the afternoon we went again to Power plant reeds but nothing better was found. We were back in the hotel at 9.30 p.m.

9th of April – The day without wp-ticks, but not for all

In the morning we headed to Sabah Al Salem where we tried to find Village and Streaked Weavers. But we could find only some waders and altogether 45 Pied Wheatears. We also went to check another reed bed that we found on the way and while we were walking towards the reeds I found a small pale warbler – an Asian Desert Warbler! The bird was very active but luckily we all managed to see it pretty well – it was a lifer for everyone else than me and Hanna.

We continued once again to Jahra east outfall which was good again! On the way we saw 4 Rollers and 3 Caspian Plovers. On the reeds all the warblers were singing, at least 5 Basra Reed Warblers and 5 more that weren’t singing! Also some Clamorous Reed Warblers were nice to record. The Oriental Skylarks were still there and the shore was full of waders, 2000 Little Stints, also more than 60 Caspian Terns, 38 Little Egrets and from the reeds 12 Purple Herons and 3 Night Herons were flushed. When we were leaving a Bimaculated Lark was found.

Next we drove to Talha again but there weren’t anything new – a flock of 30 Pale Rock Sparrows again. These birds are really shy; they are not coming to drink if there are people moving near the pool.

We drove next to a Sabriya farms where Shikra had been seen earlier but we found only a Scops Owl.

In the afternoon we went to Jahra farms where we had again some Bank Mynahs, a White-breasted Kingfisher, a Semi-collared Flycatcher, lots of Redstarts and an escaper Senegal Parrot.

In the evening we went to a restaurant again, Petri was sick and Kilpimaa too tired to go, it seemed that the drivers were always the most tired because of the crazy traffic!

10th of April – a long day

With Hanna and Linjama we started early. At 3.45 a.m. we headed to Jahra east outfall. We had decided to try to record crakes and Basra Reed Warblers when they are most active. But unfortunately the tide had been so high that it was impossible to get to outfall, the whole sandy area was just mud.

So we decided to drive to Sulaibikhat to try to find the Long-tailed Shrike. We had some problems to wake up the man to open the gate for us, but once we got in we saw amazing 138 migrating Purple Herons, in the biggest flock there were 49 birds. The former day-record in Kuwait had been 22 birds! Also the Common Babbler was found again.

Kabd KISR

Then we had to hurry because of at 7 a.m. we had to be in Kabd Shuwaikhi in KISR (Kuwait Institute for Scientic Research) gate to meet Gary Brown with whom we could go to the research area to see Dunn’s Larks. We were there a little bit early and after a short discussing with Gary our second car arrived.

After a short drive we reached the lark biotope and soon we found the first 2 Dunn’s Larks! We followed Gary and drove along the small sandy roads and saw a couple of Dunn’s Larks more and the first Black-crowned Sparrow-Larks. Then we still had an hour and a half time to check the areas by ourselves. There was a pool made for the birds where were big flocks of Pale Rock Sparrows and Short-toed Larks but also some Black-crowned Finch-Larks and a couple of Lesser Short-toed Larks coming to drink. But unfortunately we saw only one more Dunn’s Lark briefly in a big flock of Short-toed Larks so we couldn’t get any pictures of the species.

At 10 a.m. we headed to Pivot fields where we had only one and a half of an hour time to check the places. Lots of Pied and other wheatears and a flock of 129 Collared Pratincoles were seen but nothing really exciting.

Then we continued to Doha South pools where we saw again 4 Purple Swamp-hens and 2 Shovelers with a Wigeon, 3 Crag Martins and a young Night Heron. Doha was also as every time so we continued soon to Doha pools. There we met again some shooters and it was very close that we didn’t get shot. A family, dad with a couple of boys were shooting at waders and when we were on the other side of the poll they started to shoot at exactly those waders that were between us. So we had to escape.

We were to eat to Pizza Hut and that like all the McDonalds and other western “restaurants” had a mosque in the neighbour. It was already getting dark when we drove to Talha where Pekka was already waiting for us. We had planned to try to find an Egyptian Nightjar. When we arrived at Talha Pekka had just photographed a Cinereous Bunting but he had also got news from the Brits – this was the only time during our trip that there were birders in Ras Al Zur but we hadn’t decided to go there because of we had been thinking that it there are now Socotra Cormorants or Bridled Terns they’ll be there also later – but we hadn’t expected that they’ll see a Lesser Frigatebird!

A little bit shocked we walked a little bit in Talha and Petri was the one to find a bird that made at least me and Hanna happy – a male Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, new wp-tick for us who haven’t been in Turkey yet. Soon the Green Toads (frogs) started to call but even though we waited until dark no sandgrouses came to drink at the pool.

Soon we continued to the desert where we stopped a couple of times and played mp3 to attract Egyptian nightjars without success. When we came to the gate Pekka asked if we could get through the gate to the other side of the main road. There we continued to the place where Pekka had found a calling nightjar the year before. When we stopped we could first hear only amazing loud calling insects but behind those there was an Egyptian Nightjar singing! We walked closer with Linjama to record it, but the bird was all the time moving further. Luckily the weather was perfect for recording and we managed to get really good recordings.
We still saw a funny Jerd (jumping rat) and the long day came to its end when we were back in the hotel at 10 p.m. After the shower we were ready to go to sleep. Still we were a little bit disappointed because of the Lesser Frigatebird but at least we knew what to do in the next morning…

The 11th of April – To south again

So we headed south again and drove directly to the southernmost place where it’s possible to watch to the sea to Khiran. Again we met some shooters that were shooting at all flying birds in the middle of the village. We got some dropping shots over us, Tertsi even to his head. But we didn’t let it disturb because of we had a mission going on; we waited for a big black bird to come. We could see many terns moving south and some of them were probably Bridled Terns but they were always too far, so only common species were identified. The funniest bird that we saw was a migrating Nightjar. First we thought it was a sparrowhawk and then some falcon before we realized what it was.

At 9 a.m. we were once again at the gate of Ras Al Zur. Now there were also another British group, Lee Evans with them. The tide was high so there were no sandy islands where we had seen terns before and had hoped a Lesser Frigatebird waiting for us. Luckily we now found several Bridled Terns and some of them came a little bit closer so we could see them pretty well.

Brian spotted an immature Socotra Cormorant too, but it was absolutely too far for us to be sure why it wouldn’t have been just a Cormorant. But it was enough for the Brits and they continued to the other places in the area. At 11 a.m. I found a cormorant flying very light and back-heavily from the sea. It flew far but luckily it seemed to go to one of the poles. It flew over several poles but then decided to land to one of them and luckily there were normal Cormorants already. Now we got a direct comparison and it was easy to judge as a Socotra Cormorant. When we zoomed the bird it was possible to see the white eye-brow too – an adult bird! We called to the Brits to come back but when we saw them running towards us there was a motor-boat that scared all the cormorants away. Only a couple of Brits managed to see the right bird flying away really far. In this situation the Bottle-nosed Dolphins didn’t make anyone very happy.

We still watched an hour to the sea and a flock of 30 Bridled Terns and an Arctic Skua were seen. At 12 a.m. we drove once again to Power plant reeds where were a couple of Basra Reed Warblers singing, a Water Pipit and some White-throated Robins.

The next stop was made in Fahaheel harbour where a couple of White-cheeked Terns were seen. In the park we saw a Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush and a Nightingale but nothing else interesting. Pekka continued home and we continued to Doha once again. We still hadn’t seen any Crested Tern that the rest of us were missing. But there were almost no terns in Doha se pretty soon we gave up and decided to go to the hotel and rest earlier than in any day before.

Luckily we had been so tired! When we were at the hotel we realized there was a storm coming. The wind was really storng and the sky was very dark and the clouds were lightening constantly! And when the real storm came it felt like a bomb! The sand came through the windows to our room and soon there was raining hails! But when the hails stopped started a rain that we had never seen before! Also the wind was something crazy the electric poles were bending a lot and we saw flags and even a couple of roofs flying with the wind! We couldn’t imagine how the traffic was? Luckily we weren’t there! When the rain stopped we walked again to the restaurant to eat. There were lots of water even in all shops.

The 12th of April – The last day, but one of the best

On the last day we left again to Al Abraq. We met Pekka about 40 kilometres from the city and continued to the farms. Now there were rally a lot of birds around the farm. The storm had really hit the farm last evening, several trees had fallen or broken.

We also found several Sparrowhawks and finally a bird we had been searching for – a Shikra! We saw it a couple of times with Pekka when we were trying to push it towards the others but it wasn’t that easy. But finally when we had almost lost our hope another young Shikra was seen by those wno hadn’t seen the adult bird.
We moved to check the bushes and a Red-backed Shrike, a couple of Upcher’s Warblers, Barred Warblers, Menestrie’s Warblers, Rufous-tailed Bush Robins, Pallid Warblers, Basra Reed Warblers, White-throated Robins and so on were found. Kilpimaa found a very interesting looking bird that we thought to be a Syke’s Warbler. It was very active but never said anything. We got plenty of pictures of it and thought that the final identification must be done at home from the pictures. (At home the bird was identified not a Syke’s Warbler but some Acrocephalus warbler but no-one seems to know which one!) Very strange bird indeed and I hope the mystery will be solved one day.

When we were leaving the big news came from Sulaibikhat where Brian and Lee had seen the Long-tailed Shrike in the morning – so it was still present! So we drove straight there but we could find only a couple of Grey Hypocolius, a Quail, a Stonechat and White-throated Robins. It was already 5 hours from the observation so we decided to give up but come back once more in the evening, even though nobody had ever seen the bird in the evening.

We continued to Jahra pools where were again 4 Purple Swamp-hens but also 7 Red-necked Phalaropes. In outfall we saw 64 phalaropes more and the skylarks were still there as also 2 Water Pipits and the first Corn Bunting of the trip. In Doha we didn’t see anything new, the best sum were 70 Broad-billed Sandpipers.

In the afternoon we said goodbye and many thanks to Pekka and continued to Sulaibikhat one more time. We had checked again every single part of the area when it happened – first a couple of us saw a long-tailed bird in flight and then Kilpimaa shouted that the Long-tailed Shrike was perched on a branch in front of him! We all went quickly there and luckily managed to see the bird! Petri who was pretty far from us was clever and checked by binoculars what we were shouting and saw the bird too. When he had ran next to us the bird left and flew somewhere behind the walls.

We were really happy because of we had already lost our hopes with this bird and now we saw it in our last evening only an hour before the sunset!

The rest of the daylight we packed our luggage and changed and so on. When we left Sulaibikhat we made sure the guard lets birders in also in the future and tipped him well. Anyway we had woken him up several times.

We still went to eat to McMosque and started our last drive in this horrible traffic towards the airport. We still had big problems to find the right road to airport but finally after altogether 2000 kilometres driven we parked the car to the airport.

In the airport we bought the new edition of the map of Kuwait and did some other shopping, but soon the check-in started because of the Lufthansa plane was so big that it took an hour to check-in. The plane took off in time at 0.35 a.m.

We landed to Frankfurt on time at 5.20 a.m. and still counted last days birds before our last flight to Helsinki left at 7.30 a.m. We were back to Finland at 10.55 a.m. but we all had still long drive back home.

We said goodbyes to the others and after a short meeting with my parents we started our way to Parikkala. We stopped only once on the way in Joutseno where we twitched a male Pallid Harrier. Also a Peregrine Falcon, Cranes, Curlews, Bewick’s Swans Bean and White-fronted Geese and so on were seen, but surprisingly it wasn’t that much spring that I’ve thought.

Thanks to all that helped us during our trip:
Pekka Fågel helped us with everything possible, both before and during the trip. We were really lucky Pekka still lived in Kuwait and we had 5 perfect days birding with him!
Our group, where were with me and Hanna Janne Kilpimaa, Petri Kuhno, Tero Linjama and Tero Toivanen.
Mark O. Chichester, with whom we were able to get to Ras Al Zur, not only once but three times! And without him I would have 3 wp-ticks less.
Gary Brown, with whom we were able to get to Kabd KISR to see Dunn’s Larks.
George Gregory, who was guiding as in Al Abraq in our first visit there and who has written the book The Birds of the State of Kuwait.
British group (Chris Lansdell, Justin Lansdell, Lee Gregory, Andy Wilkinson), who found a couple of good birds. We had a good time birding with these guys. And congratulations about the Lesser Frigatebird! Luckily we had still a couple of good days after you had left ;-)
Brian Foster, who was birding actively and relocated the Long-tailed Shrike.
All the guards and gate openers and other people who let us to do birding in farms and other closed places in Sulabikhat, Ras Al Zur, SAANR, Jahra pools and KISR etc.
During the trip we observed altogether 188 bird species and all of us got about 20 wp-ticks! Amazing trip!

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