Pelagic Trip on 20/5/2022

I decided to make a pelagic trip to the southern islands of Kuwait, so we were four to start a pelagic trip at 8 O’clock on 20 May 2022.
We started from Fintas towards Um Al Maradim Island, the southernmost island in Kuwait. We hoped to find rarities, such as the Short-tailed Shearwater, recorded on 21/05/2021, and Masked Booby, recorded on the 1st of April and 29/05/2022. In the first half an hour, we didn’t see any birds, but then we had our first Sooty Shearwater; we suspected it for Short-tailed Shearwater, so we took photographs of underwing coverts. The Short-tailed Shearwater has the secondary underwing coverts paler than the primary coverts, whereas the Sooty Shearwater has the opposite. We also had more than 30 Bridled Terns feeding on the sea surface, along with at least 10 White-cheeked Tern and 50 Lesser Crested Terns.

After about 20 minutes, we had another Sooty Shearwater before arriving at Um Al Maradim. On this island, we had 4 species of Shrikes, Upcher’s Warbler, terns, etc. The Um Al Maradim is the southernmost island in Kuwait, closer to the Saudi border, where Saunders’s Terns breed on their islands. When I saw the flock of Little Terns, I told my fellow birders that we needed to check for Saunders’s Tern. I suspected at least two to be that bird, we didn’t have a scope to check details, so I took several photographs, and then they flew and took more.

While leaving the island towards Kubbar Island, I took a look at my photographs and saw one bird that may be a good candidate for Saunders’s Tern.

Edit: According to Oscar Campell, the upperparts colour, trailing edge of secondaries, and leg colour all point to Little Tern, even though it has three dark outer primaries and a head pattern that may look like a Saunders’s Tern head pattern.

The Saunders’s Tern has never been reliably documented in Kuwait. We have always anticipated one to occur in Kuwait, but it has to be an adult and in breeding plumage; otherwise, it would be difficult to separate from Little Tern.

Um Al-Maradim Island

Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus 1, Little Tern Sternula albifrons 20, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio 5, Isabelline Shrike Daurian Lanius isabellinus isabellinus 1, Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor 1, Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus 1, Upcher’s Warbler Hippolais languida 4, Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus 1, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 1, Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 1, Common Whitethroat Curruca communis 2, Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata 1.

Kubbar Island

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus 3, Bridled Tern Onychoprion anaethetus 800, Little Tern Sternula albifrons 17, Saunders’s Tern Sternula saundersi 1, White-cheeked Tern Sterna repressa 800, Great Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii 60, Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis 600, Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio 4, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus 2, Lesser Grey Shrike Lanius minor 1, Masked Shrike Lanius nubicus 1, Upcher’s Warbler Hippolais languida 4, Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus 1, Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus palustris 1, Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus 1, Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica 2.