Birds of Kuwait: a Comprehensive Visual Guide
ITS many ornithological attractions may be well known to a handful of resident and ex-pat birders and intrepid Western Palearctic listers, but for many, Kuwait remains some distance off the beaten birding track. This large and impressive book may well change that.
Subtitled A Comprehensive Visual Guide, the substantial Birds of Kuwait brings to life every one of the 390 or more species recorded in the state in a beautifully assembled catalogue of images. It is chalk to the cheese of the other Kuwait guide on my bookshelf, George Gregory’s highly informative but unillustrated report-like Birds of Kuwait (2005). Between them, this small Gulf hot-spot is now covered in some detail.
The great bulk of the present book is comprised of the species photos, many of them reproduced at a good size, or with the subjects shown in some detail in multiple images, and often both. The majority are taken in Kuwait (those that aren’t are country-captioned accordingly), and for each species there is a short summary of status within the country. The quality of the images is almost unfailingly stunning, many of the passerines being reproduced even larger than life size, thereby showing different plumages in great detail, and also making this work valuable in an identification context.
I struggled to single out favourites with so many to choose from, but the close-up male Shrikra, splashing Bridled Tern, squabbling Pied Kingfishers, Wryneck targeting an ant with the tip of its extended tongue and Great Reed Warbler dangling a gecko from its forceps-like bill were up there among the best. The country’s specialities are here in all their glory, of course, from Socotra Cormorant and Red-wattled Lapwing to White-cheeked Tern and Basra Reed Warbler.
This book really is a feast for the eyes and, with introductory texts on the lives of wild birds in Kuwait, taxonomy and identification, observing and photographing birds, conservation and important sites, there is substance too. Nor does it shirk away from the problematic issue of unregulated hunting – something I have witnessed myself in the country – with images of wounded Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and European Roller (among others) painfully illustrating the fact that much work needs to be done. By encouraging more interest in Kuwait’s birdlife through its attractive pages, this book will certainly play a part.
• Birds of Kuwait: a Comprehensive Visual Guide edited by Mike Pope and Stamatis Zogaris (KUFPEC, Biodiversity East, Cyprus, 2012).
• 413 pages, more than 1,300 colour photos.
• ISBN 9789963281107. Hbk, not available to buy; a free low-resolution PDF can be downloaded.