An isolated small oasis farm in the western desert of Kuwait with access by private agreement with the owner. It is one of the most interesting areas for rare migrant birds in the country.
The area is best accessed with a local guide who has permission to enter the farm. It is accessed from the Salmi road (Route 70) at the 42km marker and then by turning off west (virtually off-road) onto sandy tracks at 29.4033°N, 47.0516°E.
The farmland here is well-irrigated by well-water despite it being located on a seemingly vast desert plateau (altitude 235 m). This is at northern end of the Ad-Dibdibbah gravel desert plain which extends southwards into Saudi Arabia. Al-Abraq a green islet in the desert; well sheltered by the 10 m high windbreaks of Tamarisk (Tamarix), and annually planted with a variety of vegetable and grain crops. At an elevation of 235 m, this isolated and private oasis has a slightly more continental climate than the coast and is extensively green, due to constant irrigation. Compared to the surrounding open desert the farm has a variety of green micro-habitats: windbreak plantations, a small area of scrub and sparsely vegetated hummock dunes, the irrigated fields and their watered margins, and a recently-constructed farm pond. This location is a proven “vagrant-trap” since it acts as a true habitat islet in a sea of flat desert.
This small farm, which is extensively green through irrigation compared to the surrounding desert; it is an attractive area and a magnet for migrant birds. Up to 1993, 168 species had been recorded at Al-Abraq, but this number needs to be revised with new records subsequently accepted. It has an exceptional record for attracting extreme rarities such as Indian Pond Heron, Forest Wagtail, Radde’s Accentor, Hume’s Leaf Warbler, Rustic and Little Bunting, Black Scrub Robin, Crested Honey Buzzard, Dusky Warbler, and the first record of Arabian Golden Sparrow that is still under review by KORC – all recent firsts for Kuwait’s avifauna. Despite its isolation, this area is frequently monitored by visiting birders and is one of Kuwait’s designated Important Bird Areas, although the designated area covers only 1.3 km2. However, this is not an officially protected-area and on many days shooting may disturb not only the birds but the visiting naturalists! Excessive and indiscriminate bird shooting during Spring and Autumn migration is observed especially immediately outside and around the farm. Birders should be careful not to displace or disturb birds resting, roosting or foraging in the oasis.
Unkown. The area could have some potential interest for many desert species.
This IBA was last assessed in 1993, so there is a need to formally conduct vigorous surveys to re-assess and update the status. Although it lies next to the extensive Wadi Al Batin protected area this site is not currently under state protection. Unfortunately shooting is very frequently observed around the farmland, despite the fact that most of it is fenced and private land. Wounded and dead birds with gun-shot wounds, including rare species, are often encountered, the inevitable result of indiscriminate shooting.