08/23/07

South Africa (ZA)   Migrants at Jahra Farm  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:38:25 pm

Week 34, 23 August 07 - Jahra Farm

Pekka was out earlier today and spent some time at Jahra Farms and photopgraphed a few migrants. Images by Pekka Fagel

Two Citrine Wagtails were seen by Pekka including this female in winter plumage

Citrine Wagtail

Hoopoes are still well represented at most of the sites we have visited in the past few weeks

Hoopoe

08/21/07

South Africa (ZA)   Awesome autumn migration birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:58:43 pm

Week 33, 18 August 07 - Al-Abraq Al-Khabari and SAANR

Being heartened by the migrants yesterday, we headed out to the oasis farm at Al-Abraq in the western desert. We were certainly not disappointed and Pekka and I agreed that yesterday and today were two of the best days birding we have had for some time. Images by Mike Pope

We were alerted to the call of Blue cheeked Bee-eaters as they departed from wherever they roosted for the night

Blue cheeked Bee-eater

We found some Rollers roosting at the top of a dead tree and were absolutely delighted to record the 3rd Black shouldered Kite for 2008 in Kuwait

Black shouldered Kite

Black shouldered Kite

The Rollers flushed each time the Kite took off - we had 25+ Rollers at the oasis today, one of the highest autumn counts

Roller

Walking around the boundary of the farm, this Long eared Hedgehog came running across the track in front of us and froze behind a tree

Long eared Hedgehog

Some first year Buntings at a water seep continue to challenge our ID skills - we suspect this unstreaked bird to be Black headed Bunting

Black headed Bunting?

A second streaked first year Bunting is also thought to be Black headed Bunting

Black headed Bunting?

I managed a grab shot of this first year Citrine Wagtail at the same water seep

Citrine Wagtail

I relocated the Citrine Wagtail later at the main water pond, together with some waders

Citrine Wagtail

It was quite strange to find a flock of 8 Green Sandpipers so far out in the desert at this water pond

Green Sandpipers

Out of the blue, a White crowned Night Heron decided it was time for a drink as the temparature started soaring

White crowned Night Heron

We placed a broken branch against the tap at the water seep and it wasnt long before the birds took advantage of this new perch. A first year Basra Reed Warbler was the first to break the ice

Basra Reed Warbler

A Common Whitethroat soon followed

Common Whitethroat

There were many Olivaceous Warblers darting in and out for a drink

Olivaceous Warbler

Red backed Shrikes have now arrived and this juvenile harrased the birds around the seep

Juvenile Red backed Shrike

Rufous tailed Scrub Robins are abundant at most of the regular sites

Rufous tailed Scrub Robin

Adult White throated Robins are magnificent birds, this one just would not turn around

White throated Robin

Driving around the farm we came across this Blue throated Agama sitting above the ground on an old tyre

Blue throated Agama

We found an area that was being flooded with water and the birds took advantage of this unexpected treasure. It was amazing to have a variety of birds around us, that seemed almost oblivious to us - an adult Red backed Shrike

Red backed Shrike

Warblers were well represented and concentrated in a very small area. This Icterine Warbler was a first for me in Kuwait

Icterine Warbler

A Sykes Warbler

Sykes Warbler

An Upchers Warbler really put up a display for the others

Upchers Warbler

We estimated that there were at least 3 Semi collared Flycatchers about

Semi collared Flycather

During the late morning Winchats made an appearance

Winchat

I eventually found a White throated Robin facing me, although the light wasnt ideal

White throated Robin

After we had explored every bit of the oasis we headed for Tuhla to see if the pan had attracted any birds we hadnt seen at Al-Abraq. By now the temparature was at max and this makes photography challenging - if you spend too much time out, your lens becomes almost too hot to hold and focussing is affected. We found 2 Cuckoos at the Tuhla, this is distant shot of a juvenile

Cuckoo

Another new bird was this exhausted Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

Northern Wheatears are as abundant as Isabelline

Northern Wheatear

08/19/07

South Africa (ZA)   Autumn migration has started  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:03:37 pm

Week 33, 17 August 07 - Sulaibikhat, Doha South, Jahra East and SAANR

Pekka Fagel has migrated south after his vacation and I had a birding companion for this weekend, after being solo for the past month. We explored our usual route and the number of migrants have suddenly increased since last weekend. Images by Mike Pope

First stop was Sulaibikhat Reserve which I havent visited for sometime, we had Clamorous and Olivaceous Warblers but they were not as co-operative as this Rufous tailed Scrub Robin catching some early sun

Rufuous tailed Scrub Robin

Driving along Sulaibikhat Bay I was able to photograph both pale and dark phase Western Reef Herons

Western Reef Heron - pale phase

Western Reef Heron - dark phase

We spent some time at Doha South and counted 8 Swamphens including a juvenile. This adult was feeding along the reed base

Swamphen

I carefuly checked a large warbler like bird working its way along the reed fringe and was pleased to see that it was a Nightingale with charateristic reddish tail

Nightingale

At Jahra we had our first Great Grey Shrike (pallidrostria). I believe that this Steppe Grey Shrike has now been split from the Great Grey

Steppe Grey Shrike

A second young Clamorous Reed Warbler seen at Jahra

Clamorous Reed Warbler

This Northern Wheatear was a first for this autumn

Northern Wheatear

With the help of Rashed, we found a single Egyptian Nightjar for Pekka. Im amazed that they stay in this area with the amount of 'traffic' from hunters in cars, herders with their flocks and reed cutters - the food source must be enough to keep them here, despite the possible disturbance

Egyptian Nightjar

On top of the hunters, herds of goat, sheep and camels the reed beds are also used by reed cutters - it really does get tough for the resident and migratory birds

Reed Cutter

A Little Stint moulting to winter plumage seemed unusually pale

Little Stint

Two Wood Sandpipers contemplating life during migration

Wood Sandpiper

A visit to SAANR and Tuhla is mandatory and Pekka was pleased that the Short toed Eagle from last week was still present

Short toed Eagle

Short toed Eagle

A Common Buzzard (steppe race) suddenly appeared and was oblivious to us in its desire to quench it's thirst

Common Buzzard

A very wary Glossy Ibis made a brief appearance for a drink in the pool and then disappeared. Later we found 4 at Jahra East and we suspect that this bird was part of that small flock. This was only my 2nd record for Kuwait

Glossy Ibis

A small thicket had a plethora of Warblers gleening their way through this shrub, including this Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

There are two islands in the pan at Tuhla and most of the birds seek refuge in the shade during the heat of the day - the light is not ideal for photography, but recording the birds during migration is still necessary. Crested Larks create small scoops and lie in these to avoid expending energy (my guess)

Crested Lark cooling

We suspect this is a young Black headed Bunting, if anyone disagrees please let me know

Black headed Bunting

Many species share the island for the same reason, escape the heat and they co-exist for the majority of the day, without any squabbles; including this Rufous tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous

Northern Wheatears have also arrived in large numbers, complimenting the Isabelline's that have been here a couple of weeks already

Northern Wheatear

The only Spotted Flycatcher we found at Tuhla

Spotted Flycather

Shrikes of various species and plumage variations will challenge us through the season. This is an adult Lesser Grey Shrike just starting its moult

Lesser Grey Shrike

A first year Lesser Grey Shrike

1st year Lesser Grey Shrike

A first year Woodchat Shrike

1st year Woodchat Shrike

08/11/07

South Africa (ZA)   The northerly wind continues  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 06:09:55 pm

Week 32, 11 August 07 - Sulaibikhat, Doha South, Jahra East and SAANR

This morning I did a quick circuit of the main sites, starting early as it has been fairly windy the past few days - which bodes well for the migration. Images by Mike Pope

The tide was too far out at Sulaibikhat, so no photo opportunities. So, I headed for Doha South and photographed some dragnonflies walking to the lookout in the reedbed

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

These two Mallards spooked as soon as they saw me

Mallards

A juvenile Little Grebe popped up in front of me and as quickly disappeared again

Juvenile Little Grebe

I then stopped at Jahra and tried in vain to relocate the Nightjars. It was with the help of Rashed that we managed to locate 1 and from the image you can see how cryptic these Egyptian Nightjars really are

Egyptian Nightjar

Not much else at Jahra, including hunters, so off to SAANR. I managed one photograph of this Hoopoe Lark - they are generally very skittish and always seem to be running away in the distance

Hoopoe Lark

This Hoopoe was at Tuhla, the Hoopoe Lark is very Hoopoe like in flight with a similar wing pattern

Hoopoe

With each visit there are more Isabelline Wheatears

Isabelline Wheatear

The pan had overflowed and this attracted one Lesser Short-toed Lark

Lesser Short-toed Lark

I was alerted to this Short-toed Lark by it's call

Short-toed Lark

It was a pleasant surprise to find this juvenile White throated Robin taking refuge from the wind

Juvenile White throated Robin

I saw this eagle coming in low over the desert out of the corner of my eye. In one movement I grabbed my camera, wound down the passenger window, locked focus and fired a burst. It was a magnificent Short toed Eagle with those distinctive bright yellow owl-like eyes. It seemed exhausted as it landed underneath rather than on top of a tree

Short toed Eagle

Short toed Eagle

Short toed Eagle

08/10/07

South Africa (ZA)   The pristine desert near Kabed  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:08:01 pm

Week 32, 10 August 07 - KISR

I was priveledged to be invited to the Kuwait International Scientific Research Center by Gary Brown. This protected area is pristine desert and maintained as such as it is fenced off and access tightly controlled. Images by Mike Pope

KISR is reknown for it's Dunns Lark population and it wasnt long before we came across a pair feeding.

Dunns Lark

Dunns Lark is a highly sought after bird for our visiting european birders

Dunns Lark

I spent a little time in a hide at a small pan and had the opportunity to photograph the Black crowned Sparrow Larks as they came to drink. The juveniles have a superficial resemblence to Dunns Lark.

Juvenile Black crowned Sparrow Lark

The male Black crowned Sparrow Lark is unmistakeable

Male Black crowned Sparrow Lark

A male and juvenile for comparitive purposes

Juvenile and Male Black crowned Sparrow Lark

Isabelline Wheatears have now returned to most of the sites in Kuwait

Isabelline Wheatear

08/09/07

South Africa (ZA)   The ghosts of the desert  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:33:56 pm

Week 32, 09 August 07 - Jahra East and SAANR

I was at Jahra East early this morning, hoping to find Egyptian Nightjar that was seen again during the week by Rashed. Same as last week, only hunters shooting indisciminately and herders - so that minimised the chances. Images by Mike Pope

Whilst walking trying to find Nightjars, I photogrpahed some insects - one was this dragonfly I hadnt seen before

Dragonfly

This Pansy (if memory still serves me), was the first I have seen in Kuwait

Pansy

I caught this Reed Warbler away from the reeds

Reed Warbler

I was halfway to Tuhla in SAANR, when Rashed called me to say he had found the Egyptian Nighjars at Jahra, so it was a U-turn and back to Jahra. I had been looking too far west earlier, these 2 were in the shade under a sabkha bush and were very obliging

Egyptian Nightjar

These birds are literally ghosts of the desert, as they blend in so well with the arid habitat. These nightjars are sought after by both local and visiting birders

Egyptian Nightjar

Feeling very satisfied, I returned to SAANR and got a portrait of a Dhub on the way to Tuhla

Dhub portrait

I had seen this Bunting last week, but it was not co-operative, I have identifed it as a Corn Bunting. Not a great quality image, as it was pretty far away

Corn Bunting

There were 3 Hoopoes today on the island in the company of Isabelline Wheatears, Woodchat Shrike and the massess of Crested Larks

Hoopoe

08/04/07

South Africa (ZA)   A flash of colour  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:20:43 pm

Week 32, 04 August 07 - Jahra East and Sulaibikhat

I was at Jahra East early this morning hoping to find Egyptian Nightjar that was seen yesterday by Rashed, instead it was hunters and herders - so that minimised the chances. Images by Mike Pope

A flock of European Bee-eaters had arrived and you can hear them long before you see them. They provided some great photo opportunities and a flash of colour in the parched desert

European Bee-eater

European Bee-eater

I managed to relocate the Black Tern at Sulaibikhat, but it was feeding too far out. I had to make do with the White winged Black Terns

White winged Black Tern

White winged Black Tern

South Africa (ZA)   A great day out  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:04:25 pm

Week 32, 03 August 07 - SAANR, Jahra East and Sulaibikhat

We have had some winds from the north and these are favourable for the migratory birds on their way south. Images by Mike Pope

First stop this morning was SAANR, as the high tide at Jahra was later in the afternoon. Tuhla gave me an Isabelline Wheatear a first for this summer

Isabelline Wheatear

A female feldegg Yellow Wagtail stopped for a drink

Yellow Wagtail

This Roller used the dead tree in the pan as a vantage point

Roller

Olivaceous Warblers have been present for the past 2 weeks

Olivaceous Warbler

A group of Cream coloured Coursers have been present for sometime, this juvenile was bold enough to come and drink in front of my vehicle

Cream coloured Courser

I arrived at Jahra 30 minutes before high tide and found Caspian Plovers in amongst the waders on the salt marsh. They are very different birds out of their breeding dress

Caspian Plover

I found just one Dunlin still in breeding plumage, standing with a Curlew Sandpiper for comparison

Dunlin

A Lesser Sand Plover (possibly mongolus) resplendent in summer plumage - a stunning bird. ID kindly corrected by Kari Haataja and AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan

Greater Sand Plover

Juvenile Gull bill Terns were patrolling above the water line watching the Crab Plovers looking for food

Gull bill Tern

The high tide remains longer at Sulaibikhat Bay and as a result it brought the Crab Plovers closer. This adult had a squabble with the Gull bill Tern, over a crab it had seen

Crab Plovers

The adult Crab Plover eventually caught the crab and offered it to its offspring

Crab Plovers

Terns were feeding over the outfall and one caught my eye before it disappeared. With patience I was rewarded when it re-apeared later - a Black Tern and the 4th record for Kuwait!

Black Tern

The Black Tern was without doubt the bird of the day and I went home feeling rather satisfied

Black Tern

08/01/07

South Africa (ZA)   The western desert  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:51:45 pm

Week 31, 28 July 07 - Al Abraq

Al Abraq is a fair drive from the city, but it is one of those sites you have to make the effort to visit, as it has turned up some great birds. Images by Mike Pope

A trip out west wouldnt be complete without a photopgraph of a 'ship of the desert'. I doubt if there are any wild camels left in Kuwait

Camel

A few odd migrants were sprinkled around the oasis, one was a Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler

This juvenile Roller was one of three roosting in the vicinity

Roller

My first Red backed Shrike of the southern migration

Red backed Shrike

Barn Swallows were hawking over this small field

Barn Swallow

This Jird was trying very hard not to be noticed. This particular one had a white tip to its tail

Jird

South Africa (ZA)   In the heat of summer  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:32:11 pm

Week 31, 27 July 07 - Jahra East, SAANR and Sulaibikhat

I spent the morning exploring different sites and habitats, but have also found that the summer temparatures have been turned up a few more notches. That explains the exodus of people from Kuwait in mid-summer, all in search of places cooler. Images by Mike Pope

First stop after sunrise was Jahra East, it was far quieter this week than on my previous visit, fortunately it was low tide - so no hunters. I found this young Graceful Prinia foraging around a tuft of grass

Graceful Prinia

The Reed Warblers were still active, but their numbers seem to have diminished

Reed Warbler

From Jahra I headed out to SAANR, hoping that the hot weather and southern winds had brought in some migrants. I was in luck, when I picked up this lone juvenile Pin tail Sandgrouse - the bird of the day for me

Juvenile Pintail Sandgrouse

Juvenile Pintail Sandgrouse

A Bunting at the pump house has tentatively been identified as a first year Black headed Bunting

Black headed Bunting

Also at the pumphouse, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler made an appearance for a quick refreshment

Olivaceous Warbler

Crested Larks of all ages are still massing around the main pan

Crested Larks

This juvenile Rufous tailed Scrub Robin in the shade of one of the acacia's

Rufous tailed Scrub Robin

From SAANR, I headed to Sulaibikhat and catch the tail end of the high tide. There were many waders in the shallows, including these 2 Bar tailed Godwit

Bar tailed Godwit

I found a lone Black tailed Godwit further away

Black tailed Godwit

Curlew Sandpipers still showing remnants of their summer plumage

Curlew Sandpiper

Broad billed Sandpipers outnumbered the Little Stints, this Stint was particulary rufous

Little Stint

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