08/15/09

South Africa (ZA)   Too dusty and windy to be birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:47:32 pm

Week 33 - 15 August 2009, Pivot Fields, JEO, Jahra Farm and Sharq

With strong winds yesterday, I was too optimistic that today would have been better. Images by Mike Pope


I hadnt been to Pivot Fields for some time, but the gusting wind kept most birds out of sight. Numbers are down for migratory birds this August, compared to last year when we had some crackers in August. An Isabelline Wheatear was some compensation

Isabelline Wheatear

I wasnt too optimistic for JEO and sadly found shooters there before me who were shooting the Blue cheeked Bee-eaters - they have been reported to the police

JEO Shooters

I was able to photograph one that was not dropped from the sky in a hail of pellets

Blue cheeked Bee-eater

In the sabkha I found a displaying Rufous tail Scrub Robin

Rufous tail Scrub Robin

and a juvenile European Roller passing over

European Roller

I headed to Jahra Farms which had good birds last August; another Rufous tail Scrub Robin was seen coming in for a drink

Rufous tail Scrub Robin

At the same spot, numerous Whitethroats dropped in for a drink

Whitethroat

Walking around the farm, I flushed the 2 Indian Rollers I had seen here 2-weeks ago, which brings the total up to 3 for today. A Bluethroat was my first for the autumn migration

Bluethroat

At the holding pond on the way out I photographed this worn and tatty adult Clamorous Reed Warbler. It looks like it may have walked wherever it has come from!

Warbler

Final stop was Sharq harbour where dust had reduced the visibility down to 400m; a Caspian/Steppe Gull picked up this fish discarded by the fisherman

Caspian/Steppe Gull

South Africa (ZA)   Khiran Pearl City  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:20:00 pm

Week 32 - 08 August 2009, Khiran Pearl City Census

I met Anand at the site office for an early morning start for our August census. Weather was perfect today, with no wind and a flat sea. Images by Mike Pope


On the way to the development, I stopped at a small pond with edges fringed with reeds created by rising ground water and found a Greenshank and Black winged Stilt feeding together

Greenshank and Black winged Stilt

It was then onto the boat and out to sea, stopping at the last buoy where we found 2 roosting Socotra Cormorants along with Lesser crested Tern

Lesser crested Tern

and a few juvenile White cheeked Terns

White cheeked Tern

There were quite a few rafts of Terek Sandpipers heading south flying low over the sea

Terek Sandpipers

Our skipper called out that he had seen a pod of Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphins which is always a rare treat and we spent the next hour following the pod observing behaviour we hadnt seen on our last outing. With flat seas and really clear water, it was a treat to observe both adults and young. We witnessed some lob tailing where they slap the surface with their tails

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Sounding vertically

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

The young calves swimming on their backs

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Breaking the surface as they swam past us

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

and general frolicking about

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

And Spyhopping – when they raise their head vertically out of the water and then sink back quietly below the surface

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Indo Pacific Humpback Dolphin

After leaving the dolphins, we headed to Phase A2 and I caught this Whimbrel on take-off

Whimbrel

We then headed back to Phase A1, stopping at the last buoy and this time we had 8 Socotra Cormorant roosting on the bouy - this is the highest daily count since the 40 seen at Zour in August 2000

Socotra Cormorant

Socotra Cormorant

Socotra Cormorant

Last stop was island # 4 where we found a lone Hoopoe

Hoopoe

08/09/09

South Africa (ZA)   Sunset at Sulaibikhat  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:40:06 pm

Week 32 - 07 August 2009, Sulaibikhat

I didnt get out this morning so decided to check the outfall at Sulaibikhat and enjoy the sunset. Images by Mike Pope


The tide was way out, but I found some terns hawking and feeding over the smelly outfall that discharges directly into the sea - not good for swimming, but a reliable food source for the terns. A couple of 1st summer Gull billed Terns were present

Gull billed Tern

A single White winged Tern still showing much of its breeding plumage

White winged Tern

Whiskered Terns in various forms of eclipse plumage made up the bulk of terns feeding over the outfall

Whiskered Tern

Not a great image, but this bird has a pretty rufous and uniform chest without obvious streaking on the flanks - my guess is that this is post breeding plumage?

Eurasian Curlew

I decided to try the hide inside Sulaibikhat Reserve where a water source has now been restored, the gatekeeper only allowed my 15-minutes as he was going out. I sat in my car outside the hide watching House and Spanish Sparrows, adult and juvenile White cheeked Bulbuls with Collared and Laughing Doves also coming in for an early evening drink. A few months ago Common Babbler(s) had been seen here, so I was hoping that they might still be around - a long shot! Imagine my surprise when a single Common Babbler hopped across the road in front of me

Common Babbler

It quickly flew into the small tree on the side of the hide before disapearing into the reeds for the night - I was delighted.

Common Babbler

After this excitement I still had time to catch the sunset over the low tide flats

Sulaibikhat Sunset

South Africa (ZA)   Basra Reed Warblers at JEO  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:25:11 pm

Week 30 - 23 July 2009, Jahra East Outfall (JEO

My last visit was a week ago, so before I left for Oman I headed back to JEO to see if I could relocate the juvenile Basra Reed Warbler and to check if I could find any others. Images by Mike Pope


Reed Warblers had also bred at JEO this summer and they were really active this morning, feeding on small insects gleened from the reeds. This I believe is a typical post breeding adult showning some moulting around the neck

Moulting Reed Warbler

An adult in typical pose

Reed Warbler

I noted this behavior in both the Reed and Basra Reed Warblers this morning; where the bird would sit on a perch, lean over, lift its wing and fluff out its body feathers - like it was 'airing' itself to keep cool in the heat of the morning

Reed Warbler

After some time, a larger warbler hopped into view, this first bird was an adult Basra Reed Warbler

Adult Basra Reed Warbler

It was soon followed by the 'bald' Basra Reed Warbler, presumably the same I had seen a week earlier - not too much progress on the growth of the head feathers

Basra Reed Warbler

Finally I got onto the juvenile again and it appeared that these 3 birds moved up and down the reed bed as a group - were they a family, I dont really know?

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Here is the Basra Reed Warbler showing the same 'airing' behaviour

Adult Basra Reed Warbler

And showing a crest when it was alarmed

Adult Basra Reed Warbler

South Africa (ZA)   Basra Reed Warblers breeding in Kuwait  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:08:00 pm

Week 29 - 18 July 2009, Jahra East Outfall (JEO

With sustained effort by local birders/photographers, Jahra East Outfall finally got the protection it deserved with the police making regular visits and arresting shooters when caught. This together with habitat protection from reed cutters and herders has allowed the reeds to re-establish themselves and provide the cover required for summer breeders. Images by Mike Pope


We had always suspected there was a possibility of Basra Reed Warbler breeding at Jahra East Outfall and following the big number of these birds seen this spring, we were hopeful that it might happen this year. Many thanks to Peter Kennerley, the co-author of the coming Reed and Bush Warblers to be published by Helm later this year for his assistance in identifying this juvenile Basra Reed Warbler I was able to photograph today. The following impressions were provided to justify the identification of this juvenile as probable proof of breeding Basra Reed Warbler in Kuwait.

Identifying JUVENILES; Iris colour grey brown in birds up to 1-year old; gape colour pale orange with a hint of yellow; tongue spots (if seen); leg colour dark lead grey; bill colour with the distal third to half of the lower mandible dark; plumage - recently fledged juveniles will usually show fresh unworn primaries and tail feathers which would be browner than those of a worn adult at this time. Also, a slight creamy wash to the underparts and supercilium, and no sign of wear to the primaries and tertials, which are pale tipped.

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Whilst watching the juvenile, this 'bald' bird popped out and I suspected that it may be a post breeding moulting adult. Peter has suggested that feathers grow in 'tract's and these tracts are usually replaced sequentially, so feathers at one end are newer than those at the other. In this bird, the entire head feathering has been lost, which suggests some sort of trauma or disease rather than a moult in which all feathering is replaced. The head feathers were clearly lost simultaneously and the replacement feathers are growing but are still in pin, and their length suggests they are about 4 days old. The wear on the tertials and greater coverts suggests this is an adult.

Basra Reed Warbler

08/04/09

South Africa (ZA)   The north eastern ciruit  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:55:28 pm

Week 31 - 01 August 2009, Sulaibikhat, Jahra East Outfall (JEO), Jahra Farm

Another favourable high tide in the early morning means that the coastal route is the preference. Images by Mike Pope


I headed for the spit on the northern end of Sulaibikhat Bay, where I found numerous roosting Herons, Egrets, Waders, Gulls, Terns and Flamingos. A skulking Kentish Plover in summer plumage was first up

Lesser Sand Plover

A Turnstone was seen feeding in amongst a large flock of Terek Sandpipers

Turnstone

With some patience I was able to get closer to the skittish flock of Terek Sandpipers

Terek Sandpiper

This one was feeding as it passed a Little Tern

Terek Sandpiper

I was fortunate to watch an aerial squabble between two Caspian Terns over a fish one was desparately trying to swallow (but it appeared to big). It was chased by the second bird for quite some time and this one was probably hoping that the fish would be regurgitated

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

On the way out I flushed a White chested Kingfisher which is always more spectacular in flight than when perched

White chested Kingfisher

I headed to Jahra East Outfall where I discovered that the White chested Kingfisher that had taken up residence along the outfall had been shot and killed for fun. The good news is that the next day 3 shooters (hopefully the same who shot the kingfisher) were arrested by the Police for shooting in this protected area

White chested Kingfisher

Feeling rather despondent I headed to Jahra Farm to try and locate the Indian Roller which has remained at this location through the winter and was delighted to find that it has been joined by a 2nd Indian Roller - certainly unusual at this time of year as they are generally winter visitors

Indian Roller

South Africa (ZA)   Sulaibikhat Bay  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:38:55 pm

Week 30 - 23 July 2009, Sulaibikhat

I stopped at Sulaibikhat Bay after spending the morning at JEO looking for Basra Reed Warblers. Images by Mike Pope


I found a single Black headed Gull in between the roosting Slender bill Gulls, my first of the summer

Black headed Gull

Greater Flamingos in flight are always a tempting photographic subject

Greater Flamingo


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