09/28/09

South Africa (ZA)   Autumn Migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:51:04 am

Week 38 - 19 September 2009, Pivot Fields, Jahra Pools Reserve and Jahra Farm

I was able to get out for a full morning's birding in bearable temperatures and visited 3 locations. Images by Mike Pope


An hour at Pivot Fields was surprisingly unproductive, although there were a large number of Black Kites seen. I caught this juvenile departing off the irrigation system where it roosted for the night.

Black Kite

I got to Jahra Pools by 8:15 and spent a quality 3-hours at this site. This picture gives a good idea of the habitat and water coverage. As predicted last week, this site did turn up a mega the very next day in the form of 2 African Darters, a 1st for Kuwait - sadly they were one day birds and have not been seen since.

Jahra Pools Reserve

There is an air of tranquility at this site and again there were good numbers and many species to be seen. First up was a family of Little Grebe, a bird I havent seen in a long time here in Kuwait

Little Grebe family

Little Grebe

I sat quietly on the bank with my camera on a monopod and waited for birds to come to me. We have been told that Basra Reed Warblers also bred at this site in the summer which is encouraging and exciting and I managed to see 2 birds. This one was plucking insects off the water surface without letting go of its perch

Basra Reed Warbler feeding

and what appears to be a moulting adult Basra Reed

Basra Reed Warbler

There were about 20+ Little Crakes around the pans, in the corner where I was sitting I photographed an adult

Little Crake

This juvenile plucking food from the water surface

Little Crake

and some territorial interaction between 2 Little Crakes

Little Crake

A Water Rail put in a brief appearance as it scurried between cover

Water Rail

Killian Mullarney kindly corrected the ID to Sedge Warbler and provided ID tips to more easily separate Sedge from Moustached. "A Sedge typically does have spots on the breast in juvenile plumage. The feature that will always clinch the ID of Sedge Warbler, when it is visible, is the length of the primary projection. This photo allows quite precise comparison of the primary projection (pp) with the total length of the tertials: clearly, the pp is more than half of the tertial length. In Moustached the pp is always short, usually no more than about a third of the tertial length, often even less".

Moustached Warbler

There are still many Yellow Wagtails around, this one also feeding on surface water insects

Yellow Wagtail

A patrolling Marsh Harrier put up or sent birds scurrying for cover everytime it came over - it was eventually successful and then peace returned to the pan

Marsh Harrier

A drive around the fringes of the pan produced feeding White winged Tern (same as previous week)

White winged Tern

Still many Dunlin around

Dunlin

As well as Wood Sandpipers

Wood Sandpiper

2 Avocets dropped in which were not seen the previous week

Avocet

There were quite a few loose flocks of Garganey

Garganey

I found an adult and juvenile White tail Lapwing, but not very cooperative to be photographed

White tail Lapwing

Next stop was Jahra Farm where I met up with Nicola Hulet and her husband, although pretty hot by this stage still some passerines to be seen. A few Garden Warblers were seen along one of the canals

Garden Warbler

A Lesser Whitethroat feeding on plump ripe dates

Lesser Whitethroat

The numbers of Common Whitethroat have diminished

Common Whitethroat

The 2 Orioles were very elusive, as they usually are - this just a record shot

Oriole

09/23/09

South Africa (ZA)   Revival of an old site  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:48:31 am

Week 37 - 12 September 2009, Jahra Pools Reserve

Earlier in the week I had found out from Brian and Pekka that Jahra Pools Reserve, previously the jewel of the Kuwait sites, had water restored in mid June and was again a haven for water and reed birds. In this condition, there are good chances of discovering a rarity over the coming months and through winter. Images by Mike Pope


I managed a quick visit with my son and was thrilled with what we found. It is a fenced site with permission needed to enter and as a result is free from shooters. The water level had receeded a little, but birds were everywhere - it was fantastic and we all hope that it will remain this way. First birds seen were Black tailed Godwits

Black tail godwit

Black tail godwit

Numerous adult and juvenile Black winged Stilts

Black winged Stilt

White winged Terns were feeding up and down the main water channel

White winged Tern

Moorhens of all sizes made up the bulk of the birds feeding around the pans

Juvenile Moorhen

In the reedbed I found a skulking Squacco Heron

Squacco Heron

Waders in various stages of eclipse plumage were well represented and were seen feeding along the edges of the pans and in shallow water. We found Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Dunlin

Dunlin

Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover

Little Stint

Little Stint

Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper

and Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

09/08/09

South Africa (ZA)   Census at Khiran  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:29:49 pm

Week 36 - 05 September 2009, Khiran Pearl City

Anand and I conducted an early September bird census at Khiran this morning. Images by Mike Pope


I left home at 5am and drove south down "The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahad Bin Abdul Aziz Road" more commonly known as the 40. I saw the full moon set in the west which means we are mid-way into Ramadan

Setting Moon

Followed shortly by the rising sun in the east

Rising Sun

On the way to the site office, I stopped at the pond fed by the rising ground water and found a 1cy Red back Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

This time the boat was moored in Phase A2 and our first bird seen was a feeding Osprey on the abundance of fish in the system.

Osprey

As the Osprey departed it put up a roosting flock of 260+ Caspian Gulls which scattered in all directions

Caspian Gull

We went north up the coast to the sandbank at Zour and found 2 Socotra Cormorants and many Lesser crested Terns

Lesser crested Tern

It was time to check out the last buoy outside the harbour entrance to Khiran and to our delight found 13 roosting Socotra Cormorants which gave us a total of 15 for the morning, exceeding the count from August. Excuse my indulgence in the next few images, but it is a good bird to see and photograph in Kuwait

Socotra Cormorant

Socotra Cormorant

Landing gear down, flaps up

Socotra Cormorant

Up close and personal for a quizzical and curious look

Socotra Cormorant

We only saw two White cheeked Terns (adult and juvenile) with the adult appearing to be showing the juvenile how to catch fish

White cheeked Tern

On island #4 we found a few migrating passerines and shrikes, a Lesser Grey passing by

Lesser Grey Shrike

A few Common Whitethroats

Common Whitethroat

and a lone female Stonechat (maura)

Siberian Stonechat

On the way home, a quick stop at the pond produced 9 Short toed Larks, cryptic against the background at the waters edge

Short toed Lark

09/07/09

South Africa (ZA)   Inter tidal sampling at Khiran  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:28:21 pm

Week 35 - 29 August 2009, Khiran Pearl City

In the afternoon I met up with Anand and Dr David Jones and accompanied them whilst they conducted some inter tidal sampling around the islands in Phase 1. Images by Mike Pope


Single Eurasian Curlews have been seen on each visit, this one seen flying over island #4

Curlew

Followed by a Hoopoe

Hoopoe

A single female Stonechat was seen feeding on insects attracted to the vegetation on the island

Stonechat

It was low tide and I watched interesting behaviour with some first winter Greater Sand Plovers. It almost appeared as if this was territorial behavior or defence of an area with abundant food. The first image shows one bird flying in and the other standing its ground

Greater Sand Plover

The defence or threatening behaviour from the bird on the flat

Greater Sand Plover

Chasing the intruder away

Greater Sand Plover

The victory pout

Greater Sand Plover

I found this Eurycarcinus orientalis crab on the exposed low tide mud flat

Crab

On the island there are large numbers of Macropthalmus depressus crabs, we observed this male standing on its back legs waving its blue claws in the air to attract a female

Macropthalmus depressus

and would you believe it, succeeding - if only life was that simple

Macropthalmus depressus

South Africa (ZA)   Hot and humid  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:08:45 pm

Week 35 - 29 August 2009, Pivot Fields

I had a few hours spare in the morning, so tried Pivot Fields - again hot weather but coupled with humidity which Kuwait experiences every August. Images by Mike Pope


Almost all the birding action was at the fenced crocodile pond, with close scrutiny I found this Black crowned Night Heron roosting in the reeds

Black crowned Night Heron

Barn Owls are very rare in Kuwait, sadly this one was shot by someone who did not know that fact

Deceased Barn Owl

3 Black tailed Godwits were feeding on the banks of the pond

Black tail Godwit

There were also 3 Garganey sitting quite unobtrusively in the middle of the pond, but were quite skittish. I caught these 2 against the light as they took off

Garganey

The individual with the grey upper wings, must be a first winter male Garganey

Garganey

Flying around the pond, I captured this one in decent light

Garganey

Before I left the pond, I captured 6 species in one image - Black tail Godwit, Garganey, Black wing Stilt, Moorhen, Ruff and Temminck's Stint

Yellow Wagtail

Leaving the croc pond a juvenile Masked Shrike landed in the reeds and departed as quickly

Masked Shrike

On the telephone wire adjacent to the pond, I found juvenile Roller

Roller

Sitting next to a House Martin

House Martin

A magnificent male Montagu Harrier came cruising over the fields scattering the birds feeding on the ground

Montagu Harrier

On the way out, a male Red back Shrike

Red back Shrike

South Africa (ZA)   Autumn Migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:45:51 pm

Week 34 - 22 August 2009, SAANR, Jahra Farms and JEO

Although still pretty hot with some wind, it is the time to start monitoring the autumn passage of migrants. Images by Mike Pope


I was able to arrange access to SAANR and was at the gate by 6am. Sometimes early is not good as often birds only start moving later in the morning when it heats up. I checked the wadi's for wheatears, no luck but quite liked this desert scene

Desert

From the wadi I moved on to Tuhla. This morning there was a lone and out of place Moorhen feeding around the fringes

Moorhen

Plus a skulking juvenile Baillon's Crake that with patience fed out in the open

Little Crake

Hoopoes are now seen all over Kuwait and always impress when they flare their crests

Hoopoe

First winter Yellow Wagtails have started to arrive in small numbers

Yellow Wagtail

A Barred Warbler gleening through the acacia tree

Barred Warbler

On the way out I inadvertently flushed a Bar tail Lark that was resting in a little bit of shade from a concrete block. As it ran away from me, you realise just how crytpic they are against the stony desert

Bar tail Lark

Next stop was Jahra Farms where I found a large mixed gathering of adult and juvenile Bank Mynas - another successful breeding season for this species

Bank Mynas

A juvenile Bank Myna coming to quench its thirst on a sweltering morning

Bank Myna

At the holding pond a few warblers came in to drink, the first was Olivaceous

Olivaceous Warbler

Followed by an a 1cy Great Reed Warbler - note the immaculately fresh remiges and warm tones to whole plumage and the very dark eye

Great Reed Warbler

Then a 2cy+ Great Reed Warbler. Note the typical moult - replaced head, nape and mantle, while rest of plumage including remiges very worn and bleached and the eye which is paler than 1cy bird

Great Reed Warbler

Last stop was JEO at midday where I found a small group of Turnstones

Turnstone

I managed to see the first winter Caspian Plover which has been at JEO for sometime

Caspian Plover

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