08/31/10

South Africa (ZA)   Ramadan Migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 01:17:51 pm

Week 36 - 29 August 2010, Pivot Fields and Sulaibikhat

This morning I was able to spend an hour at Pivot Fields before work and then catch the outgoing high tide at Sulaibikhat after work - I am quite liking these shortened working hours, as it has increased mid-week birding time. Images by Mike Pope


I hadnt been to Pivot Fields for sometime, so the guards didnt recognise me in work clothes and not wearing my cap, but after some discussion was given permission to enter. I stopped at the croc pond and found Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler

A smaller more robust warbler with a broad tail caught my eye and I was delighted to add Savi's Warbler as my 2nd lifer of this year in Kuwait. Here is a series of images which I used to validate the ID with the team working on the new Warbler Field Guide

Savi's Warbler

Savi's Warbler

Savi's Warbler

Savi's Warbler

After this excitement, I caught a lone Common Swift hawking above the croc pond

Common Swift

I then did a circuit around the farm and picked up two skittish Golden Plovers. The lack of northerly winds is confirmed by the lack of any raptors seen at pivot fields today. One of the fields held a small group of only juvenile Collared Pratincoles

juvenile Collared Pratincole

Shrikes are making a comeback, this appears to be a juvenile Lesser Grey Shrike

juvenile Lesser Grey Shrike

A juvenile Woodchat Shrike with the reddish crown and after this bird it was time to head to the office, where I was still early

juvenile Woodchat Shrike

After work, I stopped at the Sulaibikhat outfall where the tide had already started to receed. A few Grey Plovers were seen - but heat haze at 3:30 in the afternoon was a challenge

Grey Plover

A few Sanderlings were seen foraging along the shore

Sanderling

A couple of Ruff and Curlew Sandpipers

Ruff

Little Egrets with their elegent plumes have evicted the Indian Reef Herons at the outfall, but didnt seem to be as succesful at catching any fish

Little Egret

Little Egret

Little Egret

A couple of Greater Flamingo's got into a little squabble

Greater Flamingo

As opposed to these three - the picture of tranquility

Greater Flamingo

There were a host of large white headed gulls and thanks to Yoav Perlman for his input. In this image the gull on the right is Armenian and the other two are Heuglins

Heuglins and Armenian Gull

A Steppe Gull on the left with two Heuglin Gulls - note the size difference between the two Heuglins

Steppe and Heuglins Gull

A single Heuglins (told by bulkiness, massive bill and dark mantle) with juvenile White-cheeked Tern flying by

Heuglins Gull and White-cheeked Tern

08/30/10

South Africa (ZA)   Trek to the West  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:26:47 am

Week 35 - 28 August 2010, Al Abraq, Jahra Farms and Jahra Pools

This was a weekend of intense humidity brought in with southerly winds and made being outdoors really uncomfortable. But, this does not stop the migration but it does explain why numbers are still down. Simon Price and I were out early and first headed west before coming back to the coastline. Images by Mike Pope


At 6:30 in the morning we were perspiring in the first 10-minutes of our walk. With migration slowly picking up, so the shooters have returned and were shooting with automatic shotguns around the boundary of the oasis farm. It really is distressing and the amount of dead and wounded birds seen is even more depressing. Common Whitethroats are well, still common at the farm

Common Whitethroat

This Rosefinch was an encouraging start to the morning

Rosefinch

Hoopoes are now seen pretty much everywhere

Hoopoe

A single Grey Wagtail was seen, as we did on our last visit

Grey Wagtail

A lone juvenile Rose-coloured Starling in the fields was also a good bird for the day

Rose-coloured Starling

The European Bee-eaters were staying low in the trees and on the ground, as they are prime targets for the indiscriminate shooters lurking on the fence line

European Bee-eater

Spotted Flycatchers have returned

Spotted Flycatcher

Most of the shrikes have now been seen, this a Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike

A male Stonechat in transition plumage, possibly Byzantine Stonechat (Saxicola m. armenicus)

Stonechat

On the way out the good looking male White-throated Robin

White-throated Robin

By now we were drenched, so we headed to SAANR - but were not granted access, as Simon did not have a permit. Plan B, was to try Jahra Farms where there were good numbers of Barred Warbler and a few more Grey Wagtails

Grey Wagtail

and a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin

Our last stop was Jahra Pools, although time of day wasnt ideal. The combination of heat haze and humidity is also not conducive to great photography. The quiet waterway between the reeds produced the same birds seen earlier in the week like these two Little Ringed Plovers

Little Ringed Plover

Juvenile Little Stint

Little Stint

The Temmincks Stint together with a Little Stint

Temmincks and Little Stint

There are still numbers of juvenile Moorhen around

Moorhen

The White-tailed Lapwing with Citrine Wagtail tagging along

White-tailed Lapwing

On the western side of the pan, we saw two very dark Temmincks Stints with upperparts as dark as Common Sandpiper. I assume this is breeding plumage, as this dark 'form' is not shown in the new Collins Fieldguide. The image quality is affected due to heat/humidity haze

Temmincks Stint

Temmincks Stint

A young Caspian Plover was a good bird to end the sweaty days birding

Caspian Plover

Caspian Plover

08/29/10

South Africa (ZA)   Ramadan Migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:07:04 pm

Week 35 - 26 August 2010, Sulaibikhat and Jahra Pools

Another week gone by in a flash, so I decided to check the outfall at Sulaibikhat and then see if Jahra Pools had any water before Iftar at 6:30. Images by Mike Pope


Along the beach I found this European Oystercatcher with part of one leg missing. Chatting to Abulrahman, he mentioned that this same bird was first seen in the same vicinity in Aug 2007, Aug 2008 and now again in August 2010

European Oystercatcher

By the time I reached the outfall the tide had already receeded, so most birds were too far out. I watched some young Slender-billed Gulls that appeared to be playing a game with a leaf. One would pick it up, fly and dive into water, only to be chased by others trying to steal the leaf and when they did - they would be chased. Not seen this behaviour before

Slender-billed Gull

Slender-billed Gull

By now I had enough of Gulls and Terns and headed to Jahra Pools which had been dry again a week or two ago. On this visit it was full again and as a result had a different variety of birds that I could enjoy. I stopped at some quiet shallow water between two reedbeds and was rewarded with a pair of Purple Swamphens

Purple Swamphen

A cracking Temmincks Stint

Temmincks Stint

Temmincks Stint

A distant Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

As well as one of the White-tailed Lapwings

White-tailed Lapwing

And a Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover

As I was about to depart, a Baillons Crake popped out of the reed base. Separated from Little Crake by more spots on scapulars and primary coverts, darker ear coverts and more importantly short primary projection

Baillons Crake

Driving back to the main pan, a Winchat was sheltering in the shade of the reeds

Winchat

And one of the many Isabelline Wheatears that were seen in and around the reserve

Isabelline Wheatear

Around the main pan, I got close to one of the many Green Sandpipers

Green Sandpiper

Little Crakes are starting to appear in numbers now

Little Crake

One of two Lesser Grey Shrikes that were seen

Lesser Grey Shrike

A single Bluethroat was seen foraging on the abundant midges around the reeds

Bluethroat

Driving along the western boundary, a bird flew across the road and my initial impression was White-throated Robin. However, when I got my bins on it saw that it was a very dark toned Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin. On plumage tone this could be syriacus, although dark familiaris have also been recorded. The only way to really be sure is with biometrics

Rufous-tailed Srub Robin

Rufous-tailed Srub Robin

There was a flock of 50+ Garganey in the middle of the pan

Garganey

Garganey

The bird(s) of the day was these two Black-tailed Godwits in the fading light

Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit

A Little Grebe in the reflection of the setting sun

Little Grebe

I have a soft spot for sunsets

Jahra Pool Sunset

08/25/10

South Africa (ZA)   Sulaibikhat: IV  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:31:25 pm

Week 35 - 23 August 2010, Sulaibikhat

This morning the high tide was favourable, so a quick stop off at Sulaibikhat before work where I bumped into Simon Price and a new birder and photographer, Christine Canzanella, who both had the same idea. Images by Mike Pope


When I first arrived, the tide was still a way out - but many species were present feeding as the tide came in and others washing and preening in the outfall. Bar-tailed Godwits are still present in both breeding and non-breeding plumage. The non-breeding bird was significantly bigger thant the one still in breeding plumage

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit

Along the edge of the outfall I saw Greater Sand Plover

Greater Sand Plover

Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

and a Redshank feeding in the shallows

Redshank

Terns and Gull numbers are still increasing, here a juvenile Gull-billed Tern coming in to land

Gull-billed Tern

Part of the mixed flock of birds on the incoming tide

Gulls, Terns and Flamingo's

A Greater Flamingo touching down

Greater Flamingo

The resident Indian Reef Heron returning to 'it's' spot

Indian Reef Heron

One of the many juvenile Gulls

Gull

Outta my way pipsqueak! Which is exactly what happened as this large gull pushed the juvenile Slender-billed Gull out of its way

Greater Sand Plover

A Greater Sand Plover challenged the smaller Ringed Plover and lost the territorial battle

Greater Sand Plover and Ringed Plover

Greater Sand Plover and Ringed Plover

Greater Sand Plover and Ringed Plover

08/23/10

South Africa (ZA)   Back in the Desert  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:53:12 am

Week 34 - 21 August 2010, Al Abraq

After 2-weeks of coastal birding, it was refreshing to get back out into the desert. Simon Price and I made an early start and got to the oasis farm at Al Abraq by 6:30am when the temperatures were still bearable. Overall a good day for the start of autumn migration with some diversity, but still relatively low numbers. All in all we had 27 species for the morning with good numbers of Rollers, Hoopoes, Yellow Wagtails, Marsh and Great Reed Warblers and Black-headed Buntings. Images by Mike Pope


As is customary, we normally park the car and walk around the farm before the mercury rises, we noted many Black-headed Buntings in various plumage variations. This first winter bird showing the clear dark streaks on the back and streaky head

Black-headed Bunting

We also found a moulting adult bird, which are certainly not as common as the non-breeding and first winter plumage birds

Black-headed Bunting

The wagtails have returned, but only one Grey Wagtail was seen

Grey Wagtail

One of the birds of the morning was this Thrush Nightingale

Thrush Nightingale

We saw a Winchat and this Stonechat

Stonechat

and a tatty looking male Stonechat

Stonechat

We then headed back to the car and some air conditioning and drove slowly around the farm picking up a Hoopoe Lark (my first for this location)

Hoopoe Lark

and a Montagu Harrier that passed by quite quickly

Montagu Harrier

We decided to sit at a small pool of water under a dripping tap and were rewarded with more Black-headed Buntings. This bird had a very pale belly

Black-headed Bunting

Whereas this one was more uniformly rufous on its underparts - differnt ages or sexes? After it drank, it displayed some odd behavior. We werent sure if it was scanning the sky for raptors, or this was a cooling technique while standing in the water

Black-headed Bunting

Black-headed Bunting

Other birds that came down to drink were Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

A tail-less Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

Olivaceous Warbler

Olivaceous Warbler

Here a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin getting 'territorial' over the water with a juvenile Great Reed Warbler

Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and Great Reed Warbler

The numbers and diversity of Yellow Wagtails are increasing

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Walking around we had seen many Warblers, but they were feeding in the crops and very elusive for photographs. On our way out, we found a small tree that they were using for shade and shelter from the sun and were able to photograph these difficult birds more easily. First up is a series of Marsh Warblers

Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler

Small numbers of Willow Warblers were seen

Willow Warbler

Common Whitethroat also taking advantage of the shade

Common Whitethroat

I was thrilled to find a Hume's Whitethroat (Sylvia althaea - now split from Lesser Whitethroat) and different in that it is concolourous on head, nape and back

Humes Whitethroat

Humes Whitethroat

08/22/10

South Africa (ZA)   Sulaibikhat; III  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 03:45:27 pm

Week 34 - 18 August 2010, Sulaibikhat

This morning I spent an hour at the small outfall in Sulaibikhat before work and had diversity, even though tide was not yet in. Images by Mike Pope


Only one Bar-tailed Godwit was seen this morning

Bar-tailed Godwit

Large white-headed Gull numbers are increasing, here a Steppe Gull (Larus f/h. barabensis)

Steppe Gull

A Slender-billed Gull landing amongst some of the larger gulls

Slender-billed Gull

Today an adult Common Tern was seen

Common Tern

Common Tern

One of 3 European Oystercatchers that stopped by

European Oystercatcher

The Common Sandpiper was still around

Common Sandpiper

A banded Little Stint feeding with a Curlew Sandpiper now in non-breeding plumage

Common Sandpiper with Little Stint

Further out in the sea, this odd looking Redshank was seen. It appears that the secondaries are leucistic.

Redshank

The 'resident' Indian Reef Heron was wading out next to a Grey Heron

Grey and Indian Reef Heron

It then returned to it's spot at the outfall and just missed a meal on this attempt

Indian Reef Heron

Then it tried a tactic I have seen with Little Egret, where it pushes its leg forward and uses its feet to stir up some food and create an opportunity - the gull seemed amused by this

Indian Reef Heron

I then spent an enjoyable 10-minutes watching this Greenshank that appeared to have some oil on its vent, going through its bathing routine

Greenshank

Greenshank

Greenshank

Greenshank

Greenshank

Greenshank

South Africa (ZA)   Sulaibikhat; Part II  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 01:00:57 am

Week 34 - 16 August 2010, Sulaibikhat

With our shortened working hours for Ramadan, there is only really time to explore Sulaibikat after work, as it is close to where I work. The advantage though of going to the same place every other day, is that you really do notice what is the same, new or different. Images by Mike Pope


The numbers of large white-headed Gulls are increasing, but at this stage the majority are Caspian Gulls, but this one could be Steppe Gull (barabensis)

Caspian Gull

Slender-billed Gulls are returning from breeding on Bubiyan Island

Slender-billed Gull

Caspian Tern numbers have also increased with many juveniles in the presence of adults; this one begging for a free lunch

Caspian Tern

An adult Whiskered Tern was seen

Whiskered Tern

In the same area, a juvenile White-cheeked Tern was also seen foraging

White-cheeked Tern

Also seen was a Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern

A tatty White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

And a Little Tern

Little Tern

On the shoreline around the outfall, a lone Dunlin still in breeding plumage was seen

Dunlin

Here together with a Curlew Sandpiper for comparison

Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper

Common Sandpipers foraging between the pebbles on the shoreline

Common Sandpiper

Curlews with their longer bills probe further out than the short legged waders

Curlew

Here showing how it uses it's bill to probe and dislodge food under the surface

Curlew

A single Grey Plover was seen out in the shallows

Grey Plover

Today, Little Ringed Plovers had arrived

Little Ringed Plover

Lesser Sand Plover in amongst Curlew Sandpiper and Greater Sand Plover

Lesser Sand Plover

My young friend, the juvenile Indian Reef Heron, still dominates the outfall

Indian Reef Heron

Another tranquil sunset to bring the day to an end

Sulaibikat Sunset

08/17/10

South Africa (ZA)   Kubbar Island  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:09:07 pm

Week 33 - 14 August 2010, Kubbar Island

It had taken some time to arrange a boat to get out to Kubbar Island to look for cetaceans and check out the Terns that had bred over the summer and finally with Sean Lynch, Simon and Jenny Price and Anand the marine biologist from Kirhan we secured a trip this past weekend. Images by Mike Pope


We travelled to Kubbar in comfort on this fantastic 38 foot boat and saw 2 Humpback Dolphin and 1 Finless Porpoise for our cetacean count

Comfort on the Gulf

Kubbar is not Mauritius, but rather a small sandy island with two radio antennas - but is home to thousands of breeding terns that appear to have no natural predators and an abundant food source without having to venture to far from the island

Kubbar Island

Four species of tern breed on the island and each have their preferred patch on the island and defend it vigourosly. We were late in the season, as a result all the young had fledged and almost all were now flying, with some still being fed by adults

Kubbar Island

On this visit, the most abundant species was Bridled Tern and we found them to be generally unafraid and quite inquisitive - offering fantastic photo opportunities. Here a pair sitting on the perennial Suaeda vermiculata bush

Bridled Tern

An adult posing against the backdrop of the Gulf which is clear and clean around the island

Bridled Tern

The Bridled Terns often flew slowly, but directly at and then over me

Bridled Tern

A juvenile that was pretty agile on the wing

Bridled Tern juvenile

The next most abundant were Lesser-crested Terns and they were mostly seen roosting along the beach and patrolling around the island

Lesser-crested Tern

Many Lesser-crested Terns were seen with fish, showing they are successful hunters and that food is abundant around the island

Lesser-crested Tern

These two birds displayed some awesome aerial aerobatics and both carrying food

Lesser-crested Tern

Here a juvenile unsuccessful in its begging attempt with this adult

Lesser-crested Tern and juvenile

This juvenile looking confident on the wing

Lesser-crested Tern juvenile

White-cheeked Terns numbers were significantly less than Bridled and Lesser-crested, but many may have already moved away from the island

White-cheeked Tern

Like the Lesser-crested, White-cheeked also roosted on the beach - here an adult being quite vocal

White-cheeked Tern

An adult flying low over the water

White-cheeked Tern

Followed by a juvenile

White-cheeked Tern

However, the most exciting discovery was that a small number of Swift Terns were confirmed breeding on Kubbar Island this year, after an absence of 13-years. The last confirmed breeding record for Swift Terns on Kubbar was 1987

Swift Tern

One of the juveniles was seen, proof that breeding was indeed successful this year

Swift Tern juvenile

For comparison, a Swift and Lesser-crested together in the air

Swift and Lesser-crested Tern

This image shows how confiding the Bridled Terns are, roosting on the bow railings of the boat

Bridled Terns roosting on our boat

08/16/10

South Africa (ZA)   Ramadan Birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:40:42 am

Week 33 - 12 and 13 August 2010, Sulaibikhat

We are now in the holy month of Ramadan and with it comes reduced working hours. As a result, I can now get in some birding before and after work during the week. There is a site in Sulaibikhat where the waders get pushed close to the beach during the right tide and fortunately, this is very close to where I work. Images by Mike Pope


Driving into the site, I disturbed a House Crow scavenging for scraps - a pair seem to be resident at this site

House Crow

On this morning I parked my car near the small outfall and once the birds got used to me, they slowly came closer. This morning, only one Bar-tailed Godwit was seen in the distance

Bar-tailed Godwit

In the same vicinity, a Greenshank was also seen

Greenshank

A Gull-billed Tern flew up the outfall to see if any meals were flowing out

Gull-billed Tern

A fair variety of waders are to be found here, still Little Stints are the majority and slowly fading out of their breeding plumage

Little Stint

Ringed Plovers were seen feeding amongst the Little Stints

Ringed Plover

Greater Sand Plovers can still be seen along most of the Sulaibikhat coastline, but all in non-breeding plumage now

Greater Sand Plover

A single Lesser Sand Plover still in breeding plumage was also seen

Lesser Sand Plover

On the Friday I came back in the late afternoon and was surprised to find two Hoopoes foraging and feeding on the beach and in the high tide zone

Hoopoe

When the two Hoopoes departed across the bay, a Slender-billed Gull chased them quite aggressively - it was rather amusing to see the faster and more agile gull try and 'catch' the Hoopoe with its floppy yet unpredictable flight pattern without success

Greenshank

While watching birds, you also find some other life in and around the low tide zone, this one of the two species of Fiddler Crab (Uca lactea annulipes) found in Kuwait and this particular species only in the Sulaibikhat area

Fiddler Crab

And the ever present Mud Skippers

Mud Skipper

Finally, the light faded and I was treated to a tranquil sunset over the outfall, to end a good day

Sulaibikhat Sunset

08/07/10

South Africa (ZA)   Migration Watch  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:55:37 pm

Week 32 - 07 August 2010, Sulaibikhat, SAANR and Jahra Pools

Simon Price and I were out this morning checking the Bay and desert north of Mutla Ridge. Images by Mike Pope


On a perfect morning we were greeted to a tranquil sunrise before the mercury rose later in the morning

Salmiya Sunrise

We travelled to SAANR along the coast and stopped in Sulaibikhat, the early morning light providing some good photographic opportunities. A White-chested Kingfisher using the outfall as a hunting perch

White-chested Kingfisher

An adult Indian Reef Heron came by in the shallows - too close to the outfall

Indian Reef Heron

Only to be abrubtly chased away by the juvenile I had watched yesterday

Indian Reef Heron

The flock of Greater Flamingoes decided it was time to depart

Greater Flamingo

Two House Crows were seen as we were departing

House Crow

We headed to SAANR but werent too hopeful in terms of migrants. As expected the predominant birds were Crested Larks, but we did find a single Lesser Short-toed Lark at Tuhla

Lesser Short-toed Lark

As well as Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

We drove to the wadi pan and again the usual larks - Crested, Bar-tailed, Lesser Short-toed, Hoopoe along with some Namaqua Doves. On way out I managed to capture a Hoopoe Lark in flight, but still not the image I am after that really shows how spectacular it looks in flight

Hoopoe Lark

Back at Tuhla we found the resident Desert Monitor

Desert Monitor

On the way out we saw what we thought was a Gecko, but it turned out to be a baby Spiny-tailed Lizard (Dhub) of only 3 inches long and pretty quick over the ground. This was a first for both of us!

Baby Spiny-tailed Lizard

Our last stop was Jahra Pools where water levels had dropped a little, mainly due to evaporation in the 45 - 48 degree summer temperatures. The pools produced the usual suspects - a bonus was a single Broad-billed Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope. Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper numbers were up though. Yellow Wagtails are still coming through

Yelow Wagtail

Little Ringed Plovers were seen amongst the Green, Common, Marsh, Wood, Ruff and Greenshanks

Little Ringed Plover

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper with some Little Stints

Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint

Little Stints

Little Stints

An oiled Little Stint having a territorial dispute with another

Little Stint fight

Little Stint fight

Little Stint fight

Little Stint fight

South Africa (ZA)   Migration Monitoring  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:20:06 pm

Week 32 - 06 August 2010, Al Abraq, Jahra Farm and Sulaibikhat

Back from my 10-day holiday in South Africa where we enjoyed the crisp winter highveld air, cold beer and good food and wine and a great time with family and friends. In Kuwait, there is an air of expectation for the autumn migration, with this in mind Abdulrahman Al Sirhan and I headed to the west to check what may have arrived. Images by Mike Pope


Al Abraq was pretty quiet, but we did see Hoopoe, 3 Rollers, Upchers Warbler and Black-headed Bunting. Jahra Farms was even quiter - resident White-chested Kingfisher and more Upchers Warblers; hopefully next weekend will be better. By now it was pretty hot, so I headed to Sulaibikhat on my way home. As it was low tide, there were quite a few birds cooling off and washing in the outfall - I counted 6 Bar-tailed Godwits

Bar-tailed Godwit

Many Tern species - Little, White-cheeked, White-winged and Gull-billed roosting in harmony

Terns

A juvenile Indian Reef Heron had declared the outfall his territory and I watched his antics for over an hour - here ducking for a dove that flew very closely overhead

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Little Egrets and Squacco Herons hunt with stealth and surprise, this doesnt apply with the Indian Reef Heron who appears to have no finesse at all - running after his prey with outstretched wings and almost diving into the water like a Tern. However, this approach seemed to deliver results as I saw him catch 2 fish in 20-minutes

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Fish number 1 was caught right in front of me and if you look carefully you will see the fish caught in the bill just under the surface of the water

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Fish number 2 was a lot bigger and was eaten on the bank (I assume this is in case the Heron drops it by accident). The Heron worked the fish up the length of its bill, but did not kill the fish and then swallowed it whole. I knew it was alive as it could be seen still wriggling down it's throat.

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

Juvenile Indian Reef Heron

08/05/10

South Africa (ZA)   Pre-vacation birding  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 06:27:23 pm

Week 29 - 17 July 2010, Jahra Farm and Sulaibikhat

This a belated report after my last outing before my vacation in South Africa. Images by Mike Pope


I hadnt been to Jahra Farm for some time, first birds seen was the resident Bank Myna

Bank Myna

I found 5 Upchers Warblers along a small stream from the holding pond and watched as they actively displayed (fanned tails swaying from side to side) and drank

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

A stop at the outfall in Sulaibikhat didnt give Common Tern, but rather 1st winter White-cheeked Tern

White-cheeked Tern

There was a handful of White-winged Terns patrolling the outfall in various stages of eclipse plumage

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

And this is the reason they patrol the outfall waiting for these large crickets to get washed out. There is a race to pluck them from the surface, give them a rinse (not sure why they do this0 and then eat them on the wing

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

White-winged Tern

South Africa (ZA)   Early signs of Autmn Migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 06:15:31 pm

Week 29 - 16 July 2010, Jahra Pool Reserve and Sulaibikhat

My family have now migrated to South Africa for the summer/winter which left me no choice but to get out early for some birding in the late afternoon once I had finished some chores in our new apartment. Images by Mike Pope


First stop was Jahra Pools where water is at a respectable level again. It was encouraging to find two Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the fringes

Black-tailed Godwit

Despite the inconsistency in water levels, Purple Swamphens are still to be found - this image shows the fantastic colours of this bird after some preening at the edge of the reeds

Purple Swamphen

The flock of Mallards was still present

Mallard

An early Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Black-winged Stilts had a successful breeding season at Jahra Pools this year, here an agitated adult letting me know I have got too close

Black-winged Stilt

Black-winged Stilt feeding in the setting sun reflection

Black-winged Stilt

I spent some time in Sulaibikhat Bay at the outfall where there were many feeding waders, terns and gulls. Another Little Tern that was carefully checked for Saunders (we have to find one eventually)!

Little Tern

Some Greater Sand Plovers in eclipse plumage

Greater Sand Plover

I watched this Terek Sandpiper swiftly dispatch this crab which was no match for the birds speed and deft use of its upturned bill

Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

I came across this long legged wader with a long heavy bill which really had me perplexed. After consultation with my birding colleagues in Kuwait we suggest that this is a Redshank, but of race Tringa totanus ussuriensis. According to Clements Checklist 6.3.2 December 2008 it is found in Siberia and Mongolia to e Russia and winters to Africa and India. OSME ORL mentions that "totanus & ussuriensis breed & on passage Kazakhstan W&O 2007

Redshank (Tringa totanus ussuriensis)

Redshank (Tringa totanus ussuriensis)

South Africa (ZA)   End of a work day  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:51:31 pm

Week 28 - 07 July 2010, Free Trade Zone and Sulaibikhat

Summers mean longer daylight hours, so I was able to get in some birding after work around the Port. Images by Mike Pope


The incoming tide pushed feeding waders closer to the main ring road around the Free Trade Zone. Greater Sand Plovers in eclipse plumage are the most common wader at this time of year, here one showing some post breeding plumage

Greater Sand Plover

This one already in non-breeding/winter plumage

Greater Sand Plover

Kentish Plovers breed in Kuwait through the summer, here an adult and juvenile

Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover juvenile

Kentish Plover

Little Terns are not regular along this stretch of the coast, but these two seen roosting amongst the waders

Little Tern

and then deciding to do a little fishing

Little Tern

A single Common Tern was seen briefly in the fading light at the Sulaibikhat outfall

Common Tern

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