07/10/11

South Africa (ZA)   Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:12:43 pm

Week 28 - 09 July 2011, Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City

I had arranged to conduct the July census with Anand, the marine biologist at Sea City (formerly known as Khiran Pearl City). Unfortunately, the high summer temps did not provide ideal weather, so we had dust and gusting wind out on the boat. Images by Mike Pope


We headed out to sea to check Phase A2 before the sea got too rough. We stopped at the last buoy and counted 21 juvenile Socotra Cormorants, this is the 2nd highest daily count which is really encouraging.

Socotra Cormorant


Part of the group of 21 birds on the buoy.

Socotra Cormorant


Socotra Cormorant


I didnt expect to see much else in this poor weather, plus the majority of the Terns were all still breeding on Kubbar. I did find a single Little and Lesser-crested Tern as well as a late Collared Pratincle. On the way to the new site office, we stopped at a water seep and found a single Hoopoe Lark

Hoopoe Lark


As well as a mixed flock of 13 adult and juvenile Cream-coloured Coursers

Cream-coloured Coursers


South Africa (ZA)   Breeding Terns  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 07:55:31 pm

Week 26 - 24 June 2011, Kubbar Island

A belated post, but we had the opportunity to visit Kubbar Island at the start of the summer holidays. Unfortunately we only arrived around noon and found that the island was inundated with people who had come over for a Jet Ski competition, on what should be a protected island at this critical time of year. Images by Mike Pope


There were a mixture of birds still on eggs and others with ravenous and demanding young birds. They were surely stressed with all the people continuously putting them to flight, so hopefully there were no fatalaties. Almost all of the Bridled Terns were still eggs and doing their usual antics with wetting their belly feathers to assist with egg temperature regulation. I caught this one returning to it's nest

Bridled Tern


The majority of White-cheeked Terns had young of various ages, with just a few still on eggs that would be hatching imminently. Those with young were on the beach, I'm guessing that is cooler than where their nests were. Here an adult looking for it's young in amongst those on the beach

White-cheeked Tern


Stop teasing Mom and give me my food!

White-cheeked Tern


Watching over the young

White-cheeked Tern


I walked to the Eastern side of the island to check the Lesser-crested Tern colony and had this bird show it's displeasure when I was still a long way off

Lesser-crested Tern


On the sharp side of a Lesser-crested Tern at speed

Lesser-crested Tern


About 70% of the colony were still on eggs

Lesser-crested Tern


This one with a fish at the ready, as soon as the chick asks for it

Lesser-crested Tern


Lesser-crested are still one of the 'coolest' Terns

Lesser-crested Tern


Last year 2 pairs of Swift Terns nested for the first time in 23-years, so I was delighted and encouranged to see 5-pairs in this colony. I'm not sure how many were in the other 2 colonies that I didnt have time to check

Swift Tern


It is interesting to note that both Swift and Lesser-crested share the same breeding area without aggravating each other

Swift Tern


An adult Swift Tern coming in to incubate it's eggs

Swift Tern


On the way back to the mainland, we found this expired Dragonfly on the boat - not sure yet which species this is

Dragonfly



06/12/11

South Africa (ZA)   Cheerio Brian  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 01:11:24 pm

Week 23 - 10 June 2011, Jahra East Outfall, Jahra Pool and Pivot Fields

My birding colleague and friend Brian Foster is retiring and departing Kuwait when school finishes later this month. Brian is the person who I have known the longest in Kuwait and who has shared and taught me a lot with respect to western Palearctic birding. As I am travelling for most of the rest of June, we took this opportunity to enjoy our last Kuwait birding outing together, despite the less than ideal conditions. Images by Mike Pope


We were at Jahra East Outfall by 6am, but the high tide wasnt quite high enough. No sign of the Red Knot in the blustery and dusty conditions - although still some diversity in terms of waders present. The next stop was Jahra Pool, which produced very little, so we opted to head to the Pivot Fields. We can safely say that Spring migration is over, but we did still find a late male Lesser Kestrel (note the pale claws)

Lesser Kestrel


We also found a Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole


followed by a second bird that appeared superficially darker with a less than obvious red underwing. The very faded white trailing edge was only obvious once the image was processed which then confirmed it as Collared Pratincole

Collared Pratincole


We decided to call it a day, as the wind picked up and started blowing more dust. On the way out we picked up a medium sized flock of Black-crowned Sparrow Larks

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark


05/25/11

South Africa (ZA)   In search of a rarity  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 12:41:24 pm

Week 20 - 21 May 2011, Jahra Pools and Pivot Fields

Whilst at Kubbar yesterday, I received an sms from Brian Foster who found a Pied Bushchat (a first for Kuwait) at Jahra Pools Reserve. Images by Mike Pope


There is nothing worse waking up to twitch a rarity and seeing that the weather had taken a turn for worse - and so it was this morning with some dust and strong gusting wind. Nevertheless, I was still in the reserve by 6:30 (and wasnt the first). After 3-hours and more of searching, the bird was not relocated. A Graceful Prinia was found singing near where the Bushchat was seen

Graceful Prinia


Migration has definitely thinned out and is almost at an end, so a late Corn Bunting was a surprise

Corn Bunting


a young Red-backed Shrike without a tail - not sure if this was lost as part of moult

Red-backed Shrike


We have had a few plumage variants with Turkestan Shrikes of which quite a few are still around. The birds with very pale upperparts are probably a different sub-species

Turkestan Shrike


I headed to SAANR, but could not get access and this will be the case until late July. Disppointed I headed to Pivot Fields where some signs of late migration were enjoyed together with some summer arrivals, like this White-winged Black Tern

White-winged Black Tern


A Glossy Ibis feeding in the fields

Glossy Ibis


One of 3 very skittish Red-wattled Lapwings, a good tick at this site

Red-wattled Lapwing


A late Woodchat Shrike on the pivots together with quite a few European Rollers

Woodchat Shrike


Bare patches had many bright yellow Dhubs - they change to a paler colour as the temperature heats up

Dhub


A few Raptors were seen, here a lone Montagu Harrier

Montagu Harrier


One of the many Black Kites seen around the Pivots

Black Kite


The highlight however was a flock of around 50 Lesser Kestrels, hunting from the Pivot Irrigation as it moved slowly across the fields. Simple tactics, just drop down onto any exposed small mammal, reptile or insect.

Lesser Kestrel


Here a sequence fo 3 birds that dived for the same Beetle and the 2nd bird, emerging as the winner

Lesser Kestrel


Lesser Kestrel


Lesser Kestrel


Lesser Kestrel


Lesser Kestrel



05/23/11

South Africa (ZA)   Breeding Terns on Kubbar Island  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 01:18:56 pm

Week 20 - 20 May 2011, Kubbbar Island

We arrived at Kubbar Island in good time across a flat and calm Arabian Gulf and moored just off the island where we could already see that Tern numbers had absolutely swelled since the last visit. Images by Mike Pope


The view of this small, but important summer breeding island from the boat

Bridled Tern


It didnt take long before a few came to roost on the railings of the boat - this I assumes keeps them cooler as they are further above the ground

Bridled Tern


We put all our camera kit in waterproof bag and swam a short distance to the shore, where we enjoyed this breeding spectacle of three tern species (no sign of Swift Tern yet). Bridled Terns nest under the salt bushes and pairs take turns in incubating the egg(s)

Bridled Tern


This pair outside their nest

Bridled Tern


with birds all round you, it is just special and difficult to choose which to photograph

Bridled Tern


as the day warmed up and it did, it was interesting to see the Bridled Terns fly a short distance away from their nests and then dip their breast feathers into the surface to wet them and take a quick drink, returning to incubate their eggs with cool feathers. Critical I guess to regulate the eggs temperature when the ambient temperature is 44 degrees

Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


a little later I watched these two birds in a territorial battle or vying for a interested female and got a great sequence of images

Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


Bridled Tern


The White-cheeked Terns nested on bare ground and in some sparse grass just inside the perimeter of the island

White-cheeked Tern


Their nests gave some 'breathing' space between pairs

White-cheeked Tern


White-cheeked Tern


White-cheeked were agressive if you got to close and would fly above you 'chattering'

White-cheeked Tern


I also observed them wetting their breast feathers, but couldnt get an image - this one however returning from the sea

White-cheeked Tern


This one bringing in a Flying Fish (first time I have seen one in Kuwait) to it's mate that was sitting on eggs earlier

White-cheeked Tern


White-cheeked Tern


White-cheeked Tern


The Lesser-crested Terns were more gregarious and situated in a small collective breeding colony on the eastern side of the island. To me, these are the coolest terns, especially when the fluff up their afro crest

Lesser-crested Tern


Lesser-crested Tern


and very elegant in flight

Lesser-crested Tern


this one bringing in some food for its mate, somewhere in the melee. Feeding will reach a frenzy in a couple of weeks when eggs hatch and will be a great time to visit

Lesser-crested Tern


as long as we dont have these guys here again! Flushing, traumatising and then netting these breeding terns for fun; on what should be a protected island at this important time of the year

Ignorance


Ignorance


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