Archives for: July 2006

2006-07-08

First visit to Qassar Al Qalayah

Permalink 09:19:28, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

Qassar Al Qalayah is a small Island situated in the entrance to Mina Salman, the Port of Bahrain - to its west is the GPIC chemical plant, to its east Asry Dry Dock. It has long been known that the island has a seasonal White-cheeked breeding colony, but its situation in the main shipping lanes makes visiting difficult. However after obtain permission from the coastguard we were able to visit the Island for a few hours last Tuesday afternoon (25th June 2006). The temperature was around 40c, the weather was however dull a hangover from a dust storms the day before, plus we also had the benefit of a cooling ten-knot breeze making for a pleasant afternoon. A colleague of Brendan’s at the Bahrain Medical University Dr. Declan Gaynor made available his small boat so along with Brendan Kavanagh and Juhani Kyyrö, we arrived on the Island about 15:45, with the sole aim of documenting the tern colony and ringing some of the chicks.

As we approached the island it became obvious that that a small Lesser Crested Tern colony was also in residence on the Island, it presence given away by the crèche of chicks sitting neatly bundled on the northern beach guarded by a few adults. Having landed at the northwest corner of the island were deep water makes for easy access, every step across the island had to be taken with extreme care as around four to five hundred pairs of White-cheeked terns were found breeding on the Island, with numerous active nests containing both eggs and newly hatched chicks, and numerous well developed pulli scattered partially hidden around the island.

Brendan, who that night was leaving for his annual leave, only had 26 rings for White-cheeked terns left so our thoughts were to use these up first before turning our attention to the Lesser Crested Terns which require a larger ring of which we had a plentiful supply. The task of rounding up 26 White-cheeked tern chicks proved given the high numbers present very easy with Declan and myself catching, and Brendan ringing. Chicks were returned individually to the area where they had been caught. After half an hour or so we were able to turn our attention to the Lesser Crested Terns chicks in the crèche on the northern beach which were observed to be nicely crèched in two almost equal sized groups. Using a container to hold the chicks each of the small crèches were literally plucked very quickly from the beach and the entire population of both crèches totalling 44 chicks in all were batch processed and successfully ringed.

Each crèche was released from the container as one unit, however the chicks proved very reluctant to move away from us each time, making it necessary for us to move away rather than the reverse. This small Lesser Crested Tern colony, of around 50 to 75 pairs, represents the third breeding colony documented for Bahrain, the others being in the Hawar Islands and on Jarim.

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