Archives for: 2006


Ringing Project Update

Permalink 18:33:58, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  
To view a summary of our first complete season October 05 - October 06 ringing here in Bahrain please view the following file Ringing Returns

Missing from the file are details of the Sooty Falcon chicks ringed on Hawar in October
as We are preparing a paper on the species

One of the benifits of digital photography is illustrated below as Brendan ( ) provides this small insight

Compare the Primary coverts of the two Wryneck below. The most recent one (second pic)was aged as a Juv based on the white tips to the PC. The bird caught in March (first pic)had a suspended or partial moult showing at least 5 Old PCs with the Juvenile white tips still present. Basically the March bird was born last year and the autumn bird was born this year.



© Juhani Kyyrö


Retrapped Hypocolius

Permalink 09:47:43 am, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

This season first trapped bird 15th November turned out to our surprise to be a retrap, a male bird the fifth trapped last year on the 17th November. It was an adult last year and has returned to the same roost site 12 months later -

Female and Male Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius amphelinus

© Adrian Drummond-Hill Email


Bee-eaters - large sample ringed

Permalink 07:10:27, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

Saturday 4th November - my birthday for those that are interested in sending me a present - I need a new camera, computer, or scope for those with an open buget.

The entire day was spent ringing from 5-30 am to 5-00 pm at Badaan Farm - Weather wise it was far too hot and sticky to make the time pass with ease but we were rewarded with moving our tally of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters to 24. In handling that number, it was possible to note with some degree of certainty a pattern in the moult strategy for the species, both adult and juvenile. A full paper will be prepared based on these observations.

‘Adult Blue-cheeked Bee-eater showing typical suspended moult'

‘Typical Juvenile Blue-cheeked Bee-eater with no primary or secondary moult'
juvenile wing

This session also gave us our second Wryneck - always good for a laugh when you have them in the hand. You never know what the head is going to do, it seems to be attached with elastic. The colouration of this species is remenisant of the Egyption Nightjar.
my favourite

From a previous afternoon session we bagged (not for the pot) in the dark a single quail from a small flock of four or five

Not so many Chiffchaff or Willow Warblers around these days the main passage having passed



Collared Pratincole

Permalink 07:28:58, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  
On the 16th October 2006 at Badaan Farm a Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola was amongsts the evening catches along with a Pied Wheatear and over sixty swallows. Photographs on this occassion by Eric Clarke Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Dublin 2

Collared Pratincole
Collared Pratincole
Collared Pratincole



Permalink 07:46:43, Categories: Ringing on Hawar Islands  
By Howard King
Sooty Falcon

In February 2006 I attended the CONSERVATION WORKSHOP OF THE FAUNA OF ARABIA held at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Desert Park Sharjah UAE. The Final report on the activities of the "Small Bird of Prey and Owl Group" (FULL REPORT) states the following


"Perhaps the most important result of the discussion was the realisation that there appears to be a fundamental error in the published information on the known world population of the Sooty Falcon. This species is credited with a world population according to IUCN (BirdLife International 2004. Falco concolor. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 ICUN Red List of Threatened Species; ( of 100,000 individuals and similarly in, el Hoyo (1994) Handbook of the Birds of the World, as 40,000 pairs. However careful research of all Arabian census data, which is surprisingly complete for this species, has revealed that the total Arabian population is probably just less than 500 breeding pairs. Given that the Arabian population is generally regarded as the largest within its range (perhaps half of the world population) the generally quoted global population may actually be exaggerated by a factor of forty! This issue requires urgent investigation. It is thought that the published total may have been extrapolations of partial counts in the species winter range.....

Recommendation and actions were collected against the following two general topics ..

  • Sooty Falcon population:
    The discrepancy identified between the accepted view of world population and the likely world population suggested from research in Arabia needs to be publicised and brought to the attention of appropriate conservation bodies. The group recommends that urgent efforts are made to identify how the world population of 100,000 birds has been calculated and to alert the IUCN of the discrepancy. This species may actually be endangered rather than ‘least concern’ as currently classified. (Action: Determine origin of published world population of 100,000 birds and report views of group to IUCN/BirdLife as necessary)
  • Sooty Falcon winter range:
    With only limited investment a great deal could be learnt on the non-breeding range of the Sooty Falcon by fitting some with satellite tracking devices. A few fitted at colonies in Bahrain, Oman, northern Red Sea and Yemen would provide extremely valuable information. This study could be extended to other species and include traditional ringing techniques as appropriate. (Action: It is suggested that Howard King could look into how this could be done for the Bahrain colony and of satellite tracking technology.)

Even though in 1998 during my initial survey of the Hawar Islands I reported that Sooty Falcons were the most endangered of Hawar’s breeding species I have not since done, other than annual counts of Hawar’s small population, any serious studies on the species. Without support and previous experience of birds of prey, I felt it was always something beyond my means. That situation has now changed in that Dr. Brendan Kavanagh is now with us here in Bahrain. A Species Biologist and professional Ornithologist, Brendan brings a wealth of experience and provides the technical knowledge that has always been lacking to initiate serious studies on the species.

Following on from the Sharjah Workshop, we have therefore started to seek funds and information for a program of satellite tagging of some of the birds, but in the interim have as of this last weekend initiated a ringing (banding) program for the species. A small step given the small number of chicks involved but at least it's a start.

Each step of our way has as usual been documented photographically by Juhani Kyyrö - However on this occasion we shall not be including on these pages the best of his photos, we are keeping them as a tool for advertising and illustrating the funding aspects of the project and the scientific papers that will follow. We cannot afford to reduce in anyway the WOW factor of those special images.

To find out how we got on click on the NEXT PAGE link below



Three stooges visit Hawar


Visits to Hawar are seldom without incident; on this occasion, it was the weather. The first shammal of the season had decided as if knowingly that, we had only been planning the trip for weeks so it was therefore the right time to strike. (Winter Shammals blow from the northwest often for up to five days with winds of up to 30 knots occasionally more.) The first inkling I had that a shammal was forecast was late on Wednesday when my boat owning friend phoned to say because of the pending storm he would be unable to sail. A quick call to the hotel on Hawar got us a place on the Thursday afternoon ferry sailing, this covered getting to the islands, another call to the coastguard gave us once there, boat access to the outer Islands. Our accommodation courtesy of The Southern Tourism Company in fully furnished self-catering comfortable chalets, awaited us anyhow and we had already decided evening meals would be taken at the Hotel. Not the finest dinning to be had in Bahrain but it would suffice for the long weekend visit planned. So our trip was still on.

The ferry ride down on the Thursday afternoon was a bit bumpy in the strengthening wind but being the day before the weekend we had the boat largely to ourselves. The Hotel come the Friday was fully booked, which meant that so would have been the ferryboats, that is, if they had sailed. For come the Friday morning the storm had built up overnight, the wind was well over the safe limit for the small hotel boats, and the entire weekend bookings had had to be cancelled. Other than a few guests already at the Hotel, we were alone which was fine by us as this meant we could mornings or evening do some mist netting without much interference from other visitors to the Hotel in the Hotel trees - the area is definitely not a garden more an enclosure. It is a fenced area to which Hotel and Chalet guests are restricted to.

The Thursday evening and Friday morning were spent successfully ringing in the trees. At noon on the Friday, we moved to the coastguard jetty and joined the local (all weather) coastguard patrol boat for a whistle stop tour of the islands for the benefit of Brendan and Juhani.

Which way to the golf course

The captain of the boat was himself new to the Islands so was only too happy to be shown around the narrow and often shallow navigable channels through the islands. Without the assistance of the Coastguard our trip would have been given the weather impossible, our thanks to boat captain Sargent Mohammed and to Major Ayuz for making it happen at such short notice.

Socotra Cormorant and colony

On reaching Suwad Al Janubiyah the three of us went ashore south of the Socotra cormorant colony, this was not just to let Brendan and Juhani see this amazing site for themselves but was primarily to check the breeding status of the colony which is about to start its season.

Socotra Cormorant in flight

The following day, Saturday the coastguard dropped us of at 7-00 am on the Island of Hazwarah and we spent the next five hours documenting the 7 pairs of Falcon that are breeding there this season.


In past years numbers have been much higher, but for some reason 3 or 4 nest sites that have always been used over the previous seasons were this year not occupied although there was some evidence of usage. Why this is the case, this year one can only speculate. Also unfortunately for us the breeding season for several of the nests occupied was well advanced, so much so that the chicks had already fledged and were only seen and identified scattered at various locations around the Island.

Sooty Falcon chick being ringed

We did however find and ring chicks in other nests, a quick in, ring the birds and out again routine, was adopted on Brendan’s instructions minimising any disturbance. On the Island although it has a flat top, the numerous deep wadis and cliff faces means that one can quickly move away completely out of view of the birds, both the parents and the chicks.

At noon the coastguard returned to pick us up from the Island, we had a 3.30 pm ferry sailing to catch, but en route back to the jetty we stopped of at the islands of Jazur Al Hajiyat to document the two pairs with fully fledged chicks breeding there. Given that sea stacks of Wakur probably have at least one, possibly two pairs, the population this season for Hawar is a lowly maximum of 11 pairs.

Sooty Falcon

On our return to the Hotel we found out that a boat had managed to deliver a few new guest to the Hotel and collect those stranded at 8.30 pm that morning but since the wind had again risen the next chance for our exit was the afternoon of the following day, Sunday. This was Ok by me, but it meant that both Brendan and Juhani would have to phone and inform others they were stranded on Hawar.

On our return to the chalets we tried unsuccessfully that evening to catch some waders near the hotel – not exactly a prime site but we had to wait till 7-30 pm anyhow for dinner to be served. So we just enjoyed the peace and quite the islands has to offer until that is the Hotel turned on its music system and spoilt the magic.

The following morning we spent a very productive few hours after dawn catching warblers again amongst the few trees that pass for landscaping around the Hotel. I had arranged a trip around the main Island for that morning but thanks to the efficiency of the hotel management, this had to be curtailed. The 3.30 pm daily ferry sailing was rescheduled to leave at noon just in case the wind got up again or the Captain who was fasting for Ramadan fell asleep and failed to turn up later.



Permalink 03:15:31 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  
I have had to turn OFF the comments facility for individual posts
as I keep recieving hundreds of inappropiate messages from spammers.
To leave a comment please contact me directly at or Brendan at address below
Project leader, trainer and kit man, general dogs body and bug lure Brendan Kavanagh
Besides recording all the biometrics for each bird ringed each has been photographed extensively using digital cameras.
More images from the project are available by clicking HERE
An updated list (10.09.06) of species ringed is now available by clicking HERE

Egyptian Nightjar

Permalink 14:27:15, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  
Egyptian Nightjar

Last evenings ringing session at Badaan Farm was one we initially endured rather than enjoyed - It was an extremely hot and humid, balmy evening with high irritant bug levels, well outside the comfort zone. Large numbers of Red-throated Pipits, Blue-cheeked and European Bee-eaters and various Shrikes sat mockingly on the Electrical wires close by watching our sweaty efforts as we set out four nets in sets of two across the partially harvested fields of tall sorghum grass. One set was placed under some power cables at the side of a track crossing the fields, close against the tall grass but directly under a power line than runs to a near by water pump. The other set close to the end of a harvested section.

Weather apart the catch was fairly light, we re-trapped the Savi’s Warbler (see below) from a previous session and added Great Reed Warbler (see below), Reed Warbler, several White-throats and Isabelline Shrikes to our list before turning our attention to the tape lure as the sun set and the few Swallows and Sand Martins hawking around. The tape attracted a small number of Martins and concentrated a flock of around twenty Swallows, which on this occasion only resulted in four Swallows being trapped. With no real twilight to mention here in the tropics, it was not long before we had taken out the last of the swallows from the net set with the tape lure and, so as usual made a return to our vehicles via the other nets. A last look around that we normally used to collapse the nets or raise them if we were staying late for Nightjars. In the nets under the power lines to our complete surprise was our prime candidate for ringing an Egyptian Nightjar Caprimulgus aegyptius, what’s more in the bottom shelf. The bird had obvious dipped down to avoid the overhead power lines got into the space between the grass and the net and with no where to go the rest is now history.

Egyptian Nightjar

Soon forgotten were the bug bites and the sweat dripping from the end of our noses as we enjoyed our moment of success, ringed and documented the bird.

Egyptian Nightjar


Egyptian Nightjar


Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar

Photographs by
Juhani Kyyrö
Electronic triple flash array used,


Great Reed Warbler

Permalink 10:18:41, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  
Great Reed Warbler

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus One of several ringed this last week also at Baadan Farm
We have been able to get out every few days in the afternoons these last few weeks with around 15 birds ringed on each occasion. The number of species also continues to steadily grow having now passed the 50 mark. The weather has not always been kind when its not too hot and humid it's windy and when the wind drops the humidity increases to point that one is soaked to the skin in your own sweat. One gets used to this, however the biting insects are an absolute pain, literally



Savi's Warbler Locustella luscinoides

Permalink 03:33:53, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

The first Savi's Warler Locustella luscinoides recorded in Bahrain since 19th November 1992 (Eric Hirschfeld) was mist netted and ringed at Baadan Farm shortly after sunset on 25th September. Bendan Kavangh and Howard King, a personal first for both of us. The feint hint of white tips to the under tail covets would suggest Ssp fusca - Siberia, Central Asia, Mongolia (Svensson L. Identification Guide to European Passerines). Once Brendan has considered the measurements taken and reviewed both the pictures and literature, this information will be updated.
The evenings ringing at Baadan produced our second Great Reed Warbler, a Weaver (origins unknown) and more Yellow Wagtails, Swallows, Sandmartins and the inevitable Crested Larks.

Photos by Juhani Kyyrö, (Flash used)



Bahrain Ringing Returns

Permalink 18:42:10, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

An updated list of species ringed is now available by clicking here

Since our return from our summer breaks we have had the nets out again this time at Badaan Farm - We have added a few new species Yellow Wagtail and House Martin, but our primary goal Egyptian Nightjar remains elusive - easy to see but nigh on impossible to catch with a mist nest
Egyptian Nightjar
So we are now considering alternative capture techniques, this Juvenile Isabelline Shrike was ringed during our last outing on the 18th September.

Juv Isabelline Shrike

Photos by Juhani Kyyrö



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.



First Summer Terns Ringed

Permalink 08:57:03, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

Major Abdulla had telephoned me in the week to report that he had observed a small colony of White-cheeked Terns on the reclaimed area in front of the Alba aluminium smelter. Brendan, Abdulla and myself checked this out Wednesday (21st) afternoon. Given that the area is still very active, the least likely place one would look for breeding terns and also full of wild dogs we were pleasantly surprised to find close to a hundred pairs breeding in this area. Many active nests were located with either one or two eggs, and in one nest a newly hatched chick. Around the area many used or abandoned nests were also found and with over fifty screaming and dive-bombing terns above our heads it was obvious that the area contained many hidden chicks. Initially we searched the scattered vegetation without success but along the garbage-strewn coastline we were able to find and consequently ring 13 White-cheeked tern Chicks. The chicks proved difficult to find sitting still often on the actual waters edge, incredibly well camouflaged amongst the flotsam and jetsam.

A Little/Saunders’ Tern was seen in the area being hounded by the White-cheeked when it headed of inshore a short distant we followed in a forlorn hope to locate its nest, it disappeared into the industrial area of a sand washing plant. The gods were smiling on us however as our short journey led us straight to the nests of two pairs of breeding Western Reef Heron. Three well-developed nearly fully-fledged chicks scampered out from the thicket and were easily taken in hand and ringed.
heron chick
In the other nest in complete contrast, were two what appeared to be freshly hatched chicks. This nest will be monitored and the chicks ringed when large enough to handle.

newly hatched reef heron chicks
A satisfying afternoon recce.


Last of the Spring Migrants

Permalink 17:32:41, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

May Friday 19 at Dumistan Ponds, quiet but still managed to bag and ring 2 Reed Warbler, 1 Clamorous Reed Warbler along with several Willow warblers - the morning was keep short as the wind and dust picked up by 9.30 - overhead swallows were still seen to be passing along with the odd Bee-eater and House Martin. Brendan had had a Roller at the Golf club in the week and I still have a Redstart in my Garden - Saturday 20th we moved onto the old quarry site behind Riffa Airbase now a natural sewage pond and renamed to the Diplomatic Wadi - even quieter than the previous day and far too windy from the start, but persisted having gone out at 4.30 and were delighted to bag our first Marsh Warbler of the year and another Spotted fly-catcher along with some more Willow Warblers. The Reed and Marsh Warbler are problematic even in the hand, the only positively way to seperate them is through the wing measurements. To view other photos of these Warblers click Here
We no longer count the dozens of House Sparrows that fill the net constantly and continue to thrive here
Picture - Clamorous Reed Warbler

Clamorous Reed Warbler



Permalink 15:17:45, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

A cool start, heavily overcast with squally showers, but turned out sunny with temps over 30c. Off to the UK toight have my winter wollies ready. A good morning banding at Dumistan Ponds. Willow Warblers dominated the bag today but Grasshopper and Sedge Warbler along with a male Blackcap added to the list of species ringed thus far (now well over 30)- other species ringed were Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and White-cheeked Bulbul.


Permalink 07:02:59 am, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

Despite getting soaked to the skin in a thunderstorm - this evening proved very rewarding in that not only did Brendan and I ring two more Hypocolius we caught the White-throated Robin first seen the previous evening. This latter species is on migration very territorial and once found proved very easy to catch. see picture below other birds caught were Willow Warbler, Crested Lark, White-cheeked Bulbul.

White-throated Robin

A wry Bird

Permalink 06:45:22 am, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

a wry bird
24th March Dumistan Ponds - the above Wryneck, which seems more likely to be found in the pages of a Conan Doyle novel than a field guide has to have the stangest behaviour of any bird seen, once in the hand

Other birds caught that day include Common Snipe, WoodChat Shrike, Common Whitethroat, White-cheeked Bulbul


Web Cam

Permalink 08:16:55 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

By the early summer I hope to have our first web cam up and running - it will be on Hawar and will feature a species not previously seen.



Permalink 08:40:18, Categories: Project Introduction  

To view an intoduction to the Bahrain Ringing Project click HERE



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