Archives for: 2009

2009-12-01

Exotic species

Permalink 08:34:24 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

BK-Exotic species are very common in Bahrain. Today Abdulla and I caught two red-billed quelea and a few Indian silverbills. Over the past few days we also saw two Plum-headed Parakeets feeding on millet at the chicken farm and the Widahs are still surviving after two months. Whether these birds are released purposely or escape from captivity seems irrelevent.
Scaly-breasted munias, red and orange bishops, Madagascar Fodys, ring-necked Parakeets, Alexandrian Parakeets, Red-vented Bulbuls and Red-billed Quelea all breed or have bred in the wild here in recent years. Plum-headed Parakeets could be next!
This quelea is a juvenile male and was half way through his primary feather moult.


redbill

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2009-11-29

Another new species for the project

Permalink 02:52:48 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

Ringing is slow at the moment with numbers down on previous years. However we did manage to catch our first Corn Bunting for the project, a female judging from the measurements (winglength 95, weight 39.6). It is a first for me and a special bird. They became extinct in Ireland in the mid-nineties unfortunately in the absence of any conservation strategy. Perhaps one day we might develop a reintroduction project.


corn
Please excuse the focus. I only had my 150-500 lens with me and used the flash on 160th of a second and manual focus in the dark.

bluth
We are catching bluethroats lately in the evenings when we put up nets for water pipits. This adult male was very nicely marked.

bluth2

This Barn owl seems to like the net poles. He let me approach to within a few meters recently. We still haven't managed to catch him despite several attempts to lure him/her with a mouse.
barn

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2009-11-13

Bad luck Friday

Permalink 12:13:59 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

We had a serious setback this morning with the loss of two 60ft nets at Ali Farm. Myself and Abdulla went there yesterday afternoon and erected four nets, two over the grassland to catch water pipits and two in the fruit trees in a regular ride. We left the site at 6.15pm after lamping larks for 30 minutes. I arrived this morning at 6.30am and discovered the theft.It is painfully obvious that leaving nets up even overnight is not an option. We have lost three nets there now which is a serious financial blow in addition to leaving us low in 60ft nets.
On a brighter note, the Marsh Harrier there has become quite tame, allowing me to approach him while feeding. I watched him gorging himself on a small passerine and then he picked this insect up for desert.


Harry

Water pipits and white wagtails are plentyful now also.

Willy

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2009-10-27

Swallow ringing

Permalink 10:50:28 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

At this time of the year we have to target species as they are passing through. On calm evenings we set up a net and tapelure swallows as they gather over the hay meadow at the chicken farm. These birds seem oblivious to Abdulla as he extracts the early birds from the net. We still haven't caught any adults this autumn. We keep expecting them as they usually show up towards the end of the migration. Perhaps they had a late nesting attempt this year?


swalllows

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2009-10-19

Big Wheatear migration

Permalink 10:32:02 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

Ringing of wheatears has hit an all time high with seven species including Mourning, Northern, Isabelline, Desert, Pied, Black-eared and Red-tailed Wheatears, all caught in the past 2 weeks. We have only ringed two mourning wheatears in the past, both of these in January. A blue rockthrush was also trapped this week, which is unusual for this time of year. Abdulla, who has vast experience of wheatears, has never seen such a large and diverse migration in October before. However migration patterns are dynamic and weather conditions have a dramatic effect on a daily basis.
Most of the birds have been trapped on the new lands at Busateen and Northern Newtown, two large areas on the northern shore of the Kingdom which are almost devoid of vegetation.

Mourning

Mourning Wheatear

Rock thrush

Blue Rockthrush

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2009-10-03

A slow week but interesting birds

Permalink 08:59:10 pm, Categories: additional photos  

The ringing is slow with less than ten birds most days. However Abdulla had a new species, wryneck, and I had a new species for the project, Turtle Dove. Swallows and martins are coming through but most evenings it has been too windy for nets.

Wryneck

turtledove

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2009-09-28

Wheatears coming through

Permalink 09:51:03 pm, Categories: additional photos  

Ringing has been continuing at A'Ali farm with blackcap, whitethroat and a gansie load of bulbuls. We are up to over 100 birds for September so far. The traps are now starting to work well with Abdulla catching 14 wheatears in the past 2 days.
Below is a selection of shots in the hand. A pied and a blackeared wheatear for comparison. Note the tail and black bib differences.


Pied

Pied tail

Black-eared wheatear

Black-eared tail

Two wheatears

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2009-09-13

New ringing site

Permalink 09:50:19 pm, Categories: additional photos  

Over the summer we applied to the Minister for Agriculture for access to the experimental farm west of Isa town. Thanks to some serious follow up by Abdulla we managed to get limited access for Abdulla and I and our cars. The site looks very promising with groves of fruit trees and palm trees interspersed with irrigated grassland and scrub. The security is tight which means it is relatively safe to leave nets furrelled up but in place in some areas.
This weekend we managed to catch 27 birds including 1 barred warbler, 1 whitethroat, 1 isabelline shrike, 2 great reed warblers, 3 rufous bushchats, 3 red-vented bulbuls and 14 white-cheeked bulbuls. One each of collared and palm doves. I'll give more details in another posting.


redvent

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2009-09-09

Tern ring - a sort of recovery

Permalink 22:02:30, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

While out around Busaiteen I came across a reasonable sized flock of Lesser Crested Terns - although close approach was not possible (soft sand) I did manage a few distant shots. When I viewed them on my computer I was surprised to find one a 1cy bird had a ring - It must be one of Brendan's from the Jarim Colony ringed earlier in the year.

LCT -the flock

enlarged section
LCT -this one

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2009-07-22

An evening at Ras Al-Mamtalah

Yesterday afternoon Abdulla and I went to Ras Al-Mamtalah to check for White-cheeked tern chicks. He had observed nesting there last month. There was good and bad news. The high tide now covers all but the tips of the sandbar and eggs were scattered far and wide having been washed away by the tide. The colony is broken into three sections, two of which were devoid of chicks. However the middle section which is ever so slightly higher than the rest, had good numbers. We managed to ring 62 chicks. It has been almost 30 years since Trevor Hallam ringed terns here ably assisted by Tom Nightingale. We poised to enjoy the sense of occasion as we watched the sunset.
The birds in the two sections which had no chicks had relaid. We counted 120 nests in the most northern section and a further 43 nests in the southern section. It was a little difficult to establish whether or not some nests were still viable as so many eggs were scattered about. The total conservative count was 163 occupied nests and 62 chicks ringed giving an estimated 225 - 250 pairs. This is confirmed by the rough count of adults roosting as we left.

White-cheeked tern chick


WCTern

Abdulla hard at work surrounded by terns

Abdulla

Sunset at Mamtalah

sunset

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2009-07-20

Jarrim Trip 2 2009

Permalink 04:24:00 pm, Categories: additional photos, Breeding Atlas  

On Saturday last we took our second trip to Al Jarrim islands to ring bridled terns. The team comprised Ali, the Boat man, his friend Bassam, Douglas McGarvey, a new ringing recruit and myself. It was the first outing for Douglas who responded very well to some on the hoof training. Himself and Ali plucked 76 chicks from the thorns. Ali did the plucking and Doug did the ringing!
Bassam took over as photographer and parttime plucker with me. We managed to ring 67 birds. The photographs below were taken by Bassam.

Doug getting a crash course in fitting C2 rings


Ring

The numbers of chicks are up this year compared to last year confirming the estimate of breeding pairs on the 1st visit in June this year.
Bridled tern chick
Bridled tern chick

Ali and Doug busy at work

Ali and Doug team

Ali and doug
Ali has been with us for three years now and is a key part of the operation. No bush is too big or too thorny for him!

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2009-06-21

Jarim

Permalink 17:00:26, Categories: additional photos  

Friday saw our first trip to Jarim this year - bird numbers have increased yet again; the Lesser Crested Terns now number on the first island I estimate over ten thousand Birds with the Bridled close to a thousand and White-cheeked over all the islands in general a similar number. Brendan ringed 450 Lesser Crested Tern chicks ably assisted by Abdulqader Kamis with my crew - all the odd bods like AJ Kev Nabeel and Mohammed (our coastguard crew) and myself scrambling through the dirt and dust sweating our socks off catching the little blighters - made worse by yet another dust storm that had descended again on Bahrain. Further posts including a breakdown of our efforts will follow.

Two pics to start with from AJ
Coast guard boat - one of two provided for the trip - had we been restricted to our small usual hire craft I doubt we would have made it.

Coast guard boat

Brendan hard at work
Dr. Brendan Kavanagh

Lesser-crested Terns
Lesser-crested Terns

Bridled Terns -
Bridled Terns

Bridled Terns

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2009-06-06

Breeding Terns

With the passerine migration over we are now turning our attention to tern ringing. This morning I spent a couple of hours at Askar on the east coast, which has had a colony of mixed White-cheeked and Saunders's little terns for years. Unfortunately, disturbance over the past few years has taken its toll. I only managed to find 4 White-cheeked nests and 3 Saunders's nests in the area that had dozens of nests two years ago.

Saunders chicks

These Saunders's chicks were really feeling the heat as it rose to 42 degrees. What little shade they could get from this rock was a god send.

Saunders's parent

The parents fly out to sea and dip their bellies in the water returning to the nest eggs and chicks to cool them with the damp feathers.

White-cheeked tern on nest

The White-cheeked terns start to breed a little later than the little terns. This bird is on eggs.

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2009-05-31

Survey of Ras Mattala, SE Coast

On Saturday, Major Abdulla and I took a two hour hike down to the sandbar known as Ras Mattala (Ras Al Mamtalah). This site is now off limits to the general public and access requires a special permit. It is many years since the site was surveyed, previous information dating back to the late seventies when Trevor Hallam ringed hundreds of White-cheeked terns there over several years.
We recorded 200+ Socotra Cormorants (approximately 50% juveniles), 19 Kentish plover (no chicks seen), 2 Slender-billed gulls, a single Osprey and only 26 White-cheeked terns (no nests).
It would appear that this population of terns has all but disappeared. Most of the sandbar is at the hightide line and little or no vegetation was found. It may now become completely innundated during the lunar hightide, though we have no precise evidence to support this.
I was given access to Trevor Hallam's ringing data by the BTO and we cannot see how these numbers can be achieved nowadays based on our recent survey. The decline in the population is unlikely to be due to disturbance as the area is still off limits to the public. We can only conclude that natural phenomena are responsible for the changes. A second visit is planned in late June.

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2009-05-29

Breeding Terns

On Sunday evening as the temperature was dropping, Abdulla and I gained acces to the 'Northern New Town', a vast area of reclaimed land on the northwest side of Bahrain. Building hasn't started yet so the area is virtually undisturbed. Breeding Terns, including Saunder's little tern and White-cheeked terns are nesting there and Kentish plover chicks are also on the ground.
We ringed 10 Kentish Plover and 5 Saunders's little tern chicks and recorded nesting White-cheeked terns with eggs and empty nests freshly started. We managed to cover the western and northern shores before the sun set and hope to complete the ringing and survey work along the remainder this weekend.



Saunders's little tern chick


Saunder's little tern nest
Saunders's little tern nest


White-cheeked tern nest
White-cheeked tern nest, fresh with only one egg laid

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2009-05-06

Hugh spring fall through Labour day weekend

Permalink 20:22:47, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

Interesting birds caught this last weekend south of Al Jazair Beach on the western shore. Brendan is away this week but will edit in his comments later.


(ALSO READ THIS http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=1629
and this http://www.bto.org/ringing/centenary/index.htm )

Rufous Bushchat
Rufous Bushchat

Rufous Bushchat

Rufous Bushchat

Whitethroat
Whitethroat

Whitethroat

Rock Thrush
Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush

Rock Thrush

Redstart Female
Redstart Female

Redstart Female

Redstart male
Redstart male

Redstart male

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

Willow Warbler
Three birds shown here each with varying degrees of yellow
One
Willow Warbler

Two
Willow Warbler

Three
Willow Warbler

Upchers Warbler
note the molt(wear) emargination on the wings and tertial distances

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Bird two
Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler

Redbacked Shrike
Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike
#
NOTE - the difference in the tail markings between these two birds
Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Redbacked Shrike

Nightingale
Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Nightingale

Blackcap female
Blackcap female

Blackcap female

Barred Warbler
Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

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2009-03-31

Black-eared Wheatear to end the month

Permalink 19:46:33, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

The month finished with a couple of nice catches. Below is only the second ringed Black Eared Wheatear and a new species for Abdulla. He has now ringed over 550 birds of more than 70 species. He also ringed his first masked shrike yesterday.

We will upload the March monthly table for the last four years shortly
Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

Black-eared Wheatear

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2009-03-29

Good weekend ringing

Permalink 08:58:52 pm, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

This weekend saw lots of birds stopping off on migration. We caught 12 birds in traps on Friday, ringed juvenile Palm Dove, Crested lark and Kentish Plover, and caught 22 birds on Saturday including two 'Southern Grey Shrikes'. We are confident that we have two different races of southern shrike passing through Bahrain. The typical southern grey with pink on the flanks and a white wing bar on the upper primaries, and a steppe grey which is grey, black and white and has an extensive white inner web on the secondaries in addition to the white on the upper primary. Current wisdom suggests that these are two races of southern grey shrike and that great greys do not occur in the middle east. Pics Howard King

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis pallidirostris. We are currently collecting feathers and photographs in addition to biometric data of the birds we catch and intend using DNA barcoding of the Middle Eastern birds to try to shed more light on the Lanius complex on this side of their range.

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

Southern Grey Shrike

When I took this Chiffchaff out of the net I assumed it was our first Willow Warbler of the season. However there was no obvious emargination on the 6th primary but the 2nd Primary length of 6/7 suggests it is a chiff. The chiffchaffs we catch here have a smaller tarsus, a longer wing, a longer bill (skull) and often weigh lighter than the western European birds. We are still waiting on our first willow warbler!

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Of 16 Chiffchaff caught this one stood out. Its head was much more rounded than the other individuals and the colour was very washed out.

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

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2009-03-16

Unusual Great Grey Shrike

Permalink 14:29:41, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

While conducting a survey in the south of the island on Saturday afternoon, Abdulla trapped a Great Grey Shrike. It proved to be the largest individual trapped here so far. However further to this the wing pattern as can be seen below was totally unlike any other bird caught thus far.
The Great Grey Shrikes passing through Bahrain don't conform to any of the races listed in the Svensson ringers guide and we are a little puzzled as to the racial origins. I welcome comments please bkavanagh@rcsi-mub.com

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2009-03-14

Two sites weekend

Permalink 18:21:22, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project  

Still a bit dusty with a slight breeze after the weeks sandstorm - not as bad as in Saudi but it does get up your nose.

The Old Youth Hostel site at Al Jazair continues to deliver warblers chats and Shrikes on Friday morning while the gardens and palm groves of Buri delivered more wheatears and shrikes. The bird of the weekend had to be the Black Redstart that we enticed into a trap a first for the project.

Female Black Redstart - a project first
Black Redstart

Black Redstart

Black Redstart

Black Redstart

Isabelline Shrike
Isabelline Shrike

Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Palm Dove
Palm Dove

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2009-03-09

A day off - and the old scout camp again

Permalink 20:53:40, Categories: additional photos  

A good mix of species today including the following. Of twelve birds ringed 4 were retraps from two days earlier. The highlight was our first rufous bushchat in beautiful condition after its winter holiday in Africa.

Rufous Bushchat - the seasons first
Rufous Bushchat

Rufous Bushchat

Isabelline Shrike
Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Female Redstart
Female Redstart

Male Redstart
male Redstart

male Redstart

White-cheeked Bulbul
White-cheeked Bulbul

Permalink

New site looks promising

Permalink 00:12:50, Categories: additional photos  

Brendan has started ringing at an additional site - the old scout camp south of Al Jazair Beach on the western shore. The first large patch of green for birds moving north along the coast - it looks to have the potential of a major fall out point for warblers in particular.


Chiffchaff
Chiffchaff

Lesser Whitethroat
Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

Great Grey Shrike
Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike

Great Grey Shrike

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2009-03-01

Bad weather persists

Permalink 08:08:10, Categories: additional photos  

Its been a rough few weeks as far as the weather goes wind wind and dust storms seem the norm these days - ringing continues however often using spring traps for birds like these two Pied Wheatear. Abdulla who from a boy has been trapping them now for good reason always manages if he spots one of any species to trap it successfully. The up dated records for the project can now be found by following the links to the side

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

Pied Wheatear

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2009-02-02

Egyptian Nightjar

Permalink 07:28:28 am, Categories: Bahrain Banding Project, additional photos  

We have good observations of Egyptian Nightjars from August through to December - the catching and ringing of this individual this month extends the period of observation through the winter.
‘Abdulla is a registered trainee with the British Trust for Ornithology and has already ringed over 400 birds and over 60 species. His book would be the envy of many a trainee’

Egyptian Nightjar
Egyptian Nightjar

The bird was caught at the Hamalah Experimental Farm, an evening drive this last weekend turned up a total of three birds. Easily found as they plop down on the tracks at regular intervals in both time and distance around the farm.

waiting for traffic

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2009-01-26

Latest Statistics Added

Permalink 12:49:41 pm, Categories: additional photos  

'We were very close to reaching our target of 4000 birds to the end of 2008. We expect to reach this figure before the end of January'. December - February are the slowest month for ringing though a few unusual species can appear in the nets. This month we had an Egyptian Nightjar while trapping pipits at roost' The first record for this species in January.
For the latest ringing statistics follow the link HERE

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