Archives for: November 2009

2009-11-28

Hawar - a visit to the Socotra Cormorant colony

Permalink 10:52:16, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Only a quick afternoon and a full morning visit to the Cormorants was possible - time and money being the deciding factor. The new management at the Hawar Hotel (Golden Tulip) have decided to go up market and have moved into the realms of fairy land in working out their prices. Seems they want those that visit to cover the running costs for down time at the hotel - these are the long periods with no visitors - which will be if they haven't worked it out yet, outside the summer and public holidays most days of every week. Besides this dinner is not included in the room price so at 11BD for a limited buffet 1.200 for a 100 fil can of coke and a Gin and tonic requiring a bank loan I for one will not be spending much time there unless someone else is paying the bill. The current standard of service which needs some heavy ironing out does not warrant such tariffs. I shall be investing in a tent....

Anyhow back to the birds and the reason for the visit - to film and document for a new interactive display the cormorants breeding on Suwad Al Janubiyah


Socotra Cormorant
Socotra Cormorant

The Socotra Cormorant Colony on Hawar is thought to be the largest in the world for this species. In Bahrain the Socotra Cormorant is fully protected unlike other Gulf States were it is persecuted and although occasionally eggs thieves do raid the colony the number of breeding birds remains fairly constant at around 25000 to 30000 pairs. It is impossible after the majority of chicks have become mobile to calculate numbers. At this stage of the colonies annual development, most of the adults are out fishing during the day leaving the chicks to form a dense massed creche defined on the periphery by small clusters of later laying birds sitting on nests.

a look at just a few small corners of the colony
Colony

Colony

one of the numerous small groups of currently nesting birds
On the nest

on the nest

The nature of the colony is constantly changing as adults return to feed their chicks - how they find them I have no idea, chicks move constantly. Noise levels increase dramatically however as wave after wave of returning adults fly in. There is no pattern to these return timings they are totally dependent on how far and how successful a hunt for food has been. Once fed most adults disappear for a second forage so there is however a distinct morning peak and a late afternoon for these returns.

The return
Return fishing parties

return

return

return

Waiting patiently for food chicks stand or lay around around waiting often for many hours at a time.

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Landings can be a close run things any space will do
Socotra Cormorant Chick

Take offs are usually better planed from an open space
Socotra Cormorant Chick

Once found the chicks pursue the parent on a chase often away from hordes before being given food.

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Note the chick being fed in the background
Socotra Cormorant Chick

often a chick will beg from any adult
Socotra Cormorant Chick

However for chicks still too small to be left they have to wait for a change over of parents.

Socotra Cormorant Chick

Socotra Cormorant Chick

For the cormorants the only threat come from the large flock of Gulls that congregate to eat anything they can get their beaks on - whatever the activity gulls are not far away

predators

adjacent to Suwad this area provides a convenient bathing area for departing birds - they always bathe every time they leave land and always before flying off to fish.

bathing area

watching but not phased at all by the action flamingos wade the shallows close by

flamingo

HD AND PETER the men on the film camera
HD AND PETER the men on camera

During my next visit to the cormorants I will also count the breeding Osprey
two on a nest
Osprey

a pair yet to lay

Osprey

Permalink

2009-11-26

On Hawar with the cormorants

Permalink 07:16:19 am, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Socotra Cormorants

More pictures on my return

Permalink

2009-11-13

a pleasant day with an old friend

Permalink 06:06:49 pm, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Iwan Roberts came over from Saudi complete with cello in hand (why you can ask him) so with a low tide at the moment we started at Adhari and moved on to the Chicken farm -
From Adhari - this Bluethroat was perched on a fence post no sooner than I had him in the viewfinder he did this - but luckily he popped back up when I was ready.
Bluethroat

Bluethroat

Graceful Prinia always around but never still so I tried my luck with a few shots as this fellow moved through the vegatation
Graceful Prinia

Graceful Prinia

the aptly named Common Mynah
Mynah

From Dumistan and the chick farm
Snipe and Temmick's Stint
Snipe and Temmick's Stint

3 of the 4 Glossy Ibis in take off mode
Glossy IbisGlossy Ibis

Water Pipit winter numbers are building
Water Pipit

a young White Wagtail
White Wagtail

A distant hiding Lapwing
Lapwing

One day I will find one not directly in front of the sun - a Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail

Our resident Isabelline Shrikes
Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

and a flash of colour to complete the days take Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus
Plain Tiger

Permalink

2009-11-07

Permalink 17:37:34, Categories: Observation by Howard, Admin - Howard King  

We have a visiting group from Birdquest lead by Mike Watson with us this weekend and as expected Hypocolius was the main target species but with no sightings these year at all where to send them. As good luck favours the brave it was suggested they check out the last know location from last year in Barber but in the morning at first light - well fortune smiled and a healthy number of birds were found.
location 26°13'46.85"N 50°28'14.89"E
Hypocolius
Hypocolius

more details will follow as we intend to return this afternoon to see if the birds are using the area as a roost Well we returned this afternoon and I spent from 3-15 to 5-00 when it get dark watching the area no birds. So it would appear that this is no more than a feeding station but given the early hour the birds where seen it can not be that far from a roost.

When driving back along a busy Budaiya Highway close to Magaba fire station I was surprised to see a lone Hypocolius fly out of a palm in the middle of the road. Given that it was almost dark a roost must also still exist in this area as well - the search will continue!!!!

Permalink

2009-11-06

Looking for Kingfishers

Permalink 18:31:21, Categories: Observation by Howard  

Started the morning at Adhari and its ditches - the Squacco Herons were about bright and early, looking quite elegant in the morning light
A rather punk looking poser
Squacco Heron

A juvenile Night Heron -
Night Heron

the heron was not the only bird in the tree just below it I spied a Grey Francolin - an odd place to find one
Francolin

Normally shy found this Moorhen wandering around in the open I was quicker than him and got my first good closeup image
Moorhen

normally the haunt of egrets today was the turn of the Western Reef Heron to patrol the ditches
Western Reef Heron

Having seen a Kingfisher here at Adhari last weekend I found three this time but with all the trees removed from the ditches there is little cover and they could see me coming from miles away - all I could get was one rather quickly taken snapshot from a distance of two on the ground in the early morning light
Kingfisher

After Adhari I decided to join Adrian at the Chicken farm but not a lot around

Stonechat
Stonechat

Water Pipit
Water Pipit

White Wagtail
White Wagtail

two of our regular Isabelline Shrikes
Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Permalink

2009-11-02

A great birding weekend

Permalink 22:20:19, Categories: Observation by Howard  

I decided to spend Saturday morning looking for the Sociable Plover but alas failed to find it although Abdullah did see one at A'Ali farm so maybe this was where it had moved to. But I was not totally disappointed as I saw a lot of birds and I have seen these Plovers before.

Swallow - was rather pleased with these shots
Swallow

Swallow

Marsh Harrier - the same one and not always easy to find
Marsh Harrier

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - so many this year as well they just keep coming
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

Bluethroat my first of the season
Bluethroat

Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit

Pin-tailed whydah
Pin-tailed Whydah

After the farms I tried moving to Hidd and Busaiteen for the incoming tide - but the light fails quickly now with it dark by 5pm so had to leave before high water.

Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern

Terek sandpiper
Terek sandpiper

Water Pipit an unusual visitor on the mud
Water Pipit

Caspian Terns
Caspian Tern

Curlew Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper

Lesser Sand Plover
Lesser Sand Plover

Marsh Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper

Western Reef Heron
Western Reef Heron

Permalink

2009-11-01

Cattle Egrets gallore and a sociable plover

Permalink 10:55:47 pm, Categories: Reported Observations, Admin - Howard King  

I counted over 200 cattle egrets at Ali Farm this weekend. It is the largest number I have seen at one time in Bahrain and seems to be an influx for the winter.


This one was having his feathers ruffled!

cattle

cattle3

cattle2

The sociable plover was a first for me in Bahrain. Thanks Adrian!

sociable

Permalink

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