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
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
one of the numerous small groups of currently nesting birds
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.
Waiting patiently for food chicks stand or lay around around waiting often for many hours at a time.
Landings can be a close run things any space will do
Take offs are usually better planed from an open space
Once found the chicks pursue the parent on a chase often away from hordes before being given food.
Note the chick being fed in the background
often a chick will beg from any adult
However for chicks still too small to be left they have to wait for a change over of parents.
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
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.
watching but not phased at all by the action flamingos wade the shallows close by
HD AND PETER the men on the film camera
During my next visit to the cormorants I will also count the breeding Osprey
two on a nest
a pair yet to lay
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.
Graceful Prinia always around but never still so I tried my luck with a few shots as this fellow moved through the vegatation
the aptly named Common Mynah
From Dumistan and the chick farm
Snipe and Temmick's Stint
3 of the 4 Glossy Ibis in take off mode
Water Pipit winter numbers are building
a young White Wagtail
A distant hiding Lapwing
One day I will find one not directly in front of the sun - a Citrine Wagtail
Our resident Isabelline Shrikes
and a flash of colour to complete the days take Plain Tiger Danaus chrysippus
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
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!!!!
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
A juvenile 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
Normally shy found this Moorhen wandering around in the open I was quicker than him and got my first good closeup image
normally the haunt of egrets today was the turn of the Western Reef Heron to patrol the ditches
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
After Adhari I decided to join Adrian at the Chicken farm but not a lot around
two of our regular Isabelline Shrikes
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
Marsh Harrier - the same one and not always easy to find
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - so many this year as well they just keep coming
Bluethroat my first of the season
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
Water Pipit an unusual visitor on the mud
Lesser Sand Plover
Western Reef Heron
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.
The sociable plover was a first for me in Bahrain. Thanks Adrian!
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