December is always a busy month at work so any birding opportunities are few however I did manage a few trips out. Gratefully now back in the UK for Christmas with time to spare to put up the few pics I took. PICS in no particular order but to start what I think is my best photo of the month
Kestrel two seen one quite tame
Really was too late for these chaps as a Marsh with the Pallid Harrier depart
Paired Hoopoe - breeding season can't be far away
Just them Northern/Siberian Gulls again so many any gull freaks heaven
Curlew - eight now at Hamalah
The two Barred Warblers making use of my garden to forage in the mornings, are still present
Stonechat all getting easier to photograph
Skylark a plenty - about 1 in 20 are likely to be Oriental problem is getting one in the open to be certain
Since I had some business to attend to, down south on Thursday I was able to bird my journey back into town. This proved to be a more civilized way to beat the late afternoon traffic jams particularly those caused by the huge road improvements current along a large section of the eastern arterial route south, my way home. It was a good way to start the weekend.
Huge numbers of Gulls of all species can currently be found along the entire eastern shore from Jaw to Askar along with the usual cast of waders. There were no surprises here - being just offshore from our dump this is standard fare for this time of the year. Was surprised however to find a few Great Black-headed gulls mixed in but they were too distant to even point the camera at, an opportunity will present itself another day for those birds I am sure. The man-made marsh in front of the desalination plant at Ras Abu Jarjur is a great space for many water dependent species and so it proved for me on that visit. Not so much for species seen but for the photographic opportunities it offered but only if one is prepared to sit and wait. I had seen a couple of Kingfishers flitting around on arrival so I decided to just wait adjacent to a perch they left. 47 mins later one, a female returned to pose for me. After a short while however a Clamorous Reed Warbler decided he wanted the same space. The interaction between the two species was interesting neither would give way until in frustration the Kingfisher gave up and flew to a less productive fishing perch around the corner.
Kingfisher interacts with a Clamorous Reed Warbler
Kingfisher gives up and moves on
Clamorous Reed Warbler the victor
Black-headed Gulls by the beach full south of Askar
Eastern European - Siberian Gulls filled any vacant spaces not filled by the Black-headed gulls
Great White Egret
one of our wintering Marsh Harriers spent a unfruitful half hour or so hunting the marsh
Moorhen always around always watching
Pair of Palm or more properly Laughing Doves
Grey Heron so many they are hard to ignore
always around any brackish margins Temmincks Stint
Caspian Tern currently breeding but get to close to a nest they can be rather aggressive otherwise will fly above to check you out
Which bring me onto Friday - Had intended an early start but got way-layed after finding two young local photographers at Adhari. I spent far too long chatting to get the early birds and ended up only with another stone chat, no regrets however loved their enthusiasm will take them out next weekend with me. I decided to pop in to the outfall at Ras Tubli and that proved so much better than anticipated even though the tide was out. It is one of those sites that a 3/4 tide is best.
At Tubli several Garganey were easily found but surprisingly that day no Teal with them or Mallard for that matter
One of many Shoveller they will venture way out into the open bay
Squacco Heron foun d along the back ditch, a fresh water drain outfall is always an interesting to look
Was watching this Western Reef Herons heron when he disturbed the bird of the weekend
The over zealous charging about antics of the Western Reef thankfully were too much for the tiny in comparison Striated Heron to bare
I hadn't noticed the Striated Heron crouched very low and hardly moving in its favoured fishing mode - this is probably only the 6th record for Bahrain. Although now having watched one for several hours, I know only too well now how easy it is to overlook or miss the species entirely.
Some weekends just turn out great even when not expected to be so. The forecast was for a shammal - strong winds and dust but despite some windy moments it never really mounted to anything enabling me to get two key observational elements under my belt. The first quantitative numbers for the Hypocolius at Jasra and the second to check on the breeding status of the Socotra Cormorant on Hawar. I have been out around Hawar recently chasing Dugong without much success; they are there in good numbers but at times remain elusive. But on this occasion it was the cormorant Colony on Hawar that was my focus of attention - a pending shammal was the last thing I needed.
I had hoped to get to Hawar on Friday but never even made the jetty we cancelled early the forecast had been that bad, thus at the crack of dawn 5-30 I was out to Jasra to count Hypocolius. Photography as usual was difficult. The rising sun doesn't help, the birds always managed to display on a bush or tree in the suns direction, I doesn't seem to matter where you decided to wait out their arrival the best visuals are always that direction. I was surprised to find a good number of birds already in situ on arrival just before six, suggesting it is more than a stopover. It could be a minor evening roost. By seven I had counted 218 birds when it went quiet however another large flock of fresh birds dropped in just as I was about to leave around 7:10. Given the direction of their arrival I think I know where they had roosted; will check that out another time. They didn't stay long but I estimate that they numbered over a 100 birds. 300 plus Hypocolius at what is a basically a stopover point is a good way to start any weekend. Friends passed the site at 8 and found but 5 birds so feel confident with the a number of around 325.
Curlew those at Hamalah fodder fields have increased to 5
Desert Wheatear at Hamalah
Pied Wheatear a lot more still hanging in there normally most have disappeared by now
Skylark have stated to arrive
Water Pipit just a few but obvious by their dark legs
Tawny Pipit numbers continue to increase
Stonechat still only 3 at Hamalah
Swallow when they start settling like this you know the big off is not that far away
So on to the my quick visit to Hawar and the Socotra Cormorant colony now on the Rubuds. One thing people need to realize is that the cormorants time their breeding season to the arrival of the sardine? schools which in itself brings in other larger potential food fish. So the Birds start to breed some time normally from late September the first chicks hatch just as the bait size fish schools start appearing. These pics were from at the jetty taken before we left a good indicator of the size of the potential food available to the sea birds.
I expected to find a good cross section of birds at the colony - I was not disappointed it was as expected two to three week old chicks aplenty forming up in creches , birds on the periphery excavating so about to start and plenty of tiny heads popping up indicating freshly hatched chicks. I did not approach too close to the colony but observed them from a distance with my bins - the pics were taken with the long lens. Not the best but good indicators of the colony status, the task in hand. The breeding areas are used still maintain the integrity of three separate elements; the largest is in the center of the Island the other two on a spit of slightly sandier substrate that form a ridge that runs to the north east corner. How long this will remain so is hard to predict as the chicks become mobile. Rubud Ash Sharqiyah (East) virtual disappears at times with the highest seasonal tides particularly when these occur when a shammal is blowing.
Either someone has wiped out entire species of migrant populations or the continuing hot weather and global warming is having a distinct detrimental effect on the migration pattern we are experiencing here this year. Or are there other factors having an effect. There remains a distinct shortage of small stuff - mostly warblers and pipits even wagtails but alarmingly for instance no Oriels and only a few Rollers and thrush species have been noted. Both myself and friends who photograph birds in passing on a regular basis have recorded the same to the point that we are asking "where have our birds gone". Normally I am away for August but this year I wasn't so under recording or lack of obs time is not a factor. Someone suggested that this was not the effect of global warming alone but due to the fact that to our north we have large war zones through which our birds have to pass and people were hunting birds out of necessity birds for food or as in the case for Saudi and Kuwait hunting them just for fun to the point few are making it through.
In a normal year the Hypocolius arrive from around the 15th of October this year it was this weekend two weeks late. They are a species I monitor very closely - when here they can be easily found very early any mornings as they do congregate in know areas. They do however remain at this time of day difficult to photograph the rising sun can be difficult to get around.
Clamorous Reed Warbler now a resident breeding species
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater a steady passage but overall small in comparison to other years
Bee-eater a disappointing show
1st year Citrine Wagtail fast becoming a rarity
Curlew despite the hundreds around our shores only now has the one become two at Hamalah
Isabelline Shrike a species bucking the trend - good numbers this year here 3 of the 5 at Hamalah
Isabelline Wheatear reasonable numbers
Stonechat just beginning to arrive in any real numbers
White Wagtail just the odd one or two normally we have hundreds
Cattle Egrets now a substantial breeding species
Little Grebe like many resident breeding species it has been a good year
No shortage on the shore thankfully of our regular species other than Spoonbills and Marsh Sandpiper - Back-headed Gull - one of thousands
Mallard an unusual sight to behold at Hamalah - a fodder farm
Common Mynah an escaped species reaching almost plague proportions in some areas
Have noted quite a few lonely warblers moving through but getting a decent photograph has proved nigh on impossible - but some days have their compensations like this Friday when I found two Marsh Harriers socializing together at Hamalah.
Marsh Harriers at Hamalah
the right hand bird
The left hand bird
Blue-cheeked Bee-eater only a few seen today
Isabelline Shrike one of five or six wintering at Hamalah now
White-throat this one was in my own garden - pic taken through the window - one of many seen
A strange migrant season thus far for certain, with normally common species very late in arriving others not being seen at all. One species beating the trend however is Desert Warbler numbers normally seen in a season are being repeated on a daily basis.
This is rather A large posting since it cover two mid week excursions made during the Ashora Holidays.
Masked Shrike 1st winter
Great Reed Warbler
Greater Sand Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Western Reef Heron
Dunlin and a single Broad-billed Sandpiper
Started Friday checking Busaiteen but this time around ended up with nothing special so moved on to a variety of other sites not a great deal there either, in all rather disappointing - I had expected these sites to be jumping. On Saturday I repeated the process a just in case I had missed something scenario - what a difference - birds particularly warblers, wheatears, and Isabelline shrikes streaming into the northerly facing beaches. It was difficult to know what to chase however with much of the small stuff it was a quick drop down then up and away to look for more favorable feeding grounds but not so for the Wheatears in particularly. They hung around on the shore happily picking off insects in the flotsam along the tide line.
But one nice thing about Busaiteen it does give one a chance to get to know the locals
Socotra Cormorant a young bird malting into adult plumage
Orphean Warbler from Busaiteen the only Warbler that hung around
Pied Wheatear probably the most numerous Wheatear coming ashore at Busaiteen
Isabelline Wheatear at Busaiteen
Isabelline Shrike on the shore
Desert Wheatear on the shore
Spotted Fly Catcher
Clamourous Reed Warbler a now resident breeder this one from Adhari ditches
Southern Red Bishop from Adhari - an escape still going strong
Short Toed Lark
Ringed Plover at the chick farm Hamalah with -
and Black-winged Stilt
After returning from the States and failing to get any free time to bird with a Shammal predicted I didn't expect the Muharrem holiday (Hijri, the Arabic New Year) to compensate by producing many birds but was pleasantly surprised by what I encountered. Failed to nail the warblers mind that I often saw other than Desert; once disturbed they drifted out of reach as the the wind carried them off into the murky distance. The best surprise came on Sunday, the dust levels had increased dramatically even though the wind had died down considerably with the first decent bird I encountered on a creep around the shore of Busaiteen - an Arctic Skua - a Lifer for me. An event always bound to make one's day - a rather ragged individual however a 1st yr into 2nd winter individual which wouldn't stay still. I finally after an hour or so got close enough for three rather static shots as it investigated the contents of a plastic bag but that was it, the sound of the camera was enough; up and away back out to sea, it's distinct profile quickly disappearing into the distance.
Rock Thrush - a good and sizeable passage
Isabelline Wheatear - so many they are hard to count
Great Grey Shrike
Have been rather busy at work preparing for an exhibit on the Sustainable development Goals for viewing at the UN in NY
So this is a multiple date posting basically from the beginning of the month til present.
Bee-eater - a variable passage so far
Cream-coloured Courser a single bird seen stayed for two weeks at Hamalah
Curlew this bird moved into Hamalah fields last week - it will most probably winter there
Diamond Dove one of a small flock encountered at Hamalah - indicating possible local breeding
Egyptian Nightjar - still present during the day at its little hideaway
Short-toed Lark sizeable flocks passing with a few lesser mixed it
Great Grey Shrike tremendous variety shown in birds seen which can be either residential or passage migrants
Woodchat Shrike a long passage now slowed but dozens of individual birds seen over this period
Lesser Grey Shrike a brief passage last week - not seen after thus far
Grey Francolin everywhere town, gardens, desert, - you name they have colonised it
Indian House Crow regarded as a pest culls seem to been ineffective
Indian Silver bills
Isabelline Wheatear excellent numbers more moving into their winter quarters all the time
Of uncertain vintage?
Little Stint the odd bird or two will visit agricultural land through the winter
Collared Pratincole stayed a couple of weeks before moving on - not seen this week
Red Avadavat rare local breeder
Roller one of two that are still hanging around Hamalah several weeks after arriving
Rufous Bushchat some of many now very visible prior to departing after summer breeding here
With many Swallows Sand and House Martin dipping this puddle to drink - managed to get some lucky shots -
Spotted Flycatcher - so many this year
Yellow Wagtail a bigger selection seen than photographed
It started as just another hot and humid late August morning but by the time I had returned home on Friday I knew that it had been a rather special day. It wasn't so much that I had seen a good number of returning species it was the fact that I had been able to get some reasonable photographs of species I had not expected so early on in the season. Then there was Saturday had an meeting on Hawar with potential developers, can say openly and honestly I gave them a hard time. I most certainly left them with food for thought. However what made the day worthwhile was our return encounter with a sizeable Socotra Cormorant fishing party there were 10 of thousands moving along the shore close to Durat as we got nearly home. Sadly the camera played up misting lens and lack of space on the dicc didn't help but I did manage a few decent shots.
Bee-eater one of many seen
Citrine Wagtail a real surprise
Yellow Wagtail a good number around
Cream-coloured Courser a regular August species from post-breeding dispersal in Arabia major
Isabelline Wheatear always one of the first back to take up winter residence - many seen
Green Sandpiper and with a couple of Pratincole's in the frame
Green Sandpiper one singled out
Roller finishing a meal
Ruff few seen of what I assume to be several family parties
Rufous Bushchat nice to see one of many summer breeding visitors
a tiny franction of the fishing foray more images to come
August is a month when staying at home is the best option but after an enforced layoff of a couple of weeks one has to get out - the shoreline is full of waders as more pile in to fatten up before moving on. Along with our summer breeding species any trip out can be special even spectacular.
This weekend I spent Friday on the Muharraq shore and on Saturday took a boat trip around the entire Island with friends starting and finishing at Durat - a journey that took 5 hours and covered nearly 200kms Hotter than hell but amazing to do!
Pictures this week in no particular order and not all species pointed outwher numerous are seen
Bridled Tern one of many seen on our boat trip
Broad-billed Sandpiper - large influx
Preening Curlew Sandpiper along with snoozing a Broad-billed Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper most numerous wader this week on the shore
A solitary Dunlin lost in a flock of Curlew Sandpipers
Bar-tailed Godwit sizeable flocks seen
Greater Sand Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Mixed bag of species most prominent the Gull-billed Tern
Mixed bag of species most prominent the Grey Plover
Oystercatcher in flock of Godwits
Redshank large flocks
Terek Sandpiper with Curlew Sandplover
Waders spoilt for choice at many small sites on the high tide
It takes no great skill to get decent pictures of Greater Sand Plover at this time of the year, they are both numerous and very prominent on the shore besides being very easy to approach however, this situation will rapidly change as other waders start their return passage as the month progresses. Most will stay to build up body fat before moving on in a southerly direction but a surprising number will stay the duration of the winter. Just which breeding wader populations we have in the Gulf has never been scientifically proven, ringed returns have been minimal not enough even to suggest probabilities.
Greater Sand Plover
Kentish Plover do flock at high tide but otherwise remain paired or in family groups along the shore
Socotra Cormorant are still fairly common but birds will soon disappear to their breeding island in Hawar
Lesser Crested Tern currently only small numbers on the shore on fishing forays with breeding in full swing on offshore islands currently peaking
White-cheeked Tern an opportunistic breeder on the main island now many with fully fledged and mobile chicks
numbers will dramatically increase as they are joined by offshore breeding populations
Curlew Sandpiper now returning in increasing numbers
Curlew now a prominent species with a dramatic increase in numbers this last week
Bar-tailed Godwit small flocks seen expect more to arrive anytime soon
Greenshank starting to make a show along with the slightly more numerous Redshank
Whimbrel one of those species where some don't migrate but with more being seen migrants could be the reason for the increase
Western Reef Heron in the middle of their breeding cycle fishing is the most important part of their daily routine methodology used does vary
Reef Heron and Redshank share the shore
Curlew and Redshank
Terek Sandpiper first returns just being noted
As always we have our more common species keeping every neighborhood company
and then the oddities like this resident breeding Alexandrine Parakeet
Is is that time of the year again to check regularly for locally breeding birds particularly in and around our few wetland sites, one never knows what will turn up there - and then there is the shore - to check for breeding species and the first returning waders. Elsewhere there is still plenty of time to go before first records of the passerines will start showing up mixing with those locally breeding species but still a lot of ground to cover in the meantime often with little in return. Can be more a question often of glimpsed or heard, rather than fully observed.
Black-crowned Night Heron a very visible day time species at the moment making observations quite easy
One of many juvenile birds seen note a young bird the eye has yet to turn orange/red
Black-winged Stilt an early breeder in April and May
Kentish Plover Chick smallest youngest seen most probably from a second brood
Lesser Crested Tern just started breeding currently on offshore Islands
Little Grebe juvenile this one independent and well developed but others still still dependent on adults
Little Tern Chick breeding more wide spread this year
Saunders's Tern breeds slightly earlier than Little - chicks far more advanced
Socotra Cormorant will start breeding in late September on Hawar here a first year bird
Squacco Heron - breeding well advanced one fledged chick seen so far
White-cheeked Tern breeding season well advanced not fussy about habitat for breeding any quiet corner near the shore will do
Western Reef Heron extensive season well underway breeding in mangrove on coastal scrub, bushes and even trees
Returns on the shore
Greater Sand Plover return increasing
Interesting picture - extreme left locally breeding Kentish Plover and on the hard right a Lesser Sand Plover - central birds all Greater Sands
Lesser Sand Plover (hard right)
Some of the central birds
Greater Sand Plover post breeding molt starting
Dunlin a very early arrival
Ragged yet very interesting 2nd year birds - have they been somewhere and returned or have Black Headed Gulls breed locally
As each week passes we see a noticeable increase in daily temperatures, already some days have hit the 42c mark but we have been let of the hook this last week with persisting strong Al Bareh winds and widespread sandstorms which has kept of late temps down below 40c. It won't last of course humidity will steadily increase as well and soon we will be registering apparent temps in the 50c plus range. Then its time to take some leave.
Not much in fact very little to report from the gardens and desert spaces nothing worthy of note seen to report. On the shore its getting busy again as our first returns arrive back. The few summering waders - a few Curlew, Turnstone, Godwits, Green and Redshank, Ringed Plover - have been joined by Greater Sand Plover mostly adults and many showing still plenty of colour. Terns are as usual plentiful with Saunders's, little, White-cheeked, breeding locally occasionally joined by Lesser Crested which breed on offshore Islands. No Bridled Terns seen also an offshore breeder yet on the main Island but that will change towards the end of their season in late August beginning of September. Small flocks of Caspian Tern can also be found watched carefully by our locally breeding pairs who maintain their territorial vigilance in any quiet corner of the shoreline. They will breed from Late September early October. Western Reef Herons with their offspring are now also noticeable on the shore.
Saunders Tern chick
Lesser Crested Tern
Western Reef Heron
Greater Sand Plover
Have not had a great deal of time to bird this month, but then again the month has been really disappointing - where are the birds well at least certain species like Golden Oriole - the answer probably hunted to virtual extinction as far as we are concerned by rampant shooting in Saudi and Kuwait. Not a single Marsh, Garden or Savi's Warbler either when in the past they have been so numerous climate change or what something is affecting the normal flow. I can only hope for a more productive return later in the year.
Roller ONE OF ONE SEEN
Spotted Flycatcher one species that was more numerous than in other years this one in my Garden
Willow Warbler numbers steady
Red-backed Shrike a long stayer this one has been at Hamalah nearly a month GOOD NUMBERS too probably since it passes late after the hunting season has largely finished due to the heat - there is minimal hunting of birds in Bahrain Kestrels and a few casual birds only make the pet shops - still pushing for this to be stopped
Socotra Cormorants plenty of action though from resident birds at sea
Out on the fish traps plenty of action to watch thankfully
some late birds passing were a solitary Kestrel
and a Swallow
May and things have definitely gone quieter species are still passing but numbers are much reduced
Lesser Grey Shrike
Clamorous Reed Warbler as noisy as ever
Great Reed Warbler
Great White Egret
Hoopoe one of resident breeding birds
House Sparrow one of the thousands seen on a daily basis
Indian House Crow
Kentish Plover Chick one of many seen
Little Grebe Chick
the tending parent
Moorhen feeding chick
Black-crowned Night Heron
Male Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Female Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
Rufous Bush Chat
Feral breeding Sacred Ibis
when the weather is unexpected cooler one hopes for a busy day but sadly nothing unexpected was found still happy with what I got
Great Grey Shrike a juvenile wearing sticky seed for a head band
Lesser Grey Shrike still fairly numerous
Juvenile Palm Dove
Waders big decrease in numbers
even though we keep having some unseasonable days weather wise it is quickly going quiet as temperature warm up
Lesser Grey Shrike a few around
Red-backed Shrike a slow passage
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler the first of our summer breeders
Whinchat still passing
Turtle Dove resident
Lutea - Yellow Wagtail still a huge variety
Red-throated Pipit remains very common across a variety of habitats
Spotted Flycatcher one of many
A quick trip to Hawar on Saturday to check arrivals only brought out a resident Osprey
Heavy thunderstorms and lightning Thursday evening, tempered the weekends expectations however disappointing Friday was Saturday more than made up for that with some excellent birding. Excess water in parts of the south restricted movement along some of the desert tracks so it proved impossible to fully check the south and east of the Island. One unusual observation was the massive number of Isabelline Shrikes that had moved in on our wintering birds habitat; where we had observed 2 or 3 wintering sometimes over a dozen birds this weekend occupied the same space, an amazing site.
Species of the weekend has to be the White-throated Robins 4 were seen at Buri alone.
Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush
A lot about these last two weekend spent time on the shore and working some of our garden and wetland sites
Yellow Wagtail leucocephala
yellow Wagtail bemma
Yellow Wagtail fledegg
Yellow Wagtail lutea
Yellow Wagtail flava
Greater Short-toed Lark
Lesser Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover
Lesser Sand plover with Curlew Sandpiper
Dunlin in flight
Migration continues to be slow but the weather hasn't helped with strong winds and heavy rain showers that are forecast to continue into next month.
Common Sandpiper always easy to find and photograph
Corn Bunting still a few around
Having been out of action for two months it was nice to get back to my usual Bahrain weekend routine of birds birds and yet more birds. Managed to photograph most of the migrant species seen other than some elusive Chiffchaff but the best surprise was the number of Grey Hypocolius still around at Jasra - I counted over a hundred at first light around 6am on Friday morning.
Rufous Tailed Rock Thrush
Yellow Wagtail - Fledegg
Yellow Wagtail - Flava - dombrowski ?
Isabelline Shrike - such variety
Returned from a washed out Christmas and New Year break in the UK to the much warmer climate of Bahrain even if at times it is a little breezy. Not a lot new around species wise but a few rarities did brighten things up.
While I was away a Linnet was found and photographed in Jid Ali by several people will put those in December obs while a male Chaffinch turned up at Hamalah to keep the female first seen there in December company.
Ist winter Red-throated Pipit
Corn Bunting one of many
Skylarks are everywhere
Siberian Stonechat female
Siberian Stonechat male
:: Next Page >>
Home of the
Bahrain Bird Report
On line since 1994