South Africa (ZA)   SAANR with our visitors  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 03:43:36 pm

Week 15 - 09 April 2009, SAANR

I met Pekka Fagel with the Austrian and Swiss groups for a morning in SAANR. Images by Mike Pope

I got to the reserve a little before the rest and headed north to check for birds in the desert scrub. I found a distant Hobby roosting on the desert that was flushed by a migrating Shikra


At Tuhla, the number of White throated Robins had notably increased

White throated Robin

I found a Nightingale sitting very quietly deep in a thicket on the small island at the pool


Pekka managed to find 3 Scops Owls in the same small tree. This image shows just how cryptic these birds are, despite being right in front of you

Scops Owl

A better view of the rufous tinged Scops Owl

Scops Owl

I found this oddly coloured Pipit drinking from some surface water. We believe it is a 2 to 3 year old Red throated Pipit which appears to lose its breast streaking as it matures

Red throated Pipit


French (FR)   Trip report in French - KOWEÏT du 10 au 17 avril 2009  -  Categories: Trip Reports  -  @ 07:31:50

TO view Report - PDF file please CLICK HERE

Note the date display is in French format (04/10/09)= 10th May 2009

09 avril 2009 : Vols Bruxelles-Londres et Londres-Kuwait City. Départ à 17h40.

10 avril 2009 : Arrivée à Kuwait City Airport vers 06h30. La fatigue est de mise après une nuit sans sommeil mais l’excitation est bien là aussi. Formalités de douane et de visa puis accueil vers 08h00 par un ornitho finlandais établi au Koweït, Pekka Fagel. Il nous prend en charge pour deux jours dans sa Mitsubishi Pajero et va nous faire visiter une belle série de sites. Je profite de l’occasion pour le remercier car sans lui, découvrir les accès aux sites eut été beaucoup plus difficile ! De plus, nous avions nettement sous-estimé les distances et les durées pour passer d’un site à l’autre. Merci Pekka ! Le premier site visité est celui de Jahra Farms où le Rollier indien ne se montre pas ! Des migrateurs en tous genres y abondent cependant. Nous partons ensuite pour un circuit vers l’ouest puis vers le sud-est : Sulaibikhat Nature Reserve, Doha


South Africa (ZA)   International Visitors  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:19:13 pm

Week 15 - 07 April 2009, Pivot Fiels, Sulaibikhat and Jahra Farms

We have 3 groups of visiting birders from England, Austria and Switzerland this week and to date they have had a great time, notching up many of the western palearctic specials. I caught up with 2 of the groups at Sulaibikhat and changed back to my 400mm lens for more portability. Images by Mike Pope

I had a quick hour at Pivot Fields where I found this Stonechat amongst a few Winchats. Interestingly this male had a few parasites on its head


One of the few Long legged Buzzards I have seen this spring

Long legged Buzzard

The Austrians were at Sulaibikhat Reserve where we were fortunate to see a Black Stork glide in and land at the waters edge, before being flushed 5-minutes later by a military helicopter passing by

Black Stork

Black Stork

Pallid Swifts were seen feeding above

Pallid Swift

The English group were at the outfall where we saw the first Whiskered Terns of the spring

Whiskered Tern

The two groups headed to Doha Spur and I checked out JEO (which had no birds whatsoever). So, I headed to Jahra Farms. A Spotted Crake was trying a Pitta impersonation in the leaf litter

Spotted Crake

Many Bank Myna's were present during my brief visit

Bank Myna

This female House Sparrow was unusually rufous, it almost looked like a different bird - no idea why it have such a rufous tinge?

House Sparrow

South Africa (ZA)   Termite eruptions in SAANR  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:00:41 pm

Week 15 - 04 April 2009, SAANR and Sulaibikhat

The weather had improved, so I headed to the reserve and spent some more time playing with the bigger lens. Images by Mike Pope

I spent some time at the small pool on the top of the ridge where Corn Bunting was still present

Corn Bunting

Ortolan Buntings have now arrived in large numbers and can be seen everywhere

Ortolan Bunting

Lesser Whitethroats were seen gleening there way through the desert scrub

Lesser Whitethroat

There was a little surface water in some vehicle tracks following the recent rains, a late leaving Water Pipit was still present and feeding on termites

Water Pipit

Along with many Yellow Wagtails that were feeding on termites clinging onto the grass stems in the water. This beema about to devour another bit of protein for the journey home

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

A small flock of Common Sandpipers dropped in for a meal and drink

Common Sandpiper

I headed to Tuhla where many Hirundines were having an aerial feast on the emerging flying ants, in amongst the many Barn Swallows and Sand Martins, I saw 2 House Martins

House Martin

One Red rumped Swallow

Red rumped Swallow

And some Common Swift

Common Swift

Judging by the scalloped underparts, I would think this may be a Pallid Swift, but it was way darker than any other I have seen - so, Im not sure

Pallid Swift?

Two Blue cheeked Bee-eaters joined the feeding frenzy and this image just goes to show how adept the Bee-eaters are in the aerial aerobatics

Blue cheeked Bee-eater

A Namaqua Dove was seen as I left Tuhla for Sulaibikhat

Namaqua Dove

I was hoping to find the Common Babblers at Sulaibikhat Reserve, but didnt have enough time to wait it out. An Isabelline Shrike was at the pond which had some water following the recent rains

Isabelline Shrike

South Africa (ZA)   The Western Desert  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:33:43 pm

Week 14 - 02 April 2009, Al Abraq

Simon Price and I decided to head west to Al Abraq to check what the southern winds had brought in after some good rains, by desert standards. It also gave me the opportunity to test a 300mm f/2.8 kindly lent to me by Abdulrahman which I coupled to a 1.4 converter. Images by Mike Pope

A Common Buzzard just before the oasis that had spent the night roosting on the deck

Lesser Common Buzzard

There were numerous Common Redstarts present, but not many of the samamisicus race

Common Redstart

We came across a male Semi collared Flycatcher that was catching emerging insects in the area where we parked our car

Semi collared Flycatcher

Semi collared Flycatcher

Many Hoopoes are still present in most locations in Kuwait


Small passerines are still dominated by Lesser Whitethroats, but in between them we found Menetries Warbler

Menetries Warbler

and Orphean Warbler which was quite a challenge to photograph

Orphean Warbler

Red throated Pipits are still the predominant pipit during this time of migration

Red throated Pipit

A calling Cuckoo alerted us to its presence. This is the first time I have heard one calling here in Kuwait



For some reason I was challenged by what I think is a Great Reed Warbler, as it's jizz didnt quite fit the bird itself

Great Reed Warbler

A Western Reef Heron looked quite out of place in the middle of the desert

Western Reef Heron


South Africa (ZA)   A stroll around Green Island  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:16:37 pm

Week 14 - 01 April 2009, Green Island

I hadnt been to Green Island for sometime, so decided to have a stroll around the walkways to see which migrants were around. Images by Mike Pope

One of the very many Lesser Whitethroats seen this morning

Lesser Whitethroat

Inside the main entrance I found flowering Bottlebrush bushes that were literally alive with birds feeding off the flowers as well as on emerging insects following the good rains. Among the variety seen, Blackcaps were quite prevalent


With the odd Menetries Warbler thrown into the mix

Menetries Warbler

An Isabelline Shrike was also taking advantage of the termite eruption

Isabelline Shrike

Green Island is still the most reliable site for Red vented Bulbul, seen feeding on termites before they get airborne

Red vented Bulbul

I found 1 male and 2 female Semi collared Flycatchers

Female Semi collared Flycatcher

as well as a Wryneck feeding on ants emerging from their hole


Collared Doves are distinguished from the much rarer African Collared Doves by their grey vent

Collared Dove

I then moved onto to Sharq Harbour where I flushed this Common Sandpiper from the waters edge

Common Sandpiper

An adult non breeding Socotra Cormorant was seen hunting for its lunch, this is a good record this far north Zour Port where they are more regularly seen.

Socotra Cormorant

Little Terns have now returned to the coastal waters

Little Tern

Little Tern


South Africa (ZA)   Bubiyan Census  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:40:56 pm

Week 14 - 30 March 2009, Bubiyan and Warbah Islands

We were fortunate and privileged to be able to get access onto the channels and inlets on the west and northern shores of Bubiyan Island to conduct a spring bird census. Bubiyan is the largest island off the NE coast of Kuwait and an important island with restricted access. Images by Mike Pope

On route to SAANR, I came across a male Lesser Kestrel, my first for this spring looking miserable sitting on a dried out rodent

Lesser Kestrel

I spent 30 minutes at SAANR checking one last time for Mongolian Finches on a cool and overcast morning. Again no luck although it did feel promising with the number and variety of birds coming to the small pool. Corn Buntings have now arrived in small numbers

Corn Bunting

This White throated Robin was quite vocal in the morning coolness

White throated Robin

On the early part of our trip we came across this coral outcrop exposed by low tide, which served as a roosting spot for a number of Terns

Coral outcrop

Most of the channels and inlets are fairly narrow around the western edge of the island, low tide meant staying in the deeper middle channels

Bubiyan channels (khor)

The first group of Terns seen included a number of Swift Terns

Swift Tern

Interspersed with Lesser crested Terns

Lesser crested Tern

Small numbers of Caspian Terns were also seen during the morning

Caspian Tern

Gull billed Terns were relatively abundant

Gull billed Tern

Slender bill Gulls with characteristic pinkish hue of breeding plumage were also seen

Slender bill Gull

Crab Plovers were seen along the banks of the various channels that we explored

Crab Plovers

We finally found a mixed 'heronry' which includes Spoonbills, Grey and Western Reef Herons. This part of the colony was made up mostly of Spoonbills


A Spoonbill flying in with some nesting material


A mixed flock of Cattle Egrets and pale Western Reef Herons

Herons and Egrets

A second roost revealed this Grey Heron on an elevated nest with two chicks

Grey Heron

There was a balanced mix of dark phase Western Reef Herons

Western Reef Heron

and pale phase Western Reef Herons. We asked the question as to whether these two colour phases bred together, but none of us had the answer

Western Reef Heron

The census team from L to R: Mike Pope, Rashed al Hajji, Abdulrahman al Sirhan and Pekka Fagel

Census Team

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