South Africa (ZA)   Tail end of Migration?  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:30:55 pm

Week 20 - 16 May 2009, Pivot Fields, JEO and Jahra Farm

It was good to get out again today despite the unstable weather conditions that still persist. I drove through a rain shower on the way to Pivot Fields and had mixed sunshine and cloud throughout the morning. Images by Mike Pope

I was hoping to relocate the Red footed Falcon found by Rashed earlier this week, but during migration if you dont drop everything to twitch a rarity the moment is generally gone, as it was with the Falcon. I did however enjoy a host of good birds at this location. There were some newly planted fields that were being irrigated and this Wood Sandpiper took advantage of the spray to cool itself and catch insects

Wood Sandpiper

It was accompanied by good numbers of Yellow Wagtails which are still present, this is thunbergi

Yellow Wagtail

and a flavissama

Yellow Wagtail

I found the large flock of Lesser Kestrels that the Red footed Falcon was part of, but to no avail despite a lot of scrutiny. The flock was perched on the structure of the irrigation and swooping down on crickets and insects in the crops below - not much exertion required to get their fill of protein

Lesser Kestrel

Lesser Kestrel

I spotted a female Cuckoo (rufous form) perched amongst the Kestrel flock and quite unperterbed. She was almost the same size as the Kestrels

Cuckoo and Kestrel

Female Cuckoo in rufous form


The few Blue cheeked Bee-eaters also used the structure to hunt from

Blue cheeked Bee-eater

The Kestrels were competing for food with Egrets and Herons that were patrolling the fields below the moving irrigation - this Cattle Egret about to swallow another cricket

Cattle Egret

Squacco Herons took a far more cautious and deliberate approach to the Cattle Egrets

Squacco Heron

There were a fair number of Raptors present including both Long legged Buzzard and Black Kite seen in this image

Black Kite

A couple of Marsh Harriers put the passerines up everytime they did a fly over, the tactics of the hunt

Marsh Harrier

I was fortunate to photograph both colour forms of Greater Spotted Eagle together. In this image, the dark form juvenile was feeding on something and the pale form just stood by watching; eventually it lost interest and flew off to perch on the irrigation.

Greater Spotted Eagles

The darker form is a juvenile Greater Spotted Eagle.

Greater Spotted Eagle

The paler form Greater Spotted Eagle is var. fulvescens and according to Collins Bird Guide is very rare.

Greater Spotted Eagle

I stopped at a small depression with water and vegetation and found a host of feeding waders, this Redshank was resplendent in breeding plumage.


A Purple Heron dropped in for a quick drink.

Purple Heron

As did two Wood Sandpipers.

Wood Sandpipers

I came across a small flock of Collared Pratincoles on the way back to the main gate.

Collared Pratincole

I headed off to JEO where I was delighted to find myself alone and also see a police car patrolling the area to deter hunters and grazers as part of collaboration with local authorities to try and protect this key and important wetland. A female Winchat was seen near the outfall


With disturbances and shooting under control, Basra Reed Warblers are still present and we are hopeful that they will in fact breed at JEO this summer.

Basra Reed Warbler

Basra Reed Warbler

Sedge Warblers are also potential breeders for this summer.

Sedge Warbler

A few Little Bitterns were seen along the outfall.

Little Bittern

Isabelline, Lesser Grey and Red backed Shrike are still present at most sites.

Red backed Shrike

As are Spotted Flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher

Last stop today was Jahra Farms and amazingly the Indian Roller is still present, but still skittish. Bank Mynas did breed this year and I caught this one after just having had a bath to cool down in the 40 degrees that we experienced by noon today.

Bank Myna


South Africa (ZA)   An exploratory trip to the South  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 05:51:28 pm

Week 18 - 02 May 2009, Kirhan Pearl City Development

I was fortunate to be invited to visit the impressive Kirhan Pearl City development close to the southern border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I spent the morning with Arnand the on-site environmentalist conducting a bird census. Images by Mike Pope

Most of the morning was spent on a boat exploring the khors which have been extended inland (rather than reclaiming land from the sea). The weather wasnt favourable, but we did manage to pick up 4 Tern species with the first one seen being a Bridled Tern

Bridled Tern

One of the small flock of Little Terns were seen roosting on the pristine beach

Little Tern

I missed the Lesser crested Tern which passed overhead as well as a Socotra Cormorant feeding out at sea on the return journey but did catch two White cheeked Terns were feeding along one of the Knors

White cheeked Tern

It was unusual to find two Purple Herons roosting on the breakwater which took flight on our approach

Purple Heron

Kentish Plovers were seen on the beach

Kentish Plover

Along with Eurasian Curlew


And a Whimbrel


A flock of 16 Squacco Herons were feeding on the banks of the Knor

Squacco Heron

We made a stop on one of the four islands where natural habitat is being reintroduced and saw one of the many Red back Shrikes that are currently passing through

Red backed Shrike

Spotted Flycatchers were found feeding on the island together with Upchers Warbler and Yellow Wagtails

Spotted Flycatcher

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