South Africa (ZA)   Waders and Terns  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:03:48 pm

Week 29 - 18 July 2009, JEO and Sulaibikhat

There was a favourable hightide (3.8m) at 6:30 in the morning, so JEO was a natural choice for the mornings birding. Images by Mike Pope

Wader numbers and species are increasing each day, but Greater Sand Plovers are still the most abundant at most locations. This one slowly fading out of its breeding plumage

Greater Sand Plover

At last I was able to photograph a male Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover

Ringed Plovers were found foraging with the other smaller waders

Ringed Plover

I found an area where Libyan Jird's were quite active

Libyan Jird

Many juvenile Graceful Prinias were seen around the outfall

Graceful Prinia

Next stop was the smelly outfall at Sulaibihat Bay, where some terns were feeding on crickets washed out through the outfall, one eclipse Whiskered Tern was seen

Graceful Prinia

and a White winged Tern

White winged Tern

I decided to take a drive inside Sulaibikhat Reserve and was pleased to see that water has been restored at the small reedbed with the hide. However, I found a spot on the coastline and sat in air conditioned bliss in my car photographing the many birds that passed south overhead. A single White cheeked Tern was unusual this far north

White cheeked Tern

A few Caspian Terns were foraging up and down the coast

Caspian Tern

Slender billed Gulls breed in Kuwait on nearby Bubyan Island

Slender billed Gull

Greater Sand Plovers came by in small flocks and individually

Greater Sand Plover

Common Redshank

Common Redshank

Crab Plovers also breed on Bubyan in summer and today I saw them at JEO and Sulaibikhat

Crab Plover

Bar tailed Godwits outnumber the few Black tailed Godwits that have been seen

Bar tailed Godwit

All along the coast there are fairly big flocks of Eurasian Curlews with their impressive bills

Eurasian Curlew


South Africa (ZA)   Raptors on the move  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:57:30 pm

Week 29 - 17 July 2009, Pivot Fields

Today I had planned a visit to Failaka Island, but the ferry only departed at 10am so that gave me time for a quick visit to the Pivot Fields. Images by Mike Pope

This morning the number of medium sized raptors had increased since my last visit, this Buzzard was first up


A Black winged Kite and 11th record for Kuwait was also seen, alhough I believe this to be the earliest autumn migration record so far

Black winged Kite

A small flock of mixed Collared Pratincoles were at a water seepage, this is one of the juveniles

Juvenile Collared Pratincole

with a single adult

Collared Pratincole

Yellow Wagtail numbers have also increased, this one fluffing itself up

Yellow Wagtail


South Africa (ZA)   Windy at Pivot Fields  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:25:28 pm

Week 28 - 11 July 2009, Pivot Fields and JEO

The wind hadnt abated much, but I decided it was worth a drive to check the Pivot Fields this morning. Images by Mike Pope

There wasnt much ground water from the irrigation, but today Spanish Sparrows appeared in large numbers, flocking as you would normally see with Quelea's

Spanish Sparrows

Even the Dhubs are changing appearance as they moult out of their old skins

Moulting Dhub

I saw a juvenile Montagu Harrier and then my first Isabelline Wheatear of the Autumn migration

Isabelline Wheatear

I went to check for birds at the camel pens and surprisingly only found camels


In the afternoon I went back to JEO in the hope of photographing some waders in the late afternoon sun - no luck with a monochromatic sunset obscured by dust


South Africa (ZA)   Early signs of Autumn migration  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:11:38 pm

Week 28 - 10 July 2009, SAANR, Jahra Farm, JEO and Sulaibikhat

Simon Price and I were out this morning checking locations near and along the Gulf in what started as a calm morning with the wind starting to gust and blow before lunch. Images by Mike Pope

I hadnt been to SAANR for sometime and we were fortunate in getting access to the reserve this morning, our first stop. As usual we headed straight to Tuhla to check if anything had roosted overnight. We were really surprised by early signs of autumn migration before we had reached mid-summer. In the pool we found Greenshank in breeding plumage


As well as Green Sandpiper in a newly created pan with some good cover which should be really good during migration

Green Sandpiper

Whilst walking around the area we saw Upchers Warbler, Common Redstart, Roller and what seems to be the resident White chested Kingfisher

White chested Kingfisher

Overhead we had scores of both adult and juvenile Sand Martins which had appeared in numbers in the past day or two. I caught this one in a dive.

Sand Martin

At Jahra Farms the only birds of interest were Bank Mynas and a returning Willow Warbler, so we headed to JEO where we found signs of Reed Warbler breeding with adults feeding juveniles

Reed Warbler

As well as Blue cheeked Bee-eater feeding a juvenile perched in the reeds

Blue cheeked Bee-eaters

By now the sun was baking and the wind had picked up, a last stop at Sulaibikhat for the incoming tide produced two Crab Plovers which I havent seen here for some time

Crab Plover

A single Dunlin still resplendent in breeding plumage


No sign of the Black Tern seen recently, but we did get a lone Whiskered Tern trying it's tortoise impersonation

Whiskered Tern

One Greater Sand Plover in partial breeding plumage was seen with many other first winter birds

Greater Sand Plovers


South Africa (ZA)   Socotra's and Humpback's  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 10:11:08 pm

Week 27 - 04 July 2009, Khiran Pearl City

We have had a week of wind and dust and today the wind abated, but the dust remained hanging in the air and this helped a little in keeping the temperatures bearable for the July census at Khiran with Anand the on-site environmentalist and Eric from the media department. Images by Mike Pope

We had planned an early start and I stopped before the resort to take this monochramtic desert sunrise


Even with an early start on the boat, the resort had heavy jet ski traffic, but once out at sea this did diminish, the first birds we saw were Lesser crested Terns

Lesser crested Tern

We were in luck again this trip when we found a roosting Bridled Tern in the company of the Lesser crested Terns 100m from the shore

Bridled and Lesser crested Tern

This Bridled had an injured leg - probably as a result of being shot at!

Bridled Tern

On the way out we had seen a cormorant flying low over the sea that had banked and come back to roost on the furtherest buoy along with a bird that was already roosting there. We were delighted to discover that they were Socotra Cormorants and accompanied by the Bridled Tern which had decided to join the cormorants

Socotra Cormorant

We got pretty close to this great bird and we believe there were altogether 3 birds seen during the course of the morning

Socotra Cormorant

Socotra in flight

Socotra Cormorant

We came across numerous first summer White cheeked Terns roosting on the beach

White cheeked Tern

They were in the company of two Little Terns and this one had a shorter white forehead than some of the other Little Terns seen, but it did have a white rump in flight

Little Tern

On our return Anand was pleased to find a pod of Humpback Dolphins slowly moving south. This is apparently the most northerly distribution of this particular species. We were alerted to their progress by schools of tiny Gulf Herrings (Herkliotsichthys lossei) fleeing in their path by jumping out of the water away from the feeding dolphins

Escaping fish

Trying to photograph them was a different challenge, as they never really cleared the surface of the water, I was however lucky with this image which shows a little of the head

Humpback Dolphin

In the pod there were large single males, females with young and some swimming together. I particularly like this image just before one is about to sound

Humpback Dolphin

Anand took me to a part of the project I hadnt seen where there was some pretty good habitat in the form of ground water and reed cover. We came across some Cream coloured Coursers and this Hoopoe Lark trying to keep cool by spreading out in a small scoop in the shade

Hoopoe Lark

On the way home in what was a productive day, I stopped at this site again and now found the Hoopoe Lark perched on the top of a small bush to escape the heat

Hoopoe Lark

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