08/09/09

South Africa (ZA)   Basra Reed Warblers breeding in Kuwait  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 09:08:00 pm

Week 29 - 18 July 2009, Jahra East Outfall (JEO

With sustained effort by local birders/photographers, Jahra East Outfall finally got the protection it deserved with the police making regular visits and arresting shooters when caught. This together with habitat protection from reed cutters and herders has allowed the reeds to re-establish themselves and provide the cover required for summer breeders. Images by Mike Pope


We had always suspected there was a possibility of Basra Reed Warbler breeding at Jahra East Outfall and following the big number of these birds seen this spring, we were hopeful that it might happen this year. Many thanks to Peter Kennerley, the co-author of the coming Reed and Bush Warblers to be published by Helm later this year for his assistance in identifying this juvenile Basra Reed Warbler I was able to photograph today. The following impressions were provided to justify the identification of this juvenile as probable proof of breeding Basra Reed Warbler in Kuwait.

Identifying JUVENILES; Iris colour grey brown in birds up to 1-year old; gape colour pale orange with a hint of yellow; tongue spots (if seen); leg colour dark lead grey; bill colour with the distal third to half of the lower mandible dark; plumage - recently fledged juveniles will usually show fresh unworn primaries and tail feathers which would be browner than those of a worn adult at this time. Also, a slight creamy wash to the underparts and supercilium, and no sign of wear to the primaries and tertials, which are pale tipped.

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Juvenile Basra Reed Warbler

Whilst watching the juvenile, this 'bald' bird popped out and I suspected that it may be a post breeding moulting adult. Peter has suggested that feathers grow in 'tract's and these tracts are usually replaced sequentially, so feathers at one end are newer than those at the other. In this bird, the entire head feathering has been lost, which suggests some sort of trauma or disease rather than a moult in which all feathering is replaced. The head feathers were clearly lost simultaneously and the replacement feathers are growing but are still in pin, and their length suggests they are about 4 days old. The wear on the tertials and greater coverts suggests this is an adult.

Basra Reed Warbler

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