South Africa (ZA)   Along the coast  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:49:44 am

Week 13 - 23 March 2010, Sharq Harbour and Free Trade Zone

I am working at our head office in Free Trade Zone and when I leave early enough I can squeeze in a 20-minute stop on route to work and still be early. This morning I opted for Sharq Harbour. Images by Mike Pope

There are still many gulls around and most of the Black headed are now sporting black heads.

Black headed Gull

Slender bill Gulls are now showing their pinkish hue as they come into their breeding plumage

Slender bill Gull

Slender bill Gull

A large white headed gull, possibly Steppe Gull (barabensis) looking at bill shape and jizz


A classic Heuglins Gull, told by the mantle pattern, neck streaks and large mirrow on p10. Thanks to Yoav Perlman for the id pointers

Lesser black  backed Gull

A small flock of Sandwich Terns put in a quick appearance before disappearing out to sea. The first image shows one whose bill was broken and has now re-grown and the second showing a fuller black cap.

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

Great Cormorants were also feeding in the harbour, this one resplendent in courtship plumage and the second showing a juvenile

Great Cormorant

Juvenile Great Cormorant

I decided to have my lunch overlooking the bay near the harbour and was able to photograph Pallid Swifts. All of these show the throat completely puffed up. I'm not sure if this is as a result of feeding on the wing, calling (although I didnt hear any calls) or displaying

Palliad Swift

Palliad Swift

Palliad Swift

I picked out a solitary Common Swift in amongst the flock of Pallid's

Common Swift

I had heard of Red rumped Swallow been seen by the other birders and was delighted to find a group of 3 feeding on the wing close to the ground

Red rumped Swallow

Red rumped Swallow

The Free Trade Zone is probably the best site for House Crow, although they are by no means common and I hope it stays that way. I came across 2 flying around the buildings near our Head Office, but they proved tricky to photograph as they were very skittish

House Crow

House Crow


South Africa (ZA)   Green Island's Usual Suspects  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 08:37:01 am

Week 12 - 16 March 2010, Green Island

I was able to fit in a quick 30-minute walk around Green Island on the way to work and still make it to work before the rest. Images by Mike Pope

The only migrant seen was this Isabelline (Daurian) Shrike which was a little disappointing.

Isabelline Shrike

A Song Thrush which is resident during winter, must be gearing up to leave soon

Song Thrush

Grey Herons were seen flying around the perimeter of this man-made island

Grey Heron

Collared Dove are very common here

Collared Dove

as are Laughing Dove

Laughing Dove

White cheeked Bulbuls are easily seen at Green Island

White cheeked Bulbul

as are Red vented Bulbuls, although in much smaller numbers

Red vented Bulbul

I didnt expect to see a flock of around 16 Hypocolius, but a different species of tree is now in fruit and clearly this is the attraction for these smart looking birds which were not easy to get onto in the thick foliage


It was interesting to watch them feed as they split the hard casing of the fruit to get the nut inside and then dispose of the unwanted kernel



The identity of this bird has been resolved with the help of Lee Gregory, Matti Lammin-Soila and Abdulrahman Al-Sirhan who have all confirmed that it is a 2cy female Barred Warbler. The features for clinching this is the limited and very faint barring on flanks and undertail, pale forehead and brown eye. These birds pass through Kuwait on their northward migration and we suspect they are the eastern sub specie - merzbacheri

2cy Barred Warbler

2cy Barred Warbler

in the Free Trade Zone a House Crow passed overhead from the Port and a Lesser Black backed Gull (fuscus) was seen in the company of Black headed and Slender bill Gulls

Lesser Black backed Gull


South Africa (ZA)   From Winter to Summer  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 11:38:20 am

Week 11 - 13 March 2010, Pivot Fields and SAANR

Finally a day dawned with clear with blue skies and it stayed that way for the morning. In fact it feels like we have jumped from winter into summer with temperatures in the desert reaching 40 degrees by noon. Images by Mike Pope

For the past 3-weeks there has been a Painted Lady eruption passing through Kuwait; luckily for them ahead of the bulk of the spring migration for birds. It was reported by buttefly conservation in UK last year that an unprecedented Painted Lady migration from North Africa (Morocco) and the Mediteranean took place. We certainly did not witness the numbers of Painted Lady's last year, as we are seeing this year, so 2010 could surpass last years numbers.

Painted Lady

First stop was Pivot Fields where I found a 1st year Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

Followed by an adult Isabelline Shrike

Isabelline Shrike

The most prevalent Wheatears were Pied, this one still transitioning to full breeding plumage

Pied Wheatear

and one in full breeding regalia

Pied Wheatear

I found the first Cuckoo of this spring


Driving along the boundary fence I had my first Redstart of the year of race samamisicus


Sub adult Spotted Eagles are still present

Spotted Eagle

Large numbers of Water Pipits are still fattening up before leaving, this one having just had a wash

Water Pipit

On the way out, I found a male Northern Wheatear after it had just devoured a large caterpillar

Northern Wheatear

I hadnt been to SAANR in some time and had problems getting access that were eventually resolved. The Hume's Wheatear is no longer present. On route to the new lake/pan that has been created in one of the wadi's I found 3 sub adult Steppe Eagles

Steppe Eagle

At the old Police Station, many Wheatears (Pied and Isabelline) were present, together with a medium sized flock of Short toed Larks

Short toed Lark

Short toed Lark

The large pan had many birds, but not the Common Cranes which had been seen 2-days before. Consolation however was a distant flock of Caspian Plovers, also in full breeding dress.

Caspian Plover

Amongst the many waders some Marsh Sandpipers were seen

Marsh Sandpiper

an adult Steppe Eagle that was drinking at the pan flew over my car pursued by a Yellow Wagtail - bit like the dog chasing the car, what to do if you catch it?

Steppe Eagle

Steppe Eagle

Tuhla was surprisngly quiet and the only species of note was a female Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

By now it was midday and the temp was up at 40 degrees, one of the few Woodchat Shrikes were seen on the way out

Woodchat Shrike

Followed by Isabelline Wheatear

Isabelline Wheatear

and more Northern Wheatears

Northern Wheatear

After the good winter rains, parts of the desert are still showing healthy vegetation. This is an area in SAANR in a slight depression that shows the results of the seed germination. In complete contrast to the same time in 2009 when it was all just sandy desert

Grass in SAANR


South Africa (ZA)   Another weekend, more dust  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 02:36:17 pm

Week 10 - 06 March 2010, Mesilla Beach

I'm always amazed at how often we have the dust roll in on a Thursday, just in time for the weekend. Images by Mike Pope

Fortunately, by Saturday the dust had cleared and I spent 20-minutes watching a big flock of Black headed Gulls feeding from the outfall into the sea near Mesilla Beach, late in the afternoon. The bulk of the birds are still in their transition plumage

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

About 20% of the flock have already transformed into the breeding regalia which means their departure from Kuwait toward the end of March is imminent

Water Pipit

Water Pipit


South Africa (ZA)   A day in the dust  -  Categories: Photographs  -  @ 04:14:50 pm

Week 09 - 01 March 2010, Pivot Fields and Jahra Pools

Kuwait had a 5-day weekend with National and Liberation Day together with the Prophets Birthday, the weather was inclement (cloudy and early dust storms) till the last day of the weekend which also marked the first day of Spring - or so Graham Whitehead and I thought. Images by Mike Pope

The morning started off cool and clear as we headed to Pivot Fields where we had early signs of spring migration with Hoopoe seen on the way. Whilst searching for Siskins which we had flying over, we found a male Northern Wheatear devouring this caterpillar.

Northern Wheatear

The wind picked up early in the morning and started gusting quite strongly, as a result the remaining Water Pipits were all found sheltering in the far corner of the farm

Water Pipit

A Steppe Buzzard flew over crabbing in the wind

Steppe Buzzard

We had a lone Imperial Eagle and around 5 Spotted Eagles, this a flight sequence of one that allowed us to get a little closer than the others did

Spotted Eagle

Spotted Eagle

Spotted Eagle

On the way out, we came across a Stonechat also filling up on a similar caterpillar. We also noted today that the number of Painted Lady butterflies has increased dramatically and it appears they too migrate in a north westerly direction


By now the wind was really blowing which brought in the dust and reduced visibility. We put off visiting SAANR and headed to Jahra Pools instead, it was not much better here either. A flock of 6 Glossy Ibis came in low over the reeds to seek shelter from the dust and wind as can be seen in this image

Glossy Ibis

We found a pair of White tailed Lapwings with a juvenile sheltering on a sand bank behind some cover

White tailed Lapwing

We had a lull in the wind and a bit of sun, a Moorhen showing its distinctive white outer tail feathers as it swam away from us


The Little Grebes are still resplendent in breeding plumage. We decided to call it a day with both car, equipment and us full of dust and headed home.

Little Grebe

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