14 October 2016

Warblers and Waders

Week 35, 27 August 2016 - JEO and JPR

I was at the Jahra East Outfall at sunrise to check for Warblers - unfortunately, a number of shooters had the same idea and a few had already shot some ducks. Legislation is now in place to prosecute shooters, so they can at least be reported to the Environmental Police.

Due to the shooters, birds were understandably quiet and skittish, but with patience a few were seen (but not the ones I was hoping for!)

Indian Reed Warblers do breed in the summer and one was quite obliging - almost too close to my car..

Indian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. brunnescens)
A little later a Great Reed Warbler was seen, these are migrants

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
A single Spotted Flycatcher was foraging up and down the outfall

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
As there were too many shooters, I decided to move on, as it was not pleasant at this location any more. On the way out I found quite a large pool with good numbers of Common Ringed Plover. Whilst I was sitting quietly photographing the displaying birds, a shooter pulled up on the opposite side of the pool and started shooting at the Plovers - I kid you not! Despite my gesticulation, he was oblivious - so I got out my car and flushed the birds. He just moved to another spot. He would however be reported to the authorities...

Displaying Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)

Since my blood was still boiling, I headed for the sanctity of Jahra Pools to get away from the shooters. There were a number of Black-crowned Night Herons flying around one of the pools.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
A Common Quail froze in the middle of the road, before deciding to head back from where it had come..

Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)
I initially thought this might be a hybrid Duck, but after discussing with others concluded it is probably a female Common Pochard 

Female Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
As I said in my previous post, the sun is generally in front of you during the mornings at JPR. At the 'sunset' pool, I found these two Little Stints have a spat over the 'rights' to feed in a particular area..

Little Stint (Calidris minuta) fighting

At the outfall, there were big numbers of Herons and Egrets - this Squacco Heron was unsuccessful in it's attempt to get some lunch and hid his 'embarrassment' quite well.

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Well let me just dry my plumes and regain my composure...

Dawn and Dusk

Week 35, 26 August 2016 - JPR

I met up with Manoj Olikara to go and check a new site in Jal Al Zour escarpment for Lilith Owl, just as the sun was rising. With the on-set of autumn, it was great to see some clouds in the sky which sun would burn off later

Sunrise from Mutla'a Ridge

Golden lining
Previously Manoj had seen a pair of Owls with young, but today the young had moved on and we only had a brief glimpse of one of the adults. The only other birds of interest was a Common Whitethroat foraging in the desert scrub.

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
As there were no other birds to be seen, we moved further north to Mutla'a Ranch. European Bee-eaters were foraging from the telephone lines before the farm.

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
Inside the farm, we had good numbers of resident Crested Lark

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
As well as some early Isabelline Wheatears

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
Walking around the farm, we picked up juvenile Woodchat Shrike

Juvenile Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Sedge Warbler 

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
and this Warbler I still have not positively identified..

Unidentified Warbler - possibly Olivaceous?
A Plain Tiger was seen in the alfalfa field

Plain Tiger (Danaus chrysippus)
Not much else was about, so we headed back down the escarpment to Jahra Farms; another Woodchat Shrike

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

Followed by a young Masked Shrike

Masked Shrike (Lanius nubicus)
And a Red-spotted Bluethroat feeding in the fields, after which we called it a morning.

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia s. svecica)
Later in the afternoon, I was back at JPR for some golden hour photography when the light is more favourable for photography than the morning - although morning is generally better for birding.

At one of the pools after the gate, I came across an obliging female Norther Shoveler 

Female Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

The desert shrub is slowly changing into autumn colours and this is a 600mm landscape 'abstract'

Autumn colours in JPR
On the way to the pool, I had my first Eurasian Hoopoe for this autumn

Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
There is one particular pool that is great in the late afternoon as the sun starts setting directly behind you. Then you literally need to sit and wait and see what comes in to roost or forage.

First up was a few Common Snipe's that slowly came out from the reeds after I had switched off the engine

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

There were a couple of Squacco Herons and this juvenile had pretty dark upperparts (same as the previous week) - but it was still a Squacco Heron.

Juvenile Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

A number of White-winged Terns alternated between roosting on a sand bank and then foraging over the pool.

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
Western Yellow Wagtails numbers seem to be getting less each year - probably due the relentless killing and trapping across the migration route

Western Yellow Wagtail - not sure what the race might be?
This is not a great image, but does show the difference quite nicely between Green and Wood Sandpiper - 2 species that can sometimes be confused.

Green (Tringa ochropus) on the left and Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) on the right

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
A couple of Western Marsh Harriers were also putting the birds up, as they patrolled over the reed beds.

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
As the light was fading, a Spotted Fly made an appearance, another first for me for this autumn and a good bird to call it a day.

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)

27 August 2016

The Golden Hour

Week 34, 19 August 2016 - JPR

Markus Craig and I visited Jahra Pools Reserve in the late afternoon, which is the best time for photography, for the remaining accessible pools.

Even though it was early afternoon, a few Black-crowned Night Herons were already active and flying around above the reeds.

Adult Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
A few Caspian Reed Warbler's were seen from one of the observation towers

Caspian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. fuscus)
After a drive around the reserve, we found ourselves back at the pool in a good spot with the sun dropping in the sky behind us - perfect. Black-winged Stilts are generally quite photogenic and I quite like the image of the bird directly facing me.

Adult Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

There were many Grey-headed Swamphen's at this time of the afternoon

Grey-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio  p. poliocephalus)
A single European Black-tailed Godwit was still present

European Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa l. limosa)
And a few more Black-crowned Night Herons dropped in

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
A new migrant addition was a skulking Little Crake

Little Crake (Porzana parva)
A number of Shorebirds or waders were foraging on the shoreline and in the shallows including a few Ruff

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Temminck's Stint was not seen on the previous visit

Temminck's Stint (Calidris temminckii)
There were quite a few Squacco Heron in breeding plumage and they are still looking pretty striking

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) in breeding plumage

There was also a very dark Squacco present and we debated the possibility of it being Indian Pond - but it remained as a juvenile Squacco Heron (not sure if it is an offspring of the Reserve?)

Juvenile Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Juvenile Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) - but a different bird to the one above

By now the sun was close to the horizon when I heard a Spotted Redshank fly by overhead. I thought it wasn't going drop in - but it circled back and dropped out of the sky, but into another pool further away from where we were parked. This just a record image, only because I haven't photographed one in breeding plumage yet!

Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
By now the sun had set, when we came across a very early Grey Wagtail. Here the haze is created by the evaporating moisture from the ground still evaporating in the late afternoon heat. 

1st year Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Whilst we were watching the Wagtail, a Red-spotted Bluethroat popped out of the reeds for a record image

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia s. svecica)
All in all, a pleasant afternoon in the reserve, but still the migrant numbers are relatively low; however this should change in the coming 2-weeks