29 November 2012

There is a nip in the air at JPR

Week 49, 27 November 2012 - Jahra Pools Reserve (Click to enlarge image)

I was able to spend a few hours at Jahra Pools on this clear and brisk morning. The temp has certainly dropped and with the stiff breeze it was welcome from those searingly hot summer days a few months back.

A couple of good birds have been seen at the reserve, especially now that water supply is restored which has also been supplemented by a little of the rain we have enjoyed in the past week.

Driving along the fence line of the reserve, I found Daurian Shrike

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
European Stonechat

European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
and Siberian Stonechat showing the white base to the tail feathers

Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)

A Great Crested Grebe has been in the reserve for about a week. Previous records have all been in the Gulf, so great that it was in the reserve making it easier for the birders to see and photograph. It was sheltering from the wind behind some reeds, together with 5 Black-necked Grebes

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) and Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

Their feet are almost too obscenely big for such a serene and graceful bird

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
I disturbed a second Daurian Shrike that was feeding on a small Warbler it had just killed. With patience it eventually returned to retrieve it's breakfast and disappeared into the depths of the reeds

Daurian Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)

With breakfast
I was pleased to see that 2 of the Long-tailed Ducks were still present in the pool I saw them a few weeks ago

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

I heard some Ducks call overhead and not long after that a flock of 5 Tufted Ducks landed in the pool with 2 males in eclipse plumage

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
I drove slowly back to the main pool near the gate finding the other 2 Long-tailed Ducks feeding very close to the road - unfortunately they took off as soon as they saw my car.

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
The first year Little Grebes are now almost all grown up

1cy Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
The adult seemed not to associate with them anymore, so I guess it is the case of your'e big enough to find your own food and territory

Adult Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Western Marsh Harriers were seen flying low over the reeds and then rising and quartering in the hope of flushing an unsuspecting bird.

Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)

Here a Black-necked Grebe flying to some cover

Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
So, some great birds in these fresh conditions and a clean sweep on the Grebes.

27 November 2012

Clear and cool in the South

Week 48, 27 November 2012 - Sabah al Ahmad Sea City (Click to enlarge image)

I was back down south to visit one of the newer phases of the Sea City project in Khiran.

I found a mixed flock of birds that had roosted overnight on one of the beaches that included a few Grey Herons as well as; Great Cormorants

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

a number of Slender-billed Gulls

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
and a few Heuglins Gulls

Heuglins Gull (Larus f/h. heuglini)
At one of the jetties, I found this bait ball of small fish, but couldnt find any predator that had caused them to get into this formation - nevertheless, it was interesting to watch

Bait balling fish

Not much else was seen along the beaches other than the resident Kentish Plovers

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
and a single Common Ringed Plover

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
I explored by car the south side of Khiran near the Jebels, but recent rains made some areas challenging, so only Isabelline Wheatear was seen.

Jebel south of Khiran

Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina)
House Sparrows males are actually quite good looking birds - I guess, since they are so common the lowly and highly adaptive Sparrow is ignored and generally overlooked.

Male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

21 November 2012

Welcome Rain

Week 47, 14 November 2012 - Sabah Al Ahmad Sea City (Click to enlarge image)

I had some welcome rain on an overcast day on the drive down south to Sea City and it continued intermittently during the morning and we loved it. Obviously not great for photography, but that was not a issue.

Heading out to the sea a few birds were hunkered down

At this time of year, the moulting large white-headed Gulls arrive in Kuwait for the winter and still provide an id challenge.

I suspect this to be a Heuglin's Gull

Heuglin's Gull (Larus f/h. heuglini)
A probable Caspian Gull

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
I found Greater Sand Plover foraging on the shoreline

Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
Together with a single and much smaller Lesser Sand Plover

Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius atrifrons)
We always check the buoys just off shore and today a Socotra was roosting with the Great Cormorants which have now arrived in numbers for the winter. As my records go, this is a very late sighting for Socotra Cormorant which should have already headed back south. In fact, there were 2 Socotra's present this morning.

Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo) with a late departing Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
Exploring other lagoons, we found many more Gulls - mostly a combination of Armenian and Caspian Gulls

Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus)

Mixed flock of Armenian and Caspian Gulls

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
On the way back, the light had improved marginally and only the Socotra's were still on the buoy

Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)

However, I found the Great Cormorants resting on the water on one of the lagoons. Here a flight sequence of it taking off

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Once I left the boat, I explored some desert habitat near Khiran Resort and added Wood Sandpiper, Dunlin and a Red-spotted Bluethroat which popped out from behind some scrub.

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
Also seen were; a distant Asian Desert Warbler feeding on insects hiding in this small plant

Spot the Asian Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana)

Eastern Mourning Wheatear

Eastern Mourning Wheatear (Oenanthe lugens)
and Desert Wheatear on the pylons heading back to highway 30

Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)
A few days later (17th) we were back at Khiran, this time with my family in glorious weather. We explored some of the islands finding a large unidentified Dragonfly

Unidentified Dragonfly
Many Crabs, this one is Macropthalmus depressus and appears to have camouflaged itself very well

Macropthalmus depressus
Same Snails on an exposed low tide rock

A quick trip off-shore gave a flock of Caspian Gulls roosting on the water

Caspian Gulls ( Larus cachinnans)
and this time 3 Socotra's on the buoy and it was noted that their juvenile plumage is now slowly darkening

Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
The rest of the morning was spent enjoying time on the beach, which the kids enjoyed