09 January 2013

A Mega at JPR to start the New Year

Week 02, 07 January 2013 - JPR and Sulaibikhat (Click to enlarge image)

A very happy New Year to you all, may 2013 be all that you wish for and more.

I was in Saudi when news filtered through that Rashed had found the 2nd record of Horned Grebe at Jahra Pools Reserve. Since weather conditions were mild and habitat was favourable there is a good chance that the 2 birds would remain, as has the Great Crested Grebe.

I was only able to visit the reserve on an absolutely perfect day on Monday (luckily, as the Tuesday was a horrendous dust storm where you could see the air you breathe).

I ended off 2012 with a European Robin at the pools and coincidentally started off 2013 with probably the same bird.

European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
There was a flock of 74 Greater Flamingo's in the main open pool

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
I found the flock of 7 winter plumaged Black-necked Grebes and have provided an image for comparative purposes, just to show that other medium sized winter plumaged Grebe's could be easily overlooked.

Winter plumage Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Finally, one of the Horned Grebe's came out from behind a reed bed and I was able to enjoy saturated views of this smart bird that appears much crisper than the Black-necked.

Winter plumage Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
After some time, the 2nd bird joined the first and the paddled off to the far end of the pool

The two Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus)
A small flock of 3 Tufted Ducks were also seen

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
The Horned Grebes were actively feeding and despite having 10 fps, it was almost impossible to get one single sequence of the birds diving - so this is a hybridisation of 3 different sequences, to show exactly how they dive

Dive sequence of Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

A White Pelican had also been seen on the Jahra coast, so I headed off to search for it - but without any luck. I guess 2 new birds on one day is pushing it. In Sulaibikhat the tide was way out, so I took some time to observe the interaction between the Mudskippers. Kuwait has either 3 or 4 species of Mudskipper and I was fortunate to be able to photograph two of the species.

Looking at the images, they are truly unique and almost prehistoric. According to Wikipedia they are completely amphibious fish and use their pectoral fins to walk on land. Since they are amphibious, they are uniquely adapted to inter-tidal habitats and are quite active when out of water; feeding and interacting with one another when defending their territories.

Mudskippers are able to breathe through their skin and the lining of their mouth and throat, but need to keep moist to do so - this is known as cutaneous air breathing; similar to some amphibians. They also have enlarged gill chambers which retain a bubble of air and these large gill chambers close tightly when the fish is above water, keeping the gills moist and allowing them to function.

Here is the bigger of the two Mudskippers; Boleophthalmus dussumieri. These two were squaring off and posturing by extending their dorsal fins and finally some aggression and a bit of mud-slinging before the loser slunk off back to his own burrow. I noted to that the teeth structures were different in the two species.

Boleophthalmus dussumieri

and the other smaller species; Walton's Mudskipper (Periophthalmus waltoni). This is a face that only a mother could love, but has similarity to a grasshopper in a way. The first two images clearly show how they 'walk' using their pectoral fins. And again, territorial display and posturing of raised dorsal fins, until one of the fishes gives in and returns from whence he came

Walton's Mudskipper (Periophthalmus waltoni)


  1. Great sequence of images.
    did you consider using a polarizer over the lens to clear the water off?