14 April 2013

The northern off-shore islands

Week 13, 25 March 2013 - Boubyan and Warba Islands (Click to enlarge image)

I was able to arrange a trip to Boubyan and Warba Islands to conduct a cetacean survey with a small group of interesting people.

Unfortunately, it was one of those days where the weather turned on the drive to meet the boat - but this did not deter our enthusiasm. So for the duration of the survey to the south of Boubyan and then to the north we were battered by strong blustery wind and bigger than usual waves.

As it turned out we had 3 different sightings of Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphins, so the group was delighted. However, getting useful images was a real challenge

Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) 

With the last sighting the Dolphins were feeding and we could follow where they were going by the mixed flock of Terns flying above them. This at least help give a feel for where they may surface to take some images from the rolling deck of the boat. However, I was treated to 5 Tern species, many of which return to Kuwait annually for the summer breeding season. I saw numbers of Lesser Crested Tern

Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
A few Swift Terns

Swift Tern (Sterna bergii)

And Caspian Terns

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
at the Warba Station we also had Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
and an interesting smattering of migrant passerines mostly sheltering from the strong wind. Both Pied and Black-eared Wheatear were seen, as well as a few Black Redstarts

Female Western Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
I noted a few Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters roosting on the island, just trying to stay out of the wind. A White-throated Kingfisher flying low across the island to some shelter was certainly an unexpected bird

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
By now we were all pretty wind-swept so opted to head back to land. At the Boubyan Station I was finally able to photograph the 3rd inter-tidal Mudskipper species found in Kuwait. This one is Slender Mudskipper (Scartelaos tenuis), so I was pretty pleased. Thanks to Jim Bishop and Gianluca Polgar for confirming the identification.

So, despite the weather this was a pretty successful outing.

Slender Mudskipper (Scartelaos tenuis)

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