16 July 2013

JPR delivers another Mega

Week 29, 15 July 2013 - Jahra Pools Reserve (Click to enlarge image)

The weather was perfect yesterday, hot but no wind. Most of my visits to JPR have been early morning, so I decided to change the routine and head out late afternoon until sunset to see what came in to roost.

JPR has had some pretty good birds in the past 10-days, Masked Wagtail (4th) and Black-winged Kite as well as Citrine Wagtail. I must say, the atmosphere in late afternoon is quite different to the mornings and as a photographer you are losing light every minute..

Black-headed Wagtails are growing in numbers and today there were also many 1st year birds.

Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla f. feldegg)
This Common Kestrel must have mistaken the floating algae for a solid surface and ended up in the water. It appeared to remain calm and used it's wings to slowly propel it over the water until it could eventually climb onto a bush to dry it's feathers - a close escape from drowning.

Lucky escape for this Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

There was not a ripple on any of the pools, so reflections were great, even for a juvenile Common Moorhen. Although you had to remember to keep dialing up the ISO.

Juvenile Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in late afternoon light
3 Purple Swamphens were seen on the road and adult and two sub-adults that were raised in the pools.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio  porphyrio)

One of the Black-winged Kites was still around and I watched it try and catch a last evening meal before retiring to roost as the sun headed for the horizon, it was unsuccessful on this attempt.

Hunting Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Back to the overnight roost
I bumped into Omar Al-Shaheen, who had photographed a dark-backed 'Squacco' Heron. From the image on the back of his camera it also appeared to have oiled underparts, but it was difficult to see. However, it looked pretty good for Indian Pond Heron which would be the 2nd record for Kuwait, but had flown off to roost after he photographed it.

I drove around slowly trying to find the bird, but it appeared to be gone. Whilst scouring the pools and reeds I came across a few Warblers that were catching a last drink as the light faded fast. With the lack of pale tips to the primaries, they are probably Eurasian Reed Warblers

Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)

This juvenile Warbler is probably Great Reed Warbler, but as it is not fully grown, primary length is difficult to ascertain.

Juvenile Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
A couple of Whiskered Terns made a last sorty over the pools before roosting on a small exposed sand bank for the night.

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida) foraging in the last light

By now the sun had hit the horizon as I did one last attempt to find the Heron..

Light was fading fast
Blow me down, I caught a glimpse of a dark blob in the reedbed against the fading light and when I put my bins on it - there it was, perched on its own in near the top of the reeds and completely disassociating itself from a small flock of Squacco Herons that had roosted on a small sandbank at the base of some reeds. I pushed up the ISO and took a good number of record images, as we never know if it these rarities are one-day birds or not. From these (poor) images you can clearly see that the underparts are oiled, but more importantly the dark maroon mantle, the bill which is yellow with a black culmen and tip and has a blue base and the white nape plumes. In flight you can just make out that the upper wing coverts have a buffy wash.

Obviously this record will be submitted and ratified by KORC and if accepted is the 2nd record for Kuwait, but the first summer record (the previous was a winter record in November 2009)

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii) in breeding plumage, 2nd record for Kuwait

Hopefully it will stay for a day or two to allow us to get better images. Just as I was leaving, 3 Black-crowned Night Herons came out of their daytime roost and found a spot to feed for the night

By now it was almost dark (and I was late getting out of the reserve), amazingly there was a mixed flock of Collared Pratincoles, Blue-cheeked Bee Eaters and Barn Swallows feeding on an eruption of insects and was an end to a really pleasant and successful afternoon out - must do that again!

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