10 October 2013

Qaruh Island

Week 39, 27 September 2013 - Qaruh Island

I have changed the layout of my Blog page to show the post processed images at full size - I think it looks a lot better (thanks Jonathan).

We were fortunate to be invited to join the BioE turtle team on a trip to Qaruh Island to check on the many Green Turtle nests. This was my first trip to this southern island after passing Umm Al Maradim which is a little further south of Qaruh, but also closer to the mainland.

Qaruh is the smallest (275 x 175m) of the nine islands of Kuwait but is also the furtherest (37,5 km) away from the mainland. Of interest, Qaruh was the first part of Kuwaiti soil that was liberated from Iraq during the Gulf War on 21 January 1991.

Coming in to Qaruh Island
Fortunately we traveled with the Coastguard, as we had a stiff breeze with big swells by Arabian Gulf standards, so it made the crossing to Qaruh a little more comfortable.
Maneuvering to the dock
On the way out of Khiran Harbour, we enjoyed the customary Socotra Cormorants roosting on the marker buoys.

Socotra Cormorants (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis)
Since autumn migration was near its peak, I was interested to see what migrants made use of this very small patch of sand almost 40-km off-shore. On route, I did see a Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 2 Steppe Buzzards flying westerly toward the mainland. I must assume that these species have migrated directly across the Gulf from Iran, since the prevailing wind was a favourable tail-wind for these raptors.

Once we had arrived, off-loaded and settled we quickly explored the island - no hatchlings today. I noted that there was almost no vegetation or habitat on the island, other than 2 bushes at the entrance of Coastguard building. 

There were a surprising number of passerine migrants that had landed and were resting on the island. Today I had attached my smaller 400mm to my Canon, which made it easier to use on the crossing and the island itself. A male Ehrenberg's Redstart was seen around the Coastguard building

Male Ehrenberg's Redstart (Phoenicurus p. sammamisicus)
As was Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
and Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) 
There were at least 7 Eurasian Hoopoes roosting on the radio tower that stands tall on the island

Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

A few Shrikes were seen and most were Red-backed

Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Surprising was the number of Wheatear's around the island; I counted around 8 made up of 3 species that included Pied Wheatear. I love the sea as a backdrop to some of these images

Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)
Northern Wheatear 

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
and a few Desert Wheatear's

Female Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

Male Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti)

Even more surprising was a female Blue Rock Thrush

Female Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)

and an Egyptian Nightjar

An out of place Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius) 
All too soon it was time to head back in much calmer conditions and the island looked a little different in the late afternoon sun

Qaruh in soft afternoon light
But also we had a pretty good sunset to round off what was an enjoyable day.

The end of a great day 

1 comment:

  1. great!
    I thought Miskan is the smallest island! I've been trying to reach other islands other than Failaka for ages (specially Miskan).