23 September 2014

Warblers of JEO - Part 2

Week 35, 29 August 2014 - Jahra East Outfall (JEO)

With Warblers all around the reedbeds, it was sometimes difficult to keep track of which species you are photographing. Even more so, once you had to sort and name them after downloading the images at home.

The first post was going to be titled "All fogged up sweating for Paddy", as I had originally come to JEO to try and pick up the 3rd Paddyfield Warbler that had been recorded at this site a few days earlier. 

There was not much air movement today and humidity was unusually high by Kuwait standards - so it took some time for the fog to 'dry' off my lens and it also didn't take long before I was literally soaked through just sitting in my car with the engine switched off.

So, the Great Read Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) is the largest of the European Warblers and is one of 3 Acro species that occur in Kuwait which are Great Reed, Indian Reed and Basra Reed.

Great Reed used to be included with Old World Warblers, but was since moved to the Marsh and Tree Warbler family.

It is most easily (you would think) identified by it's long and heavy bill, well defined supercilium and relatively long tail. Males and females are very similar looking (I cant tell them apart) and it has a pretty harsh and guttural song.

They breed throughout mainland Europe and Asia, as well as Kuwait where these birds were photographed and then migrate to sub-Saharan Africa in the winter and are found in my hometown of Johannesburg in South Africa in our summer months. 

They favour reed beds as their habitat during their breeding months, so both Jahra East Outfall and Jahra Pools Reserve with their extensive phragmite reedbeds are ideal sites.

Thanks again to Peter Kennerley who provided some insight into aging these birds and also pointing out that Great Reed shows 8 primaries beyond the outermost secondary. So, the longest primary is P3 and P1 (outermost) is very short and P2 falls below the longest primary so is hidden in most of my images. The long primary projection also eliminates Indian Reed Warbler.

The image below shows a juvenile/first winter bird that shows fresh plumage and it also has a dark iris.

1st year Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Birds with worn primaries and tail in late summer/autumn are adults. The iris colour also helps, becoming paler when 1+ year old. There are slight variations in bill thickness as can be seen in one of the images, but none match that of Basra Reed.
Adult Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), this one with a slimmer bill

Adult Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

Adult Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

Adult Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)

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