23 August 2012

More wind and dust

Week 34, 23 August 2012 - Jahra Pools and Sharq Harbour (Click to enlarge image)

I took a days leave and visited Jahra Pools early in the morning in strong gusting wind and dust - so pretty unpleasant overall.

Nevertheless, there were some birds about although many were sheltering inside the reeds or keep low to keep out of the 40 - 50km/h wind.

Aside from the Yellow Wagtails, a few Black-headed Buntings were found sitting quietly at the base of the reeds.

Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)
A single Woodchat Shrike was also seen out of the wind in the reeds

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
No other passerines were seen, so I concentrated on the waders feeding around the pools. I just missed a Broad-billed Sandpiper that flew off before I could get my camera up - a good tick for Jahra Pools and generally not an easy bird to find. A Dunlin was a new species for this autumn, still sporting it's breeding plumage

Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Both Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
And Common Ringed Plover were seen

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
An assortment of Black-winged Stilts which bred at the reserve this summer were seen on most of the pools

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
I found a small flock of Pied Avocet, which were very skittish

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
As were the flock of Garganey, as there were two shooters on the perimeter of the reserve shooting at birds inside. I was encouraged when the sub-contractors building the pipeline on the perimeter of the reserve, made an effort to chase or apprehend the shooters with one of the JPR guards.

Mixed flock of Garganey (Anas querquedula)
A single Collared Pratincole was also seen.

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola)
By now the inside of my car, my kit and I were all covered in white dust, so it was time to depart. A quick stop at Jahra Farms produced........nothing!

On the way home I passed Sharq Harbour and saw quite a few large white-headed gulls circling over the Dhows in the strong wind. So, I made a stop and got my mornings gym hand-holding The Beast to get some in flight images of moulting Steppe Gulls

Steppe Gull (Larus f/h. barabensis)

As well as a single Heuglins Gull. By this time I was in need of an Egg McMuffin meal before going home to valet the car and clean all my gear.

Heuglins Gull (Larus f/h. heuglini)

22 August 2012

What has the wind blown in

Week 34, 21 August 2012 - SAANR and Jahra Farm (Click to enlarge image)

There has been a consistent NW wind for the past few days, so it was time to check out SAANR.

Again on the way to Tuhla, I saw the usual Arabian Red Foxes (since I know where they live), this time though they didn't stick around for photographs and disappeared at speed into the distance.

A 1cy Short-toed Eagle had roosted in the Acacia's overnight, but it took a good 2-hours before it eventually came down to drink from the pools. The four of us (Rashed, Mahmoud, Mershab and I) who were patiently waiting got crippling views and great images.

Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus)

Today, I found a shady spot at the pool and waited to see what came to drink and was rewarded with birds like; European Roller

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)
Lesser Grey Shrike

Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

With a Wood Sandpiper trying to shelter from the wind at the waters edge

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
A Greater Hoopoe Lark was catching and eating ants under one of the Acacia trees

Greater Hoopoe Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
A drive to the dry wadi gave a Spiny-tailed Lizard (warmed yellow by the sun) with a normal length tail

Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastux aegyptia)
At the wadi, the wind has pushed fine sand up against some desert grass creating a micro habitat.

Micro desert habitat
I pushed on to Jahra Farm, missing a Montagu Harrier that came to drink at Tuhla. But at Jahra Farms found many Common Whitethroats

Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
A couple of Eastern Olivaceous Warblers

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler (Iduna pallida)
and a single Upchers Warbler

Upchers Warbler (Hippolais languida)
And a bonus for missing the Montagu earlier in the form of the normally skulking Thrush Nightingale (you can see the 8 primaries in the 2nd image, Common Nightingale has 7)

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia)

So, some great Eid birding and we look forward to see what September brings with favourable NW winds....

Eid and back to JPR

Week 34, 20 August 2012 - Jahra Pools Reserve (Click to enlarge image)

After the great morning 2-days I was back at Jahra Pools just after sunrise. There had been a slight change in weather, a little hotter and a stronger breeze and it is amazing the impact this subtle change has on the birds.

There was certainly not as many species or numbers there were a few days back, but that may also be attributed to shooters that had gained access to the reserve on foot and had been blasting away until they were chased by guards and photographers. Hopefully once the work on the pipeline on the perimeter of the reserve is finished, the fence can be fixed and this will keep shooters out for good!

Just inside the gates, I spotted this young Woodchat Shrike sitting proudly on a pole in great light

Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
I have been very lucky seeing Arabian Red Foxes the last few outings and today was no exception as I found two inside the reserve

Arabian Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes arabica)
Out near one of the open pools, more Swallows and Sand Martins

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
And a few Marsh Terns, capturing them in flight hand-holding The Beast coupled to a 1.4 extender was a real challenge - it is probably best to use the naked 600mm in these circumstances..Nevertheless, both Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)
and White-winged Tern were present

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
Little Grebe were still present in the pools with reed fringes

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
I found two Red-necked Phalaropes interspersing between feeding on the exposed sand and shallow water of one of the big shallow pools

Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)

Alongside a Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Today I found a juvenile Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
And more Graceful Prinia's

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
And skulking in the shadows of some reeds, my first Northern Wheatear for this autumn.
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
By now the wind was quite brisk, so called it a morning and headed for a Starbucks for a welcome coffee during the day to celebrate the 1st day of Eid.

Water, water everywhere

Week 33, 18 August 2012 - Jahra Pools Reserve (Click on image to enlarge)

Now that work is completed on the roads and water supply for Jahra Pools Reserve, we can now get access again. In my 6-years in Kuwait, I have not seen Jahra Pools look this good with expansive pools spreading over the reserve - it should be a magnet for autumn migrants and the winter residents. However, the reed growth will have to closely monitored as they spread alarming fast and can very quickly close off and choke open pools.

Many of the other local birder/photographers were also at the reserve today and we almost weren't sure where to go, as there were so many more options. 

Hirundines were hawking over open water and then resting on some of the old fences, both Barn Swallows

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

And Sand Martins

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Food source is abundant with a lot of midge type insects which all birds were over indulging on and fattening up before they continue their journey south.

Many 1cy Yellow Wagtails and many too young to separate into sub-species.

1cy Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla f. flava)

Warbler seen were; Great Reed

Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Sedge Warbler that was feeding alongside a Bluethroat

Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

and good numbers of Savi's Warblers

Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides)

Graceful Prinia's are slowly increasing in numbers after a particularly cold winter seemed to reduce their numbers a few years ago

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis)
A couple of 1cy Red-spotted Bluethroats were also seen

Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)
On the edges of the pools, the first Collared Pratincoles for this autumn were seen

Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) 
As well as Common Ringed Plover which weren't present a few days back

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Stints can get quite territorial over the patch that they are feeding on and a few squabbles were seen

Little Stints (Calidris minuta)
Other waders included; Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Marsh Sandpiper

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) 
and Ruff

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
There was also a splash of colour with numbers of European Rollers 

European Roller (Coracias garrulus)
and a flock of European Bee-eaters that had roosted overnight and seen whilst we were waiting for the guards to open the gates

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)
I found a distant Common Kingfisher that was successfully fishing from a barbed wire fence running through one of the pools, I was quite pleased with the results considering I had a 1.4 extender on The Beast

Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Out in the middle of one of the pools I found a small flock of Garganey

Garganey (Anas querquedula)
and a few Little Grebes

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
and skulking in the reeds a couple of Little Crake were seen.

Little Crake (Porzana parva)
On a final circuit of the reserve before I left, 3 Black-tailed Godwits flew by at speed overhead,so I was quite pleased to have locked focus for an acceptable record image.

Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa)
So, a fantastic morning and I'm sure Jahra Pools is going to produce a rarity or two before the year is over.