27 July 2013

Scuttled by the Wind

Week 30, 26 July 2103 - Jahra Pools Reserve (Click to enlarge image)

The wind had picked up during the week and brought unpleasant blowing dust. I thought it had subsided sufficiently to get out for a pleasant few hours at JPR - I was wrong..

I didn't spend too much time at the pools this morning, as conditions were far from optimal. Although I was happy to get onto the Black-winged Kite that has been here a few weeks now and is considered a rarity for Kuwait. This one was actively searching and looking for prey items beneath its perch - but didn't pounce on anything whilst I was watching

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus) searching for breakfast

I caught a glimpse of some movement in the reeds and just managed to squeeze off one shot of the Swamphen before it skulked back into the reeds and out of the wind.

Skulking Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio  porphyrio)
A Little Ringed Plover stayed below the high bank to seek shelter from the wind.

1st year Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
As there was not much else about, I concentrated on a few Dragonflies that were a little confiding due to the wind - there are not many resources available to assist with identification, but I enjoyed photographing these small subjects with big glass before heading back home.




Autumn Waders and Terns of Jahra Bay

Week 30, 21 July 2013 - Jahra Pools and Jahra East Outfall (Click to enlarge image)

We're almost halfway through Ramadan which means full moon; and full moon means proper high tides which for once were at a decent time of the day. I must stress that if waders are not your thing, then this post is not for you...

The high tide was predicted to be 4.0m, but only at 9am, so I first headed to Jahra Pools to check on the arrival of any early Autumn migrants. 

The Eurasian Coots are now all grown up..

1st year Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
We still have not found the nests of the Little Ringed Plovers, but do know that they bred this year. We suspect that they have their scrapes on exposed sandbanks in the middle of some of the pools that we cant get to.

1st year Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
A small group of Common Redshanks were feeding in the shallow pools

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
There were a small number of Barn Swallows

1st year Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
and Sand Martins roosting on one of the fences 

Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
This morning a few 1st-year Yellow Wagtails had arrived to join some of the adult Black-headed. Too early to tell which sub-species these may be.

1st year Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava flava)
A couple of White-winged Terns were foraging over the pools in a variety of plumage's

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
and a 1st year White-cheeked Tern did a fly by.....looking a little out of place over an inland pool

1st year White-cheeked Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
By now it was time to head to Jahra East where the tide was coming in quickly followed by huge numbers of migratory waders foraging along the shoreline. Although the weather was great, the position of the sun was not first prize for photography.

Jahra East Outfall with an incoming 4.0m tide

One of the first birds that stood out was a Red-backed Shrike still in breeding plumage, but its chances of survival are diminished with the loss of it's lower mandible - possibly it had been shot?

Male Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
The majority were made up of Kentish Plovers, I estimated that there were easily over a 1000 of these small waders. I noted that there appeared to be an eruption of crickets and small grasshoppers, as they were jumping onto and into my car while I drove along the shoreline. This appeared to be a food source for a variety of the birds on the shoreline

Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) flock with a lone Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus)

1st year Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) getting a quick snack

When there are such big mixed flocks, you have to take the time to work through them - normally the biggest birds first and aside from the Eurasian Curlews, there were numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica)
and one small flock of Crab-plovers which took off soon after I arrived

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)
Eurasian Oystercatcher with their pied plumage certainly stand out in the flock

Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

As did a single Grey Plover

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Next were the Ruff's, some looking rougher than others with their moulting plumage

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Now it was time to start working through the smaller waders and I was surprised at the number of Lesser Sand Plovers

Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius atrifrons) and Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)

Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius atrifrons) still in breeding plumage

which outnumbered the Greater Sand Plovers

1st year Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaultii)
I knew their should be some Broad-billed Sandpipers amongst the masses and eventually got onto a small number of these great waders

Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) in between 2 Curlew Sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea)

There weren't very many Dunlin either

Dunlin (Calidris alpina) and Curlew Sanpiper (Calidris ferruginea) side-by-side for comparison
Or Curlew Sandpipers, yet - but in the next few weeks this will certainly change

Curlew Sanpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
And even the Little Stints were few and far between.

Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
A couple of confiding Terek Sandpipers passed by fairly closely

A foraging Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
Followed by a Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Despite a few sorties up and down the shoreline, I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary amongst the bounty of waders, so checked out the Terns. There were quite a few 1st year Caspian Terns still whinging and begging for food next to their parents

Adult and 1st-year Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
A few scattered flocks of smaller Terns that included some marsh Terns (White-winged and Whiskered) as well as a few groups of Little Terns (adults and 1st-year birds) that also indulged in the crickets the were being displaced by the high tide

Adult Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)

Getting in on the free breakfast

1st year Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)
A few 1st year White-cheeked Terns that have now dispersed from Kubbar Island where they bred earlier this summer

1st year White-cheeked Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
And a Gull-billed and Sandwich Tern sitting side-by-side for comparison.

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) and Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicensis)
So a great morning with encouraging numbers and diversity which will certainly swell in the coming weeks, but unfortunately another high tide like this will be a few weeks away...

Later in the week, I had the opportunity to go snorkelling on a small patch reef in the south of the country, but as always take my camera - just in case. A couple of Terns (Bridled, White-cheeked and Lesser Crested) and as to be expected at this time of year - a few Socotra Cormorants. This flight image showing the diagnostic kink in the neck

1st year Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocoraz nigrogularis) with the classic kink in the neck seen in flight

A really poor image and against the light of a Hawksbill Turtle swimming away from me, but a privilege to be in the water with these magnificent and graceful creatures

A departing Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)