08 July 2013

The Masked Bandit returns

Week 27, 05 July 2013 - Sulaibikhat and Jahra Area (Click to enlarge image)

The 4th record of Masked Wagtail had been seen at Jahra Pools on the 3rd July by Khaled Al-Ghanem, so I was up early in blustery and hot conditions to see if it had stayed a little longer.

I didnt want to wake the guards at the gate too early, so detoured past the outfall at Sulaibikhat to discover that many of the birds that had bred on Boubiyan Island this summer were now back on the coast along with many young 1st-year birds. Gull-billed Terns were foraging off the outfall in the early morning light, with the youngster still begging for food whilst in flight with the adult.

Adult Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)

1st-year Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
A very young Crab-plover was seen on the banks of the outfall together with a Caspian Tern

1st-year Crab-Plover (Dromas ardeola) with Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)
A White-winged Tern was also seen roosting on the bank

White-winged Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus)
This bleached Heuglin's Gull was completely out of place as it should have departed to it's northern breeding grounds at the end of winter with the rest of the flock...

A very bleach Heuglin's Gull in the summer
At a more civil hour I arrived at the Jahra Pools gate. Water is still present but at lower levels, obviously at this time of year evaporation is a huge challenge. I was surprised to see some very early Autumn migrants, but also pleased to see some birds with colour in the form of a small flock of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters

Early Autumn arrivals, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus)
Other species that have had a successful breeding season at JPR were Little Ringed Plovers and the few pairs of Black-winged Stilts

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and recently fledged young
The Little Grebe off-spring are all pretty independent now

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) adult and almost grown young
As are the Mallard goslings which all appear to have survived till adulthood

The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) brood
There were Whiskered Terns wheeling and foraging over one of the larger pools.

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)
I photographed this Dragonfly that I thought may be a Vagrant Emperor, but there are some differences to the one below that I photographed in the South of Kuwait which was identified as a Vagrant Emperor

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) Dragonfly

Vagrant Emperor Dragonfly
I found a single Black-tailed Godwit and it took some time to get into a position where the light was favourable.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

Just after it took flight, I heard the familiar call of a White Wagtail, but could not locate the bird or where it came from. Finally I saw a movement and discovered it was below the bank, very close to where I had parked and finally I got onto the Masked Wagtail and had some almost full frame moments as it foraged along the waters edge - certainly my best photographic moment for this species.

As mentioned, this is the 4th record for Kuwait and of interest 3 of the 4 records are from Jahra Pools with the 3rd record found on 2nd March of this year.

4th record of Masked Wagtail (Motacilla a. personata)

Driving around the desert area with the Casarina Trees, I found a pair of Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins which was surprising and I am now wandering if they may have bred this summer? A short time later, I found 2 Upchers Warblers even more surprising and sat with them for quite some time to see if they were showing any signs of breeding activity - but none that I could ascertain

One of 2 Upcher's Warbler (Hippolais languida) seen together
A few Blue Pansy butterflies were seen and these are certainly not common in Kuwait

Blue Pansy butterfly
I decided to head to Jahra East and on the way out, a Purple Heron flushed out of the reeds

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
And a juvenile White-tailed Lapwing flew by

Juvenile White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
It was pretty hot by the time I arrived at Jahra East and discovered that it was already occupied by a large herd of camels and goats, so no chance of much bird activity. I resigned myself to photographing Dragonflies using my big glass, which is actually quite effective.

The first has impressive colouring and flew up and down the channel, but I'm not sure of it's id as I don't have any reference books for Dragonflies

Unidentified Dragonfly
The second appeared a lot more dainty and stayed away from the water, preferring to land on short grass

Unidentified Dragonfly
The last was a Damselfly which I have seen, but they are much more elusive to find after they have flown and landed - again no clue what species this is.

Unidentified Damselfly
By now I was also wilting a little, so decided to head back home


  1. I have to say, the pink dragonfly is amazing! :)

  2. Hi Mike,
    Nice pics. Some comments on the dragons. The Emperor type looks like a Lesser Emperor to me, and the pink/purple one looks like a Violet Dropwing (common in Africa and into southern Europe now). The last unid. damselfly I don't know other than it is clearly closely related to Red-eyed Damselfly - same shape, general colour pattern, and habit of perching on floating vegetation. Wrong eye colour though!
    I enjoyed my visit to Kuwait a couple of years ago. Please say hello to Pekka for me. Thanks.
    Julian Thomas, Somerset, UK