19 July 2016

Boubyan Island

Week 23, 03 June 16 - Boubyan Island

We were 5 on this trip to census the summer breeding birds on Boubyan Island; Markus Craig, Neil Tovey, Dr. Will Le Quesne and Brian Hartley that was kindly hosted by the Coastguard.

An early start was needed to catch the tide and also to avoid the oppressive summer temperatures later in the day.

Soon after leaving the harbour we stopped to check a Kestrel soaring overhead...

Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Shortly afterward were treated to a great sighting of 2 Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin that were both curious and obliging - unfortunately, I didn't have time to change my big glass to a more appropriate zoom. Nevertheless, I was happy with the 'portraits', as you normally don't see this species with their head's out of the water.

Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis)

We went past Warba Island and from the north explored the various channels/khors inside Boubyan for the breeding colonies of the respective species.

First up was a Western Reef Heron breeding colony, with both pale and dark forms nesting side-by-side. Some birds were still on eggs, whilst others had large fledged young.

I was pleased to find an adult with a fine set of breeding plumes - the light wasn't the best, but I was happy with the result

Pale Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

Dark Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

Pale Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea) with young

Juvenile Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

Pale and Dark Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea)

Pale Form Western Reef Heron (Egretta g. schistacea) with stunning breeding plumes

Grey Herons also breed amongst the Western Reef Herons

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Although we saw many Crab-plover later (they were too distant photograph, especially with the heat haze). One or two were present foraging in this Heron colony

Crab-plover (Dromas ardeola)
Slender-billed Gulls breed in large numbers at a number of sites on the island. Again most young had fledged, but a number were also still sitting on eggs. How they survive these oppressive temperatures is a testament to how nature adapts to hostile climates

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei) creche

Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei) still on eggs
Unlike our last visit, very few Gull-billed Terns were seen. Those that were seen were flying overhead

Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica)
What was the most worrying, was the fact that no Spoonbills were seen during the first lap. On the second lap, I found a single Spoonbill on a nest amongst the Western Reef Heron. 

Despite intensive checking and searching, no others were found - so we are not sure if there has been a population collapse of this species on Boubyan?

Lone Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

All in all a rewarding outing and thanks again to the Coastguard for their patience and hospitality. 

Following this outing, it was time for our summer/winter holiday back to South Africa - a long overdue break that we were really looking forward to enjoying!

Breeding Barn Swallow

Week 23, 03 June 16 - Jahra Pool Reserve

I had arranged a trip to Boubyan Island and got to the meeting point at Jahra Pools early so I could have a quick look around.

There were reports earlier in the week of breeding Barn Swallow and I was able to locate and see a number of nests with at least 2 having adult birds sitting on eggs/chicks. This is a pretty exciting breeding record for Kuwait for a migrant species.

Active Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) nests

Driving slowly around the reserve, I found a male Little Bittern hunting quietly and patiently in a quiet pool.

Male Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)
Caspian Reed Warblers were pretty vocal in the reeds with nest building in progress or imminent

Caspian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus s. fuscus)

A juvenile Namaqua Dove was seen, brood of summer 2016?

Juvenile Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis)
An unexpected Marsh Sandpiper was found foraging in a shallow pool - perhaps it is over summering?

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Also unexpected as it is more typically a winter visitor, was a male Northern Shoveler

Male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
A pair of Little Ringed Plovers were quite vocal and for sure they should breed in the reserve this summer, finding their nest or young is another challenge all together.

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Finally, as I was leaving, a White-tailed Lapwing flew up from behind some reeds and was quite agitated. It was confirmed a few weeks later, that they too bred in the reserve this year which is really great news.

White-tailed Lapwing (Vanellus leucurus)
It was now time to meet up with the rest of the team for the visit to Boubyan.