4 Mar 2012

Some colourful birds - Alba Marsh (Bahrain)

On Friday 2nd March, Nicole and I went ringing at Alba Marsh with Brendan. We got to the site early and set up two 18 metre four panel mist nets and a 12 metre single shelf net. The reeds had been cut very short in one of the places where we normally erect one of the 18 metre nets so we moved it to a new location. Nicole suggested putting in an area near to the tall reeds and although we had put nets in this area without too much luck in the past, we put the net up where she had suggested. This location turned out to be very good and we caught a lot of birds in this net as they were disturbed from the short cut reeds by us walking towards the net. As the three nets were catching quite a lot of birds we did not put up any more. At the end of the mornings ringing session we had caught 31 birds with seven re-traps all of birds ringed at the same site this winter. We re-trapped three Bluethroats, one Graceful Prinia, one Water Pipit & two Clamorous Reed Warblers. When we got to the site we saw a nice male Woodchat Shrike sitting in a low bush by the side of the marsh. This shrike seemed to favour one particular bush and when Howard King arrived he put out the spring trap with a worm attached to try to catch the bird which proved successful. I was closest so had the pleasant task of trying to extract the bird without it drawing too much blood. They are quite adept at attacking figures and I took the bird out with the help of Nicole with only a couple of scratches. This is the first time I have ringed Woodchat Shrike and they are fabulous birds in the hand, excepting their aggressive nature.
 Woodchat Shrike (male)
 Woodchat Shrike (male)
Woodchat Shrike (male)


As we were walking through the reeds we flushed quite a large number of Water Pipits and a smaller number of Bluethroats, most of which were Red-spotted types. Other birds flushed included a Little Bittern and a few Common Snipe neither of which we managed to catch. A singing Savi’s warbler was a nice surprise as we were erecting the net in the new site but it stopped singing and was not seen again after first light. The Water Pipits were in partial moult and coming into nice summer plumage on the underparts.

 Water Pipit (A. s. coutelli)
 Water Pipit (A. s. coutelli)
 Water Pipit (A. s. coutelli)
Red-spotted Bluethroat (male)


Clamorous Reed Warblers were singing from many different points in the tall reeds as always but we had failed to catch any birds since 6th January 2012. It was a pleasant surprise to catch two birds today, both of which were re-traps and one of which was a female with a well-developed brood patch, indicating breeding at the site again. The first confirmed breeding for the species in Bahrain was noted last year at the same site. Good numbers of warblers were present in the reeds and Tamarisk scrub, with the vast majority of them being Common Chiffchaffs. Birds winter in the region but the first large numbers of migrants have just started passing through in the last week or so and these were almost certainly migrants many of which had large reserves of fat ready of onward passage. A number of the Common Chiffchaffs seen were quite yellow in colour, although the one photographed below is not as bright as many.
 Clamorous Reed Warbler
Common Chiffchaff


Whilst doing a net round Nicole informed me she had seen two Yellow Wagtails with Black-heads in the short cut reed area. We walked through this area between the two 18 metre nets and flushed the birds one of which flew just past the net and landed. As we moved closer the bird flew again and caught itself in the net allowing me to extract it take it back for processing. As neither Nicole nor I had ringed the species before I let her ring the bird and I took some photographs. They are really stunning birds in the field and even more so in the hand.
Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)
 Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)
Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)
Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)
Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)

Black-headed (Yellow) Wagtail - male (Montacilla flava feldegg)

2 comments:

  1. I am interested to discover if certain birds are unique to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Lebanon or if most birds are simply common to the region .

    I welcome any and all information.

    Thank you,
    Ellen Frank, Ph.D.

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    Replies
    1. Ellen,

      If you look at the tab at the top of the page called Arabian Endemics, it lists and details all the birds endemic (only occurring) in the Arabian Peninsula and nowhere else.

      Most birds are passing through but not all.

      Regards
      Jem

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