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Indian Pitta Found in the Margalla Hills

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Dear Readers of the Islamabad Birding Blog. It’s Islbirder here who knows nothing of Facebook (I leave that to Swabi Birder) but I do know RMK has attracted a lot of new birder/photographers through the Facebook Group.
I spent three wonderful years in Pakistan birding with RMK and many mornings during the heat of sweltering summers we would be at Trail 5 of the Margalla Hills before daybreak listening for the plaintive whistle of a very shy and incredibly rare summer visitor to Pakistan. In all those many days of trying I never did find the beautiful Indian Pitta. The Pakistan range of this species, historically, has only ever been the Margalla Hills National Park.
It is frustratingly elusive within its breeding territory and much easier to see where it winters in Sri Lanka. Indian Pitta was first recorded in Pakistan in June 1978 when a pair was found breeding at Daman-i-Koh, at the foot of the Margalla Hills. Subsequent investigation by the eminent ornithologist, the late Tom Roberts,…

The Beautiful Pakistan Bee-eaters

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Hello Readers
I know you are asking why the Blog has not been updated for such a long time. I say this because a lady, who is a serious ornithologist, asked me the same question during a very formal gathering and I was a little bit embarrassed.
My excuses are that I was being a bit lazy for not updating the blog and secondly, I have spotted no new birds in Islamabad and surrounding areas as the migration has started and winter birds have now left. However, I will share with you the few images I have managed to capture.
Asian Green Bee-eaters arrived during April in; apparently reduced numbers and I have only seen a few in and around Islamabad.

Surprisingly, two other species, the Blue-tailed Bee-eater and the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater that visits Sialkot and Tala Gang in Punjab have been just seen in good numbers. What does worry me, however, is that many of the traditional nesting areas used by these species have been destroyed to make way for house building.
On 27 May 2017, I went to Kalar …

December in the Margalla Hills, Islamabad

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It has been a Thrush bonanza in the Margalla Hills during December 2016 and RMK and the Birding Islamabad Team were out and about with their cameras to record some of the species that graced the hillsides and trails.
Many of these species are altitudnal migrants that move down the hills during the bitterly cold weather experienced higher up in the mountains.
One big surprise was the Oramge-headed Thrush. Normally, this species is a summer breeding visitor to the Margalla Hills but the one recorded by the Team was unseasonably present during December. Orange-headed Thrushes that are recorded in Pakistan normally migrate to warmer locations in India during the winter months. There is no doubt ornithology is always creating surprises for us Birders to experience.
Congratulations to the Team for another wonderful collection of photographs and we hope our Readers enjoy seeing them. These winter months can provide some of the best birding around Islamabad so, please get out into the field …

Beautiful Birds & Scenery of the High Tops by Imran Shah

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Dear Riaz Sir, I know it has been quite a while since Zahran asked me to share this account, but anyhow I am doing this now:
I visited Aliabad (my hometown) on 15 May 2016. Thinking about my sighting of Black Kites and Booted Eagles during the previous November, I went to a ledge near the Hunza River in Aliabad. There I spotted two Booted Eagles. Ravens and Large-billed Crows were attacking them and both flew towards the high mountains, north-east above Karimabad.
Next day on 16 May, I went to Karimabad to have a look at the Ultar area above Karimabad. There I saw a Golden Eagle, hovering quite high, but it seemed to have go up the valley. Luckily that night I was having a small party with some friends and we planned a three-day hike to Khuwhat top, a 4000+ m high alpine pasture above Altit village. So we hiked to the area on 17 May and returned on 19. It’s a continuous ascending hike starting from 2700m to an altitude of 4200m and the ascent took around five hours.
You can see from lef…

Imran Shah: Birding Gojal Tesil & A First Record for Pakistan!

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Imran Shah has been visiting Borith Lake in Gojal Tesil for the last six years and he shares with us here some superb photographs of a selection of birds that he has observed. I’ll let Imran give us his account of this amazing location:
Borith Lake is a small saline body of water in the Gojal Tehsil of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan, measuring about 850m in length and 270m at its widest. The lake is located in a small depression in above main Gojal valley, at an elevation of about 2600 metres. Geographically it is interesting due to the fact that the lake lies between the Passu and Ghulkin Glaciers, on the northern and southern sides, on the west lies the great Batura Muztagh, with some of the 7000 metre peaks like Batura Sar (7,795m), Shispare (7,611m), Passu Sar (7,476m) Ultar Sar (7,388m) and Sangemarmar Sar (7,000m). It lies approximately 5 km to the north of Gulmit, and can be reached via a 2 km unpaved road from Husseini village, on the main Karakorum Highway. The site is an importan…