Showing posts from October, 2012

Whistler's Warbler at Trail 5

On Saturday 27 October 2012 whilst most of Islamabad was celebrating Eid ul Azha, we walked Trail 5 of the Margalla Hills during the early morning. There was a distinct chill in the air as we began that initiated the belief that species usually associated with the high mountains may be making their way to lower altitudes to spend the winter. What better place to do so than the Margalla Hills.
Things started well as one of our group spotted a WHITE-CAPPED WATER REDSTART on the kerbstone by the side of the Margalla Road but by the time we turned the car around it had gone; a good early date for this species. We were keen to reach the spring as soon as possible but it was, as always, difficult not to stop to look at various birds en route. The most obvious were the 15 or so KALIJ PHEASANT that we saw in two groups as they crossed the trail; some lingering by the side of the path. Another good bird was a LESSER WHITETHROAT of the subspecies Sylvia curruca althaea that breeds in the north…

Birding Deep into the Margalla Hills National Park

Early on Sunday 14 October 2012 we visited a  village that consisted of a few houses, some small and cultivated fields set in a wooded valley with a small stream coursing its way through the area. This was deep into the Margalla Hills National Park and a most picturesque setting for our group of five to spend a morning’s birding.
Two weeks ago these tiny fields had hosted a Spotted Forktail but this bird must have been passing through, as there was no sign of it today. The weather was beautiful and the chance of altitudinal migrants was high. The first bird was a GREY WAGTAIL on a wire. We made our way to the stream and spaced ourselves out to provide more coverage. There we waited for the birds to come to us. It was slow at first but as the sun’s rays warmed up the far bank more birds appeared. A bird on another wire attracted our attention. It was a typical Muscicapa Flycatcher but was dark on the mantle with a long primary projection. The throat was white with contrastingly dark u…

Altitudinal Migrants Hit Trail 5

Sunrise on Saturday 13 October 2012 saw us on Trail 5 of the Margalla Hills looking for altitudinal migrants from the Himalayas. The trail was busy with hikers and the spring was quiet from a birding perspective. During the walk up to the spring a Barking Dear bounded across the trail in front of us and provided incredibly close views. There were large groups of ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE and most had GREY-HOODED WARBLER associated with them. Amongst one of these feeding waves we had good views of a BLACK-CHINNED BABBLER; normally a furtive species. We saw several raucous GREY TREEPIE and a few BLACK BULBUL flew noisily overhead. Rustling leaves, once again, gave away the presence of a RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR BABBLER.
The highlights of the morning were two stunning male RUFOUS-BELLIED NILTAVA; an exciting discovery as we had only once previously seen this species as we descended Mukshpuri. The males displayed their brilliant blue crowns, black throats, blue upperparts and orange underparts.

Butterflies of Pakistan

The Butterflies of Pakistan are amazing. We will add more photographs to this page.

Sirkeer Malkoha is Bird of the Day

Out at Sunrise on Sunday 7 October 2012 and birding on the eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake. A lone GREY HERON stood motionless on a small island created by the, still, low water levels. A flight of duck circled the lake before daring to land on its waters. The flock consisted of eight NORTHERN PINTAIL and a, tiny by comparison, EURASIAN TEAL. These birds had peeled of from the main flight that had decided not to land and most of these had been TUFTED DUCK. The call of a distant REDSHANK was heard but we did not see the bird. For the time of year we were disappointed not to have seen more waders. A lone WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL landed on one of the beached boats and began singing loudly and melodious it was too, for a wagtail.
We ventured closer to the reeds and vegetation at the lake’s former high water mark to look for passerines; a Bluethroat high on agenda. It was not to be as we flushed a PADDYFIELD PIPIT and found one of its more interesting cousins in the form of two migratory TREE…

Paddyfield Warbler & Common Cranes

On Sunday 30 September 2012 we were a little lazy following the previous early rise and did not hit Trail 5 of the Margalla Hills National Park until mid-morning. Not the greatest time to go birding but at this time of year migration can throw up surprises. The first few birds of note were all resident: STRIATED PRINIA and RUFOUS-FRONTED PRINIA and both Treepies, RUFOUS TREEPIE and GREY TREEPIE.
The sound of rustling leaves on the ground walking this trail usually means RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR BABBLER and this was no exception as a pair of these normally crepuscular birds showed well.
Whilst watching a large group of ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE, I noticed a bird with a bright blue mantle shoot across the trail into cover and back again. I could hear the giveaway call of a Flycatcher and soon located a beautiful male BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER Cyornis rubeculoides. It is a stunningly attractive species.

Even though I later saw a new species for my Pakistan List, the highlight of the day was meeti…

Bee-eaters Ready to Head Off

Early on Saturday 29 September 2012 we were again back at Lake View Park looking for migrants. Water levels were higher, which is good news for the boatmen but are still far from normal at Rawal Lake. Waders were not in evidence so we concentrated on passerines. BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER numbers were high with about 40 birds being present. There were less GREEN BEE-EATER, only about 10 in number but it cannot be long before they depart on their migratory journey that will take them south. However, there was only one INDIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE and that was an adult male.
There had been a huge fall of YELLOW WAGTAIL with at least 100 birds covering the arboretum area. Amongst them were some first-winter CITRINE WAGTAIL and a pair of WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL graced the paved area. Amongst the trees we counted 6 COMMON CHIFFCHAFF. We could not find any Eurasian Teal, the only duck species were saw was EURASIAN WIGEON and there were only three.
Bird of the day was a LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD, which provided exc…