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The Salt Range Lakes

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On Saturday 23 November 2013, RMK and I made our way to Uchchalali Lake deep into the Salt Range of the Punjab. The lake, in years gone by, had been famous, from an ornithological perspective, for a wintering population of the globally threatened White-headed Duck. Although I was lucky enough to have seen this species in Southern Spain we could not find any amongst the wildfowl at Uchchali. We had arrived, as planned, before dawn and as the first hint of light appeared in the eastern sky we were already on a boat making our way across the water.


Uchchali is also known for the GREATER FLAMINGO flock that frequents the area. We counted 50 birds in total that are a remarkable sight when they take to the air; which they occasionally did when hassled by one of the many WESTERN MARSH HARRIER.

On the surface of the lake was a good variety of waterfowl and these included many of the expected species (with the exception of White-headed Duck). There were EURASIAN TEAL, COMMON POCHARD, EURASIAN…

No. 362 Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher

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After three years of trying GREY-HEADED CANARY FLYCATCHER has finally made its way on to the Islbirder Pakistan List at Number 362. Today, Sunday 17 November 2013 was a special day in our birding calendar. It was the the day that the Islbirder Team delivered on its pledge to the Zabardast Charity Auction for Pakistan charities to provide a memorable days birding for the highest bidder. The Team had promised a great day for the lucky winner including at least 70 species in the seven hours birding. At the end of the trip the Team had found 78 species and the winning bid of PKR 45,000 will go to a good cause in Pakistan as will the rest of the PKR 581,250 raised by Zabardast Charity Shop at the auction.
During our last few birding trips we had been reconnoitering sites in preparation for the Islamabad Big Day. We started before dawn at the eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake. First bird of the day was a LITTLE EGRET. There followed two Raptors; a WESTERN MARSH HARRIER and a BLACK-SHOULDERED…

Local Patch Rawal Lake Delivers Again!

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Ask any birder; check your local patch often enough and you will turn up all sorts of birds of interest. If your local patch is Rawal Lake on the outskirts of Islamabad you may be luckier than most. Trouble is, living in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, having a local patch creates a dilemma. You want to keep going back there to find those great birds but there are so many other superb sites to visit nearby and only so much free time. So, yesterday, The Islbirder Team was back at the lakeside at dawn on Friday 15 November 2013. The temperature struggled just above freezing in the gloom of pre-dawn until the sun broke through and warmed to a maximum to 24 degrees. As soon as the sun peeped over the nearby hills and bathed the reedbeds in a beautiful light; where there had been none there were a dozen SIBERIAN STONECHAT at the top of stems.
Whilst to some of our readers daytime highs of 24 degrees might not sound much like winter, the extended hours of darkness brings with them …

Pipit Flock at Rawal Lake Included Buff-bellied

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The second of two really early mornings in a row found us at the eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake watching the sun come up. Whilst the high water level of the lake is frustrating due to the lack of waders we hope duck numbers will be up this winter as a result. Sadly, we could not get the star birds of today on film. In amongst a large flock of Anthus were WATER PIPIT, PADDYFIELD PIPIT, ROSY PIPIT, in their bold plumage and at least two BUFF-BELIED PIPIT. Amongst the Pipits were a few Wagtails, both WHITE WAGTAIL and YELLOW WAGTAIL.
COMMON KINGFISHER is always a fabulous sight, they can prove to be so photogenic and when the sun shines they are displayed in all their glory.
RMK had a very good day with the camera and Kingfishers were his subjects. The following two shots are wonderful examples of how bird photographs can become pieces of art. The hovering PIED KINGFISHER was frozen in time and the intricacy of its plumage is beautifully displayed.
Capturing a bird's reflection in…