Showing posts from February, 2013

A Quick Trip Along Trail 5

On Saturday 9 February 2013, we decided an early morning walk along Trail 5 into the Margalla Hills might be rewarding. I am not going to try to wax lyrical as we did not encounter too many birds. However, as usual, my companion managed the almost impossible; he photographed a WHISTLER'S WARBLER. This is a tiny bird that is all movement and never sits still. It usually prefers the shady areas so how my friend obtained the following shots I will never know. This is a rare bird in Pakistan and I suspect there is only one overwintering near Trail 5 Spring. Note the pale crown stripe bordered by darker areas and the distinctive yellow orbital ring

Although we did not see many species those that we did were colourful. Probably the pick of the bunch in terms of beauty was a RUFOUS-BELLIED NILTAVA but this immature male BLUE-CAPPED REDSTART took some beating!

Eleven New Pakistan Ticks in a Day!

Saturday 2 February 2013 will live in my birding memory for a very long time and my sincere gratitude must be extended to the guys for arranging this particular outing. At 0130 hours we left Islamabad and headed south along the Grand Trunk Road towards Lahore. As any Michael Palin fan will know, this is the road that runs from Kabul in Afghanistan to Delhi in India. Our use of the road was limited to the three hour trip that took us through Jehlum and Waziribad and towards Sialkot in Punjab Province. In a street on the outskirts of the town we met our guide for the day. A man who visits the site we were to explore almost every day and who has produced some exquisite bird photographs as a result. The area we were heading for was Merala Headworks to the east of Sialkot. This area borders onto the Bajwat Wildlife Sanctuary that abuts the border with India.

The species we had most hoped to see, BAR-HEADED GOOSE would have to wait until later in the day. We walked in the total darkness acr…

Birds of Prey Offer Photo Opportunities

On Saturday 26 January 2013, early morning found us at the D12 Sector of Islamabad in the most beautiful weather with the photographers purring at the quality of the light. My apologies for the tardiness with which I have been updating the blog but my broadband (more like elastic band) connection is driving me crazy. You pay for the fastest connection but unless you get up at 0300 hours the connection is ridiculously slow. To download 15Mbs of photographs has just taken me three hours! I cannot tell you the name of the company but it begins with N and ends with TEL.
As we arrived in the area I shouted STOP as we drew alongside a small flock of about 20 YELLOW-BREASTED GREENFICH (also know by the name of HIMALYAN GREENFINCH). These are beautiful little birds of the high mountains that had been forced to lower altitudes by the winter snow.

 Today was to be a day for Raptors and the guys did a great job capturing the fantastic photographs that follow. The first bird we saw was an adult …

Common Pochard Ensnared in Fishing Line

On Friday 25 January 2013, we traveled to Kalar Kahar Lake that is located in the Salt Range of Punjab Province. We had hoped to see plenty of wintering wildfowl and we were not disappointed. Most were COMMON POCHARD and EURASIAN TEAL and there were several hundred of each out on this shallow and brackish body of water. There were also healthy numbers of NORTHERN PINTAIL, GADWALL and a few RUDDY SHELDUCK. The lake is surrounded by tall and dense reedbeds and above these hunted many MARSH HARRIER. There were three species of Gulls present. The larger PALLAS'S GULL, an adult CASPIAN GULL and about 300 BLACK-HEADED GULL. I think Sams Phography's shot of two PALLAS'S flying in formation is exquisite.
We decided to hire a flat-bottomed boat to see if we could get closer to the birds. It was a comical exercise, as we got into the boat and not at all elegant. However, inelegance was a small price to pay to avoid a dunking. With the early morning sunlight at our backs the colours…

Spotted Owlet Steals the Show

On Sunday 20 January 2013, we again visited the eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake. On the approach, a BLACK SHOULDERED KITE watched us from its telephone wire vantage point. The LAGGAR FALCON on a rock close to the water’s edge appeared to be the same bird that we had seen flying through the area the previous day. Two RUDDY SHELDUCK were on the water and the only other ducks present were nine MALLARD.
There were a few CITRINE WAGTAIL near the shoreline and although lacking the extensive yellow colouration of the breeding season, what colouration there was around the ear coverts and upper breast of these birds was still impressive. A single YELLOW WAGTAIL of the race Motacilla flava beema was a nice comparison. There were also a few WHITE WAGTAIL of the race Motacilla alba dukhunensis that completed the checklist of Wagtail species that were present.
Pretty much all the species we had seen the day before were again present but we had the added pleasure of seeing a WESTERN MARSH HARRIER.