Showing posts from March, 2013

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch

On Saturday 16 March 2013, we had hoped to search for Crested Kingfishers amongst the streams deep into the Margallas. However, the heavy hail and rainstorms of the previous week and potential damage to already rough off road tracks persuaded us to change our mind and head for a favourite location where a mature mixed deciduous and pine woodland still exists.
It was the same area where we had found a CHESTNUT-BELLIED NUTHATCH a couple of weeks before and we were determined to obtain better views and, if possible photographs. The woodland was enveloped in a cacophony of birdsong and even at this altitude there appeared to be a hint of Spring in the air.
The most numerous species and the most vocal were the STREAKED LAUGHING THRUSH and at least 20 were seen. A group of five BLACK-THROATED THRUSH had nervously sought refuge under the shadowy canopy. A couple of BLACK-THROATED ACCENTOR had not yet left for the higher altitudes in the mountains.
Scanning the upper treetop canopy paid off …

Wagtails, Eagle and Buzzards

Summer visitors are returning to Islamabad. Saturday 9 March saw the first PURPLE SUNBIRD and COMMON ROSEFINCH back in the city. Early on Sunday 10 March 2013 we made our way to the Eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake. There had been a huge arrival of wagtails, amongst them WHITE WAGTAIL of the personata race, as well as the more numerous dukhunensis race. CITRINE WAGTAIL was the most numerous species with both subspecies present: Motacilla citreola citreola, and M.c. calcarata. The breeding males are spectacular birds. There were also WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL and they all were of the race Motacilla flava beema or SYKES’ WAGTAIL. They are very similar to the nominate form but with a lighter blue in the head pattern.
 On the water things were much quieter. No duck species whatsoever and the Pallas’s Gulls have all moved on. There were still some GREAT CORMORANT but LITTLE CORMORANT numbers are growing again. Of note, though, was this first-winter CASPIAN GULL Larus cachinnans.
Pipits caused…

Tricoloured Munias (Lonchura malacca) in Pakistan

Sadly, it was not Islbirder who made this observation but on 13 July 2011 our friend Kamran photographed this TRICOLOURED MUNIA (also known as Black-headed Munia) at Marala Headworks near Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan. The photograph below was amongst a number that Kamran recently sent to me to provide identifications of the birds he had photographed, all at his favourite wildlife location.
Why am I so excited about this fairly innocuous Munia? Well, if it was a genuinely wild bird, this TRICOLOURED MUNIA, and the bird of the same species that accompanied it on that July day in 2011, could be the first two records of this species ever recorded in Pakistan.
However, before the birders of Pakistan get too excited and before these records could be accepted as Pakistan’s first we would have to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that these were not escapes from captivity. Unfortunately, keeping birds in cages is a very popular hobby in Pakistan and Munias are a family of birds that are particula…

A Pipit Sunday

A pre-dawn start on Sunday 3 March 2013 and the Islbirder knee meant flatter walking surfaces today. This early morning found us on the eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake. No longer emulating Skegness with the tide out, Rawal Lake is nearly full of water and a changed landscape greeted us. As the sun began to peep up over the horiz

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Steals the Show

On Saturday 2 March 2013, we made our way to the start of the Saidpur Viewpoint Trail on the Margalla Ridge. We had a new member in our group and we had hoped to find the Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker we had seen at this location a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately, we did not relocate the bird but we did see a BROWN-FRONTED WOODPECKER, a pair of BLUE-CAPPED FLYCATCHER and a group of LONG-TAILED MINIVET.
We made our way deep into the Margalla Hills range to a valley we had visited before that is unusual in that it contains a mature woodland that comprises of both deciduous and evergreen trees. In my quest to find a Kashmir Nuthatch this seemed like a good location; especially as some of the guys had seen this species at this location in the past. It has to be admitted that advancing years are catching up with Islbirder and a knee injury meant that I was Tail-end Charlie as we negotiated our way down the steep rocky track to the valley. We were soon watching numerous BLACK BULBUL, STREA…