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Showing posts from May, 2013

An After Dark Encounter with Large-tailed Nightjars

During the evening of Monday 27 May 2013 Mrs Islbirder and I visited the Eastern Shoreline of Rawal Lake, Islamabad. There were still a few WHISKERED TERN there and also the two BLACK-HEADED GULL that had been there the day before. However, we could not find the LITTLE GULL. That is not to say it wasn’t. We made an early strategic departure due to some unwanted attention.
From there we made our way to the Margalla Hills Trail 5 and waited until after dark. It was not too long before a LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR started making its distinctive call. Later we counted at least five Large-tailed Nightjars, a couple passing very close over our heads with their distinctive long-tailed shape was silhouetted again the clear sky. On some it was possible to make out the white wing patch and white patches on the outer tail as they flew close by.
We also listened for the churring of European Nightjar but unfortunately we did not hear any. The area would be good for bat enthusiasts as it was full of ve…

LITTLE GULL a First Record for Pakistan?

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This is potentially, a very exciting ornithological event for Pakistan. Whenever a new species is added to a county’s list of bird species birders will flock to the scene. However, this is unlikely to be the case in Pakistan as there are very few birders and other than this Blog there is no real means of publishing the event through a birding grapevine. I will just caveat this claim slightly; the records of birds recorded in Pakistan I have access to (other than sightings I have recorded personally) end in 2008. I have no idea who or which organisation is responsible for coordinating records of birds seen in Pakistan or even whether there is a Pakistan Bird Records Committee that scrutinises claims of rare birds within the country. I have been in contact with the co-founder and chairman of the Pakistan Bird Watchers’ Club of Pakistan but he is now based in the United States and the Club’s website has not been updated for several years. However, I am a member of the Oriental Bird Club…

A Morning with Flycatchers at Trail 5 Spring

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We were at the Margalla Hills Trail 5 Car Park before dawn. A swift 2.3kms walk to the spring had us in position at the optimum time. We had listened for the call of Indian Pitta and Orange-headed Thrush on our way up to the spring. Both species are summer visitors to Pakistan and are thought to breed in the Margallas Hills. I have seen singing Orange-headed Thrushes on Trail 5 and observed what I thought to be a pair near the spring in both 2011 and 2012. However, I have got nowhere near an Indian Pitta. This colourful but secretive species spends the winter in Sri Lanka before moving north into India to breed. Pyhala, in his book “Birds of Islamabad Status and Seasonality” published in 2001 stated that Indian Pitta was first discovered in Pakistan in 1978 in Daman-e-Koh ravine, Islamabad. There was believed to have been a tiny breeding population of around 20 pairs in the vicinity of Islamabad that accounted for the entire Pakistani populace. However, this must have been based on a…

Another Star-studded Weekend at Rawal Lake

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The weather here in Islamabad is certainly warming up with this weekend peaking at a very hot 44 degrees Celsius. Contrary to popular belief these temperatures do not curtail all birding activity. As I write this blog two PURPLE SUNBIRD are busy building a nest in the garden and ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE and ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN are drinking from the water we provide. On Saturday 18 May 2013 we decided on an early start to reach the Eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake by sunrise. We just about made it! The first birds observed were a male GREATER PAINTED SNIPE out in the open and a COMMON KINGFISHER perched very close to where we had parked. There were still plenty of WHISKERED TERN at the lake; some loafing on the temporary gravel islands and others busily fishing.
A decent-sized group of flying waders caught our eye. They typically acted like new arrivals apparently desperate to alight but again took to the air at the nervousness of one of their number. That number was 54 and the waders in q…

Rawal Lake Provides Lazy Birders A Great Afternoon

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The weather at 0400 hours on Saturday 11 May 2013, General Election Day in Pakistan was gloomy, windy and overcast. So, rather lazily and following a series of text messages we decided the best thing was extra sleep. Having been away from Pakistan for two weeks I was keen to get back in the field. So, following a conversation with RMK we were off to the Eastern Shoreline of Rawal Lake at about 1330 hours. Whilst it is important to rise early if birding in woodland we believed that the lakeside offered us the best opportunity following our earlier torpor. RMK was trying to reassure me that the Megas that I had missed whilst being away would still be there. I was grateful for the optimism but I instinctively knew the Greater Sand Plover was long gone and so too, probably, the Baillon’s Crake. However, I hoped the Greater Painted Snipe might still be around. Even though I had seen Greater Painted Snipe in Pakistan one could not miss the chance of seeing another.
Our arrival at the lakes…

Islbirder Misses Out on Pakistan Ticks

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Apologies for the lack of recent Blog entries, we have been travelling. However, , on Saturday 4 May 2013 my birding colleagues were turning up Mega Ticks in Islamabad. Needless to say, they could not wait to let me know by email and, of course, they included the full colour photographs. So what gripped me off so badly? Regular blog readers will recall that being “gripped off” means that you have been told of a rare bird that you have missed. This is usually delivered with some glee by the “gripper”! Those of you that have read the two volumes of T J Roberts’ “Birds of Pakistan”, of whom there must be several (no, not because they aren’t fantastic books; it’s just there are not many birders in Pakistan) you will know that GREATER SAND PLOVER is a regular winter visitor to Pakistan’s coastline. However that’s a thousand miles from here. So to find an adult female GREATER SAND PLOVER on the Eastern shoreline of Rawal Lake is, undoubtedly, a Mega Tick. Now the fact that I saw over 300 G…