Monday, September 28, 2009

White-rumped Vulture from Punjab by Mr SS Bajwa

This photo was sent by Mr SS Bajwa from Punjab to birds-chandigarh google group on 28 Sep 09. This is a critically endangered bird.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Birding Highlights from Chandigarh region by Narbir Kahlon

Is it a Paddyfield or Blut-winged Warbler? Photo by Narbir Kahlon from Sukhna, 21 Sep 09.

This is a Variable Wheatear, a winter bird to Chandigarh region. Photo by Narbir Kahlon.
Birding Highlights :

Dr Sudhir Oswal recommended a sizing down of my tremendous girth, so I found the ideal solution i.e. walking on the Sukhna Bund keeping a track of the migrants. While I do walk at a reasonable pace, My eyes are free to wander and I take in the beauties of the lake every morning (Feathered of course ) Every few days I treat myself to a walkabout in the marsh with a camera or a drive down the Saketri road and it seems to be working for me.

On the 21st Sept 2009, Navjit and me indulged in one such trip in the afternoon and were pleasantly surprised to see the Variable wheatear, No confusion this time as it was clearly the Oenanthe picata opistholeuca both males any easy Id of a not so common bird in our area.

We were not so lucky with a warbler in the reeds adjacent to the lotus pond the pictures taken were not too great it could be the Paddy field warbler or the more uncommon Blunt- winged warbler. Call- tchk- tichk. The brow according to Suresh-ji and subsequently me is not contrasting with the Supercillium. I am enclosing the Pics and would be grateful if a positive Id could be made.

The Common stonechat and the Blue throat have also arrived at the Sukhna. The Blue throat is possibly one of the most Photogenic Robins to visit Chandigarh. Plenty of Bee eaters both the green as well as the Blue tailed were out hawking insects.

The lotus pond had its fair share of Pond Herons and Common Moorhens there was one White-breasted Waterhen moving stealthily through the reeds. The shy Purple Heron decided to take wing from its well camouflaged hunting spot and the pied King Fisher was keeping a close eye on its happy hunting ground. On The Main Lake there were two Terns and plenty of confusion on their Id and so after a reference to Bill and other experienced birders all confusion was put to rest with a clear ‘Whiskered Tern’ Id. In the spring migration I had seen them with their bellies dark grey and in autumn they are white on the belly supporting a black beak and red legs closer look at facial markings and you realize why we call it the whiskered tern.

Somebody needs to put the record straight on why the scaly breasted Munias at the lake are still carrying nesting material, do they keep changing the lining (Read linen ) of their nests or are they moving into late nesting?

The drive down to Saketri during which we saw the Wheatears also produced the Yellow-wattled lapwing, The Oriental lark and the Long-billed pipit. This area is being developed as a residential colony and seems to be doomed as a birding destination.

Beyond Saketri the story changes as we move into Chandigarh (Saketri is a Haryana village) The Forest department has taken over the land adjacent to the road. Tree plantation is in full swing and hopefully they will leave some fallow land for the Yellow- wattled lapwings.

There is a turn off at Kaimbwala over a culvert or should I say bridge towards Kansal Forest, the track leads up to a Govt owned tube well. Along this track we came across a couple of European Rollers; by the way where have all the Indian Rollers gone? We only seem to be seeing their European cousins. Chasing some warblers around I happened to photograph what turned out to be the Eurasian Wryneck its distinctive head pattern visible through the acacia branches, the wires were full of Blue tailed bee eaters and the Lantana bushes had a few plain Prinia, Crested Buntings (juv/sub adult) and the Indian Robin .The adjoining trees had the Bayas and two Pied Cuckoo’s still enjoying the Hospitality of this region getting ready for their southward journey to beat the Cold Winter of the North.

It is needless to say that we saw the Brahminy, Bank and Common mynas in reasonable numbers and a sub adult Shikra along the road. With the sun turning red and visibility dropping we decided to call it a day.

The warbler and the Tern Kept banging around my head all night and so next morning I decided to carry my camera along. I found four terns (same species as the day before), a Black headed Gull, A Grey Heron, the White-breasted Kingfisher, Pond Herons and Common Moorhens on the lotus, the Great egret, the Little egret, Purple Heron, plenty of Spot billed ducks and a flight of the Lesser Whistling Duck. It was also great to see the Yellow bittern (a single bird) at the lotus pond, but the highlight of the morning was the Black bittern in flight. It is a large bird and though I had been wanting a photo record of this bird from Chandigarh for the last 1 year it had eluded me. Out in the sky I could not miss it, and got a good Id shot. I also got a close up of the Asian open bill stork with a shell stuck to its upper mandible. Like this last passage the walk was fast and hurried after all I need to follow doc’s advice (Reducing My girth.)

Narbir Kahlon

Russel's Viper mistaken for a python

While watching birds in a forest patch near Chandigarh, Narbir Kahlon (photo by him) and Navjit Singh came across this Russel's Viper. Navjit mistaking it for a python wanted to catch it by hand... but just in time he realised his mistake. Even Narbir was trying to block the escape way of the snake.

Birders must remain alert in the Chandigarh region particularly as the three deadly snakes - Cobra, Krait and Viper are found here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Indian Long-billed Vulture - mating

Dear All,

I recently photographed mating behaviour of vultures. This was the first time I observed it. Do you know of any literature on this?
I would appreciate all help.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Variable Wheatear (capistrata) and Mourning Wheatear

(Aloke Gupta's post at birds-chandigarh google group and telephonic affirmation by S.S. Poonia (the man who has made Tal Chhapar the hottest birding spot in the Thar) about the sighting of a Mourning Wheatear generated lot of discussions. However, the wheatear in question turned out tobe a Variable Wheater (capistrata). Krys puts to end to the confusion by his following comemnts:

"First of all I'd like to make the small point that in my field guide Oenanthe lugens is given in square brackets with status symbol X, clearly explained in the introductory section as indicating that the species is extralimital (has not occurred in the Indian Subcontinent). It was only included on the basis that it is a potential vagrant to Pakistan.

In order to be an acceptable new record for the Subcontinent, any sighting must be completely incontrovertible. I'm afraid, my diagnosis is that your bird is a male of the capistrata morph of Oenanthe picata. The rufous wash on the vent I feel is an artefact of the lighting and photography. If you examine the photo attached (originally sent by you) VS-TC(7)-060909-LR (one of the better shots), it shows no such rufous wash at all. The same bird in another shot on the same perch in VS-TC(8)-060909-LR appears to show a rufous wash on the vent, but if you look at this carefully, you will see that it is distinctly asymmetrical and caused by the lighting/shadow and a perhaps a photographic effect called fringing. You can see this fringing if you look at the broken part of the branch the bird is sitting on. The top side of the broken part has a reddish fringe, not actually there in nature, but an effect of fringing.

One of the main differences between lugens and capistrata is that the black bib of lugens is smaller and does not extend onto the upper breast. To show this I am including a composite photo with lugens on the left and capistrata on the right. The patern of your bird is clearly that of capistrat and not lugens.

The best confirmation would be to have a shot showing the spread wings. Lugens shows a prominent whitish panel on the open wing. A good photo of the spread tail would also confirm one way or the other since, although the basic tail pattern is similar, the black on the outer edges of the outer tail feathers on lugens is even with the other outer tail feathers, but on capistrata extends distinctly upwards.

I hope that closes this issue since I don't have time for further consideration of it.

Kind regards


--Krys Kazmierczak

OBI Editor

Friday, September 18, 2009

Greater Whitethroat

Photograph by Narbir Kahlon, 13 Sep 09, Mirzapur, Chandigarh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sykes's Warbler at Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan

Sharad Sridhar has posted these images of Sykes's Warbler from Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan, Sep 09.

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat from Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan

This photo of a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia c. blythi) and the photograph is by Sharad Sridhar, taken at Tal Chhapar, September 2009, identification may not be 100% correct, though.

Will write a note as soon as I am able to get some time.

Baya Weavers nesting on Electric Transmission Wires

Photographs by Mr Parbhat Bhatti

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Swan Nadi, Ropar, Punjab

Post by Mr Parbhat Bhatti

My trip to Swan Nadi, Ropar, Punjab, from Sep 10-Sep 13

Downpours have filled the river and turned the surrounding farms into water ponds with lush green vegetation all around. The water channel looks like an immense grassland.

Winter migration of the birds has started. While the resident Black-winged Stilts & winter Sandpipers species have also appeared. Then I saw Indian Pond Heron was taking his brea fast of the little fish, Ferruginous Pochard (2) and Common Coot (2) were floating in water with Spot-billed Ducks nearby. Then I saw Black Drongo, Black Francolin, Grey Francolin, Purple Swamhen were also feeding.

When I went to one kilometer ahead from roadside, I saw 5 Painted Storks and one pair of Wool-necked Storks. On the way a House Crow was seen perched on a cycle-career. A pair of Collared Dove was mating. On both days of my 8 hour visit I saw Crested Lark, about one hundred pairs of House Sparrows, White-browed Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Paddyfield Pipit, many flocks of Red Munia, Baya Weavers, Scaly-breasted Munia, Common Rose-finch feeding on ‘Bhang’ plants, Common Tailorbird, Ashy Prinia, Yellow-Bellied Prinia, Plain Prinia, Pied Starling, Common Mynah, Bank Mynah, Pied Bushchat ,Common Stone-chat ,White-tailed Stonechat, about 50 Black Ibises, Yellow Bittern, Cinnamon Bitterns, Little/Intermediate Egrets, pair of Common Hoopoe, Common Moorhen, White-breasted Waterhen, Pied & Eurasian Cuckoos; Pied Kingfishe, White-throated Kingfisher.

In the end, when I went to the nearby village Bathri, I saw a pair of Sarus Crane with a new-born baby. It is very good news for me and other bird-lovers . (There are only four pairs left in Swan Nadi area)


Parbhat Bhatti

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bird photographs from Kangra by Abhinav Chaudhary

Alpine Accentor, Himachal Pradesh
Scaly-breasted Munia, Himachal Pradesh
Kalij Pheasant, Himachal Pradesh

Asian Barred Owlet, Himachal Pradesh

Himalayan Griffons, Himachal Pradesh

Dark-throated Thrush, Himachal Pradesh

Cinereous Vultures in flight, Himachal Pradesh
Photographs by Abhinav Chaudhary, posted at birds-chandigarh googlegroup today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chakki Mor towards Nahan (Chandigarh region) - by Narbir Kahlon

(Unidentified butterfly)

Mr.Prabhat Bhatti was here and as I am always looking for an excuse to get into the field made our way towards Parwanoo. We left Chandigarh at about 5am with intention of getting back to office and the mundane routine of work by 10.30 am. In which we were successful much to the surprise of my Family. (I normally leave for birding at the appointed hour but seldom manage to get back in time.)

We gave ourselves two options :-

(1) Parwanoo Kasauli Road (an area, I am well conversant with)
(2) Chakki Mor towards Nahan (an area , well-known to Prabhat ji)

We decided to follow the latter, i.e., Chakki Mor towards Nahan, and were not disappointed.

You turn left from Chakki Mor and go into the Khud (on a motorable road, of course); there at the base of the hill is a stream which seems to be a favourite with week-end revelers, considering the incosndierate manner in which the variety of whisky cartons were strewn along an otherwise picturesque and birdfriendly landscape.

We decided to scan this stream for redstarts instead we came across a few juvenile Red-billed Blue Magpies, followed by a nice long sighting of Kalij Pheasants. Infact there were two pairs.

Encouraged we continued to scan this interesting stream from the road which runs alongside but the Plumbeous and the White-capped Water Redstarts eluded us.

At the next bridge we came across a confluence of two streams and there was a Mandir just above the bridge.

At this place we saw a heron take to the air and take refuge in the thick undergrowth on the steep banks. In flight there was no white coloration and it was a Yellow bittern sized bird which leads me to believe it may have been the Little Heron but I cannot be sure.

The area around the temple was teeming with birds apart from the Himalayan and Red-vented Bulbuls we saw the Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, the Black-chinned Babbler, the Speckled Piculet, the Common Chiffchaff and a number of Gre- breasted Prinia.

The road leading further is a narrow single road with very little traffic; all the same the driver needs to keep alert because jeep trundles down at break-neck speed without any warning.

My knowledge of trees is limited but there is a healthy population of Cymbal, Figs a few Pipul and some fruit bearing trees like, the Khurmani and Plum growing wild in these parts. Lantana bushes, stepped fields of Corn touching the road and the rivulet bellow make for a very interesting Habitat.

While driving down this stretch we came across the Streaked Laughing thrush and the Verditer Flycatchers (3). Amongst the other fly catchers seen that day were the Whit- throated Fantail Flycatcher as well as the Dark-sided Flycatcher, in the area we also the White-crested laughing thrush. The thrushes were quite obliging and gave us plenty of photo opportunities we on the other hand were both stuck on the 'Lucknowi style of politeness' and in the 'pahle aap' - we lost a great opportunity.

The melodious call of the cuckoo shrike made us stop in our tracks it turned out to be alone male Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike. On the same tree were a long tailed Shrike and its juvenile who also posed for their portraits .There was a tree stump in the center of the lush green corn field where we had parked and on top of it was a Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Mr. Bhatti was able to get some nice pictures of the woodpecker

Driving along the road you leave behind the deciduous forest and enter the world of the evergreen pines the forest is a little more open and the slopes are covered in thick grass.
We came across The Red Jungle Fowl the Black Francolin as well as a number of Grey Treepie in the area amongst the other residents were the great Himalayan Barbet and the great tit.

We decided to call it a day exactly 50 Km from Chandigarh at which point we spotted the Jungle Owlet, on the way back the forest kept us on our toes with a brief encounter with a Flameback I got a brief glimpse of the bird in flight and am not sure whether it was the Greater Flameback or the Himalayan Flameback. Mr. Bhati got to see plenty of Black Bulbuls a rarity in the area around Nangal as per him, The crimson sunbird male gave us a good display and we enjoyed the lovely views of the Red billed Leiothrix calling from a bush not more than 15 ft away.

By the end of the day we were able to see 38 species, a short but interesting trip. For me it was a totally new area and what was exiting was the number of perennial streams and the untouched beauty of the place. I intend keeping a watch on this area I expect it to be very interesting from the birding point of view.

Narbir Kahlon

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Common Cranes from Punjab (by Parbhat Bhatti)

I visited the Shalla Pattan area of Gurdaspur on 25th January 2007, after the meeting with Mr SS Bajwa who had told me that he had seen numerous Cranes in that area. When both of us visited the area, we counted more than 1000 Common Cranes winter in about 40 in sub-groups.

We intimated S. Gurmeet singh as he was the Deputy Chief Wildlife Warden of Punjab at that time. On being enquired, local people told us that the cranes were wintering there on a regularly basis. Wetland was very good. Land was used by farmers for paddy only. The situation is same even now. After paddy harvesting is over, the farms are left uncultivated, till the next paddy season begins.

There were hundreds of juvenile/sub adult cranes with the adult.

Other birds seen were Ruddy Shellducks, Bar- headed Geese, one pair of Sarus Crane, Common Teals, ,White-tailed Lapwings, Steppe Eagles, Purple Swamphens, flocks of Red Munias etc.

Comman Cranes arrive in these parts of the state during November and winter there till March. Later on, I had re-visited the site on 25 Nov 2007, Feb 2008, Jan 2009. Cranes were still to my much delight.

Hope to see them again this November.

Parbhat Bhatti

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bhiwani Wetland - highlights on 6th Septemer 09

With Dr Chetna Shrma, Ms Geeta Goswami, Anil and Ram Mehar, spent 30 minutes watching birds at Bhiwani Wetland from the road, on 6th September 2009.

Birds visible to us without any efforts on our part were Glossy Ibises, numerous Ruffs and Reeves, White-tailed Lapwing, Wood/Green Sandpipers, Common Redshanks, Pied Avocets, Shovelers, Comb/Spot-billed Ducks, Lesser Whistling Teals, Gadwals, Openbill Stork, numerous egrets, herons and cormorants.

A newly built concrete drain passes across the wetland, obviously to drain out its waters. Garbage from the citiy is being dumped all over the road towards wetland.

How long will it survive?

Suresh C. Sharma

Bhiwani Wetland, Haryana on 6th September 09.

Glossy Ibis - there were at least 10.
The pool adjacent to the road was crowed with Ruffs.

There were three nests, this was still occupied, Black Ibis.

Despite drainage of the wetland and hardly any rains in Haryana, Bhiwani Wetland still harbours impression population of water fowl.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Cuckoo being fed by a Long-tailed Shrike

On 20th September 2006 early moorning, I watched a Long-tailed Shrike feeding a much larger cuckoo (definitely a cuculus species) chick near Bharmpur village which is situated between two canals.

Parbhat Bhatti

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mirzapur Dam (Chandigarh region)

Mirzapur village and the jheel, there is an old Forest Rest House. This scenically beautiful area is rich in bird life. Photo by Narbir Kahlon.