Showing posts from June, 2012

Black-rumped Flameback

Lunchtime in G5 again produced a very nice surprise. Although not difficult to find it is always nice to see a BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK with its blaze of colour. A Woodpecker that seems to be at home on the ground as it is in trees they can be seen all around Islamabad. The Japanese Park and Lake View Park are particularly reliable.
These birds can be extremely confiding if a little care is used getting close to them but the views are well worth the effort. The pair of BROWN ROCK CHAT was again present with the male singing from the a rooftop. We were hoping to visit Hunza this weekend but sadly we got bumped off our flight because of earlier cancellations in the week.

Brown Rock Chats in G5

Not a rare event I know but we have a pair of BROWN ROCK CHAT that frequent our garden and they are fascinating birds to watch. They must be breeding nearby but I have found no evidence to date. Our birds we have nicknamed Rocky 1 and Rocky 2. I realise not much thought went into that!
At lunchtime in G5 today I saw another pair of BROWN ROCK CHAT that have made it their home. Normally you see them earlier in the day or during the evening but today it was early afternoon.
The BROWN ROCK CHAT range is extremely limited and its distribution extends into northern Pakistan where it is restricted to the east of the Chenab River. However, Islamabad and in particular Fatima Jinnah Park is a great place to see them amongst all of the stone work.

Jinnah Road Marsh

Following our visit to Rawal Lake we decided to call in at Jinnah Road Marsh. Although wires do not necessarily make aesthetic backdrops for photographs they are magnets for birds in this marshy and cultivated area. In fact our ‘Wire List’ would be pretty impressive. Anyway, following our own advice we looked at what was on the wires. We had already seen the little and large of the heron world and we now witnessed the bee-eater variety. Next to each other on an electrical cable were a BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER and a pair of GREEN BEE-EATER. Both used their perching places from which to launch aerial assaults on flying insects of varying sizes. As the BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER caught its prey we could here its bill snapping shut. The beautiful blue of the plumage shone in the early morning sunshine that was gradually burning away the clouds.
Whilst looking up we noticed a pair of PLAIN MARTIN (also known as BROWN-THROATED SAND MARTIN by some authors) and a single HOUSE SWIFT (also known as LI…

Rawal Lake Who Pulled the Plug Out?

In the current heat wave an early start is a good strategy to increase the potential number of species. So, although not something to look forward to, the alarm clock was set for 0400 hours. As we made our way to Rawal Lake a RUFOUS TREEPIE flew across the road with a backdrop of threatening clouds that suggested the imminence of the first monsoon rains of the season; however, subsequent bright sunshine and scorching heat later in the day negated that aspiration. There was a thunderstorm during the night but no associated rain and on the approach to Rawal Lake, the need for rain was only too apparent.
As usual, the drive along the track to ever increasing expanse of shoreline produced calls of GREY FRANCOLIN from the small area of cultivated fields. Passing through the, now, dried grasses that fringe the lake’s original shore we had excellent views of ORIENTAL SKYLARK, the chestnut wing panels of which were highlighted beautifully in the early morning light. On the shorter grass were…

The Heat of a G5 Garden

The weather is definitely warming up in Islamabad as the mercury touched 45 degrees Celsius today, Friday 22 June 2012. However, even in the heat of the early afternoon there was plenty of activity in a G5 garden. That said, the JUNGLE BABBLER flock that usually number seven in total could only muster three today.
There were still good numbers of PURPLE SUNBIRD feeding on the orange flowers of the tree; or more correctly the plant covering the remains of a dead tree. These noisy little birds are a delight as they flit between nectar and the water tubs around the garden. Amongst them were juvenile birds.
Alarm calls emitted from several RED-VENTED BULBUL were aimed at a female ASIAN KOEL that had landed in the nearby trees. It is an amazing creature and almost reptilian in its appearance. It reminded me of the lizard-like features of the EURASIAN WRYNECK that had been a passing visitor to the garden recently. The Bulbuls' aggression appeared misplaced as ASIAN KOEL parasitise House C…

Dunga Gali Part Two

Out birding later than I would have liked but we were on our way at 6am on Tuesday 5 June 2012. As we descended the slope down to the village of Dunga Gali a male BLUE WHISTLING THRUSH was singing alongside the path. As we made the approach through the woodland towards the start of the Pipeline Trek we played the call of a Koklass Pheasant but sadly, without reply. We did have good views of both a male and female HIMALAYAN WOODPECKER. In the woods the calls of the GREEN-BACKED TIT were prominent with regular bursts from several WESTERN CROWNED WARBLER. Across the path flew a COMMON HOOPOE that we hoped had not been imitating an Oriental Cuckoo the day before.

At the start of the trek proper we were presented with wonderful views of yet another VERDITER FLYCATCHER that positively shone in the early morning light. If the calls of the GREAT BARBET were loud yesterday today they were cacophonic. Even so we could hear what we thought was a species of Rock Thrush singing and it took us a w…

Dunga Gali Part One

After leaving Le Grande at Changla Gali on Monday 3 June 2012 we made our way to Dunga Gali where we checked in at the Hotel Mukshpuri with its very pleasant gardens. After dropping our gear we left to take the famous Pipeline Trek and at 8,200 feet above sea level there was a chance of some interesting avifauna. It is about 4.5 kilometres from Dunga Gali to Ayubia. Again our arrival coincided with the hottest part of the day and whilst it was ten degrees cooler that the 45 degrees in Islamabad, it was still warm. Birds were few and far between. We saw some RUFOUS-NAPED TIT and even more SPOT-WINGED TIT amongst the pine trees. The Pipeline Trek is so named because it follows the route of the pipe carrying water from Dunga Gali to Murree. The trek follows the perimeter of the valley high up on the cliff faces. Consequently, in places you walk level with the treetops. The valley resounded with the calls of GREAT BARBET that were accentuated by the echoes during our whole time there.

Changla Gali Part Two

We were up at 5.30am on Monday 4 June 2012 and birding shortly afterwards, again in the vicinity of Le Grande Hotel Changla Gali. There were certainly more birds around than we had seen during the previous day. The sky seemed full of ASIAN HOUSE MARTIN and numerous RUSSET SPARROW surrounded the hotel and nearby buildings. An impressive sight was a group of three VARIEGATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH as they chased each other around the trunk of a large pine before reaching the top and moving on. The pairs of SPOT-WINGED TIT were busy feeding their young and a pair of GREEN-BACKED TIT foraged in a low bush. The singing ROCK BUNTING was occupying the same tree top venue from which to perform and at least three pairs of VERDITER FLYCATCHER were seen.
As we moved along the track we came across a party of four WESTERN CROWNED WARBLER uttering their rather Tit-like calls. A small party of the diminutive FIRE-CAPPED TIT moved through and the yellow of their plumage shone in the early morning sunlight.

Changla Gali Part One

On Sunday 3 June 2012 we drove up to Changla Gali in the Abbottabad District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Our destination was Le Grande Hotel perched at a height of 9,200 feet in the Galyat Hills. We had stayed there before and within the area around the hotel we had previously recorded some exciting species. Our friends, who are relatively new birders, were with us and we hoped we would add a significant number of new species to their Pakistan Lists. Above the entrance to Le Grande several pairs of ASIAN HOUSE MARTIN had built their nests that contained young on the verge of fledging. Around the hotel more than 100 adults hunted insects on the wing. With such good views it was straightforward to differentiate this species from Northern House Martin: the duskier underparts and shallow forked tail were indicative. Other buildings within the village also supported nesting pairs. By the time we had dumped our bags it was mid-afternoon with a strong wind blowing and not the best time to go bir…

Margalla Hills Trail 5 Spring

Another early start today, Saturday 2 June 2012, but to a different location. We were on a venture to locate an Indian Pitta; a species that in the 1980s used to have a tenuous foothold in Pakistan and was only known from the Islamabad area. Indian Pitta winter in Sri Lanka and in the accounts of birders from 30 years ago they were present in the Margalla Hills ravines where they arrived in early May and had departed by October during which time they had raised their young before returning to Sri Lanka once again. I have no information about more recent records and would appreciate some; if available.
Shortly after dawn we were walking along Trail 5 into the Margalla Hills near Islamabad and we headed straight for the spring that can act as a magnet for bird life. A good start was to see a pair of BLUE-THROATED BARBET that gave fantastic views on top of a small tree near to the start of the trail. We heard the eccentric call of a COMMON HAWK-CUCKOO nearby and saw its creator making thi…