Thank You My Friend

On Sunday 2 November 2014 RMK kindly agreed to guide a visiting birder around some of the birding sites surrounding Islamabad. Whilst most of the winter visitors and altitudinal migrants are yet to arrive there was plenty to keep everyone happy. Some species would have been familiar to the guest but others would have confirmed he was in a foreign land with a most spectacular and exciting avifauna. How I miss living in Pakistan!

RMK was kind enough to forward me the photographs he obtained on the day. These were just opportunist shots taken on the birding trip and did not involve a hide or hours of careful planning. However, I am sure our valued readers would agree that they are impressive nonetheless.

The first photo shows evidence of birds moving around during this autumnal phase with a flight shot of a group of COMMON WOODPIGEON, This species is now a common garden bird in much of western Europe but in Pakistan it is much more difficult to find being sparsely and widely spread.

Common Woodpigeon are not that common in Pakistan Riaz
The Margalla Hills would have offered much more exotic species for the visitor and although a common species in Pakistan the HIMALAYAN BULBUL would have probably been a lifer for him.

Himalayan Bulbul a more impressive hairstyle than the White-eared variety Riaz
RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX is an altitudinal migrant and if one knows the right places to look, the Margalla Hills valleys hold good numbers throughout the winter.

The beautiful Red-billed Leiothrix Riaz
Amongst the boulder-strewn streams flowing through the Margallas, if luck is with you during winter, you might come across the beautiful PLUMBEOUS WATER REDSTART. The photographs below show a male and a first-winter male. The latter is very similar to the adult female but the colour of the tail in the bird portrayed suggests it is a young male.

Male Plumbeous Water Redstart Riaz
First-winter male Plumbeous Water Redstart Riaz
The rocky areas and fields at the base of the Margalla Hills are a good place to find INDIAN ROBIN; an easy enough species to discover around Islamabad

Indian Robin Riaz
Whilst clearly not a bird I really like RMK’s photograph of a Red Fox at rest but still alert enough to be keeping an eye on its photographer.

Young Red Fox Riaz
The same sort of habitat attracts LONG-LEGGED BUZZARDs during the winter, a common enough sight around the capital city.

Long-legged Buzzard Riaz
Rawal Lake to the south-east of Islamabad is a magnet for birds; on the water, over it and around its margins. The GREEN SANDPIPER is a regular visitor to the lake. The GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK is one of several species of Lark that can be found amongst the stony fields on the eastern shoreline of the lake. It is a common to abundant winter visitor and passage migrant in Pakistan.
Green Sandpiper Riaz
Short-toed Lark Riaz
Amongst the cultivated fields to the south of the lake Prinias can be found including the ASHY PRINIA that has been captured so well by RMK.

Ashy Prinia Riaz
As I write this Blog I am looking on to my small suburban garden in the UK watching a Great-spotted Woodpecker feeding on suet with a backdrop of falling golden leaves on a cold but lovely sunny day. It’s not a Himalayan Woodpecker but it will do nicely.

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