23 Dec 2013

23 Dec 13 - Out For A Duck

After some lunch in the hotel it was time to head out again. This was going to be different birding as the main target was Andaman Duck. This is a small endemic Duck that likes pools around mangroves. The first stop were some pools a few miles outside of the capital with a selection of wetland species including Great White Egret, the tiny Cotton Pygmy-geese, Lesser Whistling-ducks, Purple Swamphen & Moorhen.
Intermediate Egret: Note, the more rounded head, straighter neck, shorter, thicker bill & gape line not extending past the centre of the eye 
Great White Egret: Note, the kinked neck, longer bill & gape line extending to the rear of the eye
Lesser Whistling-duck: Looking very elegant as it came into land
Lesser Whistling-duck: The reason for the elegant landing becomes clear when you see how crowded the water it is trying to land in
Cotton Pygmy-goose: This cracking Duck is even smaller than a Teal
Purple Swamphen: This is the poliocephalus subspecies within the Grey-headed group of Purple Swamphen
Moorhen: This is the widespread orientalis subspecies which occurs from Seychelles, the Malaysian Peninsula, Indonesia & the Philippines
Carrying on along the road, we came to one of several areas of new low lying pools created by the 2004 tsunami which flooded a lot of coastal land. This created a lot of new habitat for Herons, Waders & Andaman Teal. Talking to Vikram, despite the high impact of the flooding on these low lying areas, there was little loss of life in the Andamans, but there was a significantly higher loss of life in the neighbouring Nicobar islands.

Andaman Teal: This is a small nocurnal Duck which feeds in rice fields, but can be seen during the day. The bumps in the mud are because this was a coconut plantation before the tsunami
Andaman Teal: The adults have the most white in the face
Carrying on along the road finally brought us to the same forest patch we had been birding in during the morning, just in time for another spell of searching for Owls. First up was Walden's Scops Owl. In the past it has been generally treated as a subspecies of Oriental Scops Owl, but given its distinctive calls, it is probably best considered as a separate species from Oriental Scops Owl.
Walden's (Oriental) Scops Owl
Andaman Scops Owl: This small Scops Owl is much darker than Walden's Scops Owl
Andaman Scops Owl: I can only assume this odd posture was due to the Owl trying to shield its eyes. It did allow a nice view of the open wing

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