16 Jan 2014

16 Jan 14 - The Grey & Brown Of Gujarat

This is my homage to the classic Sawdoctors song 'The Green and Red of Mayo'. We headed out with our Indian jeep mates again this morning, but Bill & myself were dropped off for a few hours to look for Stoliczka's Bushchat. This scarce regional endemic species is only found in a small area in Afghanistan, Pakistan & the arid NW of India. To make life harder, there is nowhere in India where it's common & it could easily be overlooked as one of the much commoner Siberian Stonechats if not looked at carefully. The area we visited was a local lake with arable edges as Stoliczka's Bushchats like weedy edges to arable land as well as grasslands in arid areas. Bill had seen this species here in at least once during previous visits. Unfortunately, no joy after a couple of hours of searching. Initally, we were birding along the edge of these arable fields & grasslands.
We were held up by the local rush hour before we got to the lake
Indian Grey Francolin: A fairly common bird in arid scrubland
Ashy-crowned Finchlark: Male. This is the common Finchlark in Gujarat & good numbers were seen each day
Ashy-crowned Finchlark: Female
Pied Wagtail: Trying to sort out the subspecies on wintering grounds is probably not possible, but dukhunensis or personata are the expected subspecies in this part of India
White-eared Bulbul
Pied Bushchat: Male
Eastern Pied Wheatear: Female (or immature male)
Desert Wheatear: The commonest Wheatear in the Little Rann of Kutch
Daurian Shrike
Bill: Checking the finer separation features of Grey Bird from Brown Bird in the Inskipp guide
One of the local cattle: They are pretty impressive animals when seen close up. Fortunately, they were also fairly docile
There was a good opportunity to have a good look at & get some photos of a couple of confusing Pipit species, Tawny Pipit & Paddyfield Pipit, which were in the same field.
Tawny Pipit: This photo shows the long legged, long appearance & upright stance as well as the overall pale, relatively unstreaked appearance of Tawny Pipit
Tawny Pipit: Showing the fine dark lores, malar & moustachial stripes
Tawny Pipit: Another view of the pale bill, facial pattern & general appearance 
Tawny Pipit: Showing the well marked median coverts
Tawny Pipit: This is a winter visitor to India & is the nominate campestris subspecies (the same as the European subspecies) 
Tawny Pipit: A different individual to the above Tawny Pipit photos
Paddyfield Pipit: Although the same size as Tawny Pipit, it looks smaller, more compact, shorter tailed & shorter-legged than Tawny Pipit
Paddyfield Pipit: This is the waitei subspecies which is paler than the rufulus & malayensis races in the rest of the Subcontinent
Paddyfield Pipit: Showing the more uniformly patterned converts, streaky crown, weaker bill compared to Tawny Pipit
Paddyfield Pipit: The whitish throat & belly help separate this species from the buffier Blyth's Pipit. This photo also shows the weak eyestripe, malar & Moustachial stripes
Eventually, we moved across to look at the lake edge & nearby scattered bushes. There were a good selection of species on the lake and around the lake edge. Unfortunately, there was a lot of glare as we were looking into the light.
White Pelican: As far as I can see they are all White Pelicans in this flock
White Pelican: This party flew over as it warmed up
Glossy Ibis
Crane: Adult
Crane: Immature
Red-wattled Plover
Black-tailed Godwit
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse: Two females enjoying a drink
Sykes's Warbler: The main features of this species to my eyes is it is a cross between a small Acrocephalus and Phylloscopus Warbler. The pale colouration, pale supercilium mainly up to the eye, but fading out behind the eye, lack of a dark eye line & pale lower mandible
After a long day in the field yesterday, it was an early return for lunch today. On the way back, there was a Black-winged Kite on the wires. Checking it, it turned out to be a sub-adult bird which was even better looking than the adults.
Black-winged Kite: Sub-adult
A local farmer's field on the way back to Desert Coursers
It's a pretty basic way of live