18 Jan 2014

18 Jan 14 - A Wild Goose Chase

The final morning at Desert Coursers saw us looking for the White-fronted & Lesser White-fronted Geese that were around. These are both scarce birds in India & the former was an Indian tick for Bill: he had already tried unsuccessfully to see them on his first afternoon. First stop was to look at a party of Yellow Wagtails with some dark headed males in with them.
Yellow Wagtail: This looks like the thunbergi subspecies with its blackish face patch, greyer crown, hint of a white supercilium & white throat (but not very white!)
Yellow Wagtail: Another thunbergi individual
Yellow Wagtail: I'm not going to try working out the subspecies on this bird, but a striking bird 
The good thing when we reached the lake was we had the light behind us & therefore there was less problem with washed out photos this morning. There was a good selection of waterbird species seen & birds were generally approachable.
The lake edge was packed with waterbirds
Greater Flamingo
Marsh Harrier: Female
Imperial Eagle
Imperial Eagle: After flying by, it landed & its size made the mobbing Marsh Harrier look very small
Imperial Eagle
Grey-headed Swamphen: This is the grey headed poliocephalus race
Wood Sandpiper
Great Black-headed Gull 
Rock Dove: This is the intermedia subspecies
On the first morning at the Little Rann, there was a flock of Martins over the lake. Most of the birds I looked at were Sand Martins which is shown in the Rasmussen guide as a Winter visitor to NE India with only isolated records in NW India & Pakistan. I tried to get some photos, but the birds quickly moved off. In fact, the only Martin species I photographed that day was a Grey-throated Martin which, by chance, flew in front of the camera whilst I was photographing a White Pelican. Fortunately, a party of about 8 Sand Martins reappeared over the lake this morning allowing some supporting photos to be taken.
Sand Martin: This species is apparently very rare in NW India
Sand Martin: The clearly demarked breast separating the white throat & breast is the main id feature
Sand Martin: Personally, I would rather have been getting photos like this of one of the Subcontinent resident Martins
Sand Martin: The species has a deeper forked tail than the other diffuse breasted cousins
Grey-throated Martin: This bird flew in front of the White Pelican on the 15th. Whilst not a great photo, it does show a diffused breast band
Grey-throated Martin: A very enlarged crop
While I was distracted with the Sand Martins, Bill had been quietly scanning the lake. Quitely, that was until he announced I've got the White-front Goose party. They were roosting with some Greylag Geese & some where asleep (although all did wake up at some stage whilst being watched). But in the end we confirmed there were 6 White-front Geese & 2 Lesser White-front Geese. Both of us were happy as the White-front Geese were Indian tick 1004 for Bill & I've not see a Lesser White-front Goose since the early 80s.
Part of the Goose party: I can also see Greylag Goose, Shoveler, Teal, Tufted Duck, Black-winged Stilt, & Ruff as well as White-fronted Goose (right) & a White-fronted Goose sp. (left)
More of the Group: From the left, WFG, WF Goose sp, Lesser WFG, WFG (id confirmed in other photos), WFG & WF Goose sp
White-fronted Goose: These two look like immature birds as they don't have extensive white foreheads. Separated from Lesser WFs, but the lack of the golden eye ring
White-fronted Goose: An immature bird with virtually no white on the forehead. Separated from Lesser WFs, but the lack of the golden eye ring
Lesser White-fronted Goose: The golden eye ring is the best good feature