19 Jan 2014

19 Jan 14 - Close Waders & Rock Eagle Owls

By early afternoon we were heading out again to head off to a large lake near to CEDO & its surrounding bushes & dried grassland. The good thing I had seen both of the 2 likely ticks on the first morning: Sykes's Lark & White-naped Tit. Therefore, the pressure was off & I could just enjoy the birding & photography. On the way to the lake we stopped in a small basic village. I couldn't see why we were stopping at first, but when I looked on both sides of the road were small wet pools under the trees. Despite being in the village, there was a good selection of Waders present. Clearly, they are very tolerant of the villagers & the villagers aren't a threat to them.
The wet pools were right next to the road
Not surprisingly we attracted the attention of some of the local kids
Black-winged Stilt
Snipe: The other similar Snipe species are out of range
Common Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Citrine Wagtail
Finally, we were heading onto the lake, having had our fill of close Waders. The lake is surrounded by a large area of dry grassland & scattered bushes on a sandy soil, although the grass was largely dead. There were also scattered hills of varying sizes & one small hill was particularly good. It reminded me of the kopjes of Africa where small stoney hills project from the African plains & have their own distinct local wildlife.
The majority of the area was scattered bush country & dried grassland
With some quite large hills
This smaller hill had its own Persian Red-tailed Wheatear & Eastern Pied Wheatears
Persian Red-tailed Wheatear: This is the chrysopygia subspecies
Persian Red-tailed Wheatear: This is a winter visitor to Pakistan & NW India
As we were driving towards the lake, the driver spotted a Rock Eagle Owl trying to keep out of the sun by a low bush. Clearly, there is good feeding in this area, as we saw a second bird on the way out & 2 more on the following morning.
Rock Eagle Owl: Roosting by the bush
Rock Eagle Owl: As we got closer it tried to hide in the bush, but was clearly watching us
Rock Eagle Owl: The second bird was out hunting in the late afternoon
Rock Eagle Owl: It finally got bored of the attention
There were a good selection of other birds around the lake, although the Water birds were too far away to photograph.
The Tower hide
Pallid Harrier: I was struck how slim & buoyant this Harrier going to roost was when taking the photos. This is a female bird as it has a streaky breast & belly. The dark secondaries on the underwing separate it from a female Montagu's (which has pale secondaries)
Pallid Harrier: Really magnifying this I can see the trailing edge of the secondaries gets broader towards the base of the wing & there isn't much of a central pale band along the middle of the secondaries (a female Montagu's Harrier is photographed in the An Enigmatic Family Year Tick post)
Steppe Eagle: The long gape line, stout bill, grey coverts & white lines in the wing point to a subadult Steppe Eagle
Short-toed Lark: A fairly common lark in the more open areas
Crested Lark: Less common, but still a few around the more open areas
Crested Lark: That's an odd looking shadow
Sykes's Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat: The distinct mask separates it from Desert Lesser Whitethroat (or a migratory Hume's LWT). The most likely subspecies in Gujarat is blythi
On the way back to CEDO, we ran into this Jackal by the roadside as the light was starting to fade.