20 Jan 2014

20 Jan 14 - An Enigmatic Family Year Tick

Having seen the main species (Sykes's Lark & White-naped Tit) quicker than expected, then a new plan for day 2 at CEDO was up for grabs. The options were either to head to the coast for Crab Plovers & other coastal species, look for Great Indian Bustard (very hard with low chance of success) or Grey Hypocolius. After some discussion, the revised plan was to look first thing for Grey Hypocolius, followed by some general birding around the lake area. This is a monotypic family which I've only seen in Bahrain in the mid 90s. They winter in low numbers from the Middle East to Gujarat & it was a species I was keen to have another look for, especially as it's still a family that many well travelled birders haven't seen. They are often seen near a local village & Jugal had arranged for a local villager to guide us to the spot. The bad thing was we had to meet him at first light, hence the alarm rang far too early before dawn.
Grey Hypocolius: Female. They are attracted here by these small berries
Barred Buttonquail: A pair appeared as we were leaving the Grey Hypocolius site & proceeded to spin in the dirt which is a characteristic of Buttonquails (apparently they spin on one leg, whilst scrapping away the dirt with the other leg) & they leave plate sized depressions in the ground
Barred Buttonquail: The female has a black throat, whereas the male is the browner, less contrasty, bird of the two
Black Redstart: Male phoenicuroides race
Black Redstart: Female
We left & heading back to the lake area for the rest of the morning. One of the stops was to look for Asian Desert Warblers. These were quickly found, but the family party of about 4 birds were moving around quite a bit. This wasn't helped by them moving between bushes on the ground on some occasions. However, just like the Dartford Warblers on my local Dorset heaths which follow the Stonechats around, these Asian Desert Warblers were following a Desert Wheatear. I assume the Warblers use the Stonechats/Wheatears as lookouts as they are usually up higher on the tops of the low bushes than the Warblers are.
Asian Desert Warbler: They often feed close to the ground
Asian Desert Warbler
Desert Wheatear: The lookout
Short-toed Eagle
Marsh Harrier: I hadn't expected to find one roosting in the daytime in the middle of the plain
Montagu's Harrier: Female. The central bar on the secondaries is darker than the trailing edge, the pale band between these 2 dark lines is fairly broad (narrower on Pallid) & the trailing edge is uniform along the length of the secondaries (broadened towards the base on Pallid). Also it's barred on the axilliaries & underwing coverts (mottled in Pallid)
Montagu's Harrier: Female. The dark bar on the middle of the secondaries is also visible on the upper surface. Photos of a female Pallid Harrier can be found in the post (The Best Of The Rest)
Montagu's Harrier: Female. Pallid would have a more obvious white collar & darker ear coverts
Rock Eagle Owl: Not going to pass up the chance for more Owl Photos
Rufous-tailed Desert Lark
Rufous-tailed Desert Lark
Short-toed Lark: Thi is the greyer longipennis subspecies
Short-toed Lark: There is only a small amount of streaking on the breast
Eastern Pied Wheatear: Male transitioning into adult plumage
Indian Mongoose: Hunting in the Persian Red-tailed Wheatear 'kopje'
The final stop before lunch was the village with the wet pools. Again there were some very close Waders, but a few more passerines this time.
Marsh Sandpiper
Pied Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail: Think this is race thunbergi, but it's less clear cut than the birds seen in the Desert Coursers area
Clamorous Reed Warbler: Also know as Indian Reed Warbler