Like before, 2005 has brought many
locally important bird sightings. The year began with the endangered
White rumped vultures, Rufous vented Prinias and Black Bellied Terns and
ended with a surprising discovery of buttonquails wintering in Pakistan.
An effort has been made to collect as many of these sightings as
possible, so as to make written evidence of them. A thing here worth
mentioning is that these sightings have been made only by a few selected
individuals. Sightings by international or even other national
birdwatchers is unavailable with us, so it could not be compiled.
The birding year began with 3 Rufous vented Prinias in a small roadside
pond near Bajrewala in Dera Ghazi Khan. The Rufous vented Prinia is not
rare as such in Pakistan, but these individuals were the 1st seen by me,
and also sighting of an endangered bird were quite heartening. The pond
also produced 3 species of rails along with this prinia and numerous
waders. The dates of this sighting are from 5-12 Feb 2005.
Another trip was made to Dera Ghazi Khan on 18 Feb 2005. On the way, a
single Brahminy Starling was seen at Talagang. Amazingly, near Kundian a
pair of White rumped Vultures was found breeding high up in a bare tree.
It was an amazing sight,
considering the fast extinction of this bird. In this trip the above
mentioned pond was also visited and the Rufous vented Prinia was also
photographed. Another sighting of February was an Asian Pied Starling in
Rawalpindi on 21 February 2005.
Then came April, and on the 1st of April a trip was made to Baarian.
Here 10 Kalij Pheasants were seen in only 2 days. An important sighting
here was of a pair of White throated Fantails in Baarian. As per Tom
Roberts's book, White throated Fantails haven't been seen beyond Ghora
In the meanwhile in Lahore a photographer Ghulam Rasool Mughal
photographed Pakistan's 1st Crimson Sunbird in March 2005.
In May another trip was made to Baarian, and this time the special bird
seen was Common Wood Pigeon. This sighting should show that Common Wood
pigeons might be Passage migrants through Murree Hill Range.
In July a trip was made to Dera Ghazi Khan again. Here Buttonquails were
found to be breeding in Lucerne and Cotton Crops. Juvenile and immature
birds were also observed. Roberts's book makes no mention of button
quails in Southern Punjab.
in August, a pair of Brahminy Starlings was seen in Dera Ghazi Khan.
Dera Ghazi Khan is about 350 kms south of Rawalpindi, the last place
where Roberts has reported the regular occurence of Brahminy Starlings.
According to locals, Brahminy Starlings are regular autumn migrants in
Dera Ghazi Khan. Also, Black Bitterns were also seen in Dera Ghazo Khan
and Chashma Barrage.
September brought with it the wintering Jungle mynahs to Rawalpindi.
This year the earliest sighting was on 29 September, 1 day later than
last year. The birds were again seen on 24 December. Regular
observations spanning 3 consecutive years
(2003,2004,2005) confirm that Jungle Mynahs are now regular winter
visitors to Rawalpindi.
In November, another trip was made to Dera Ghazi Khan. This time, the
special bird sighted was a passage migrant Northern Goshawk. According
to Roberts Northern Goshawks are rare passage migrants. It was
heartening to see this beauty.
The year ended with sightings of numerous buttonquails on 18 December in
Dera Ghazi Khan. No less than 15 birds were seen in an area less than
1.5 acres in abandoned cotton fields. This shows that Button Quails are
now expanding range
and inhabiting South Punjab as regular residents. It is worth mentioning
that Dera Ghazi Khan is well over 400 kms from the Indian border at the
closest point, where button quails are known to be resident. Specie
identification could not be made, but
if the birds are really going to stay, they could be identified in any
Important sightings by other birdwatchers produced a breeding Brahminy
Starling in Nara, Sindh. Much more importantly, after many years the 1st
breeding Marbled Teals were discovered in Sindh, along with many chicks.
Also, a captured Falcated duck was also recovered from a local Bazaar.
This was Pakistan's 1st Falcated Teal in 75 years! The Birds was
released later on.
Hope year 2006 will bring us more discoveries. Happy Birding!
Muhammad Saad N Kaisrani
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