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Year in Review
(2005 Important Sightings in Pakistan)

 By BCP member Muhammad Saad N Qaisrani

Dear All,

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 Gali.

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 future trip.

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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Updated 02/19/2006