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Casual Birding Trip

 By BCP member Saad Nawaz Qaisrani

Dear All,

I am back from 3 trips to different places. I did some birding, but it was really casual. I didn't venture into jungles to find birds, just did some trekking and biking and whatever come in front composed my birding. All began with a trip to a place that is a few kms from Dir. It was a one day trip. We began the journey from Risalpur where we had an overnight stay. Took us no less than 6 hours to reach our destination. The roads were in a pathetic condition, and I know that I'm not going there again till the roads get better.

However the bad roads were compensated by the beautiful sceneries. Initially most of the hills were barren. Now I don't know if this is b/c of deforestation or naturally so. However as we moved ahead, some kms before the junction which lead us away from Dir, the sceneries took a drastic change. Hills covered with short but nonetheless very beautiful trees stated becoming visible. Now let me tell here that this part of NWFP is nearly completely devoid of Pines. Pines were scarce. The peak of Lowari TOp was visible and still covered with snow. This peak did have some Pines. All in all, the area was beautiful and a big change from what we commonly see in Murree Hill Range.

 Birding wasn't really special, as  I didn't stop any where. A bird new for me was the White capped Bunting. Other common birds were Russet Sparrows and Asian Paradise Flycatchers. However I salute the efforts of the Pathans of NWFP, the way they had planted different trees on barren slopes was in stark contrast to what we are seeing is happening in Murree hill range at the hands of Punjabis. The second trip was to Murree Hill Range for 2 days. The stay was in Baarian. Birding wasn't really special b/c of continuous rain these 2 days. However on the last day, the weather cleared and the few hours I had produced a good number of species. Some were new for me like Black throated Jay. The most interesting and enjoyable was a journey to my hometown in Dera Ghazi Khan. From Pindi u have to catch a bus that passes through my area. The journey is no less than a 9 hour sit (7 if u have your own car). In no way is the journey boring. I can bet that I saw and identified no less than 40 species while sitting in the bus and passing at speeds of 80+ kms/hr. in The journey one passes through some very scenic places. For example on the motorway u pass along some hills, then come the beautiful rivulets. After u get off the motorway u come to a hill range that is so beautifully covered completely by trees. Its fascinating. Then before Mianwali comes, u get a touch of Namal Lake, and pass through a completely barren Hill Range. After Mianwali, u move towards Chashma, and in the way come the dense and probably protected tree plantations. After Chashma Barrage, u move to D.I Khan, in the way of which u find beautiful swamps and hills. These swamps produced 2 Rail species and a Little Grebe this time that I could not see in my own area. And from D.I Khan to D.G Khan, come the huge fields of Rice and Cotton amidst the settled dust of what used to be a huge semi-desert steppe only a decade ago.

I spent about a week in my area. In mornings used to go out  on a Motorcycle with a cousin. I used to drink Mugs and Mugs of Lassi daily. My Uncle there has a lot of cows and buffalos, so milk was also in abundance. The hot daytimes were spent playing Ludo with my cousins. Very close to the house of my Uncle were Cotton fields, that supported a large number (More than a dozen) of Button Quails. I couldn't i.d them, but they looked  really beautiful running in the Cotton Fields right in front of us. Me and my cousins flushed lots of them. And there were many Juveniles among them too. One even ventured onto the road. And the ripe dates and Injeer and the fish we caught had their own charm.

All in all some 101 bird species were seen. The list does not include those I could not identify, including a huge duck i flushed out of rice fields on 21st of July. This date is very early for any migratory duck and the area seemed too unlikely for the bird to have been a resident breeder.  These trips also produced some mammals. In Baarian and Near Dir I saw some Jackal species. In my own area I came across 3-4 different rat species and also a hedgehog.

The trips and birding was great. Hope it always flourishes like this.



The list of the birds seen is as below for reference:

1.Little Grebe

2.Little Cormorant

3.Great Cormorant

4.Black Crowned Night Heron

5.Great Egret

6.Little Egret

7.Cattle Egret

8.Indian Pond Heron

9.Crested Honey Buzzard

10.Black shouldered Kite

11.Black Kite


13.Eurasian Kestrel

14.Red necked Falcon

15.Northern Hobby

16.Grey Francolin

17.Rain Quail

18.White breasted Waterhen

19.Common Moorhen

20.Greater Painted Snipe

21.Black winged Stilt

22.Red Wattled Lapwing

23.Green Sandpiper

24.River Tern

25.Rock Pigeon

26.Eurasian collared Dove

27.Laughing Dove

28.Red Collared Dove

29.Spotted Dove

30.Rose ringed Parakeet

31.Slaty headed Parakeet

32.Pied Cuckoo

33.Asian Koel

34.Greater Coucal

35.Spotted Owlet

36.House swift

37.White throated Kingfisher

38.Pied Kingfisher

39.Little Green Bee-eater

40.Blue-tailed bee-eater

41.Blue cheeked bee-eater

42.Great Barbet

43.Black rumped Flameback

44.Scaly bellied Green Woodpecker

45.Crested Lark

46.Barn Swallow

47.Red rumped Swallow

48.White wagtail

49.Common Woodshrike

50.White-eared Bulbul

51.Black Bulbul

52.Red vented Bulbul

53.Hybrid Bulbuls

54.Indian Blue Robin

55.Magpie Robin

56.Brown Rock-Chat

57.Common Stone chat

58.Grey Bush-Chat

59.Pied Bush-Chat

60.Indian Robin

61.Grey winged Blackbird

62.Graceful Prinia

63.Plain Prinia

64.Ashy Prinia

65.Grey hooded Warbler

66.Verditer Flycatcher

67.Asian Paradise Flycatcher

68.Common Babbler

69.Jungle Babbler

70.Striated Babbler

71.Variegated Laughingthrush

72.Streaked Laughingthush

73.Black-throated Tit

74.Green backed Tit

75.Grey Tit

76.Purple Sunbird

77.Long tailed Shrike

78.Bay backed Shrike

79.Southern Grey Shrike

80.Black Drongo

81.Yellow billed Blue Magpie

82.Black billed Magpie

83.Rufous Treepie

84.House crow

85.Large billed Crow

86.Brahminy Starling

87.Rosy Starling

88.Common Myna

89.Bank Myna

90.House Sparrow

91.Sind Sparrow

92.Spannish Sparrow

93.Chestnut shouldered Petronia

94.Baya Weaver

95.Streaked Weaver

96.Indian Silverbill

97.Rock Bunting

98.White capped Bunting.

99.Red headed Bunting

And some species I forgot to mention above

100.Indian Roller

101.European Roller

102.Common Hoopoe.

103. Russet Sparrow


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