Merilyn Browne's 2006 Pakistan
By Merilyn Browne
K2 Trek, August – September 2006
This trip was a commercial trek
organized by World Expeditions and operated by Nazir Sabir Expeditions
(Guides Rehmat Ali (Nazir Sabir Expeditions) and Jarleth Weingott (World
Expeditions). The clients came from Australia (seven) England (two) and
USA (one). The author, one of the Australians, was the only keen
birdwatcher among the group.
Identifications were made with the aid
of Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, by Grimmett,
Inskipp and Inskipp, 1999. In the case of difficult-to-identify birds
such as warblers, considerable use was made of the locality maps in
determining which species was likely to have been seen.
Prior to the K-2 Trek, one day (15
August) was spent birding around Islamabad. Here the Birdwatcher's Club
of Pakistan (BCP) guide accompanied me, and we visited different
places. Those worth mentioning are Margalla Hills National Park and
Rawal Lake. During the day's birding, a total of 48 bird species were
seen or heard. However of these 48, I personally did not get to see 5
species. These were Common Babbler, Brown Rock Chat, Grey Francolin,
Crested Bunting and the Brahminy Starling. The day's list included a
beautiful and lucky Blue-throated Barbet, which I was told occurs only
in Islamabad throughout Pakistan. Other birds seen that were special in
a sense, included Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker, Little Cormorant and
the Large-billed Crow.
The party spent several days
(17-19/08/06) in Skardu (2290m) prior to the beginning of the trek.
Birds seen around the city were: Rock Dove, Common Swift, Eurasian
Hoopoe, Black-billed Magpie, Rufous-tailed Shrike, Bay-backed Shrike,
Long-tailed Shrike, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Western Crowned
Warbler, Streaked Laughingthrush, Great Tit, Black Redstart. Two birds
with less certain identification were a Himalayan Accentor and Variable
Wheatear. The Accentor was seen clearly but differed from the Field
Guide as it lacked the black markings under the chin, having a buff
malar stripe instead. It had very definite russet spotting on the breast
and there is nothing else with this. It may have been a young bird.
Parakeets with black underwing markings were also seen but not
positively identified (possibly Rose-ringed).
From Skardu the party went by vehicle
to Thongal (2900m) the first night’s camp (19-20/08/06). From here we
trekked to Concordia over the next eight days. After three nights in
Concordia, with snowfalls on the second and third nights, the party
returned along the Baltoro Glacier over the same route to Thongal
(5/09/06) and Skardu (5/09/06).
Species seen around Thongal were:
Green Sandpiper (1) Black-billed Magpie, Red-billed Chough, White
Wagtail, House Sparrow, Plain Mountainfinch, Common Rosefinch, Eurasian
Crag-Martin, Mountain Chiffchaff, Hume’s Warbler (uncertain ID) Great
The White Wagtails seen in Skardu were black and
white, while those all the way up to Concordia from Thongal were
generally grey-backed. These were the most common species seen,
appearing at all campsites, though they would not have been the most
Korophon (3100m) was our second camp
(20-21/08/06). There was quite an area of wetland and marsh here, on
which various waders were seen: Green Sandpiper (1) Common Sandpiper (2) Temminck’s Stint (1) Black-winged Stilt (1). Other species in the area
were Common Swift, Black-billed Magpie, Red-billed Chough, Hume’s Lark,
White and Citrine Wagtails, Fire-fronted Serin and Black Redstart. A
briefly seen bunting was tentatively identified as a Rock Bunting.
Skam Tsok (3200m, 21-22/08/06) is a
very open area with little vegetation and consequently few birds. Common
Swifts, Eurasian Hoopoe, a group of Red-billed Choughs, several pairs of
White Wagtails and Black Redstarts were the only species seen.
Paiyu (3400m) is traditionally used
for a rest day, so we had two nights here on our way up to Concordia and
also stayed one night on our way back (22-24/08/06, 1/9/06). There are
several large belts of trees, areas of shrubs and some wetland areas
alongside the river and at the snout of the glacier, so quite a number
of birds are resident here. Raptors seen were a Kite, probably
Black-eared, and a Eurasian Kestrel. A Green Sandpiper and a Temminck’s
Stint foraged on the wet areas along with White and Citrine Wagtails.
There were several Eurasian Hoopoes, two juvenile Eurasian Golden
Orioles, a number of Red-billed Choughs and about 100 Yellow-billed
Choughs, a Common Raven flying through, a Bay-backed Shrike, Hume’s
Lark, Common Rosefinches, Fire-fronted Serins, Eurasian Crag-Martins, a
single Barn Swallow, Mountain Chiffchaffs, a Sulphur-bellied Warbler,
probable Greenish Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Black Redstarts and a
single juvenile White-winged Redstart. A small group of juvenile Rosy
Starlings (10-15) seemed to be resident around the camp.
As we arrived at Khobutse (3800m,
24-25/08/06) we saw a Eurasian Kestrel make a kill, possibly of a Pika,
and eat it. Other species here were Red- and Yellow-billed Choughs,
Common Raven, White Wagtail, Fire-fronted Serin, Mountain Chiffchaff,
Sulphur-bellied Warbler and Black Redstart.
Urdukas (4000m, 25-26/08/06) is spread
over some grassy slopes with huge boulders dotted about. A single Snow
Pigeon flew through, Eurasian Hoopoes were foraging around the area
along with Yellow-billed Choughs, White Wagtails, Fire-fronted Serins,
Black Redstarts and a couple of juvenile Rosy Starlings. A single
Wallcreeper was seen briefly and a small group of Eurasian Crag-Martins
were hawking about the hillside.
The camp at Goro II (4300m,
26-27/08/06) is on the Baltoro Glacier, unlike the previous camps which
are all on hillsides adjacent to the Baltoro Glacier. Only three species
were seen here: Yellow-billed Choughs, Horned Larks and White Wagtails.
The camp at Concordia (4600m,
27-30/08/06) is also on the glacier. Here I saw both Red- and
Yellow-billed Choughs, a Common Raven, a small group of Horned Larks,
White Wagtails and a small group of Black-headed or Brandt’s Mountain
finches. Most of these were juvenile birds but there was also at least
one adult bird.
On the return trip we stopped at Goro
II, Khobutse, Paiyu, Jhola and Thongal before returning to Skardu by
road. Jhola (3200m, 2/09/06) had Red- and Yellow-billed Choughs, White
Wagtails, Common Rosefinches and Black Redstarts.
From Skardu we took the Karakoram
Highway to Islamabad, stopping at Chilas overnight (6-7/09/06). Hill
Pigeons were seen while travelling. House Sparrows and Himalayan Bulbuls
were seen at Chilas.
To view complete Bird List from this
trip please click here:
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