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Top Birding Hot Spots in Pakistan - Punjab

Salt Range

Updated: 08/08/2006

Information by Birdwatcher's Club of Pakistan (BCP)

 

The Salt Range constitutes a small portion chain of hills, some of which are made of Salt Rock. It constitutes the area from the outskirts of Daud Khel in the West to Tilla Jogian in the East. The Taraki hills are a northward extension of the Salt Range hills. The area comprises of beautiful hills and canyons that are generally shrub covered. Tree cover in the region is scarce at some places, however at other sites it is quite dense, rendering the sceneries very beautiful. Some places worth visiting here include the depressions of Dina, hills of Taraki, chain of salt water lakes and the grasslands of Kahan River. The depressions of Dina are home to the easternmost populations of Painted Sandgrouse in Pakistan. Taraki hills house the only population of Chukar Partridge surviving in Punjab.

 

On the Eastern side of Salt Range lies Choa Saidan Shah. Choa Saidan Shah receives many winter visitors from the Northern Areas. An example is the Green Backed Tit. The Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker also occurs in Choa Saidan Shah. Similarly White-capped Redstart and Plumbeous Redstarts also winter here.

 

Another good Birding site in the Salt Range is Kallar Kahar. Kallar Kahar is a hill station close to Kallar Kahar lake. Kallar Kahar lake is a salt water lake and in the past had been a principal site for the endangered White headed Duck. Unfortunately since a few years this bird has not been visiting Kallar Kahar lake. Kallar Kahar hills also have a good number of Indian Peafowl.

 

Some other lakes worth mentioning in the Salt Range are Uchchali, Khabbaki and Nammal Lakes. Together, these three lakes form The Uchalli Wetland Complex, a Ramsar site blessed with rich natural resources which harbors great varieties of bird fauna in and around their catchments areas. These wetlands are important for international conservation as they presently support the only wintering flock of White-headed Duck which visits Pakistan. Along with the White-headed Duck, some other bird species also listed in the IUCN Red Data Book are supported by

these lakes: the Cinereous Vulture, the Imperial Eagle and the Sociable Plover  Further, Flamingoes, Pied Harrier, Grey-lag Goose and the Ferruginous Pochard

also visit these wetlands in addition to other species.

 

The Salt Range chain of lakes and the small dams of Dina depressions are a great place to see waterfowl. These places receive a large number of migratory waterfowl. The soil is very fertile. As a result, in the areas where tree cover is scarce, tall grass grows every year during the rainy seasons. As such, it is a paradise for those who love to see Gamebirds. It is also home to the endemic sub-specie of Urial, namely Punjab Urial, which occurs in the hills of Tilla Jogian.

 

The terrain is beautifully exhilarating. The Salt Range is only the 2nd region in Pakistan where as many as 6 Galliformes species co-exist with each other. They are the Grey and Black Francolins, Chukar, Seesee Partridge, Common Quail and Rain Quail.

 

The area is generally jeep able. Because of its unique location and fertile soil, many species that are of restricted distribution in Pakistan can be seen here. Some examples are Blue tailed Bee-eater, Painted Sandgrouse, Blossom headed Parakeet and Indian Courser. Other common summer breeding visitors to this area include Small Button Quail and Spotted Dove. Brahminy Starlings are abundantly common in Jhelum and one of the only places in Pakistan where the Asian Pied Starling can be reliably encountered in Pakistan is Jhelum, a city that lies at one corner of the Salt Range. Other special species that do occur here as migrants include Little Crake, Red capped Falcon and the Ruddy Crake.

 

Many other birds visit the Salt Range for wintering. This includes Buntings, Redstarts, and the White throated fantail. The Salt Range is a must for bird watchers as it is not only immensely rich in avifauna but also lies within easy reach from Pakistan's bird capital, Islamabad.

 

Some Endangered birds that can be encountered in this region are:

 

1. Ferruginous Pochard

2. Oriental Darter

3. White headed Duck (possibly extinct. Decline is sharp numbers from 1000 birds

    to only 10 in winter 2001)

4. Greater Spotted Eagle

5. Imperial Eagle

6. Rufous vented Prinia

7. Black bellied Tern

8. Laggar Falcon

9. Cinereous Vulture

10. Sociable Plover

 

Some specialty species and other special birds that can be found here

include:

1. Indian Courser

2. Painted Sandgrouse

3. Saker Falcon

4. Peregrine Falcon

5. Red necked Falcon

6. Red capped Falcon

7. Black Stork

8. Rufous fronted Prinia

9. Sind Sparrow

10. Sind Woodpecker

11. Scaly-bellied Green Woodpecker

12. Great Crested Grebe

13. Red-necked Grebe

14. Black-necked Grebe

15. Little Bittern

16. White Stork

17. Greater Flamingo

18. Common Shelduck

19. Smew

20. Common Merganser

21. Indian Robin

22. Brahminy Starling

23. Orphean Warbler

24. Small Button Quail

25. Rain Quail

26. Northern Hobby

27. Grey-lag Goose

28. Bar headed Goose

29. Water Rail

30. Northern Goshawk

31. Ashy crowned Finch-lark

32. Crested Honey Buzzard

33. Hen Harrier

34. Montagues Harrier

35. Pied Harrier

36. Chukar Partridge

37. Seesee Partridge

38. Spotted Crake

39. Little Crake

40. Baillon's Crake

41. Ruddy Crake

42. Demoiselle Crane

43. Painted Snipe

44. Jack Snipe

45. Great Black-headed Gull

46. Caspian Tern

47. Spotted Dove

48. Yellow footed Green Pigeon

49. Blossom headed Parakeet

50. Sirkeer Malkoha (possible occurrence)

51. Pallid Scops Owl

52. Short eared Owl

53. Savanna Nightjar

54. Sykes's Nightjar

55. Blue tailed Bee-eater

56. Singing Bush Lark

57. Red winged Bush Lark

58. Black crowned Finch-Lark

59. Bimaculated Lark

60. Long tailed Minivet

61. Orange flanked Bush Robin

62. Magpie Robin

63. Blue headed Redstart

64. Plumbeous Redstart

65. Eversmann's Redstart

66. White tailed Stone Chat

67. Grey Bush Chat

68. White capped Redstart

69. Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush

70. Mistle Thrush

71. Cetti's Warbler

72. Paddyfield Warbler

73. Grey headed Flycatcher Warbler

74. Grey headed Flycatcher

75. White throated Fantail

76. Green backed Tit

77. Ashy Drongo

78. Rook

79. Spotted Munia

80. Linnet

81. Himalayan Rosefinch

82. Hawfinch

83. Pine Bunting

84. White capped Bunting

85. Reed Bunting

 

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