Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Indian Roller

Wednesday, 25th January 2012

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures that I took this morning of Indian Roller. They're just superb birds, and to have one right outside the house is really something rather special. Enjoy!

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis benghalesis)

Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis benghalesis)

I take my pictures using a Sony W7 compact camera, attached to my Swarovski 80HD via an adapter custom-made in Malaysia.


Monday, 23 January 2012

Honeyguide Update and a little Toilet Humour!

Monday, 23rd January, 2012

Finally a "confession" or two.

Well, remember that unexpected honeyguide I said I saw last week? After throwing it out to the Oriental Bird Club forum, it looks far more likely that it was actually a female Scarlet Finch - still a very interesting record in itself, being far lower than expected. I must say thanks to all those who helped on this one. First rule of birding - don't claim unless 100% certain, and even then seek advice. Advice sought and mistake corrected!

Now for the toilet humour, so if this is not for you, just skip till next time!

After getting back from the woods the other day, I needed the loo. It's rare in this part of the world to have anything other than a squat toilet, and this is exactly what we have in our house. So, I was squatting there doing as one does, and I just slightly lost my balance. Reaching out for support I grabbed a tap (that fills a bucket to flush the toilet). Of course it snaps off at the wall and water jets out at a surprisingly high pressure for a roof-top storage tank. PANIC. Unfinished business, water going everywhere, and all alone in the house. So, as all Brits are taught about the Dutch, I put my finger to good use and stemmed the flow of gushing water (the broken pipe that is). Single-handedly I finish up my primary business - not easy I tell you - and was then left with a more serious problem - how to fix the leak, without getting soaked in the process.

All sorts of thoughts crossed my mind, call for help, give up and let the tank drain dry (there are no stop cocks out here either), or come up with something entirely more ingenious? Of course the problem solver in me decided on the latter and stretching across the bathroom with my left foot (finger in hole remember), I managed to tip over the rubbish bin and roll it towards me, extract some old plastic and replace my finger with that. Not much good I can tell you, with jets of high-pressure water shooting off all over the place. And then it struck me; my good-ol' British hanky - suitably soiled of course - would be perfect! With some cramming, and using the nozzle of a toilet-duck bottle to do so, it worked!

Of course, there's more to this, i.e. today I did something very similar to the kitchen tap, but seeing as this blog is supposed to be about birds, I'll leave that to another time.


Friday, 20 January 2012

A Good Result

Thursday, 19th January, 2012

So, I finally managed to get out Thursday morning for a bit of birding - and it was certainly very rewarding, with not just birds but a good mammal sighting too. The following photos were taken at Bardia NP last October, not here in Dhangadhi.

Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Bardia NP

I headed out to the usual spot within my local Sal Forest but on the way I came across a fruiting fig and although I didn't stay for long (it's on the main track and quite busy), half a dozen Yellow-footed Green Pigeon were putting away the just-ripe fruit, with White-bellied and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos providing a supporting cast. A couple of minutes later, a couple of Black-naped Oriole flew in giving themselves away with their fluting calls, together with a noisy flock of Jungle Babblers and a number of Rufous Treepies. Deeper within the forest, I decided to follow the edge of 'my' clearing and work my way slowly around, rather than stick at the stream like usual. Covering an area of approximately 300m x 100m, this clearing provides a mixed habitat from grassland, through secondary regeneration, back to mature forest. Immediately, I was onto both Hume's and Greenish Warbler, as well as a calling Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker that was desperately trying to attract my attention. Nearby, a small group of confiding Grey-breasted Prinia revealed a couple of individuals coming into breeding plumage - another indication of the changing season.

A quieter spell followed, with highlights being 3-4 very inquisitive Grey-sided Bush Warblers, a pair of Large Cuckooshrike, 20+ Oriental White-eye and a few Olive-backed Pipits. It was shortly after this that I had a really unexpected Yellow-rumped Honeyguide. Flushed from the ground (or low bush), it flew directly into low undergrowth within the forest, but failed to provide good views before being lost. I tried hard to persuade myself I was wrong (400m lower than ever recorded and in completely the wrong habitat) but try as I might I kept coming up with the same conclusion - a displaced bird, caused perhaps by the recent bad weather up in the hills. This was followed by a woodpecker frenzy with superb comparative views of Himalayan and Lesser Goldenbacks (males and females) all in the the same tree, followed shortly after by a female Streak-throated Woodpecker to round off the woodpecker fest. The Lesser Goldenback is regular in these woods but the Himalayan is less frequent, so greatly enjoyed.

Things were quietening down by now but as I strolled back towards my bike, Taiga (Red-throated) Flycatcher, Scarlet Minivet, Hair-crested Drongo, and Alexandrine Parakeet were all ticked off. A pair of Common Woodshrike also gave themselves up, tagging slowly along behind the minivets. This was my first sighting of this species in these woods.

White-browed Wagtail, Bardia NP

I then popped down to the river, but it was a hive of human activity with a couple of tractors extracting sand and blaring out Nepali music to all those in the vicinity. Hoping for River Lapwing, all I managed here today was a single Common Sandpiper and 2 White-browed Wagtails. Disappointing and unfortunately something that appears to have become regular.

So the show was over and I set off back home, pleased with the break from work and conference. To round off a satisfactory day, a pair of Asian (Golden) Jackals leisurely crossed the track right in front of me, providing one of the best views of this species I've ever had - cracking animals!


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Busy week with few birds.

Wednesday, 18th January, 2012

It's been a busy week so far, with several meetings and a 2-day conference to run. The weather though has improved markedly and the fog of the last couple of months has at last been replaced by some sunshine. Shame the boys back in Nottingham can't bring their own rays of sunshine to the lives of all their supporters! A 3-0 'thumping win' (thank you BBC) for Southampton at the weekend and a 4-0 thrashing by Leicester in the FA Cup yesterday: shocking!

Looks like I might get a morning off though tomorow, so I'm planning to get away from the blues of footie and meetings and head off to the woods to see what's about. Definitely seen far more Indian Grey Hornbills lately (all singles mind you), and our local Indian Roller was back yesterday putting on a fine show on the wires outside the house. Noticed an increase in Barn Swallows too, with a reduction in Red-rumped. I haven't really worked out the seasons here yet, and nor, does it seem, have the birds.

Tune in tomorrow for more.


Saturday, 14 January 2012

Global Birder is also a Forest Fan

Saturday, 14th January, 2012

I don't want to put you birders off but... just got a message (at half time) from a friend telling me that Nottingham Forest are losing at home to Southampton. (I actually have a live feed into Radio Nottingham, so was already aware). However, he did say that at half-time he enjoyed reading the blog!

What do I say to that?

Birds today? Well actually, the first Plum-headed Parakeets for several months put on a cracking show just across from the house. Stunning birds.


Friday, 13 January 2012

A Picture or Two

Friday, 13th January, 2012

Amazing! Looks like people are actually starting to read the blog so, despite not having much to report today, I thought I'd share a few photos of a trip to Bardia National Park (Nepal) from October 2011. This will be the next trip report I put together - it'll be more about the practicalities because - you guessed it - it was a bit quiet on the birding front. Mammals though were exceptional with a male Bengal Tiger, a large herd of Asian Elephant, a lone Indian Rhinoceros, many Spotted Deer, a Hog Deer chased by the above tiger, several Wild Boar and more! Not a mammal of course, but also had Marsh Mugger Crocodile.

Enjoy the pics!

Bengal Tiger, Bardia NP

Asian Elephant, Bardia NP

Marsh Mugger Crocodile, Bardia NP

Indian Rhinoceros, Bardia NP

Spotted Deer, Bardia NP


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bird Report for Pokhara

Wednesday 28th December, 2011 - Monday, 2nd January 2012

Went to Pokhara for the New Year and had a great time. Highlights included 6 species of vulture, Long-billed and Scaly Thrush, White-tailed Robin, White-browed Shortwing, Maroon Oriole and Spiny Babbler. Read all about it here on my blog or download the report from Surfbirds

Large-billed Crow, Pokhara

Machhapuchhre in evening light

Machhapuchhre and Annapurna range over Phewa Tal Lake

Didn't get any bird pictures this time but hope you enjoy the scenery!


Big ride - little reward

Thursday, 12th January 2012

Probably did 30km this afternoon but saw... not a lot.

Male Black Redstart on the edge of town, a noisy flock of Jungle Babbler down by the river, followed by (much later) a rather nice Indian Grey Hornbill, but that's about all. Largest flock of parakeets I've had for a while too - maybe 55-60 Rose-ringed out south of town and a single Black-winged Kite hunting over the rapidly growing winter barley.

Dutch film crew down at the Devotee Hotel tonight currently here doing a piece on leprosy - might catch up with them tomorrow...


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What a week so far!

Wednesday, 11th January 2012

Well, I've certainly had an interesting start to the week.

Sunday 8th Jan: Went to visit some schools as part of work but found them all closed due to either cold weather or exams. Not too disheartened though because I had 2 Slender-billed Vultures and 6 Himalayan Griffon perched in trees beside the main road, just west of Attariya - eyeing up a stinky dead cow by the looks of it. Can't grumble at the birds - with cracking views too. Shame I forgot the camera.

Monday 9th Jan: Resigned from work - effective March 31st - but will stay out here after that date to support Terri.

Tuesday 10th Jan: Visited 'Dhangadhi Woods', my local Sal Forest. The unseasonal rain of the last couple of days made the track a challenge but it was still passable. Visited 'the glade', to get away from it all. Not a great deal of major interest, though the Yellow-bellied Fantail, and now several Grey-sided Bush Warblers, is still there. My woods are only 180 metres above sea level, so I guess these two species are just about as low as they go. Lots of Greenish Warblers and Oriental White-eye flitting about, as well as a couple of Blyth's Leaf Warblers. Got a frustratingly brief glimpse of a 'blue flycatcher' - just the blue back and part of the rather orange upper chest. Most probably Tickell's. Also Streak-throated Woodpecker and Lesser Goldenback - both performing rather well. Had a surprise female Grey Bushchat on the way home too, but like I say, rather quiet today.