Friday, 30 December 2016

An Indian Wedding (Part 1)

Didn't do much after Morocco holiday. Work, work and a trip to the zoo, where ironically I saw 3 species of bird that I would then see in India.

Flew from Heathrow to Mumbai. Had a 4 hours to kill in the airport. While there I saw a flock of about 21 Black Kite and mainly Feral Pigeons. The part of the airport we were boarding from looked over the entrance and a bit of the city, Common Myna made a brief flight across a parking lot. My first new species was HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens) which seems very similar to a Jackdaw and realised at no point did I get a picture of one. Had what I now believe to be a Tailorbird but a brief view, and also had what looked like House Martins but you don't get them around here so looking back it was more likely to be a dusky crag martin.
Then had a 90 minute flight to Jodhpur. At the palace we were staying at it was obvious that House Crow, Feral Pigeon, Collared and Laughing Dove were going to be common. A large flock of Ring-necked Parakeet were making a lot of noise. Another new and common bird here RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer). Late afternoon we went to an event at Osian dunes. By the time we got there it was getting dark but on the way our first INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus) also Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Little green bee-eater, WHITE-EARED BULBUL (Psynonotus leucotis) and BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus). It turned out that was the only Drongo I saw, also saw distant Cranes (prob Demoiselle), and a few other that I couldn't id due to bumpy roads and brief views.

The next day the usual were around the hotel as well as House Sparrow and Black Kite. Outside our room there was a feeder and on this we had already had Laughing Dove and Indian Palm Squirrel, today while sitting looking things up a SHIKRA (Accipiter badius) had a feed there, thought I had seen one briefly yesterday but this was obviously closer.

Indian (or Three-striped) Palm Squirrel - Finambulus palmarum

Squirrel and Laughing Dove together

Shikra with his back to us

With the ladies doing Henna there was a chance at a free afternoon. When we went out there they had just changed some of the notes there, there was basically not a lot of physical cash around. After spending about  an hour looking for somewhere we could change some cash, eventually successful thanks to our drivers contacts. We then headed for a local lake via a tour of a small village that used traditional methods. We had to let the driver know that we wanted to go straight to the lake now. However the area we went to did produce excellent Peacock views, with a INDIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus simillimus) next to one of them. It looked the same shape as our blackbird but has a dark blue panel on the wings, RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus) were running about as was a LARGE GREY BABBLER (Turdoides malcolmi), this was a bird I took a photo then looked it up when back in car. One of my favourite birds was seen here and not again, BRAHMINY STARLING (Sturnia pagodarum), beautiful colours. There was also a yellow wagtail running around here, I believe it is the beema race also known as Sykes! so another for my sub species list.

Peacock, Indian Blackbird and a deer in background

Another peacock and below the Large grey Babbler

Brahminy Starling

After this we got to the lake. As we were getting there a gorgeous  INDIAN ROLLER (Coracias benghalensis) was on telephone wires. As soon as we got out the car at the lake INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Egretta intermedia) was seen, also known as yellow-billed. Just one COMB DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos) flew up and past when we arrived, unfortunately I couldn't re-locate it as it seemed to land on the other side of an island. Pintail, Pochard, Coot and Little Grebe on the lake. A lovely WHITE-BREASTED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis) was sat on a bush with it's back to us. Marsh Harrier was hunting over the fields near from were DEMOISELLE CRANEs (Grus (Anthropoides) virgo) were taking off and flying over. One of the workers at the reserve showed us the 2 SPOTTED OWLET (Athene brama) that roosted in a nearby tree. A ASIAN KOEL (Eudynamys scolopaceus) briefly feed on the margins of the lake along with Greenshank, Ruff and Bar-tailed Godwit. Another of my favourite for the trip was PALLAS'S FISH EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucoryphus), this bird was sitting on top of a tree chilling, i assume after it had just eaten. It didn't fly for us but was majestic looking. The only other species we saw there was a ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN (Copsychus saularis) fly into a bush and disappear, and, then a INDIAN ROBIN Saxicoloides fulicatus) flew out of the bush. On our way we stopped for a TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax)  that glided over the road. Thankfully we avoided our driver from another stop, which we found out later would have been a carpet shop.

The small but very cute Spotted Owlet

Once outside the hotel you could see the Little Swift darting about. 
Starling, Owlet and Roller my favourites so far, but, next up is the trip I had been looking forward to.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Morocco part two.

Finally an update. It has been months.  So I need to finish my Morocco report first before moving onto an Indian wedding with some birding done at the same time.

So I went on one trip will on holiday in Marrakesh. It was to the Ouzoud Falls, took a couple of hours to get there but was pretty spectacular when there. It was a coach trip so there were a few people there but you could do your own thing after the guide had given us some history of the place. As we started to go down the path we had to stand out the way as local police were carrying a body (in a bag) up to the top, apparently a local had slipped from near the top. We did see a lot of people sitting in very dangerous places so am not surprised this had happened. You have to walk down a winding path to the base of the waterfall, as you go down there are so many restaurants and stalls selling pretty much any local product you want.

At the bottom we all went on a boat (well it floated!) to get very close to the waterfall, and get very wet. Again lots of locals seemed to have set up around the base to eat or do whatever they were doing. I did see Banded Demoiselle down there. Not much in the way of bird life at all.

The base of the waterfalls and the boats we went on.

The main waterfall.

Start of the waterfall where I think the fall happened.

The impressive building at the top of the gorge.

When back at the top I had a chance to wander about. I found a gorgeous new butterfly and another cricket type insect.

Iphiclides feisthamelii -Scarce Swallowtail

Cricket type.

Below is the picture that shows I did see Spanish Sparrow while there.

On the way back I also saw what I think was Houbara Bustard but it was a brief sighting from the coach.

Next up a Indian wedding.