Sunday, February 01, 2004

Uran-A break with crake (1st Feb'04)

Hi Birds,

Once again had a fantastic birding expedition to Uran on the eve of World wetlands day.

Uran is an incredible place to bird and I could always bag some exciting sightings. This time it turned out to be the 2 species of crakes (Baillon's & Ruddy breasted) & a flock of greater short toed larks.Total of 54 species.

Started alone a bit late in the morning (There was a BNHS outing for Uran as well).Along the way near Jasai saw c19 openbilled storks feeding in cultivated field.A number of black breasted weavers still seen in flocks,A female marsh harrier scanning the ground below.
In most areas the water has dried out , with only few areas holding water where waders were few but well represented.The water body just opposite the JNPT police Chowki had few spoonbills feeding with a lone white ibis amongst them , some Black winged stilts were also present.Behind them ,on the dry salt pan were three painted storks lazily sitting together with some Grey herons.Waders included wood , common, Marsh & green sandpipers,Black tailed godwits , Common Red & green shanks, a flock of Ruffs, Little ringed plovers, Kentish plovers, Red wattled lapwings.....

This particular water body is fed by a sewage pipeline which runs just opposite the Police chowki , the mouth of which is surrounded by Reeds and "Bull rushes" .It is here that I saw the Baillon's crake which was later joined by its pair.The pair was busy feeding even as as I parked my bike close to almost 15 feet from them,where I took some decent Photographs of these birds.This winter migrant,a diminutive bird with its white paint like speckles on the olive brown back and slaty grey chest was easy to identify.An Indian moorhen and some Red avadavats also peeped through the reeds.

I later joined the BNHS group led by Dr.Unnithan and birded along with them for some time.We proceeded to a village tank situated inside the town.Until recently this particular pond was covered with water vegetation and one could see plenty of Purple swamp hens , coots , Dabchiks,Jacanas.....However this time the water was cleaned out off this vegetation for the so called fish farming and we had sightings of only White throated kingfisher , R.W.lapwings and barn swallows & Palm swifts hawking insects.

Among raptors were c2 dark phase Booted eagles,Marsh harriers (male,female and Juvenile),Black shouldered kites , female shikra,brahminy kite.

I was joined later by Dr.Tarin Mithel from Kharghar and we did some more birding together after the BNHS group parted.I took him to the place where I had sighted the crakes in the morning and to our surprise they were still there , busy feeding.We were in for more surprise as a Ruddy breasted crake emerged from behind them and quickly vanished in the reeds. But even a slight glimpse of this beautiful bird is enough for its ID....Even as I write this (Incidentally or co-incidentally) there is a posting in bng birds-Bangalore birds e-group- of some one also seeing and photographing these two species of crakes on the same day some where in Karnataka.

Further down we spotted the Desert wheatear female yet again at the same spot as last month , however the male was nowhere to be found.Long tailed shrikes were plenty and could be seen almost after every few meters on the telephone wires.Also spotted c2 Indian rollers on the telephone wires dropping now and then, below with there magnificent blue wings spread to catch an insect ,again to return back on there look-out post.Even had an opportunity to observe different phases of Citrine and grey wagtails.

Larks are early breeders and most of the species have already started there breeding displays.Rufous tailed sparrow lark, Oriental skylark, Malabar crested lark & the Ashy crowned sparrow larks ( In Marathi A.C.S.Larks are also called as "Dombari" , because of there unique breeding display) have all started to show there breeding antics.A flock of Greater short toed larks settled nearby in an cultivated field,giving a good view.I Eventually ended up seeing all the lark species found along the Mumbai region.

It is always so relaaaaaaxinggggggg...... to spend the weekend watching birds as if it were an energy dose for the hectic week of work ahead.

Happy Birding,

Addi The Birdie