Sunday, March 28, 2004

Uran-Craking with excitement (28.3.04)

Hi Birds,

I am sure, those of you who are not going to Uran for birding in the name of long distance, are going to be jealous after reading this mail.

Team members: Myself, Dr.Salil Choksi, Shashank Dalvi, Claudio Kolleir (Switzerland) & Bill Martin (England, who later joined us at Uran) had one of the most exciting birding in Uran on Sunday March 28,2004.

Equipped with my new Nikon Spotting Scope (15 - 45 x 80 mm - Sky & Earth series No.7454), I had a memorable day.

The migratory season back has already commenced with most of the waders dressed for the occasion & other singing migratory birds practising with their vocal chords to lure the girls back at the breeding grounds.

Our day started with a Blue tailed bee-eater perched right above the Navratna hotel in Vashi Sector 17.Blue tailed bee-eaters are passage migrants in our region (As also reported by Sunjoy & Kiran Srivastav). The water body just before the sea woods complex also teemed with Terns & Gulls, seen frantically fuelling themselves for the long journey. The terns included Gull billed, Little & Whiskered terns ,with a lone Caspian tern looking impressive amongst them (All with Br+ plumage). Brown headed as well as Black headed gulls were also seen with Br+ plumage.

We crossed the panvel creek and I was just casually pointing a particular telephone wire where I had seen a Pied Kingfisher a month back (Refer Sunjoy's mail of 22nd Feb'04), When suddenly to our sweet surprise there were c4 Pied Kingfishers exactly at the same spot where I had seen last month (Amazing......). Also seen nearby were Pacific Golden Plover, Common Red shanks, Small blue Kingfisher, Yellow eyed babbler singing continously, Black bellied Sparrow larks, Little cormorant, Ashy & plain prinias, Long tailed shrike….

Near Jasai about c10 openbilled storks were busy feeding in the fields. Black breasted weaverbirds moving in flocks, a lone Black shouldered kite scanning from a telephone wire.

The water body opposite the police chowki had a good mix of birds. Gargeney teals were plenty with few Shovellers sprinkled amongst them. Common, wood & Marsh sandpipers were looking so different with there Br+ plumage. A Hoopoe rose just 5 meters from us. Wagtail family were represented by Citrine, yellow & White fellas. About c4 Painted storks landed gracefully (Looking them through a scope was a delight). Other birds were some Blacktailed Godwits, Common & Spotted Redshanks, Black winged stilts, Ruffs, Redwattled Lapwings, Paddy field pipits, Spotted & Red munias, Collared Stonechat…A very exciting scene caught our breath for a moment. A female Marsh harrier was chasing a male painted snipe in flight. The harrier circled twice before her chase was taken up by a Jungle crow (The fate of the snipe was not known because of the reeds).

I had, a month back reported 2 species of crakes from a particular site (Refer my mail of 22nd Feb’04). Dr.Salil, Claudio & Bill wanted to see crakes for a long time, so we proceeded to the "Crake point" (This was what we named it later). Unfortunately there is a road construction going on exactly at the very spot where the crakes were seen with Bull rushes on either side (I fear this beautiful patch will be destroyed in a couple of years….) We strained our eyes through the reeds, which revealed a common snipe and a female Blue throat, but no sign of the crakes………….Suddenly in a matter of 5-6 mins 3 species of crakes gave us their “Darshan”. While Ballion’s crake and Blue breasted rail were hidden amongst the reeds, The beautiful Ruddy breasted crake literally danced in front of us…….There was excitement everywhere & Bill was literally Craking …I mean shaking with excitement. That’s what he said & we saw.

Moving further we came across a Long legged Buzzard soaring high up & with Claudio and Bill (Who had seen these buzzards in Europe quite often) didn’t have difficulty in its identity. Oriental skylarks were singing at a distance. The common & Spotted Redshanks were standing together giving us magnificent opportunity to compare them, with the spotted Red shanks just starting to get the dark grey colour (From a scope, you really cannot miss).

There is a very good patch of forest near the JNPT training centre, from where one could observe birds below (A small patch of wetland) which hosted more Gargeney teals, a couple of Shoveller females, Gulls, Purple sunbirds, Pheasant tailed jacanas, White throated kingfishers, Purple herons, Coots, also a common Indian mongoose slipping from the bush , oblivious of our presence above……….

An Indian Spectacled Cobra rescued by Shashank was released in the forest, which was blind with left eye. While returning we counted the species that we saw and heard and were not surprised when the list reached 93 species.

On our way home we greeted the feathered guests goodbye for now ………Only to wish them to come back soon.

Happy Birding,

Addi the Birdie