Had a great day birding with Bnhs members on Sunday 27th Nov'05 near Kahneri caves (SGNP-Borivali national park, Mumbai). This was an official Bnhs trail lead by Sanal Nair and self to the highest point, But due to some reasons, got permission only uptill the "Gomukh" point above the Kahneri plateau.
Highlights : A migrating flock of 8 Amur Falcons, Greater spotted Eagle and Verditer flycatcher.
The climate was cool, but the forest was comparatively silent and what with about 35+ people with us.......the sightings and sounds were relatively poor. We started our trail from the base of Kahneri (Opp. to the Tulsi Road) and ended up on the Kahneri plateau.
Most of the birds were identified by calls, that included Greater Racket tailed Drongos, Tickell's, Monarch & Red breasted flycatchers, Tickell's leaf warblers, a sulphur bellied warbler, White Breasted Kingfisher...and had some very good sightings of Verditer Flycatcher, an adult Greater Spotted Eagle (Mobbed by jungle crows), Plum Headed parakeet (Female thro' S.Scope), A Honey Buzzard, Pond Heron, Yellow footed green pigeons, Ashy drongos, Greater coucal, Golden Oriole…….
Reaching at the plateau, I was scanning the area, when I saw a flock of birds approaching from east to west….it was very far and flying rapidly….first I thought they were green pigeons…but so high ?...then I thought their flight resembled sandgrouse…but sandgrouse are not found here……then as they came near, above my head, I realized what I was looking at were Amur falcons….the wing shape, the fast fight and the timing all pointed out towards Amurs…..…..We counted 8 of them and were sure, some more would be on their way…..I tried to scan a little more and waited for a while, but that was the only flock we saw.
Interestingly the Amur falcons are rare passage migrants to Mumbai region and they migrate from Northern China / Mongolia to South Africa…an incredible journey of several thousand Kms.
I was surprised to find no Crag martins……..