2009 India Year Listing

04 Jan 2009 14:50 #1 by Mike Prince
I thought I'd use this forum as a blog for my 2009 India year list. Now listing is not that popular here, and there is very little twitching and not much of an efficient grapevine. Since it's such a large and diverse country the secret to a big list is clearly travel, with trips to the north-east for Himalayan goodies, the north-west for some scarce Palearctic winterers, the north generally for a wide variety of excellent birding, and the southern forests for endemics and near-endemics. Since I live in Bangalore which doesn't really fit in any of these categories, and my opportunities for travel are likely to be limited, this is not going to be the story of a big year attempt! Instead it's more of a diary of my year's birding...

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04 Jan 2009 15:10 #2 by Mike Prince
Not seriously birding, but a late morning walk with my two year old daughter Tiya in Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bangalore was a pleasant way to kick off the year list. This is the only place where I have seen Mottled Wood Owl but disappointingly the regular pair were nowhere to be seen near their roost. Spot-billed Pelicans were good to see as always (the numbers of this near threatened species seem to be increasing, at least locally). Two Booted Eagles flew overhead mobbed by Black Kites (oddly not a single Brahminy Kite seen today) and two Tickell's Leaf Warblers amongst the common Greenish Warblers were a nice sighting.

Year list up to 25 by the end of the day!

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04 Jan 2009 15:58 - 01 Feb 2009 20:21 #3 by Mike Prince
Replied by Mike Prince on topic Jan 3rd - Nandi Hills
First proper birding of the year to Nandi Hills this morning, with Sree and Vinay. This is one of my favourite winter birding spots around Bangalore: whilst the species variety is not great, and birds can be quite difficult to find, there are a few species that you can't see elsewhere nearby and I always feel that there is something rare waiting but eluding me!

Sree and Vinay were keen to see some warblers and so it was great that one of the first we saw really well was a Hume's Warbler. A scarce visitor this far south, we had prolonged views of one bird at close range and slightly from above which meant the detail could be seen very well. A very greyish bird generally with completely white supercilium and wing bars, and nice white tips to the tertials. The call wasn't as distinct as I remember from further north (where they are much commoner) but was still clearly different to Greenish. We had three Hume's altogether today.

Moving slowly up the road to the summit other good sightings included Blue-capped Rock Thrush, a pair of Tawny Eagles nest-building and a Changeable Hawk Eagle (only my second sighting here). We stopped where I regularly see Yellow-throated Bulbul and managed to find four quite quickly, gaining good views of this not often reported endemic. A Large-billed Leaf Warbler calling was unusual here.

We reached the top quite late since the birding from the road up had been so good. A Nilgiri Woodpigeon was found quite easily (I bet that won't happen on the Bangalore Bird Race in two weeks time!) and one Indian Blue Robin showed very well at close range. No luck with Pied Thrushes but one confiding Orange-headed Thrush was seen, a few Olive-backed Pipits and two Red-throated Flycatchers (both definitely parva: I've not seen albicilla in the south). Finally we opted for a bit of raptor watching and saw another three Tawny Eagles, great views of a diving Bonelli's Eagle and some Alpine Swifts.

A very nice morning's birding taking the year total to 75, without yet visiting any wetland areas.

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06 Jan 2009 11:56 #4 by Sachin Shurpali
That is indeed some good sighting. So you got the Changeable Hawk Eagle:-) Like I was mentioning to you, I had just one sighting there so far. In all it appears that you had a blast of raptors again !

Like I told you, Dipu and I visited Mydenahalli, on the way covering Hesaraghatta.

Hesaraghatta had some new offerings for me like Clamarous Reed Warbler and Temminck's Stint. But what was waiting for us was not to find even one duck !

On the other hand, we had decent views of the harriers in the afternoon at Mydenahalli, though not as much as we did during our previous visit. We found just 2 harriers roosting the next morning.

Other interesting observation was to find both Marshall's and common Ioras on the same tree, very close-by. They did not bother about each other at all.

Also, the water tank on the left side, just outside the park had hosted a single parent Little Grebe and it's chick.

We had decent views of Orphean Warblers and Hume's Whitethroats.

No luck with the prinias , the coursers or the nightjars!

Anyways, eagerly waiting for the birdrace !


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06 Jan 2009 13:12 #5 by Mike Prince
Sounds a pretty good Mydenahalli trip: I think I'll aim for another trip there later this winter. Good you found Marshall's Iora after us missing them last time. I also saw both Common and Marshall's in the same tree (although not at the same time) there last year!

Will be in touch with you and the rest of team in a few days regarding bird race planning!

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07 Jan 2009 19:28 #6 by Rajneesh Suvarna
Hi Mike,

That's a good start for the year. Missed going with you this time too :(


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11 Jan 2009 11:12 - 01 Feb 2009 20:22 #7 by Mike Prince
Year list boosted to 112 today thanks to a visit to Hessarghatta Lake. This winter the lake is full of water and looks very good habitat. The only ducks though were a flock of four Northern Shoveler and five Common Teal, and the only waders apart from Wood Sandpiper were five Temminck's Stints. The wintering flock of dukhenensis Greater Short-toed Larks numbered about 90 and were being harried by a Marsh Harrier. Booted Warblers were common in the low, dry scrub and two Sykes's Warblers were seen in the larger acacias.

As often here, raptors were the highlight. 11 species altogether including one ringtail Montagu's/Pallid Harrier - despite quite close views I couldn't identify it positively. Often I seem to see pro-Pallid and pro-Montagu's features on the same bird! Other raptors included four Tawny Eagles, two Egyptian Vultures and my first Steppe Eagle here. I've now seen a total of 19 species of raptors at Hessarghatta.

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11 Jan 2009 19:47 #8 by Ramit Singal
Four is a high number of Tawny Eagles. More than the total I saw last year.

Nice start to the year for you. Pity I have got exams on, and hence am restricted to backyard birding for now.

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16 Jan 2009 01:50 - 01 Feb 2009 20:23 #9 by Mike Prince
With several of my wife's family visiting we decided to go to Mysore for some sightseeing for a couple of days. Since my two-and-a-half year old daughter Tiya, and her similarly aged cousin Maya, were with us, it was a good excuse to visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary near Mysore for a boat ride. Whilst the girls were fascinated by the close views we had of the Marsh Mugger crocodiles, I managed to rattle off a few more year ticks amongst the breeding birds there. Indian Cormorant, Darter, Night Heron, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Spoonbill, Great Thick-knee, River Tern, Common and Pied Kingfishers and Wire-tailed and Streak-throated Swallows all gave an excellent show. Highlight for me though was definitely the Indian Spotted Eagle that flew overhead. Only my third ever confirmed sighting, the structure was distinctive being smallish but with long, narrow wings and a moderately long tail. The flight feathers were distinctly pale with even paler inner primaries.

Later some Grey Hornbills and a Hoopoe in Mysore took the year list to 130.

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16 Jan 2009 15:27 - 01 Feb 2009 20:23 #10 by Mike Prince
Replied by Mike Prince on topic Jan 16th - Jakkur Lake
In order to check whether it would be worthwhile visiting on this Sunday's Bangalore bird race, I made a one hour visit to Jakkur Lake this morning, between school drop-off and pick-up. The expected Spot-billed Pelicans, Great Cormorants, Darters, Purple Herons and Purple Swamphens were easily seen. The variety of ducks was disappointing with, apart from a few Spot-billed Ducks, a flock of 300 Garganey which despite a careful scan revealed nothing else hiding amongst them.

Two Marsh Harriers and a Greater Spotted Eagle were good - hope the latter is easily seen on Sunday. Black-winged Stilt and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas were bonuses.

No sign of any interesting passerines other than a small flock of Rosy Starlings: a bit of effort (and luck) on Sunday might turn up Clamorous and Paddyfield Warblers and Bluethroat.

A pleasant short birding session which took the year's total to 138.

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