20th February 1986 - 18th March 1986.
After a long flight from London, we, that is Dave Tombs and I, arrived in Karachi, southern Pakistan.
We were in Pakistan at the invitation of Walji Travel, the countries largest independent tour operator and travel agent. I had been asked to assess sites, selected by the company, suitable to run wildlife/birdwatching tours too.
As I was now working in the BBC's Natural History Sound Library I knew that there was very little sound from that part of the world in the collection, and so, the BBC and Walji Travel agreed that Dave could accompany me to sound record along the route.
At the airport we met the Karachi representative from Walji Travel. On the drive to the hotel and from the hotel the sky was full of hundreds of Black Kites, I also saw House Sparrows, pigeons, lots of House Crows and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.
At dusk there were hundreds of bats flying over the city, I was told they were Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bats.
Photos: House Crow.
Our first full day in Pakistan, in Karachi we saw Black Kites, House Crows, Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Little Swifts and 8 Common Mynas, my first new bird of the trip. New birds are in bold.
Our first stop was at a pool by the side of the road as we drove west out of the city.
Here, we saw around 2000 Black-tailed Godwits, 200+ Black-winged Stilts, 80+ Avocets, 30+ White-tailed Plovers, 4000+ Black-headed Gulls, 100+ Little Stints, 4 Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers, a Red-wattled Lapwing and a Western Reef-Heron. We also saw a flock of about 30 Steppe Buzzards fly overhead moving north and several Black Drongos.
Further west, along the coast road towards Cape Monze or Ras Muari, we stopped again, this time at a chicken farm. The smell coming from several long barns was almost overwhelming. On top of the barns, on wires and in the air were several hundred Black Kites, 3 Long-legged Buzzards, around 50 Tawny and Steppe Eagles and 4 Indian Spotted Eagles, and everywhere I looked, on the ground, there were Crested Larks.
We continued along the coast road stopping frequently, seeing 2 Bay-backed Shrikes, 2 Great Grey Shrikes which were probably Steppe Grey, several White-cheeked Bulbuls, 3 Long-tailed Shrikes, 3 Desert Wheatears, several Asian Green Bee-eaters, 3 Eastern Pied Wheatears, an Isabelline Wheatear, a Desert Warbler, 10+ Common Babblers, 12+ Scrub Warblers and a Red-vented Bulbul.
On the beach and, on and over the sea were 8 Cormorants, 4 Greater Sand Plovers, 6 Lesser Sand Plovers, 3 Western Reef Herons, at least 8 Lesser Crested Terns, 10+ Sooty Gulls, Grey Plover, Osprey, a Caspian Gull, a Green
Sandpiper, 2 Sanderling and several Swallows.
Photos: Pool west of Karachi.
Later, after diner, we returned to a beach along Hawke's Bay with members of the Turtle Conservation department.
This is an internationally important area for nesting Green Turtles and although not peak time, they come ashore to nest throughout the year.
We saw 2 Green Turtles struggle up the beach and lay eggs and we also released 6 young which had been reared by the unit.
Photos: Adult female Green Turtle.
Hatchling Green Turtle.
Overnight in Karachi, today we planned to look for waders along the Malir River which flows through the city to the sea. We were at a place called Ghizri Creek, part of the river system, an area with extensive mud banks and sparsely covered with mangrove.
The spot we arrived at was part of a rubbish tip and smelt absolutely awful, but the 500+ Black Kites circling above us obviously liked it, as did the many House Crows and White and Yellow Wagtails.
By the nearby creek of dark, foul-smelling water was a small, narrow boat and that was our transport down the river ( the one pictured below ). After fitting the tiny outboard motor, Dave, myself and our guide set off.
Not a place to bring paying clients, but the birdwatching was amazing with thousands of birds, seeing 12+ Gull-billed Terns, 2 Brown-headed Gulls, 3 Ospreys, Western Reef Herons, 20+ Great White Egrets, Redshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Ruff, Oystercatchers, Dunlins, Ringed Plovers, around 400 Greater Flamingos, Grey Herons, Little Cormorants, Black-headed Gulls, Hueglin's Gulls, Glossy Ibises, Little Terns, Indian Shags, a Black-necked Grebe, Curlew, Little Stints, Kentish Plovers, Greater Sand Plovers, Greenshank and Grey Plovers.
Near the mouth of the river there were 3 Plumbeous Dolphins, a Sooty Gull and 6 Slender-billed Gulls, on more mud banks were Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpipers, Terek Sandpipers and some Herring-type gulls which were probably Caspian Gulls, on one mud bank was a large flock of Great Knot, and there were also lot of Short-toed Larks now split and called Sand Lark.
Photos: Dave, driver, guide and locals at Ghizri Creek.
Ghizri Creek, boat and Black Kites.
We left Karachi early and headed east, today there was myself, Dave, our guide and the driver.
Once we had turned off the main road and started heading south, on the road to Keti Bundar, we began seeing lots of birds in the farmland, pools, ditches and reedbeds alongside the road.
There were lots of Common Mynas and Pied Kingfishers, 2 Paddybirds or Indian Pond-Herons, alba wagtails, Black Kites, House Crows and Black Drongos.
Also a Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Little Cormorants and 40+ Little Egrets. In one of the grassy/reed areas were several Long-tailed Grass Warblers, we also saw at least 6 Striated Babblers, 2 Caspian Terns, 2 Gull-billed Terns, 3 Pied Stonechats, 4 Smyrna or White-breasted Kingfishers, several Indian Rollers, 6 Snipe, Collared Doves, 3 Red-wattled Lapwings, an Osprey, 2 White-eyed Buzzards, several Long-tailed Shrikes, 2 Brahminy Kites, a Pallid Harrier, a Long-legged Buzzard, several Griffon Vultures, 2 Black-shouldered Kites, 2 Spotted Eagles, a Purple Sunbird, 2 Little Grebes, 3 Black-bellied Terns, several Plain Prinias, a Yellow-bellied Prinia and 2 Indian Robins.
The road got rougher the further south we travelled and dustier, a fine white dust which began infiltrating into the back of the Land Rover, through the many gaps around the back door and canvass covering, and as Dave and I were sat in the back we got covered. Eventually we reached Keti Bunder, a tiny settlement surrounded by channels, some with water, others bone dry. We tried to get out of the vehicle, but our clothes were literally stiff with dust and we walked around like zombies until we could brush most of the dust out.
Having come this far we explored the area seeing a Great Black-headed Gull, Western Reef Herons, Dunlin, Little Stints, Redshanks, lots of Barred Mudskippers, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Marsh Sandpiper, Grey Plovers, 4 Spoonbills, Black-headed Gulls and a Brown-headed Gull, 3 Terek Sandpipers, a Ruff, Curlews, 3 River Terns, an Indian Fox, 2 Cattle Egrets, a Kestrel, White-cheeked Bulbuls, a Shikra, Spanish Sparrows and a Green Sandpiper.
On the way back north we stopped at a roadside cafe, and I told Dave not to have the tea, we could both see what they washed the cups in, but he insisted, I had a coke.
We continued to Keenjhar Lake and the lakeside bungalow which was our accommodation for the next three nights, meeting our cook for the duration of our stay.
By then Dave was starting to feel unwell, he said it was the dust, but I think it was the tea.
Photos: Habitat along the Keti Bundar road.
Keenjhar Lake, around 120 Km east of Karachi, is the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan and provides most of the drinking water for Karachi and the surrounding region, it's also a popular holiday and weekend destination for many city dwellers.
In the morning Dave was still feeling unwell, so I went for a walk around the area close to the bungalow, seeing lots of Coot, 3 Tufted Ducks, a Red-wattled Lapwing, 2 Little Cormorants, a Little Egret, 4 Citrine Wagtails, a Green Sandpiper, a White-breasted Kingfisher, Common Mynas, White-cheeked Bulbuls, a red-spotted Bluethroat, a Long-tailed Shrike, Black Kites, a Marsh Harrier, Clamerous Reed Warblers, a Little Tern, 2 Greater Coucals also known as Common Crow-Pheasants, 2 Paddybirds and 2 Plain Leaf Warblers.
By the time I returned for breakfast Dave was feeling better and later we left for an all day visit to Haleji Lake.
Haleji Lake is situated west of Keenjhar Lake and was originally a small salt water lake that was drained and increased in size to supply British and American troops, stationed in Karachi, with water during the early 1940's. A freshwater feeder canal was constructed and raised embankments built to create a square reservoir with a circumference of 12 miles. Over time trees and bushes have grown up around its edge, the waterside vegetation has matured and the whole lake is easily viewed from the drivable track on top of the embankment, making it the best lake for birds in southern Pakistan.
Here we saw hundreds of Coot, Paddybirds, several Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Several Asian or Grey-headed Swamphens which have recently become a seperate species, 7 Greater Coucals, a Large Pied Wagtail, 2 Three-striped Palm Squirrels, 13 Glossy Ibises, 2 Grey Pelicans, Wigeon, Mallard, 2 Cotton Teal, Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Ducks, a Chiffchaff, 4 Marsh Harriers, Shovelers, Yellow-billed or Intermediate Egrets, Garganey, Great White Egrets, Little Cormorants, 2 Spotbills, several Long-tailed Tailor Birds, Pale Sand Martins, House Martins which were possibly Asian House Martins, Swallows, 2 Bramhiny Kites, a Bluethroat, Pied Kingfishers, a Moustached Warbler, 20+ Jungle Babblers, several Tytler's Leaf Warblers, Black-headed Gulls,Caspian Gulls, Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Lesser Golden-backed Woodpeckers, an Indian or Rufous Treepie, 3 Purple Sunbirds, 3 Tawny Eagles, Kingfishers and Whiskered Terns.
As we moved around the lake we saw small rocky islands covered in Cormorants and in these areas we found 4 Muggers or Marsh Crocodiles.
Continuing we saw Little Swifts, Wire-tailed Swallows, Pied Wagtails, a Desert Lesser or Small Whitethroat, 2 Great Black-headed Gulls, 6 Koels, Black Drongos, Collared Doves, Citrine Wagtails, a Hoopoe, 5 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Ospreys, Little Grebes, Little Green Bee-eaters, a Purple Heron, lots of White-breasted Kingfishers, Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Marsh Sandpipers, Grey Herons, Ruff, 2 Common Sandpipers, Teal, 5 Ruddy Shelduck, Red-wattled Lapwings, 2 Grey Wagtails, Heuglin's Gulls, and House Crows.
Later we returned to the bungalow at Keenjhar Lake.
Views across Haleji Lake.
Citrine Wagtail at Keenjhar Lake. Pheasant-tailed Jacana.
Asian or Grey-headed Swamphens.
Paddybird or Indian Pond-Heron. Koel in tree at Haleji Lake.
Cormorants on island at Haleji Lake.
An early start from the bungalow to explore the varied habitats around Keenjhar Lake, where we saw Citrine and flava Wagtails, a Long-tailed Shrike, a Kingfisher, House Crows, Coot, a Pied Kingfisher, Common Mynas, Clamerous Reed Warblers, 2 Gull-billed Terns, Little Cormorants, White-cheeked Bulbuls, Paddybirds, Tufted Ducks, a Brown-headed Gull, Moorhens, Whiskered Terns, a Pallas' Fish or Sea Eagle, 2 Marsh Harriers, 2 Bluethroats, Purple Sunbirds, 2 White-breasted Kingfishers, a Streaked Weaver, a Green Sandpiper, a Wood Sandpiper, Black Drongos, Pied Wagtails, Red-wattled Lapwings, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, Chiffchaffs, Common Babblers, Pied Stonechats, Lesser Whitethroats, Little Green Bee-eaters, Pale Sand Martins, Long-tailed Grass Warblers, 2 Indian Robins, overhead glided 2 Long-billed Vultures, which have now been split and this race is now called Indian Vulture. We also saw Black-headed Gulls, Caspian Gulls, Sanderling, Crested Larks, Redshank, Graceful Warblers or Prinias and Eastern Pied Wheatears.
After lunch we were travelling towards Thatta, the largest town is this region, where in some stock pens by the side of the road were around 25 Indian White-backed Vultures, also called White-rumped Vulture, and 4 Indian King Vultures, also called Red-headed Vulture.
We continued to Hadero Lake, the smallest of the lakes we visited, and the only one with brackish water. Here we saw Wood Sandpipers, 3 Marsh Harriers, Cotton Teal, Wigeon, Coot, Pied Kingfishers, Little Egrets, Red-wattled Lapwings, 2 Snipe, Redshank, Swallows, Caspian Terns, 8 Grey Pelicans, Gull-billed Terns, Whiskered Terns, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Citrine Wagtails, Kingfishers, 2 Tawny Eagles and a Purple Heron.
On the way back to Keenjhar Lake we saw 12 Eastern Stock Doves, a Red-headed Falcon and 10 Ashy-crowned Finch-Larks or Sparrow-Larks. Back at the bungalow I saw a Sparrowhawk fly over.
Photos: Right & below: Indian White-backed Vultures.
below: Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark.
A look around the area by the bungalow at Keenjhar Lake before returning to Karachi, seeing 8 White-throated Munias, 2 Indian Robins, House Crows, Common Mynas, Coot and Clamerous Reed Warblers.
Photo: White-throated Munia.
Overnight in Karachi, today we were preparing for a three day trip north, Dave had decided that as we were going to a desert area and daytime temperatures were rising he would invest in a couple of pairs of traditional cotton suits.
After he returned from shopping we left for a visit to the British Consul, who was interested and supportive of our trip. While we were there one of the consulate staff showed us around their gardens, and, said there was a rare bird, for Southern Pakistan, wintering here.
The first thing we saw was a Five-lined or Northern Palm Squirrel, then a pair of Red-breasted Flycatchers, and then we saw the bird, a dazzling blue and white flycatcher with a white supercillium - a male White-browed Blue or Ultramarine Flycatcher, and with it a much duller female.
Also in the garden were 2 Chiffchaffs, a Koel, 2 Long-tailed Tailor Birds and Ring-necked Parakeets.
Photo: Common Myna.
Before returning to the hotel for lunch, we made a brief stop at Clifton Beach, seeing Dunlin, Little Stints, Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpipers and lots of Sanderling.
In the afternoon we went to Korangi Creek, on the eastern side of the Malir River, opposite Ghizri Creek, where we were hoping to find an area that we could view the waders along the river, other than by a rickety boat, but we couldn't get close to the river, which was disappointing as we could see hundreds of waders, herons and Greater Flamingos in the distance.
However, we did see 2 Small Skylarks, Little Green Bee-eaters, Marsh Harriers, 3 Palm Doves, saw one Indian Grey Partridge and heard others, also Crested Larks, an Isabelline Shrike and a probable Grey-breasted Prinia.
An early start from the hotel where the Land Rover was waiting with driver, guide, cook and under the rear seats, several live chickens.
We headed northwest from Karachi, stopping along the way, to Kirthar National Park, the 2nd largest national park in Pakistan and the only one in Sindh Province.
Along the route we saw Spanish Sparrows, Little Green Bee-eaters, 3 Black-crowned Finch-Larks or Sparrow-Larks, Sand Larks, Eastern Pied Wheatears, Crested Larks, White-cheeked Bulbuls, Common Babblers, a female White-bellied Minivet, an Indian Fox, a White-eyed Buzzard, a Long-legged Buzzard, Black Drongos, Griffon Vultures, around 60 Crowned Sandgrouse, a Stone Curlew and a Black-shouldered Kite.
After an hour or so along a rough, dusty track we reached the park entrance, but still had some distance to go.
In the park we saw several Redwinged or Indian Bushlarks, an Indian Gerbille, 2 Isabelline Shrikes, a Lesser Whitethroat, Great/Steppe Grey Shrikes, Indian Robins, 5 Close-barred or Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse, a Red-tailed Wheatear, 3 Night Herons, a Grey Wagtail, a Dusky Warbler,
a White-breasted Kingfisher, 2 Tawny Eagles and at dusk, sat on a rock near the accommodation an Indian Eagle Owl.
Photos: Kirthar National Park.
A full day in Kirthar National Park, around the compound were Eastern Pied Wheatears, Black Drongos and a Indian Roller.
We set off in two jeeps, Dave and I with our fixer and driver, and the other with the park guide and an armed guard, he was with us as we were near the Balochistan border which can be unsafe.
We headed for the hills in the distance, pictured right, which didn't look very high or steep until we got there, then they became a lot more imposing, both drivers accelerated and drove up the side of the rocky hillside, only just reaching the top, we got out a little shaken not believing what we had just done, but it was worth it as the views were spectacular.
We drove along the top of the hills stopping to view a group of 9 Urial, then 2 Chinkara Gazelle and a herd of 84 Sindh Ibex, all new mammals for us.
Photos: Kirthar National Park.
Driving down the hillside was almost as bad as going up, but we made it and continued our exploration of the park, seeing Purple Sunbirds, White-cheeked Bulbuls, a Great Grey Shrike, Indian Grey Partridges, Desert Larks, a Bonelli's Eagle, a Black Vulture, 8 Griffon Vultures, Rock Buntings and 2 Rufous-fronted Prinias.
We spent most of the rest of the day by a small lake, which was the only fresh water for miles and was full of birds, here we saw 2 Cormorants, a Great White Egret, Rock Doves, Green Bee-eaters, a Greenshank, a Graceful Warbler, Red-wattled Lapwing, a Paddybird, Lesser Whitethroats, Clamerous Reed Warblers, 3 Night Herons, Moorhens, 2 Little Egrets, a Grey Wagtail, at least 1 Blyth's Reed Warbler was seen with others heard, 2 Kingfishers, a Chiffchaff, a White-breasted Kingfisher, a Green Sandpiper, a Greater Coucal, a Bluethroat, Long-tailed Grass Warblers and there were lots of frogs and as it got later in the day their chorus began to drown out the birds.
Also seen was an Indian Cliff Swallow, 2 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, around 15 White-throated Munias, Laughing Doves, a Plain or Brown-throated Sand Martin and a Desert Gecko.
The morning spent in Kirthar National Park and then a drive back to Karachi, We saw a Black Redstart, 6 Rock Martins, 2 Kestrels, a Black-crowned Finch Lark, lots of Green Bee-eaters, 2 Tawny Pipits, Rock Buntings, Eastern Pied Wheatears, lots of Common Babblers, 2 Northern Palm Squirrels, 3 Indian Gerbilles, Rufous-fronted Prinias, a male and female White-bellied Minivet, Yellow-throated Sparrows, 5 Baya Weavers, 2 Griffon Vultures and as we returned to the camp a Eurasian Golden Jackal.
On the trip to Karachi we saw Indian Robins, 2 Indian Rollers, 8 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, a Black-shouldered Kite, a Great Grey Shrike and an Egyptian Vulture.
Northern Palm Squirrel. Eurasian Golden Jackal.
From Karachi we travelled 56 kms north to Hub Dam, the first birds we saw were Sindh Jungle Sparrows, also Little Swifts, a female Redstart, lots of Coot, 9 Starlings, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Great Grey Shrikes, flava wagtails, lots of Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Wigeon, Grey Herons, Black-headed Gulls, 2 Great White Egrets, Little Grebes, a Spotted Eagle, Red-wattled Lapwings, Cormorants, a Short-toed Eagle, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, Grey Wagtails, Long-tailed Grass Warblers, Graceful Warblers, Greater Flamingoes, 3 Green Sandpipers and some Pochard. And, that was only from the dam area, we didn't have time to explore the reserve along the eastern side of the lake.
From the dam we drove back to Karachi and visited the pools to the west of the city, seeing the big flock of Black-tailed Godwits again, also Black-winged Stilts, Avocets and Red-wattled Lapwings.
Further west we stopped at the chichen farm again where there were hundreds of Black Kites, at least 6 Imperial Eagles, Steppe and Tawny Eagles, at least 6 Black Vultures and 2 Indian King or Red-headed Vultures.
Continuing west along the coast we saw a Red-vented Bulbul, White-cheeked Bulbuls, a Redstart, Indian Grey Partridges, Common Babblers, lots of Black-headed Gulls, Sooty Gulls, Lesser Crested Terns, Laughing Doves and Streaked Scrub Warblers.
Photos: Above: Black Kite.
Left: Indian King Vulture.
Below: Steppe Eagles.
Today we left Karachi and took a flight north to Sukkur on the Indus River. After checking into the hotel we visited the Sukkur Barrage, one of a series of barrages along the Indus, and had a walk alongside the river.
Later, we were treated to a boat trip on the river, from which we could view birds on the water and along the bank, but the main aim was to see Indus River Dolphins, here they are trapped between barrages but they are not easy to see only briefly breaking the surface to breath and in the muddy water you only get a quick view of a head or back, we reckoned we saw 3 but there could have been more.
We also saw 2 White-breasted Kingfishers, House Crows, White-cheeked Bulbuls, River Terns, Little Egrets, Red-wattled Lapwings, Plain Sand Martins, a Marsh Sandpiper, a Little Stint, lots of Shoveler, Pintail, Pochard, Common Mynas, Paddybirds, Brown Roofed Turtles, Black Kites, Black-bellied Terns, an Indian Roller, Ring-necked Parakeets, Short-toed Larks, Pied Stonechats, Zitting Cisticolas, Small Skylarks, Pied Kingfishers, Great White Egrets, Green Bee-eaters, a Kestrel, a Hoopoe, Moorhens, Cattle Egrets, Jungle Babblers and an Orphean Warbler.
Towards evening from the hotel we saw around 80 Fulvous Fruit Bats and several Kuhl's Pipistrelles flying over the town.
Indus River at Sukkur.
Indus river boat.
Dave and crew.
We left Sukkur early and travelled north to Ghauspur Lake, on the way seeing Black Kites, White-breasted Kingfishers, Spanish Sparrows, Common Mynas, Paddybirds, Black-winged Stilts, Little Stints, a Black-shouldered Kite, Cattle Egrets, Tawny Pipits, Black Drongos, White-throated Munias, Pied Kingfishers, Green Sandpipers, Red-wattled Lapwings, River Terns, Little Egrets and Ring-necked Parakeets.
Ghauspur Lake was teaming with birds and a few fishermen, just after we arrived, the police drove passed us and out towards the shore where they arrested an illegal hunter, good to see they do inforce the law.
On and around the lake we saw lots of Great White Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Whiskered Terns, a Brahminy Kite, a Black Vulture, Coot, Pied Wagtails, flava wagtails, a Pallas's Sea Eagle, a Black-tailed Godwit, Short-toed Larks, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, 6 Lapwing, Grey Herons, Yellow-billed Egrets, Little Grebes, Little Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, a Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Harriers, 4 Hoopoes, Crested Larks, a Tawny Eagle, Small Skylarks, 5 White-tailed Plovers, a Snipe, 2 Indian White-backed Vultures, Starlings, 2 Collared Praticoles, Black-bellied Terns, Oriental Pipits now split from Richard's Pipit, an Imperial Eagle, Little Cormorants, Redshank, 2 Spotted Eagles and a Steppe Eagle.
Photos: Right: River Terns.
Below: Ghauspur Lake.
Pallas's Sea Eagle.
Red-wattled Lapwing, White-tailed Plovers.
White-breasted Kingfisher, Collared Pratincole.
Today we left Sukkur and flew back to Karachi, then boarded another flight north to Islamabad. No time for any field trips.
Our first day in Islamabad and a visit to the Margalla Hills, foothills of the Himalayas which begin north of the city.
We saw Common Mynas, House Crows, Starlings, Pied Stonechats, Ring-necked Parakeets, Black Kites, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Northern Palm Squirrel, a male Marsh Harrier, Red-vented Bulbuls, an Indian Roller, White-cheeked Bulbuls, 8 Grey-breasted Prinias, Laughing Doves, 4 White-capped Buntings, a male and female Small Minivet, a Crimson-breasted Barbet, a Sparrowhawk, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tailorbirds, a Griffon Vulture, 2 Steppe Eagles,
3 Indian or Rufous Treepies, a long-legged Buzzard, a Rock Bunting and a Spotted Dove.
In the area around a place called Lord Buddha's Banyan Tree we saw a Jungle Crow, more Yellow-browed Warblers, 2 Small Minivets, a White-throated Fantail, several Pale-rumped Warblers, 2 Dark Grey Bushchats, a Grey Wagtail, Griffon Vultures, an Indian White-backed Vulture, Steppe Eagles, a White-capped Redstart, a Himalayan Whistling Thrush, 2 Blue-throated Barbets and 6 Cinnamon Sparrows.
Photos: Right: Margalla Hills looking down on Islamabad.
Below: Quarry Ravine in the Margalla Hills.
Later, we went to a area known as Quarry Ravine, which was a much quiter place to sound record, here we saw a Black Redstart, a Pied Stonechat, an Indian Grey Partridge, lots of White-cheeked Bulbuls, Red-vented Bulbuls, Grey-breasted Prinias, Purple Sunbirds, Long-tailed Tailorbirds, a Pale-rumped Warbler, around 50 Alpine Swifts, a Shikra, Jungle Babblers, a Jungle Crow, 10 Indian White-backed Vultures, 4 Rhesus Macaques,
a Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler with many more heard, an Indian Treepie, a Great Tit here called Gray Tit, an Indian Robin and a brief view of a quail which I didn't see for long enough to identify.
Back in Islamabad we saw a Spotted Little Owl.
Another visit to the Margalla Hills, this time exploring higher up and further north, seeing a Sparrowhawk, a Himalayan Whistling Thrush, a White-capped Bunting, Purple Sunbirds, White-cheeked and Red-vented Bulbuls, 2 Yellow-throated Martens, Grey-breasted Prinias, 2 female Blue-headed Redstarts, 2 Himalayan Treecreepers, Yellow-browed Warblers, Pied Stonechats, Great Tits, Steppe Eagles, Green Bee-eaters, 3 Oriental Honey Buzzards, Alpine Swifts, Little Swifts, Indian Treepies, an Indian White-backed Vulture, and then a loose flock of about 10 Himalayan Griffon Vultures, 10 Rufous-breasted Accentors, 2 Green-backed Tits, 8 Oriental White-eyes, a Black-chinned Babbler, 2 Brown-fronted Pied Woodpeckers, we heard at least 5 Blue-throated Barbets, Pale-rumped Warblers, Long-tailed Tailorbirds,
2 Grey-headed Flycatcher Warblers now called Grey-hooded Warbler, 2 Variegated Laughing Thrushes, 2 Himalayan Streaked Laughing Thrushes, and in the same patch of forest I saw a gleaming yellow bird in the undergrowth a stunning male Golden Bush Robin.
Here we also saw a Strong-footed Bush Warbler, a female Long-tailed Minivet, a Long-legged Buzzard and during the excursion 22 Jungle Crows.
Photos: Himalayan Griffon Vulture.
We returned to the hotel for lunch, in the afternoon we visited Rawal Lake, a park close to the hotel with a large reservoir, which provides water to several towns and cities in the area. Here we saw White-breasted Kingfishers, a Black-shouldered Kite, 2 Long-tailed Shrikes, Common Babblers, an Indian Robin, Plain Sand Martins, an Eastern Stock Dove, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail, Great Crested Grebes, a Grey Heron, a Marsh Harrier, Laughing Doves, Black-headed Gulls, a Great Tit, 3 Ring-necked Parakeets and 2 Red-rumped Swallows.
We left Islamabad and drove northeast to the hill station of Murree, formally a summer British headquarters and on the 20 mile drive we saw an Alexandrine Parakeet, lots of Jungle Crows, 2 Himalayan Whistling Thrushes, a Tawny Eagle, Pale-rumped Warblers, Great Tits, Cinnamon Sparrows, Steppe Eagles, a Slaty Blue Flycatcher, a Golden Bush Robin and 2 Green Shrike-Babblers.
At 7,000 feet above sea level Murree is dominated by pines, here we saw 3 Pied Stonechats, Jungle Crows, 3 White-cheeked Tits, 2 Rufous-naped Black Tits, 2 Yellow-billed Blue Magpies, 3 Himalayan Pied Woodpeckers, 3 Tickell's Thrushes, Great Tits, 3 Himalayan Treecreepers, 2 Green-backed Tits, several Spot-winged Black Tits, a Red-headed Tit, around 60 Cinnamon Sparrows, a Hoopoe, a Himalayan Whistling Thrush, a Brown-fronted Pied Woodpecker, several White-cheeked Bulbuls and lots of Common Mynas.
Photo: Yellow-billed Blue Magpie.
A cold, grey, damp, misty morning, we set off from Murree to explore further north, first to Ayubia and then on to Burbund, at times there was sleet, then heavy rain depending on the altitude, and it became foggy, we went as far as we could, with snow piled high at the side of the roads, until the road was blocked by a huge boulder and although there were men working to clear it, it was going to take a long time.
However, we did see some good birds, several Spot-winged Black Tits, 4 Chough, a Himalayan Treecreeper, 6 Hodgson's Mountain Finches, 5 Yellow-billed Blue Magpies, 2 Slaty-headed Parakeets, Goldfinches, several Black-headed Greenfinches, a Himalayan Whistling Thrush, a Lanceolated Jay, 6+ Variegated Laughing Thrushes, Great Tits, Green-backed Tits and a Grey-hooded Warbler.
After lunch we left Murree and drove back to Islamabad, on the way seeing 2 Himalayan Whistling Thrushes, Great Tits, Cinnamon Sparrows, Steppe Eagles, 2 Green-backed Tits, 3 White-capped Redstarts, 2 Grey-hooded Warblers, 4 Grey-breasted Prinias, a Pied Stonechat, a Collared Pygmy Owl, Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Jungle Crows, 3 Large Pied Wagtails, several of the really smart White-browed race of Pied Wagtail. 4 Grey Wagtails, a Black Redstart, a Siberian Stonechat, an Indian Treepie, 3 Alexandrine Parakeets, 2 Ring-necked Parakeets and a Black-shouldered Kite.
In Islamabad and a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum which also contained a large lily pond, here we saw a Black-shouldered Kite, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a Purple Sunbird, Common Mynas, House Crows, Red-vented Bulbuls, Indian Treepies, 6 Common or Indian Mongooses, Great Tits, White-cheeked Bulbuls, Grey-breasted Prinias, an Oriental Honey Buzzard, 2 Red-wattled Lapwings, Indian Grey Partridges, Long-tailed Tailorbirds, Common Babblers, a Strong-footed Bush Warbler, Ring-necked Parakeets, a female Blue-headed Redstart, Steppe Eagles, Red-rumped Swallows, an Egyptian Vulture and Alpine Swifts.
In the afternoon we went back to Rawal Lake, where we saw 2 Pied Kingfishers, lots of Pintail, Teal, Great Crested Grebe, Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Coot, Wigeon, Black-headed Gulls, Moorhens, 3 Marsh Harriers, 27 Grey Herons, a pair of Small Minivets, Purple Sunbirds, Redstarts, Pied Stonechats, around 40 Cinnamon Sparrows, a Water Monitor, 3 Mountain Chiffchaffs, Indian Treepies, 2 Indian Bush Rats, Grey-breasted Prinias, 12 Black-throated Thrushes, a Hill Prinia, 4 Stonechats, a Chaffinch, 2 Greater Coucals, Common Babblers, Red-vented Bulbuls, a Grey-hooded Warbler, 3 Small Indian Pratincoles, 2 Swallows, an Oriental White-eye, 8 White-capped Buntings, a Marsh Sandpiper and 2 Little Grebes.
In the evening driving in Islamabad I saw 3 Wild Boars on the one of the central strips between each side of the road, apparantly there are lots here.
Photos: Common Babblers. Dave recording at Rawal Lake.
Today we set off from Islamabad heading north, but only got as far as Abbotsabad, as we approached the town we ran into heavy rain, then we learned that due to the weather the road north was blocked in several places with landslides, so we returned to Islamabad.
During the drive and at several stops, before it started raining, we saw 2 Black-shouldered Kites, Little Swifts, lots of Black Kites, Pied Kingfishers, 2 Indian Rollers, a male Pallid Harrier, a Kestrel, Crested Larks, a Rock Bunting, 3 Ring-necked Parakeets, a Bimaculated Lark, a Speckled Dove, a Rufous Turtle Dove, 2 Lapwing, 3 Great Grey Shrikes, around 20 Starlings and 46 Pied Wagtails.
Photo: Indian Roller.
Heavy rain all day, so spent the time in the hotel. In the evening as we drove to a restaurant we saw 2 Common Jackals and a Fox.
The weather forecast for northern Pakistan over the next few days was bad, so our trip there was cancelled, instead we flew south to Bahawalpur and drove to Lal Suhanra National Park for a four day stay.
After settling into our bungalow, we had time to visit a large enclosure which held a herd of around 50 captive Blackbuck, part of a breeding programme for this endangered antelope, also there were 2 female Nilgai or Blue Bulls, the largest of the Asian antelopes.
We also saw lots of Green Bee-eaters, Indian Rollers, Jungle Babblers, lots of Ring-necked Parakeets and Common Mynas, House Crows, Red-wattled Lapwings, Greater Coucals, Pied Wagtails, a Citrine Wagtail, 2 Shikras, a Black-shouldered Kite, 2 Spotted Little Owls and an Indian Eagle Owl.
Photos: Blackbucks, Green Bee-eaters.
Our first full day exploring the park and its many habitats, from woodland to its large papyrus fringed lake to semi desert.
We saw an Oriental Honey Buzzard, Red-vented and White-cheeked Bulbuls, Green Bee-eaters, Common Mynas, House Crows, 2 Bay-backed Shrikes, Ring-necked Parakeets, 2 Plum-headed Parakeets, Gadwall, Wigeon, 3 Black Redstarts, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Red-breasted Flycatchers, 2 Marsh Harriers, White-breasted Kingfishers, Mountain Chiffchaffs, 2 Paddybirds, Purple Sunbirds, Red-wattled Lapwings, Clamerous Reed Warblers, 2 Indian or Oriental Darters, 3 Stonechats, 2 Sind Jungle Sparrows, 2 Little Cormorants, 2 Little Egrets, 6 Black-winged Stilts, 2 Marsh Sandpipers, Black Drongos, Pied Wagtails, Jungle Babblers, Moorhens, Wood Sandpipers, Asian Purple Swamphens, Oriental White-eyes, 2 Changeable or Crested Hawk Eagles, a Common Woodshrike, Yellow-bellied Prinias, a Marshall's or White-tailed Iora, 2 White-bellied Minivets, a Bluethroat, Indian Treepies, a White-browed Fantail, a Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, Crested Larks, a Black-shouldered Kite, Graceful Warblers, Rufous-tailed Finch Larks, 7 Desert Wheatears, a Great Grey Shrike, Common Babblers, 2 Bank Mynas, a Desert Cat, 6 Desert Warblers, an Eastern Pied Wheatear, 3 Tawny Pipits, a Kestrel, 2 Black Francolins, 2 Short-toed Eagles, Greater Coucals, 3 Indian Gerbilles, a Shikra and an Indian Eagle Owl.
Photos: Lake at Lal Suhanra.
Oriental Honey Buzzard.
Another day in Lal Suhanra National Park, we started by the enclosures seeing about 40 Blackbucks, a pair of Nilgai with 2 calves, several Chinkara Gazelles and 2 Indian One-horned Rhinoceroses, also 2 Indian Hares.
We also saw 2 White-eyed Buzzards, 4 Crested Hawk Eagles, Ring-necked Parakeets, Common Mynas, House Crows, Indian Treepies, 4 Red-breasted Flycatchers, Sind Jungle Sparrows, Scarlet Rosefinches, Indian White-backed Vultures, 2 Long-tailed Tailorbirds, Jungle Babblers, Black Drongos, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 6 Indian Rollers, White-breasted Kingfishers, 3 Bay-backed Shrikes, Plain Sand Martins, a Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, 2 Mountain Chiffchaffs, Purple Sunbirds, Indian Vultures, a Goshawk, Laughing and Collared Doves, an Indian Robin, a Rock Bunting, a White-capped Bunting, Pied Wagtails, 2 White-bellied Minivets, a Booted Eagle, a Short-toed Eagle, 2 Common Woodshrikes, 2 Shikras, 2 Greater Coucals, 3 Desert Larks, 2 Tawny Pipits, 3 Pied Stonechats, a Great Grey Shrike, 2 Indian Grey Partridges, a Black Francolin, around 40 Red Munias, a Long-legged Buzzard, Stonechats, Yellow-bellied Prinias, 2 Marsh Harriers, Clamerous Reed Warblers, a Jerdon's Babbler, Moorhens, 4 Asian Purple Swamphens, 2 Little Cormorants, Swallows, House Martins, 7 Grey Pelicans, 2 Large Pied Wagtails, heard a Cetti's Warbler, a Bluethroat, a Citrine Wagtail, about 30 Pintail, a White-browed Fantail, a Long-billed Pipit and 2 Spotted Little Owls.
Photos: Indian One-horned Rhinoceros.
We only had a short time in Lal Suhanra National Park before driving to the airport and flying back to Karachi.
During that time we saw a Bay-backed Shrike, Indian Treepies, Black Drongos, a White-browed Fantail, Red-breasted Flycatchers, White-cheeked and Red-vented Bulbuls, a Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker, Common Mynas, House Crows, Indian Rollers, Jungle Babblers, Green Bee-eaters, Mountain Chiffchaffs, a Hoopoe, Indian White-backed Vultures, a Black Redstart, a Greater Coucal and 2 White-eyed Buzzards.
Photos: Indian White-backed Vultures.
Our last day in Pakistan, from Karachi we drove west to explore the area west of the Hab River, we were attempting to reach the mouth of the river, but failed. Our route took us through scrub and over mudflats and if there is a way of getting there we couldn't find it.
Nevertheless it was interesting habitat, but we only saw two additional species for the trip, a Montagu's Harrier and 2 Hen Harriers.
Little Cormorants at Ghauspur Lake on 5th March.
Barred Mudskipper at Keti Bandar on 23rd February.