શુક્રવાર, 18 માર્ચ, 2011

Coastal birding

Coastal birding



© Sumit Sen
Fishing village, Bhadreshwar
Jugal was tied up with new guests on 5th so he had arranged for the experienced local birder, S. N. Varu to take us to another part of the coast. At the start we told him we would like to see places where he himself would go to see a wide variety of coastal birds. We started at a large creek at Mandvi where we had good views of our first Western Reef Egrets, both grey and white morphs in peak breeding condition. We also saw Grey Plovers and Eurasian Curlews out on the mud but no sign of the expected Black-necked Storks and Great Thick-knees. At the bridge in Mandvi we had more very confiding Reef Egrets and Brown- and Black-headed Gulls with our first of very few Slender-billed. A village pond with a thriving Painted Stork colony was next. The huge coastal salt works near Mundra (where we saw our first and only Black (-eared) Kite in Kutch!) was rather disappointing as construction was underway there for a new SEZ. But we had excellent views of a pair and a juvenile Dalmatian Pelican and our only Whimbrel.
After an excellent lunch of fresh fried pomfret we went onto the traditional fishing village of Bhadreshwar. This was one of the highlights of the trip as Mr Varu had ensured we coincided with the rising tide and the returning fishermen. Many hundreds of gulls and terns swarmed around and were very confiding for although they happily raid the fish stocks the villagers do them no harm. Heuglin’s dominated the larger gulls but a number of the smaller Steppe ( barabensis) and a couple of Caspian ( cachinnans) were seen. Brown and Black-headed Gulls were numerous but Slender-billed were again scarce. A few Pallas’s lorded over all, one already moulting into adult summer plumage which is always a fine sight. Gull-billed dominated the terns and were particularly adept at snatching the drying bombay ducks. Also good numbers of Lesser Crested and a few yellow-billed Greater Crested Terns harried the returning fish baskets. A few Little Terns were more circumspect hovering over the sea. As the tide rose waders gathered on the higher sand banks. They included a group of Bar-tailed Godwits, numerous Terek Sandpipers and a few Ruddy Turnstones. Mr Varu regularly sees Oystercatchers and Crab Plovers at this excellent site.

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