Foresting – Birding at Phillaur – Part 1
Phillaur has a lot of forests and cultivation and is also gifted with the mighty Sutlej which separates Phillaur from Ludhiana. There are more than a hundred species that I have recorded in and around Phillaur including the Eurasian Eagle Owl, Yellow-bellied Prinia and Temminick’s Stint.
This year I began birding with some regular trips to different forests and small villages around Phillaur. There was not much luck at first except some common species such as the Spotted Dove, Asian Koel and Tree Pipits.
I don’t really enjoy kite flying, so on Lohri that was on 13th, I went out birding. I didn’t saw many new species but I saw something very strange. I stopped at a place near Phillaur where there was some water collecting on the roadside. I saw a couple of Lemon-Rumped Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and a Jungle Babbler, but it had a black head.
After spending a lot of time thinking what could have made his head Black, I moved on. I stopped near a village pond. The pool was incredibly polluted but it didn’t stop me from photographing. I photographed some White-browed Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Common Coot and Common Moorhen and moved on. Soon I saw an individual Red-naped Ibis. About 10-12 of these birds can be seen together on the high Eucalyptus trees on the road.
The Ibis was my last one for the day.
Next Sunday, on 20th, I again went out birding. I visited a nearby forest from where I started birding. I was greeted by the loud calls of Lesser Flameback, but I could not photograph it because of it being too far away. Next up I had a Black Redstart.
After some time I noticed an Oriental Honey Buzzard perched alongside a Shikra high on top of a dry Eucalyptus tree. But I by mistake over-exposed the images of both the birds.
The next one was a White-throated Fantail, my much awaited lifer. The bird being too fast and small made it difficult to get some shots but I finally got a couple of good shots.
Soon I noticed a small warbler in the bushes nearby. So, when the fantail was gone, I went for him. It was a Greenish Warbler. It was really difficult to photograph it because these Leaf Warblers are so fast and don’t settle at one place.
I gave up on the warbler and took to a Common Chiffchaff which was just a couple of yards away. After about half an hour spent, I left the place and found the same two birds again somewhere else close by.
The last one for my day at the forest was a pair of Spotted Owlets that are always found on a tree near the small houses in the forest.
Then I went in the villages for birding. I didn’t have much luck at first. I stopped near an old house in a nearby village where I once saw a Eurasian Thick-Knee. There is a tree on the roadside where there are about 5-6 Spotted Owlets. The bird was not special but the shot it gave me was extraordinary. I had never seen an Owl like that before.
Few minutes later, I stopped near a cultivated field because I saw a Robin like bird sitting there. I came out to be a Bluethroat. It was my first time seeing this bird near Phillaur. But the bird noticed me and went away and I could not manage any good shot.
I stopped at the same village pond where I clicked Wagtails earlier on. There I got opportunity to photograph a Little Grebe, Common Moorhen, Common Coot and a Grey Wagtail. This marked the end of my birding for January.
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