Another week, another visit to New Vision!
New Vision really is one of my favorite birding spots both because of its relative proximity to our house and because the birding is really good! This weekend visit was no different in birding quality!
First up were some Chestnut-tailed Starlings, although they’re common it was fun to be able to document them feeding on Trema Orientalis. At Sayam Chowdhury’s request Zaber Ansary and I have been working on a plant bird database of birds feeding on plants. I say Zaber and I somewhat tongue in cheek since Zaber vai has really been doing over 90% of the work and deserves all the credit! But anyway, so far we have over 500 entries from local birders including 50+ plant species and 100+ bird species!
Just up the path a little bit we saw a group of 5 Striated Babblers! This was only my second hotspot record and easily my best views ever of this species. It was also a new bird for the Yard Squad challenge I mentioned in my last post.
As we watched the babblers we had two fun sightings, first a Pied Cuckoo (new yard squad bird) flying by, just my second sighting here then a Whiskered Tern flew through going south west just like last weekend! I’m keeping my eyes out for what would be quite rare White-winged Tern, but this was another Whiskered, still fun to see!
The birds were really active in this first little stretch of trail and I had another fun sighting, a nice Red-rumped Swallow (new Yard Squad bird) in with several Barn Swallows. At the time it caught my eye as being larger and different from the barn swallows and looking at the photos afterward proved it to be Red-rumped based on how much bulkier it is than Barn Swallows and those diagnostic black undertail coverts. They’re fairly regular winter visitors here, but this was the first one I’d seen here since February or March.
A Yellow-footed Green-pigeon also made its appearance
I glanced at the time and was shocked to see we had already spent 30 minutes in just the first 200 yards of the trail! Birding was good in this normally quiet part of New Vision!
A little further along I caught a glimpse of some shorebird flying high then diving straight down. I snapped a few shots and it later proved to be a Pin-tailed Snipe, another first of of the winter season for me and a new Yard Squad bird!
The Citrine Wagtails were fairly common again, but just flying over not landing, presumably because almost everything is still flooded.
It was super hot this morning with really bright sunshine, which made for beautiful landscape, but it was so hot I had tied a gamcha around my head to keep the sweat from draining into my eyes!
An Intermediate Egret was a nice addition to our list and another new bird for the Yard Squad challenge. A distant Black-winged Kite was fun, but couldn’t get any decent photos.
Suddenly a bird caught my and Nic’s eyes as it slowly flew south across the big pond, the colors reminded us of a Pied Kingfisher as it was strikingly black and white, but it clearly wasn’t a Kingfisher based on size and flight style. As I looked through my camera’s viewfinder I realized it was a Pheasant-tailed Jacana, only my second hotspot record! It reached the southern-most part of the swampy pond area and landed, but we couldn’t re-find it when we went that way a little later.
Here’s a distant low quality flight shot:
Yellow Bitterns can be extremely hard to see unless you see them land as we did this one.
Along the east side of the trail now I found my first new dragonfly of the day, a Dancing Dropwing (Trithemis pallidinervis).
Near the end of the trail we checked around to see if we could see the Pheasant-tailed Jacana, but no luck, it was probably hiding somewhere in all the reeds and grasses. So we turned back and started making our way back along the trail to where we had entered. A Plain Prinia posed nicely for me and I was finally able to get a nice photo after not having very good photo opportunities much of the day!
I had seen a few of the winter migrants Grey-headed Lapwings from our house earlier in the week, and now we saw a few more here.
We also saw a Plaintive Cuckoo, only my second sighting of the year though I’ve heard them several times.
As we were nearing the end of the trail I decided we would just sit under the one large tree for some time and wait for the birds to come to us, we were at 49 species and I wanted to cross 50.
Sure, enough within the first 10 minutes we saw a female Black-headed Cuckooshrike chasing a Long-tailed Shrike then landing on a dead tree across the pond from us. This was my first hotspot and 5MR (5 mile radius) record for me! #150 ever for my 5MR!
Then in the next few minutes we saw two Green Sandpipers, another first of the winter season!
After resting for 20 minutes I hopped across a small muddy patch to a small embankment that I was hoping would lead me out to the large tree visible in the panoramic photo I shared a few photos up. Unfortunately it stopped about halfway there and I decided to not try to wade through water that could’ve easily been above my waist. I did see a new damselfly species for me there, a Blue Riverdamsel!
After I came back we decided to leave, but as we started back I saw something in a tree, and looking through my binos I realized it was some cuckoo, quite possibly a Common (Eurasian) Cuckoo which would be a lifer for Nic! But I had already put my camera away and by the time I got Nic’s camera the cuckoo flew off the big tree that I couldn’t reach when I had tried to earlier. Of course since it could be a lifer for Nic we HAD to go back and look for it. We walked out to where I had reached last time, and although we could just so barely see a bit of it’s back, it was nothing close to a good enough view to completely confirm it wasn’t a slightly large Indian Cuckoo.
After waiting out in the blazing sun for at least 5 miserable minutes we went back to our tree and waited there hoping we’d see it move, but no luck. So I decided I would work my way around and try to get close enough to get a better view.
In the picture below you can see my route, I went along the dike marked in orange, then there was a strip of fairly firm mud leading from that dike to the patch of land that held the tree the cuckoo was in. So I took off my shoes, walked along that strip of mud, then walked along a branch that was about 3 feet under water but kept me from going in another foot or two deeper, then finally got to the other dike. I grabbed a stick and whacked the plants in front of me to scare away any snakes that could’ve been in the general vicinity and slowly worked my way towards the tree!
Suddenly I saw the cuckoo fly out and I was able to snap a few quick flight shots which proved it to be a Common Cuckoo! A lifer for Nic, plus being a new 5MR bird for me, #151!
Now we were finally able to go back knowing we hadn’t left any stones unturned! We had managed to see 59 species in one morning, which is awesome for this time of year! Once all the migrants are back we’ll be able to see 60+ species in a morning, but this early in migration 59 species is incredible. Plus those 59 species included 12 new species for our yard squad team taking us back into first place momentarily!
It was another awesome day out birding, and I can’t wait to get out again!
eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S73159097
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