Saturday 27 August 2016

Lesser Grey Shrikes etc and Besor Reservoir RIP

Shrike season. I was thinking that it was about time the Lesser Grey Shrikes arrived - Red-backs have been moving through for a couple of weeks and I had an adult Woodchat Shrike near the kibbutz back in June. On the morning walk today I saw one cracking pink flushed male Lesser Grey which flew off to join two others across the field. Further on I found a couple more and a final one down at the sewage  pool. Half a dozen without trying! Beautiful birds.

Other news - Squacco Herons raised a family at Besor Reservoir - extremely unusual for the area and I don't know of any other breeding sites this far south.

Re Besor Reservoir - it was getting very overgrown with reeds and trees were encroaching heavily in areas. However it still held breeding Purple Swamphens, Clamourous Reed Warblers and many other species. I visited it yesterday and was horrified to find that 99% of the reed bed and 100% of the trees had been cleared. A small pool of stagnant water remains with some migratory Kingfishers, a few Little Egrets and a couple of Squacco Herons. The rest is a large dust bowl. A couple of Cetti's Warblers still argued over territory (each end of a pile of ploughed up reeds and bulldozed trees) but that was it. Not quite - an Isabelline Wheatear was enjoying the new patch of desert. I assume the Swamphens and other residents found refuge along the Besor stream (still plenty of reeds and some water there). I hope that the clearance is simply Part 1 of a regeneration scheme but we'll have to wait and see. I sincerely hope my optimism is not naive. Besor Reservoir was an incredble birding spot and over the years I spent many happy hours there seeing  160+ species.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters arrived and went. I didn't do a full count this year but it was  great to see these gorgeous birds back again.

The Tawny Eagle stayed around for quite a while. I wernt back to see it several times and was always rewarded with incredible views. 

Brown-necked Raven included because here you can actually see the brown neck (often difficult to discern).

And a Hoopoe that ran out of a hole in a sand bank, saw me and instead of flying off scuttled through the scrub and disappeared down another hole.

NW India - 9th to 22nd February 2020 (Kosi River, Corbett NP, Haripur Dam, Pangot, Sattal, Chopta, Walterre)

If you look through the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, 2011) you cannot help noticing the huge range of s...