A new site and a much better week!

Birding reports from from our rep in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Lesser Spot Finder
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:25 am
Location: Farnborough and anywhere between there and Norfolk

A new site and a much better week!

Postby Lesser Spot Finder » Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:32 pm

Camp Bastion has just got better. Despite the prolonged rain and colder temperatures birds have started arriving, albeit in small numbers, and there is some sign of migration and resident birds have started to hold territory and have started singing with vigour and gusto.

A new running route around the Bastion flightline (6 miles in total) has produced another, extremely productive site. Ospreys are present – the USMC helicopter/plane hybrid though and not the bird. An area through and around a culvert is used by the contractors to dump their waste water and/or sewage and this is attracting birds. This has resulted in a dank area of vegetation which includes tomato plants and melons (I can’t guess where they came from)! I have now watched this area on an almost daily basis this week for upwards of 45 minutes at a time.

The first species to be seen, and a new one for Bastion, was Common Babbler with 10 present busying themselves at the base of shrubs. Water Pipits, Crested larks, Masked Wagtails were joined by Rosy Pipit, a lifer, on the 25th January and quickly followed by (Streaked) Scrub Warbler, another tick, on the same day. An unidentified Bee-Eater was heard high overhead but could not be located.

The 26th January was just as productive with two Common Starlings, a Citrine Wagtail, several Water Pipits and the Scrub Warbler which was also holding territory. Three Rock Sparrows joined a small flock of eight Tree Sparrows and a female Kestrel hunted overhead.

The monotony of Bastion was broken on the 27th with an IRG to PB Silab and the usual Tree Sparrow, Crested Lark and Hoopoe Lark on the journey down following first light (we had travelled down using NVGs). No Owls sadly! The canal at Silab had been drained to clear vegetation and this produced one Common Snipe, Water Pipits overhead and four Green Sandpipers. As we departed a Common Kingfisher flew into the adjacent vegetation. On the return to Bastion 15 Spanish Sparrows were present at the waste water site and again the Scrub Warbler sang and held territory.

I finally managed to visit the site on the 30th January after a busy few days and flushed the Scrub Warbler with a pishing session (it subsequently acted extremely aggressive and I was glad that no-one was about to hear my efforts) and as I watched this bird it was joined by a Greenish Warbler flitting around and showing well up to 5 metres from my vehicle. This bird was a reminder of how much I enjoy watching Warblers and hopefully the start of some extremely productive Warbler identification sessions in the months to come. Crested Lark, Masked Wagtails and Water Pipits were again present feeding on the numerous insects. The final new species Graceful Prinia was also present, this bird, similar to the Scrub Warbler, was much paler and lacked the prominent eye stripe.

I have now found a site which I intend to visit daily and hopefully find more species as the migration period progresses. Afghanistan again has its charms.

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