Green Zone Birding at its best

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

Green Zone Birding at its best

Postby Lesser Spot Finder » Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:56 pm

This has been an outstanding week with migration appearing to be on the move. The first part of the week was spent in Bastion and the latter half in Shazad, a Company PB, in Cha-en Anjir, the heart of the Green Zone in Nad-E-Ali district.

Saturday started with a visit to the waste water site, my only one of the week. Water Pipits were again present along with Citrine Wagtail and a moulting Rosy Pipit. The following day two Common Myna flew over the accommodation in Bastion 2 and during the afternoon a Hoopoe, the first of the year was flushed during my run around the airfield.

Short-toed Lark was present on Monday along with several Crested Larks and in gloom of a Tuesday morning a stunning male Pallid Harrier flew west over the accommodation and was a welcome sight as I proceeded, groggy eyed, towards the ablutions.

I arrived in PB Shazad on the evening of the 24th with thirty plus Common Myna flying over the HLS and numerous Swallows around the buildings. First impressions were good.

The following day I visited various checkpoints (CPs) around Cha-en Anjir and quickly found many Swallows in various locations and a Green Sandpiper over CP Kuday Nor. On my return to Shazad a Red-rumped Swallow hawked over the Coy HQ and three Kingfishers were around the outlet pond. A Graceful Prinia called from nearby Scrub and two Common Chiffchaffs flitted around the same location. During lunch I sat watching a party of Common Babbler whilst eating compo and a stunning Black Redstart fed around the kitchen. Six Common Starling flew around the scrub and appeared to roost during the heat of the day. As I left a Rose-ringed Parakeet alighted from a tree and flew north.

The afternoon visit to CPs provided excellent birding with a male Shikra harried by Swallows at CP11. Raptors provided the main interest in the afternoon with a couple of Long-legged Buzzards at Crossing Point 11, followed closely by a ring-tail Pallid Harrier flying east and just before last light a Peregrine, my first in Afghanistan was mobbed by Swallows as it also flew east.

Friday the 22nd was a red letter day. With all my work complete I had the morning free to walk around the expanse of PB Shazad. Shazad has trees – pines and Eucalyptus and has many areas of overgrown scrub. The first sighting of the day, whilst I brushed my teeth, was a singing White-eared Bulbul, a lifer, and family parties of Common Babbler, Laughing Dove and numerous Collared Doves. Breakfast (boil in the bag compo tuna neopolitana) provided sightings of Kingfisher, Common Babbler and an overflying Green Sandpiper. Tree Sparrows, Common Myna and Swallows appeared to be everywhere. The walk started well with a singing Turkestan Shrike and as I walked under the pines the distinctive call of Red Crossbill was heard. This was confirmed as I watched three individuals before they flew off. A major surprise and something I had not dreamed of hearing in Helmand. Raptors then appeared as the morning progressed with an adult Bonelli’s Eagle over quickly followed by a male Sparrowhawk and at lunchtime a juvenile Steppe Eagle and adult Egyptian Vulture thermalling high above the PB. As I left by Sea King a female Shikra was again seen mobbed through the trees whilsdt an adult Long-legged Buzzard sat atop a bush in the background.

This was an excellent visit, Dragonflies and Butterflies were in evidence and a Mongoose was seen on two occasions. I am now counting down the weeks until departure but look foward to some excellent birding in between.

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