Skip to main content

Full text of "NLBW10"

See other formats



Volume 10 No. I 1970 JANUARY 

- - • (t T C H B H a 
volute 10, Number * January 19*0 


Bird^ in the Kulu Valley, by R. McL. Caneron 1 

The Erown Shrike In Bhilai, by V. G. Kartha 2 

Birds of Mussoorle, by Sudhir Vyaa * 

At Ifrahminy Myna's nest, by T. Koneri Rao 
Birds around Bontay-j t? D» A.- Stalrnind 

Notes and Comments 8 


Colour plates in The Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, 
from !'ameshwar Pd. Sirgh 

Bats and birds, from Debashis E 

First sighting of some of our winter visitors, from V. Havi, 
"President *I«ture Strdy Club, Gur.tur 

V.- McL- Cameron 

Having a great pf fee tier, for I;idiP,I took the opportunity to visit 
her again on my way to England this year. !Jfce air-line fare allows 
through passengers to stop off and do an internal trip at no extra 
cost, so I went up -o the fabulous Kulu Valley, about 100 miles north 
of Simla, for n reek in May to see what it had to offer in the way of 
birds (ruid fish . 

What wonderful scenery and what a wealth of bird-lifej I knew just 
enough no+ to be entirely mystified, and yet saw much that was entire- 
ly new to me. 

Cna nomix*;, on an early morning walk round the outskirts of Mana- 
li I hau the great good fortune to meet Kumar Shri lavkumar, whose 
name J knew woll through the ffews letter. Seeing me loafing about 
with field-glasses, and sensing a few birdwato! -r, he came up and 
introduced himself and offered me a cup of tea from his camp. After 
this we met on several occasions, ar.d his unassuming advice and those 
little practical hintB, so valuabl3 to the newcomer and yet so seldom 
put into books, were both a great help and a pleasure to me. He made 
me promise to write to the News letter, so here is my contribution. 
The Xulu Valley at Hanali is'about 7000 ft elevation, with the 
Beae river already fairly large and flowing swiftly through a valley 
of orchards, grain crops and paddy fields, with streams joining it 
at freqeunt intervals from minor valleys on either side. The sides of 
the main valley rice steeply and or? covered mainly with fir trees 
in different strata, thwgh there are other trees as well such as 

- • - - — 

walnut and maple, until they emerge above the tree -line to meet the 
-now-oovered mountain tops. This all represents quite a variety of 
habitat- There was the bare niountain-eide above which were Golden 
Eagles, Himalayas Griffon Vultures, Iemmergeiers and Snow Pigeons in 
the air, and on the ground Grandalas, Mountain Finch and Rrse breasted 
Pipit, Ihe forested hillsides seemed r-ather empty but there were 
Tree— Creepers, Pied Woodpeckers end Green Woodpeckers. Near the 
and main river Redstarts were common, both Plumbeous and 

Lteheaded, and sc were Himalayan Whistling Thrushes and ^Uppers 
(Brown). Twice I saw a Little Forktail and also a pair of large 
gray-lcoklBg Kingfishers (Himalayan Pied ?). It was in the cultivated 
part of the valley that the real wealth of birdlife was seen. Blue 
Magpies with their absurdly long tails were feeding on the ripe cher- 
ries that loaded the trees. Five different Flycatchers — Paradise, 
Sooty, Slatey Blue, Whitebrowed Blue, end Greyheaded; four tits — 
Greenbacked, Grey, Simla Black, and the beautiful little Hedheaded 

T<t. Tip in the trees were large Mini vets, Eedbacked Shrike, Rufous 
Turtle Dovob, Cuckoos, Golden Orioles, Black Bulbuls, Tree-pies and 
Drongos. On bushes were Collared Bush-Chat, Cinnanon Tree-Sparrow, 
Whitechceked Bulbul, Dark Grey Bush-Chat, Common & nd Brahminy myna. 
lajt was an ' off-beat ' one, or rather a pair, but confirmed 
r I^v'tumar. On the ground were wagtails — White, Grey and Grey- 
heeded, EOopo* and tt&adow Bunting. In the undergrowth were Bluechats, 
PV.ckbird and Streaked laughing Thrush. Round the houses and in the 

, of course the common House Sparrows and Crows, Swifts, 
Martina end Pariah Kite. Occasionally seen higher up were Spinetail, 
^er* Falcon, Kestrel, Carrion Crow, and, ratherto my surprise, 

aix 01.' £?.actaecked Storks. 

were many others that I could only guess at; glimpses of 
irarblors the leaves, and varioui bird-calls heard in the tops 
of trees, but all too soon it was time to go, though with a determin- 
ation to return before long. 

Mot e an! more holiday-makers are going into the hills, and I hope 
that at letiat some of them will appreciate the wonderful variety of 
bird-l'fs around them. That scenery enhanced by all those birds! and 
the •'• **y attractions of modem life ere shown up for the worthless 
thing.- tbey are. 


V. G. Kartha 

-ually notice 1 this bird for the first tine in October, 1968, 
attracted by its harsh piercing call. A frantic thumbing through of 
the ' Bible ' (I hepe Iff- Salim Ali went mind the epithet; I do consi- 
i ?r his Popk of Indian Pixds a ' Bible • ) was not fruitful. The only 

at looked like it was that of the Wood Shrike, but the 
' symptoms ' did not tally. I could not make a reasonable diagnosis 


i nuch later when I borrowed Vfoistler from the only other bird- 
watching soul I know of in Bhilai- Sy that time I had also acquired 
a pair of binoculars (second-hand) and this brought my feathered 
friend right up close in full cinemascope and t«r.hnicolor. 

In due course, I found plenty of the same birds around Biilai, 
alwnys single and seemingly interspersed at regular intervals. Each 
uppeaxjJ to have staked out its domain and could always be found with- 
in that area- The one I have been continually watching to have 
commandeered the area in front of my house. It seems to be the only 
brown shrike around, at least not for another half a kilometre. I 
have not been able to clearly pin down the boundaries of its overlord- 
ship, but I have noticed its preference for a few small trees near my 
front gate where it spends practically the whole day. These trees 
border the road, r.nd beyond thorn is an open grassy ground. 

I saw the bird throughout last winter and spring, and late into 
April. I wish I could have recorded the last date before it disappear- 
ed to its northerr. winter resort* Salim Ali says in The Birds of 
Xerala_ that the last recorded date is 27 April. It is supposed to 
arrive in late August. This year, I was on the look-out since late 
August, but didnt notice it until 22 September, when it announced 
itself on one of th . I cant say whether it is the sane tenant 

of last year though it does sound wonderful telling the Aildren. It 
ni«ht t the brown shrii es started arriving earlier, but the area 

IB front of my house was the last choice left to the late comers. I 
have been more imaginnti-t, than watchful to be sure that this one 
^snt a lflts-coa*r after all. But soon after 22 September I started 
oe ' ,3m pl l ^er Hiiloi. I wonder how they migrate - in one big 

batch o:' in waves. This years tenant too appears to treat the same 
trees with the ground around them aa a private hunting preserve. 

The sine of the bird is about that of the bulbul. The top of head, 
neck and back is mouse-brown. The eye-mask is black with a prominent 
whit- eye-brow. I have not noticed any white foreheed as described 
by Salim Ali. The underpcrtions: chin, threat and belly are a dixty 
white_ard the chmt is faintly barred. The flanks are slightly grey- 

ruap end teil are more rust coloured than brown. The tail 
is only slightly shorter than the trunk, but there are no pale tips 
to the feathers. The upper mandible io hooked ad horny while the 
lower one is yellowish at the root. The legs look black below the 

Both Vfoistler and Salim Ali describe the call of the brown shrike 
as chr-r-r-r i. But I think a better way to put it would be chr-chr-chr. 
The syllaole is repeated in a fost staccato fashion. The only man-made 
sound that I car- think of in comparison (it is not much of a comoardo 
sen, fnyway) io that made by the plastic toy with a bit of sand inside 
«- a ba*y p distractor — when shaken quite fast. The call is t^ite 
characteristic and easily distinguishable from that of other shr'ikes. 
Salim Ali describes the brown shrike as oerhaps more crepuscular, 
as it can fce aean hunting about well af tier dusk. I have seen it ' work- 
practical ly all flay except in mid afternoon, say from 11.30 a.m. 


to 3-00 p.m. However, it reveals its vocal capabilities only in the 
early morning art! at dusk, giving more so the impression of being 
crepuscular. It is more or less nuiet throughout the day, sitting 
most of the time on the lowermost branches of trees, or on fences, 
just about 1J metres abare the ground- It is usually so motionless 
that it is difficult to detect* The occasional movenent it permits 
itself is that of the head which swivels this w<iy and that keeping a 
sharp look-out for ' jay-walking « insects and worms. As you gase ot 
it through the field glasses noting down its beauty spots, it takes 
off so suddenly that you blink in your eye-pieces. It flies to the 
ground, makes a pin-point landing, picks up the insect, warm or cater- 
pillar, and flies back to the same or an adjacent outpost. The flight 
is direct with a quick becting of the wings. Most often it swallows 
the prey before it gets back to its perch — probably in flight it- 
self. Rarely does it sit on the ground for more than a second or two 
in daytime. As dusk approaches, it pauses longer (because of failing 
light?). As it gets darker still, it even sometimes makes short sprints 
along the ground like a babbler. %hen on the ground, it holds its 
tail slightly elevated. I have never heard it calling from anywhere 
close to the ground* It is usually from higfc up among the leaves or 
from overhead electric wires- It opens its nouth wide and tte whole 
Sody and tail vibrates with the effort. 

Altogether, the brown shrike is an interesting bird though not so 
colourful as the other shrikes- But then, it is mare often heard than 

Sudhir Yyas 

The first bird which intrudes upon your peace ir* Mussoorie is not the 
chirpy sparrow, not the garrulous crow, but that rough and ready 
champion in song, the Himalayan V.'histling Thrush. It was everywhere 
— in the woods, on the open hillsides, even in the bazaar- Its 
pleasant song was a regular feature of both day and night. But apart 
from this I saw very few thrushes. I saw tte Blueheaded and Chestnut- 
bellied rock thrushes occasionally. The Greywinged Blackbird was often 
heard singing, but being 3hy, was rarely seen. luring ttie last week 
of our stay, however, o male took up quarters in our garden and deli- 
ghted us with his song- 

An amusing incident took place one day, when I descended into the 
thorny undergrowth on hearing what sounded like c puppy. But no puppy 
was to be found. Instead, three Blue magpies fluttered off from n 
bush. I gained c wise expsrience — always test far Blue magpies be- 
fore diving after unfamiliar noises — and paid for it by quite a few 
scratches. Redbilled KLue magpiei were, incidentally, very common- A 
party of nearly 20 frequented the Municipal Gardens. Oi the contrary 
I never saw the Yellowbilled species. 

Xy exhilaration knew no bounds when I saw a Sirkeer Cuckoo at 6500 

feet. It declined considerate however on rending in Whistler that 
they ire often found up to ' 6000 ft and even occasionally higher- ' 
It was much less rufous in colour than the ones I saw at Poono. 
Indian, Common, and Himalayan cuckoos were often heard. I once heard 
the » Erainfever ' of a Hawk-cuckoo but I could not find it. 

A lovely place for birds is the Knmptee Road. Here I once saw a 
Himalayan Barred Owlet feeding its brood of three. I once heard the 
Himalayan Scops Owl's double whistle at night tut I could not find it. 
rn another occasion, I saw a nightjar fluttering along at dusk but 
it was silent and could not be identified. Kckln Green pigeons were 
common along the Komptee Road and they often fed on berry-bushes close 
to the ground, thus providing an unobstructed view of themselves. 
They looked beautiful with their orange breasts and maroon bocks. 
Kaleej pheasantB too were fairly common here. 

A great disappointment was the paucity of hawks in Mussoorie. The 
Kestrel was the commonest falcon nnd a pair hod a nest on a high 
ledge on Gun Hill. A small falcon was seen twice in forest, aid I 
think it was a hobby, in another occasion I saw a large pregrine-like 
falcon, but it hod pnle underprrts. What could an Eastern FWegrine 
be doing here in June? I saw a shikra once but no eagles at rill There 
was a refuse dump in Mussoorie where large numbers of Scavenger Vul- 
tures, large Indian Kites and a Inmnergftler or two fed on rubbish. A 
number of Grey Drongos also frequented this place. Could it be duo to 
the flies attracted to the rotting refuse? 

The Hedwinged Shr ike-be bbler was much commoner than what I hrd ex- 
pected. I once saw a fr.mily party on the 16th of June with two young. 
They often associated with Treo-pies, Drongoe nni lark Grey Cuckoo- 
Shrikes. I also saw once what I think was a female Ifaroon Oriole. 

A Hoopoe r..,d a huge colony of House Swifts had nests on the remains 
°5 Ir^ Standard Skating rink ' on the Mall which bomt down in 1968 
and by the courtesy of the municipality is still standing. I hope it 
survives long enough for the swifts to raise their young. Blyth's 
Whiterumped Swifts arrived in some numbers about the middle of June. 
A little later whitethroated Spinetails and Alalia Swifts also t I 
their appearance. Shortbilled Minivets had finished breeding by June 
and could be seen in family parties. 

<=« i *!!!■. fr?* HtaBla 3 rea a,rbet WGB COnm ™ ** the Jungles as were the 
™^t ^ f' nd B2ackna P ed Green woodpeckers and the Brownfronted 
Pied Woodpecker. The Himalayan Pied Woodpecker was rare nn i rn inter- 
esting discovery was the lesser Yellownaped Woodpecker. 

too 1 S!J ^Jo't^T' *** th ° re WGre ^ itQ a few disappoint* nts 
too. Prom books I had formed the impression that the hills would be 

teeming with laughing thrushes. Vfcnt a shook I received to see only 

two species - the Streaked and the Whitethroated. Even the fetter 

was by no means common. A few rather pale Redrumped swallows which 

nested under bridges nnd some seedy looking House-martins were the 

only swallows -I saw. There was hardly a Tree-warbler in the area. I 

pinkish beak which refused to utter a sound and could not be identifi- 
ed. I left it in disgust. The Greyheaded Flycntcher-Sarbler wrs, how- 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

ever overwhe Imingly abundant. I saw only two Yellowbacked sunbirds 
and very few Firebreasted flowerpeckers end Black bulbuls. Neither 
did I see any Hill Partridges. The Black Partridge however was com- 
mon aadtthe hills resounded with their calls in the morning. Another 
relief was the predominance of the quiet little Ciiincmon Sparrow over 
the House Sparrow. Crows (with very harsh voices) were also not com- 

In spite of this it was a very enjoyable outing and T saw over a 
hundred species of birds in one and half months. I was quite disap- 
pointed to return to the sweltering heat and humidity of Lucknow* 


T* Konerl ftio 

A pair of Brchminy IQmas had their nest in r. crevice in a wall. The 
crevice was at 5^ feet from the ground. It was dark inside the nest 
chamber, but when the sun was well up I could see in the dim light 
(inside the chamber) two young mynas begging for food. They were 
blind. Their heads were shivering and their yellow gapes were point- 
ing to the roof. Bath the parent mynas used to feed till 5.45-6 p.m. 
When the offspring wre very young the parents fed them by regurgita- 
tion and they took nearly a mimite and a half to feed by this method 
for every feed. When the sun was getting hotter, the parents brought 
green leaves now and then. Oace it brought such a green leaf to be 
placed inside the nest but it dropped it on the floor. IV was disco- 
vered to be a fresh neem leaf. I remember to have read that Common 
Mynaa bring neem leaves (knownfor their germicidal property) to nest 
to protect the eggs and young ones from germs and fungi* I have seen 
on occasions Common mynns bringing neem as well as other green leaves 
to the nest. The Brahminy mynas also were not partial to neem leaves. 
They once brought a drum-stick tree leaf. I believe the intention of 
placing green leaves inside the nest is to ofceok the increasing tem- 
perature inside the nest chamber. I think when the chicks wore quite 
grown up they stopped bringing green leaves. 

when the young mynao had grown up the parents brought bunches of 
protesting green worms. As the passage to the nest was narrow, the 
parents while carrying food to the young were sometimes -atnek up at 
the entrance. They immediately withdrew their heads on such . rcasions 
and swallowed the insects themselves. Now and then they removed the 
faecal sacs and dropped them at a distance of 20 yards or so. Some- 
times they were swallowed at the nest. Cnce I was shocked to see 
through my telephoto lens (at a -close range) a parent emerging out of 
the nest with a dead chick dangling in its beak. 

Che of the parents, probably the female, spent the night inside the 
nest. When the young mynas had grown up it roosted elsewhere. This, I 
believe, was due to lack of space insids the nest. 

irBlfltiei for Birdwatc-iera 


What fascinated me the most at the neot was the suddeg appearan- 
once of other birds near the myna'e nest. A female Black Robin was 
one such visitor. 1 waa inside the ' hide ' then. The rohin was cur- 
ious to Iok-w what tho myncs were doing there- I swivelled my camera 
a little to my left and photographed the robin which gazed at the 
1 hide ' with its black beady eyes* It d* 4 -ect*d my presence and flew 
off in a flash. The second visitor vas a large Pied Itogtail. It eat 
on top of . the id vigorously wagged its tail* It w-^s not aware 

of my presence' till I started focussing my crmtra, 7.hen it noticed 
the alight movents nt it disappeared* fhce a Prahmlny lite flew over 
my head. Th« parents squeaked and the little mynas remained in silen- 
ce for a minute* 


D. A- Stairmsnd 

On the edge of a clearing in the forest nt Khnndala on 21st lecember 
I was very fortur; oeo a pair of Itelabnr Trogons. Besides the 

urderpr.rts of the male — described by Dr Salim All in Indian Hill 
Birds as ' brilliant crimson pink ' the thing that struck me most 
was the broad square cut tail- This v first time I had seen 

Herpactcs fqoeiatus and it was a wonderful thrill and I only wish 
they had tarried at least a little longer on the branches of the 
tree on which I saw them for less than one minute before they flew 

Also nt Khsndnln on 21st December I was drown to a Wild Pig — in 
ripe fruit — ty c. monotonous one-ncte rather high pitched call of c 
bird* This turned out to to a young Goldfronted Chloropsis ( Chlor op- 
sis aurif rons ) being fed by an adult bird, tfiich was a male. The 
adult male was resplendent in green, golden, purple and black whereas 
the immature bird was all green except for traces of the beginnings 
of dark feathers on the throat. The adult was feeding the young bird 
on insects gathered from the undersides of leaves- I watched the 
young bird being fed for about half-c n-hour and only towards the end 
of thi3 session did I 'see tfie young bi"d collecting insects for it- 
self from under the ■ The young bird's c 11 was almost coi stent 
and it crouched and ' shivered ' to be fed. The adult bird uttered 
its plensarrt f miliar cp.11 quite often- It would appear "that this bird 
bred unusually Lite ns the main nesting period is May to August- 
an 2nd October I saw Kashmir Rollers ( Coracias garrulus semenawi ) 
between Thana and Taloja on the Bonbcy-Poona Read md these are 
extremely attract].-*? bird3 with their blue-black flight feathers and 
wholly light blue underparts. Ty 10/x these birds had been replaced 
in the same area by the IndienRoller Q c» bonffhalensjs ). . 

At Pfinvel en 21st December there were Baik Kynas ( Acridotheres 
ginpinianus ) running around amongst buffaloes' feet on squelchy 
ground- I had not noticed them there before. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


Should I report a Spotbill, Garganey Teal and Common Snipe at 
Vihar in early E&cember? The SpotbiU's iretollic green wing-hir, 
bright orange-red lege, yellow tipped dark bill with orange spot at 
the. base showed up excellently as the bird took off and flew low over 

the lake. 

A party of c^ 20 Blncktalled Godwlts ( Ilmosa llmosa ) have been 
on the Mahim Creek for at least three weeks. When I first e»w them 
on 6th December they formed a mixed po.rty with about 10 Partailed 
Godwits ( Llmosa lapponica ) and about 150 Elackwinged Still3 ( Hinr.nto- 
pus himantopus )• The Stilts ere also still there but X have not seen 
the Birtriled Godwits recently- Mien together, I found it easy to 
distinguish ths two different Godwits r.'ccrt. Cta the mud the longer 
leggedness of tte Blncktciled Godwit was apparent and when in flight 
the black-ended tail showed up prominently. 

Finally, to end on, not n bird, but a Barking Deer seen running 
through lightly wooded country in Borivli National Park en 13th Decem- 
ber, then across the road about 30 yar^T in front of my car (which 
I'd stopped) to the wooded country, bordering Vihar lake. This was 
at the hairpin bend before the Deer Pen turning on the right of the 


The Government of India, Ministry of Pood & Agriculture, in a recent 
circular draws attention to the note submitted by Shrl K. S. Itonrnrt- 
kunnrsinhji regarding the study of bird3 in relation to their impact 
on agriculture- The note reads as follows: 

'Mo3t insectivorous birds ore useful to man and the majority of 
the birds are also considered beneficial- However, some of the 
graminivorous birds ond those that eit fruits are considered harm- 
ful- The House Sparrow which eats seeds and grains and has been 
considered by some as harmful, feeds its young on an insectivorous 
diet and similarly the Weaver birds- To what extent are such birds 
harmful, to man's interest should be studied- It is a general be- 
lief that Parakeets are harmful to fruit crops and grain cr^ps 
and the agriculturist has to drive these birds away during the 
crop season- What exactly useful part do such birds play in their 
lift cycle should be studied. Should these birds te controlled or 
allowed t i increase. H use pigeons for the abcrc reasons should 
fce studied the year round in rural areas and around cities- In 
bodb States birds of prey are on the vermin list and are permit- 
ted to be killed without licence- Most birds of prey are useful 
and should be studied f j the rule they piny in nature- Similarly 
crows etc. ' 

The Xth General Assembly and the Xlth Technical Meeting of the 
International UrnV-n for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources 

-- - - 1 J 

' held in New Delhi from 24th Havener to 1st December 1969. A ref- 

previous issue of the ffewsletter and some 
"rom the papers presented were given. A more detailed report 
^bly v/ill be given in a Inter issue. However, it must be 
acknowledged Without delay thct the Assembly was very well organized 

much credit is due to the Government of India, and the dia- 
eusions i-re on a sufficiently practical plain to sustain the hope 
t the recommendations will be put into effect. 


Colcvr plates in The of the Birds of India and Pakistan 

In the first volume of the Handbook there are two colour pictures 
of the Sbahin Falcon ( Palco p. peregrinates ). The first picture is in 
te 12, ifo. 3 and the second in Plate 13, Mo. 2. I want to know if 
ere ore two types of Sbahin Falcons or the two pictures of the sane 
■ ore printed by mistake. 

Kameshwar Pd Singh 

A.N.S. College, R\rh, Bihar 

[rot a mistake* Coloured plates from various regional works publi- 
arlier and having a tearing on the present Handbook volumes flre 
ese volumes for reasons of economy and keeping its cost 
a has led to duplication of illustrations of some of the 
:es (3calt with. ~ Ed. 7 


I do not know whether you would consider this letter suitable for 
th* itter, but as I feel ba twitching and birdwatching are allied 

nob. ace, one starting where the other leaves off, I m sending *t to 
to you envwoy. ^ ' 

Par the past few months a smallish bat has taken to visiting me at 
ni£ht to Take- its meals while hanging from the underside of the two 
-re in my room. The meals usually consist of half a 
drzen or so mAtha, whose w'r^s I iind under the ctoirs every morning 
Frca the many fleeting gUapeee I have had of the animal's brownish 
yellow rump as it glides out through the window bare, I think it is 
ppobab-y a Comatm telle Bet (Scoto phlluB hepthi), I have got rather 
sen b«i about the liUle mical which explains why I am sleeping 

in the December cold with my door end windows open. 

F 1 ™~ Ut l TOe !J w* Z read ( G ' In ^°n» In Search of Birds ) that the 
t w^ + ^ Xn *? rl ( ^ -^ ° f * ' -owrooete (n o doubt 

they tney do t c « in this country) after dark. looking up at the 

h^Yt^-T "2°5 S i end thelr nlShtS ° n t0 P 0f the ***»! c^uldnt 
ins that they at least were safe frcra such e fate. I was 
soon to be provid wrong. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


last night I was rudely awakened at 3*15 a.m. by a sharp cheenk- 
cheop-o^eeep bordering on a scream. When I had got over ray initial 
fright, I heard a flapping sound of soee thing flying in my room and 
decided 1hat one of the sparrows must have been caught by a bat. On 
switching on the light there was no doubt about the identity of the 
predator. The huge lyre shaped ears sticking out in front of the head 
and the approximate 25 cm wing span, could only be that of the Indian 
False Vampire ( Megaderma lyre ). I have handled specimens of this bat 
before. They have a uniformly dark greyish brown fur and have a very 
ugly creased and pug-nosed face. The fur teems with small red parasi- 
tes which are half the size of a pin-head. 

The bat flew out of the door almost immediately, aid as it did not 
carry anything with it I lookEd for the sparrow. I found her lying 
dead, limp and still worm between a trunk and the wall. The back of 
the skull had been bitten through just where it joined the neck and 
there was no bleeding or signs of struggle. Death must have been in- 

.Tebashis Ray 

Jamolpur Gymkhana, Jamalpur 
21 December 1969 

first sighting of eoae of our winter visitors 

We saw a party of large Green lee-enters in the evening of the 1st 
of August for the first time in the season. We were aware of the pre- 
sence of Common Swallows on the 17th September, although they must 
have fcegun arriving a few days earlier. 

We sighted tba first few Common Green fee-eaters on the 6th Octo- 

The first Yellowbrowed Warbler of the season was seen by us on the 

morning of the 29th September. 

The Brown Shrike first came to our notioj on the 2nd of October. 

We saw the first Booted Warbler on the 3rd November which was just 
the right time for the bird to arrive . 

fh the 3<Hh of September we recorded our first Grey Wagtail of the 

V. Ravi 
President, Nature Study Club 
Guntur, 19 Dec. 1969 

Zafar Futehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu lane, Andheri 

Bomtay 58-AS 

This Newsletter Is published monthly. 
The subscription ii Us. 10 
for the Calendar Year 1970 

editorial board : 

■ ■ 

16, P.iti Hill. Bandra. 
Bombay 50. 

Mrs. Al 
Norih Office Para. 

hi. Bihar 

Mrs. Usha Ganguli 
B-7, Hauz Kh 
New Dell 

Dr. Biswamoy B»\wav. 
Indian Museum, Survey o( I fid 


Kunvjr Shr i Lavfcumar, 
Ka|komar Col" 

Prof. K K Neelal 

Govt. Victoria Con Kerala. 

Mr. S V Neelaki 
theosophical Colo 
juhu Bombay 5* 

Mr. K. R. Sethana. 

Kadur Club. 
Mysore Sti 

Mr B. R. Grubh. 
Bombay Natural History Society. 
Prince of Wales Museum Compound. 
Bombay I BR. 

Mr. Winston Creado 
Silver Beach. Juhu. 
Bombay -54. 

Editor : 

Mr Zafar Fuiehally. 
Juhu Lane, Andhr 
Bombay S8 AS. 



VOL. 10-NO 3 - 1970 FEBRUARY 



Y Qlum e 1Q T Nunber 2 February. 1£70 — 


The Hills, by K,S. Lavkumar 

This Bird Sanctuary is an Oil Field, by M.A. Rau o 

Bird Watchers Field Club of Roorkee (Report) by J. George 7 
The Ring's Index Ornithologorum 7 

Field Excursion to Karnala and World Wildlife Fund, 

by D.A. Stairmand 

K.S. Lavkumar 

A memorable summer - or rather a part of it is coming to a 
close and in a couple of days I will be following this letter 
down to the plains and the heat. It is, however, heartening 
to learn from letters received from Bombay and Raj tot that 
both places have had rain so this augurs an early monsoon, a 
season I always looked forward to in the plains, as do every- 
one else, but in the "Hills" this brings an end to "Jhe 
Season" for tourists and climbers. 

This is after many years that I have been among high mountains 
as late as this and so I was able to see the transformation 
of bleak snow-clad slopes above the tree line into lush green 
meadows. The change takes place within a fortnight -and the 
birch forests which even in the first week of July are bare, 
white trunks and branches only with a flush of green about 
them, are now deep, shady green with surprisingly luxuriant 
foliage; the effect is startling. Z am of course used to 
such rapid change from the bare to the foliated in our mimo- 
sas and accacias with the onset of the rains, but those trees 
have small, delicate leaves suggesting of frugality expected 
of life where conditions are difficult. But these birches 
are quite flagrantly opulent in their exhuberance during 
their shnrt summer growth, bu. then I suppose they do 


letter for Bir^d watchers 

Hpcptvp a oeriod of vegetative joy, considering the long 
c^rrnirthev survive through. Among the birches and a 


the mTSt charming and prolitic. 


Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

that monals are still quite common, though how long they will 
remain so a matter of speculation for now a new element is 
powerfully contributing to their destruction - the tourists'. 
Jhe glisterning crown and crest make such attractive coat 
badges that they are selling at Rs.lO/- to ^.13/- each 11 
What chance has the monal then, its flesh eaten and a sum 
available to cover coasts? Of course the high country they 
inhabit will give some measure of protection but during winter 
the snow forces then down to the level of human habitation and 
hunger makes then a bit reckless, thus exposing them to danger. 
The Chukor deserves to be killed really, so pompously stupid 
is the male indeed; he is fat - oven my mouth watered - he 
climbs a very large and most prominent rock, and then sends 
forth a rasping challenge to the world of Chukors and of 
humans. Snowcocks are less vulnerable as they live very high 
and are not easy to see unless flushed when they take to wing 
flying along the slopes; a panting nimrod if te drops one, 
well deserves his prize. Unlike the monal, Ram-Chukor as 
this bird is known to the hillmen, is not resplendent, nor is 
he pompously declamatory like the Chukor and so he lives 
safely often as not going completely unnoticed - such is the 
virtue of prudence and humility. 

The two species of Choughs, the Carrion Crow, the Bearded 
Vulture and the Griffon almost complete a normal list of birds 
one meets in March among the birches and the rhodendrons, but 
not quite, for a heavy fall of snow may compel flocks of 
Grandala - those starling sized birds down from their _high 
altitude homes, and small parties of Himalayan Cole Tits. 
Very small birds and very active birds, will oe met, busily 
feeding among bushes and probing into birch-bark crevices, 
often hanging head down. Brown Dippers are at home along the 
icy waters and early as the season may seem to have already 
young in nestl 

Snow Pigeons are unmistakable and flocks of varying sizes will 
be invariably in sight. 

The conifers lower down are inhabited by many very small 
birds Crested Black Tits. Himalayan Gold Crests, a couple 
of soecies of Willow Warblers - Himalayan Nutcrackers with 
very rasping calls, Pied Woodpeckers, Tree Creepers, Black 
and Yellow Grosbeaks with rather musical calls. Blackbirds 
and Whistling Thrushes. Eotn the latter sing at dawn and 
dusk, perched atop some tall conifer. Their songs are almost 

Newsletter for Eirdwatchers 

identical, though the Whistling Thrush has J waker perfor- 
mance by far. I can never accept as right the presence of 
Short-billed Minivets among coniferous forests so bright 
and trooical is the red of the males and qay the Yellow and 
orey of the females, but they are there, flowing ™° n 9 ™* 
somber oreens . Of course these belong more to the slightly 
iSwelfSes? zone as do the noisy, but cheerful Black Bulbuls, 
the Sooooes, the Grey Drongos the Blue Chats, the Himalayan 
Greenfinches, the White-browed Blue Flycatchers and the like. 
A very typical bird of the high conifers is the little non- 
descript sooty Flycatcher and what I think, but have yet to 
make absolutely sure, the yellow-browed Flycatcher ttarbler. 
Scops Owls are frequently heard at night, their soft, ques- 
tioning hoots are to my mind very soothing. I am always 
happy to have 'one calling when I cannot get sleep. 

Cuckoos are quite the most wide ranging among any species 
and may be heard from near Katrain or still lower at 5,000 
to the high treeless meadows above 12,000' Not so common 
in these parts are the Indian and the Little Cuckoos. Both 
these latter remain at lower heights than the Cuckoo, as does 
the Himalayan Cuckoo. 

At Bhuntor, about 3000' and some odd feet above sea level, 1 
sow many common Swallows hawking first above the River Leas, 
in very high wind. Here also I saw Red rumped ar6 Cliff 
Swallows; Aloine Swifts, White-breasted and Himalayan Pied 
Kingfishes and heard on a couple of occasions the c «™>n 
Kingfisher. Golden Orioles, Paradise flycatchers P^.^sh- 
chpts, Collared Bushchats - the latter at higher al titu des 
than the former - common Tynans, Black Eulbuls, Cinamon and 
House Sparrows, Grey Wagtails and Blue Magpies compose the 
avian population of the Kulu Valley from Bhuntar to ^anali 
The Plumeous Redstart is quite the commonest bird along tne 

I am always pleased to come across either of the forktails. 
The Spotted Forktail is an exotic creature, pied and with a 
very lonq forked tail, which makes it a suprising bird to 
meet on every occasion. It dwells along shaded streams in 
forest country which adds to its unexpected quality, it is 
so delicate and ephemeral in appearance that I am always 
desirous of seeing one over and over again. The Little 
Forktail is much more frequently mot as it lives along 
broader streams, though the best place to come across a pair 


Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

of these dimunitiTre, sparrow sized birds is on large rocks 
with water sweeping down them where their flashing white 
outer tail feathers obliterate well against the glitter of 
sublight on falling water. The Little forktail is indeed 
Lttle but has a snort, almost squared tail. 

Normally in the mountains I live in Rest Houses, usually set 
away from human habitation or in tents in idyllic locations 
of my choice and so this year I had rather a suprise watching 
Indian Rosef inches, Grey Tits, Collared Bushch?ts, Rufous 
Turtle Doves, Blackbirds and many besides from the verandah 
of a village house, this being my first privileoe to be a 
guest in one of the hill houses which to date I have admired 
as picturesque from a far, subjects for photography rather 
than abodes of men. They are rather practically designed and 
not a whit, dirtier than any home in the plains. 1 ,-sm glad I 
have been able to h^ve a more intimate intercourse with hill 
people. Cheerful and strong porters I know they indeed are, 
but in addition they are very intelligent and wide-awake, 
snd they certainly do not smell more than any peasant in the 
low country, though they would be justified to smell far, far 
more if the plains people have any justification to smell at 
all - I was horrified to find that I often smelt more than 

Unlike many others, I am happy to see the advantages of civi- 
lisation coming to these people, though I hope they will be 
able to use these more beneficially than have we and I pray 
that greater education and understanding will make them cherish 
and value the gifts of nature more than we have done in tl 
plains . 

Well, readers, if you have not already gone tr sloep, then 
I may credit myself with a lucid pen and hope one day to 
write a bestseller and so earn .nillions to enable mc to use 
a helicopter to oeer into the eyrie of a Lamnergeyer I saw 
high on an inaccessible crag in the Parbati valley - it was 
blowing and snowing at the time. 

Newsletter for Birdwatohers 



(Reproduced from Scientific American, June 1969) 

Communicated by M.A. Rau 

Imaqine a tiny green hump of an island in a Lousiana swamp. 
Its total area is less than five square miles. 

Put two hundred houses on it and seven hundred people. Add 
one of America's largest rock salt mines, the TABASCO sauce 
factory and over a hundred oil wells. And what have you got/ 
Overcrowding? • 

White opposite. Avery Island seems almost undiscovered. A 
place for the painter and the poet. 

Its bird sanctuary sits in a 200-acre garden. Here you find 
irises from Siberia. Grapefruits from Cochin Evergreens 
from Tibet, Bamboo from China. Lotuses from the Nile Soap 
Trees from India. Daisies from Africa's Mountains of the 
Moon. And the world's most complete collection of camellias. 

The sanctuary itself is a sight for any sore-eyed conserva- 
tionist. It was established twenty-six years ago by Mr. 
Edward A. IVcIIhenny, a member of the family that has owned 
the island for 152 years. It had one purpose. To save the 
snowy egret from extinction. 

Known as Bird City, the sanctuary started with only seven 
eqrets. Now, over 100,000 nest around its man-made lake 
every year. To see these alabaster birds sharing their Eden 
with herons, ducks, coots, swans, cormorants, tootlM,**** 
and alligators is almost a primeval experience. It seems to 
put the clock back to the beginning. 

And wherever you wander on this peaceful island, you have to 
look hard to spot the oil wells. Many arc hidden by grand- 
fatherly oak trees bearded with Spanish moss. Others are 
screened by banks of azalea and rhododendron. To Jersey s 
affiliate, Humble Oil & Refining Company, this respect tor 
environment is only right and. proper. 

Newsletter for Birdwatcher 


The oil industry provides Lousiana with one-third of its 
total revenue. Eut even this contribution would be a poor 
excuse for defiling beauty or disturbing wildlife. 

Amen say the egrets. 

Joseph George 

Field outings were organised fairly regularly during both 
these years. It was heartening to find a good number of 
children joining these outings. Films on wildlife were shewn 
on four occasions, as usual to a full house. 

Two special lectures were arranged. Dr. C.S. Gupta, Head of 
the Department of Zoology, Gurukul Kangri, described some 
interesting aspects of the life of ants. Mr. Eari Dang, 
Editor, CHEETAL, kept the members of the Club spellbound for 
over an hour with his account of Himalayan wildlife. 

Dr. Joseph George was invited by the Refresher Courses Depa- 
rtment of the Roorkee University to deliver two lectures on 
birds and birdwatching. 

A list of the birds seen/heard and identified in Roorkee 
during the past eight years has been prepared. Copies can 
be had on reouest. 


The editor of the International Ornithological Bulletin 
THE RIM3 proposes to publish an Index Ornithologorum cmbra 
cina the professional and amateur ornithologist of the 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


All entries should be in English and should be accompanied 
by one International Postal Reply Coupon for further corre- 
spondence. Closing date for all entries is June 30, 1970, but 
earlier arrival of entries would be appreciated. Do not 
delay - send your entry today. 

The address is: The Editor, THE RING, Laboratory of Ornitho- 
logy, Sienkiewicza 21, Wroclaw, Poland. 

An entry/in English/ should contain the following information: 

1 . Surname 

2. Names in full 

3. Year of birth/optional/ 

4. Title 

5. Positions held/including editorships, memberships, etc./ 

6. Principal interest in ornithology 

7. Address 

8. Authors of ornithological publications are requested to 
quote the most important of them. 

9. Do you intend to purchase a copy of the INDEX if reason- 
ably oriced? 

10. One I.P.R. Coupon is enclosed: yes - no 

Date: _, . 


D.A. Stairmand 

As Monday, 26th January, 1970 is a Public Holid ?VchM Wnt 
be away from Bombay from 24th to 26th and regret I shall not 
be able to attend the Field Excursion to Karnala on the 25th 
January . 

I would like to mention that I booked the Upper Rest House 
at Karnala for 2 days in mid-November and was so bitterly 
disappointed at what had happened since the place had been 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


converted into a bird sanctuary that I left for the relative 
peace and quiet of the Goa Road after only one day. 1 had 
not re-visited Karnala again since until yesterday, when I 
was there from 7.30 a.m. to about 10.00 a.m. I chose an area 
some way up the path above the Rest Houses, which I knew well 
from visits last year before the area was popularised. 
Yesterday, I had good views of a fully adult Paradise Fly- 
catcher and Black-naped Blue Flycatchers but such birds as 
the Golden Orioles, Black-headed Orioles, Goldfronted Chloro- 
psis, Scarlet Minivets, Small N'inivets and Mahratta Wood- 
peckers which had been so common about a year ago were not 
seen at all by me yesterday. By 9.00 a.m. the first 'bus- 
loads' of picnickers arrived shouting and yelling their way 
up the path to Karnala Fort, the same as had hapoened in mid- 
November. The area is not a pstch on what it was a year ago. 
After my November visit I wrote a letter to a Mr. Yadav 
through when I booked the Rest House but never received a 
reply, I realise I may be ! out of step 1 and wish you a 
successful outing. 

Yesterday I saw 6 Avocots on a mud-bank just beyond Pen and 
there was an Openbill on Panvel Tank. This evening - and 
other evenings too - I've been watching the female Marsh 
Harrier at Vihar, which you mentioned' in an article publi- 
shed in a Sunday newspaper. Also out at Vihar this evening 
was a King Vulture with Jungle Crows at a cattle carcass. 
On Saturday afternoon I was most happy to watchman adult 
male Bluethroat amongst the littoral at the far end of Vihar. 
The bird was not at all shy and I had an excellent view of 
him, stunning - or killing - a caterpillar, then give a 
delighted call, before swallowing the caterpillar. I shall 
be offering notes on these birds, plus one to two others, to 
the "Newsletter" and hope they may be of some use. 

I enclose a cheque for fs.25/- in favour of the World Wild- 
life Fund, and I would like to become a member of the Appeal. 
I do not appear to have received the 'membership form' 
referred to . 

May I add that on 3 recent visits to Vihar I've heard no 
sound of tree-felling, for which I'm very grateful- 

I hepe that my unsolicited remarks about Karnala, etc. have 
not been out of place and apologies if they have. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

that action has been taken. 

Regarding Karnala, I am afraid, there is always a choice 
between using a sanctuary for the cnjoyirent of people or 
leavino, it to erode because of illicit wood-cutting. It is 
of course unfortunate that people make such a lot of noise 
when they come to a bird sanctuary.) 

Zafar Futehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 

32 -A, Juhu Lane, Andheri, 

Bombay 58 -AS. 

ia Hewslftter is published monthly 
t subscription is Rs. 10'- 
r the Calender Year 1970 

ditorial board : 

\ Salirn All, F.N. I. 
, Pall Hill. Sandra. 

-«. Jamal Ara, 
srth Office Para, 
aranda, Hlnoo P. O., 
.nchi, Bihar. 

m, Usha Ganjuli, 
7. Haul Khas. 
cw Delhi. 

v Bliwamoy Biswas, 
iiin Museum, 
>ofogical Survey of India, 

invar Shn Lavkumir. 
ifkumar College, 


of. K. K. Neelatcantan. 
avc. Victoria College, 
ighat-l. Kerala 

r. S. V. Nilakanta. 
teoiophlcal Colony, 

hu, Bombay 54. 

r. K. R. Sechana. 
o. Kadur Club, 
rsore Scale. 

r. Winston Creado 
!ver Beach, Juhu. 

r. B. R. Grubh. 
imbay Natural History Society. 
Ince of Wales Museum Compound, 
»mbay*J BR. 

Mtor : 

r. Zafar Futehally. 
hu Lane Andhtn, 
>mbay 58 AS. 

Covtr d.ui" by S. NILAKANTA 



VOL. Ift-NO 1 - 1*70 MARCH 




Volume 10 ; Number 3 March 1970 


The pled Crested Cuckoo (CU reator jacobinus ), by Jamal Ara 

Visitors from abroad, ty B. K. Shukla 4 

The Purple Sunbird, by Sarah Jameson *» 

Some more birds around Bombay, ty D. A. Stairmand 8 

Selection of a twig for nest by Jungle Crow ( Corvu3 macrorhynchos ) , 

by Bhruv Dixit 10 

Notes and Comments 10 

Correspondence 12 

Trip to Karnala on 25 January 1970, from N. Ramakrishnan 
Birdwatching at Surat and Baroda, from Vipin Parikh 
Bird sights in my wooded garden, from Girish Ananth 

Jamal Ara 

Just aa the dara of spring is heralded in northern lands by the call 
of the cuckoo, the onset of the monsoons in India, bo*th South wed 
and North 1 art is announced by the Pied Crested Cuckoo. Ho sooner the 
rains break than groves, gardens, and open woodlands echo to its 
metallic piu«.plu«.pee-pee-piu , repeated twice. Often, only the mono- 
oyllable piu is heard. If the clouds part and the moon shines down 
on a rain-ecaked earth, this bird will immediately greet the efful- 
gent moonlight. 

The Pied Greeted Cuckoo is the most handsome of all the cuckoos, 
and is easily recognised. The upperparts of its plumage are blank, 
while the lowerparts and the tips of its tail feathers are white, 
and prrminent In flight. Thare is in each wing a conspicuous white 
rounaish patch, and a black crest that does not lie down, but pro- 
jects prettily from the back of the head. In flight, which is direct 
and laboured, the tail is kept pointing slightly upwards. But it i3 
not necessary to set eyes on it to recognise it, only to hear it, is 

like all cuckoos it is mostly arboreal, but unlike the «ther mem- 
bers of its family, it perches or. the tops of low bushes — scruti- 
nizing their foliage carefully for the insects on which it feeds. 
Beetles, tree-crickets, and hairy caterpillars form its uiet. Often 
food is taken from the ground, where the bird hops about in search 
of insects. 

The Pied Crested Cuckoc does not indulge in elaborate courtship — 
it is carried out on the wing with the tail partly spread out, the 
wings are beaten slowly and deliberately, as if practising some sort 
of delayed action flight. Of course, the courtship of no cuckoo is 

' ■ - - 

_ *• , , t> » — - ~. r\ * - "t n « l- 

conflicted silently and the Pied Crested Cuckoo is no exception ~ rf 
nake« a noise all the time while courting - The Vird ifl neither shy 
nor retiring, and one bird chasing another is a common sight. It is 
a parasitic bird, and wherever it is found, it lays according t« the 
breeding season of the various tebblers, in wbnee nosta 1« depoalta 
its eggf, from January to July. The eggs are a perfect imitation of 
those of the babblers - spotless sky blue, highly glossy, varying in 
length. In the Eastern Himalayas it has teen found pacing eggs in 
the nests of the Wecklaced and HLackgorgeted laughing brushes, while 
in the Vtestern Kinase it is the Striated laughing Thrush. The eggs 
of this cuckoo (northern) referred to in Hume's Nests, and E£gs_ of _ 
India n Birds (Vol. 3, pp. 3e8-39l) were found in the plains of India 
or in the lever ranges of the Nilgiris or sub-Himalayas . 

September is the month in vfcich to look out for young Pied Crested 
Cuckoos. Those that I have seen in Daltcngunj (Palamau) and Saitbe. 
(Singhbbum) differ considerably from the adult in appearance — teing 
slaty grey above, the wing patch, and the tips of the outer tail 
featters and lower portions, pale yellowish white. They were accom- 
renied by young Jungle Bibblera clamouring for food and flapping 
wings, Just like the young Stabler s. ait in Monghyr the young cuckoos 
were always seen unaccompanied b/ foster-brothers or sisters. 

The Pied Crested Cuckoo is a restless bird, moving about a good 
deal, seldom staying more than a couple of days in one spot. The 
typical race is resident and occurs in Ceylon, South India nor* of 
the Commandel Coast, and the southern Bombay Presidency, «* ™* 
north as Karwar on fee west and Madras on the east (Stuart fekerj. x™ 
ztet of India and Burma is inhabited by the larger form ( serratus ) 
which is migratory, being a rains visitor (breeding), appears to 
come from Africa. In India it spreads throughout the plains and hills 
alike, up to about 8TC0 feet in the Himalayas. The movements of 
serratus have not been fully worted out, but there is reason to 
believe that it winters in Africa. Hat much remains to be discovered 
regarding the distribution of this cuckoo. It appears to undergo con- 
siderable local miration. The SV. monsoon begins to set in over 
northern India around June, and that is when this bird arrivee. 
Again the KE. monsoon breaks over the Nilgiris in January, and the 
Siefl Crested Cuckoo reaches that area in the cold weather. Several 
observers, particularly 3 1 northern India have communicated to the 
Papers the dotes on whicr they first saw or henrd the bird. Itewar 
saw it in Madras in July, at that tia» it is supposed to migrate 
mrthwards. . . 

Sustained observation en the errtval of this biro was maintained 
by one observer for ten years in Chora Hagpur, and he recoraea: arri- 
val dates between April 21 and May 23. '/*» last tote on which he 
obeervoi the bird was 21 etcher. In Konghyr end Madhubani it is very 
1 common from May to October. At different places ranging from Jhanoi 
and Almora in the west and Chittagong in the east, the dates vary 
between 20 May and the first roek of July. Tho majority of dates 
teing in Juno, almost coinciding with the break of the monsoon. In 
Burma it has teen observed iwtweon late May and early November. My 
own records for j^orondQ (Ronchi) read: 

newsletter f n r Birdwatcher 

p + + o - f o '• TM^dvntohers 

.'. -rival 





R;.- narks 



7*13 a.m. 

lO.ix. 1953 

Probably return 




o t 

v i 

si t e 

31 .v. 1955 

7.10 a.m.!955 



N o 

t V 

i s i t 

e ft 

30 .v. 1957 

8.10 a.m. 

same day 


Pre -monsoon 
shower 10/v 


N o 

t V 

i e i t 

e d 


R o 

t v 

i s i t 

e d Rains 
very late 

8.15 a.m. 

same day 

26. vi. 1960 


N o 

t V 

i s i t 

e d 


H o 

t 7 

i s i t 

e d Pre- 

, 1.T.V.1963 

monsoon showers 1 2/v 

9.30 p«m. 

(heard ) 


4-15 a.m. 

14. vi. 1963 

11.10 a.m. 


j 2.V1.1965 

J 23-V1-1965 

6,30 a.m. 

same day 

18. vi. 1965 

Pre -monsoon 

12.00 noon 

ii ii 

thunder shower 


29 .v, 1966 

9.00 p.m. 


4.00 a.m. 


j 1 

8.0C a.m. 

Occasional sho- 

3 21.V1-1968 

6.3<- a.m. 

23- vi. 1968 


wers since 3/iv 

5 18.V.1969 

7. Or* a.m. 



Raining since 

* 6.V1.1969 

8.30 a.m.!969 

Bote - A large number of 


are needed for 

a fuller under- 

stranding of its migratory habits. 


E. M. Shukla 


For a moment let us turn our miid away from politics — Indicate- 

Syndicate-Socialism-Comnunalism and all that — and spare a thought 

for our visitors from abroad. No — you need not go to Cams Hotel 
or Circuit House for this purpose but to place like Chandola lake 

and nearby jheels to meet our touriBt friends, not from human world, 
tut from avian world. 

Winter months in India bring hundreds of visitors from abroad. 
There are tourists, V.I.Ps., politicians, cricket players, conferen- 
ce delegates and there are glittering conferences, seminars and din- 

!! e * t ^ r ^ " t Blr^'-otehers 

. r fl all that in their honour. 

*ut how many of us care to lock round ard see that thousands of 
ether visitors from avian world also come and settle down during 
this period among our lakes, gardens, fields and forests adding 
great charm and beauty to our avifauna? Most of there birds spend 
winter months here and fly away to Continent or to Northern limits 
of our country lite Tibet or Iadakh by April-May. BLrd lovers call 
them r migratory '. Our Income Tax department would perhaps classi- 
fy them as ' Resident but not ordinarily President '. Foreign Exchan- 
ge Hegulations do not apply to them, no small-pox or cholera certi- 
ficate, no pass-ports, visas or ' P ' form for these visitors. They 
enter our borders silently and leave them without having to undergo 
any of these irksome formalities. 

To meet these visitors, you neod not go to the much advertised 
!Ial Sarovar. They are right here on our nearest lake Chandola. The 
only thing required is a pair of binoculars (and perhaps a guide 

Ifcre on lake Chandola you see a large congregation of ducks mer- 
rily swimming, diving or up-ending for food or basking away in 
mellow Gun on small islands in the lake. There are Pintails so-callt- 
ed because of pin-like protuding tail feathers. There arc Shovellers 
in their handsome ccstume of black-white and chestnut-rod gliding 
away with open mouth through water. The common teals with their 
golden speculum are smaller but not the less handsome for it. Po- 
chards with red neck and pencilled grey body disappear under water 
and come to surface having caught their food. The Nukta or Combducks 
are conspicuous by their presence although the knob in their bill 
is not readily visible at present. The large, orange-red Erahminy 
lucks have also arrived* The black bodied and almost tail-less 
coots and brown coloured dabchicks are here* 

From the above ducks, t\a pintails, shovellers, common teals, 
DndEtatCdci and pochards cone from Central Europe. Erahminy ducks 
come from Iadakh and Tibet. The Coots are both resident as well as 
migratory. Some coots stay here throughout the year tut their num- 
bers are augmented in winter months by arrivals from abroad. 

The varieties and numbers of visiting birds on Hal Sarovar is, of 
course, much greater than Chandola, but the purpose; of this: article 
is to emphasise the fact that many of these visitors arc here right 
in our midst on the lakes and j heels for serving our towns and vil- 
lages and even our gardens. 

Pochards, coots ana dabchicse?. dive under water for food. Other 
ducks do not dive but merely up-end and aopear to sotne sort of 
1 Shirshasana ' (i.e. standing over head) under water for food. 
This is their habit of eating. 

Apart from ducks, there are other ' Wadors ' also at Chandola. 
There are Avocets in good number with impeccably white plumage 
lined thinly with black. There are common sandpipers and redshanks. 
They too cone from across the Continent. 

We shall be doing less than Justice to our own ' native ' birds 
if wa did not talc note of their presence also. We in India some- 
times harbour a strange .fascination for things vfrich •ome from 

I ? ■- t : , 

agreed. Anything which bears a stamp * made abroad ! is considered 
superior to things a de at home and people pay a fancy price for 
such things. Such superficial notions do not afflict genuine lovers 
of birds- Right here on Chandola we can see a good cross-section of 
our own beautiful birds. 

Tte re — standing on the island are our Flamingos in their glisten- 
ing white and pink feathers and long curving slender neck tucked 
neatly into their wings. There are painted storks with white bodj* 
and black wings and red stripes and stout yellow bills. Down in the 
water there are white stork-like spoonbills busy waving their down- 
turned necks right and left searching for food. They are called 
spoon-bills because th eir bills are like flat spoons • The solitary 
grey heron is standing motionless as if in yogic trance but in reali- 
ty wide awake ready to jab at its victim any moment. The pond herons 
are hiding in grass. There are ashy grey and somewhat dull coloured 
openbilled storks. There are longlegged stilts, lesser egrets and 
white ibis, cormorants and darters. 

Sarus cranes 5 feet tall with grey body red legs and red neck are 
certainly one of our stateliest birds and they easily stand out among 
th« assembly of all birds. These ore only a few of our native birds 
found on Chandola at this time. 

Turning again to our visitors, thu-rc are Common Swallows coming 
from Europe. Along -vith our native wire-tailed and redrumped swallows 
the common swallows can be seen everywhere during winter months. Their 
magnificent sallies in air, gliding, twisting, turning are always a 
feast for the eye. OR you can see them perching in hundred upon tele- 
phone wires preening their wings. 

Right on our lawns and fluids, th?re are wagtails (grey, yellow- 
headed and white varieties) coming from Europe and Siberia. The wag- 
tails are so called because they always wag their tails and therefore 
easy to recognise. Among the fields there are Rosy Pastors — flocks 
and flocks of them — who are one of our earliest arrivals from 

Whoever said Ahnedabad is c dull and cheerless place? There is 
plenty of bird life here on lake Chandola and nearby jheels. It will 
be another thing after water gets dried up ani our visitors leave in 
about April-May. The scene will change in summer but it will not be 
less interesting or less colourful because of heat. 


Sarah Jansson 

I was very interested to read Mr R. 1. Fleming's statement in the 
August 1969 issue of the Ffcws letter that Purple Sunbirds of Bihar 
migrate to Nepal in May a*i d stay there for at least 5 months. I was 
also interested to see Mr Kameshwnr Singh's letter in the October 
issue stating that he saw 2 males in non-breeding plumage on Sept. 
14th in Patna district. 

As we live in West Bsnppl, only 2 miles from the Bihar border, it 
may interest those writers to hear of our experience. I have looked 

up my notes for the >_ ' . few years, &Vm& since T s-Mirtea Wrdmewhlng 
In earnest, and I find almost doily entries for the Purple Sun bird, 
in every single month of the year, excepting May, when I have not 
been here. .Judging -bj. tho faci ;that they ore one of our most familiar 
birds in the garden, I feel fairly certain* that they must be' here in 
May too. 

Whistler writes that the winter plumage is * nssuned from about 
September to Decemter ... the typical race is found in Ceylon nnd 
from about 5000 feet along the Outer Himalayas throughout the whole 
•f India except in the north-west. There in Sind and Ifeluchistan it 
is replaced by the Persian form, C. a. brcvlrontris, with a shorter 
bill, while birds from the Punjab are mostly intermediate in charac- 
ter between the two races. In the main a resident species, it is also 
locally migratory, being found in North-western India only from March 
to September. In the ranges of Southern Indie it is found up to 7500 
feet. ' 

The main food of the Purple Sunbird is flower nectar (though they 
o_Uo oat ■■ell insects;, and this fact deWimiows their habitat* Thus 
they'aw to he fotrt m eoooiry mryiag from mar feoert to Inab for* 

eat land. 

Without being aware of the fact, wo fortunately planted many shrubs 
end trees whose blossoms the Purple Sunbirds love, such as Cnllinndra. 
•ftweedli , Kumquat, Eucalyptus citriod ora, Rain Trees, etc. They are 
only four inches Ions, nnd look like little soocks when perc h i n g on 
the overhead wires, end yet their song is remarkably loud, and really 
very hjnutiful. I have no-ted them singing in every month, except for 
May v/hen I have not been hero. In this garden at least, the birds 
excel themselves in March and April, when their singing rises to a 

glorlors crescendo. 

I quote from my notes : 
January. Watched a pair bathing in heavy d-v on lawn- just in front 
of house while we brockfsstod on verandah. Saw a male very close (so 
close that my binoculars would not focus any closer), flitting about 
in the Callicndro shrub, the full midday sun bringing out the most 
gorgeous metallic greenish purple sheens ell over its body. These 
birds are now so familiar that I no longer rush out of the house 
armed with binoculars whenever I hear them. 

Fe bruary . Saw a female on clothes line just outside my bathroom door 
pulling at the frayed end of the co J on rope. Thought she must be 
taking it for nnest, but she obviously swallowed it, as tho noxt 
moment she started f weening ' loudly with her bill wide openl Saw 
this happen twice. Went to look, tut no cotton on tho ground. She then 
investigated a brightly coloured clothes peg. Wonder if birds see 
in colour? Sow a male in the Calliandre tw-edii from as close as 
possible with binoculars, hovering in front of a. pink blossom, and 
had a wonderful view of tho brilliant rcnrlot and yellow feathers 
in his ' armpits '. Inter saw n very thin line of the S3 colours along 
edge of folded wing. 

March. Great excitement, found almost completed nest just outside 
dining room window, hung from tfee tip of a branch of Myrtle (which 
cama as a very small plnnt f'*om ovr hene in Simla), about 7 feet 
above the ground. Alas my joy v^is shortlived, as some work done in 
the drain nearby scared the birds away for good. The pendant nest, 
constructed Df various grasses and cobwebs, was a curious looking 
affair, beautifully camouflaged with odd leaves, bits of soft bark, 

*3 untranw was at $h* aide. txjt»v.U£ .w»iJW /fc* - J ."-Vr. rtl E 
ost 2 broods and those r'ro renrod In repia succession, sometimes 

least c ^v^^« -- — - — 

even froni the ■ .-st '- Had the birds remained there, I would 

have hod a wonderful view of their deity activities from two rooms. 

The brooding sucson varies fron January to August, though it is 

mostly in April and May. Birds singing all through the month. 

April. Purple Sunbirds sinking away, mainly from the tops of the 

Rains Trees. They give me crjeh jcy, and help to mate the hent of 

this month more bearable. 

June. Heard sunbirds singing very frequently. 

July, Saw a smaller than usual bird with blackish streaks, not Just 

the single dark stripe over its breast j must bo one of this years 

young. Rains trees in bloom, and sunbirds busy sipping nectar and 

singing their heads off. 

August. Seen three different pairs in garden. M*les vary a lot in 

tidiness and broadness of dark stripe from chin to abdomen- Very 

vocal this month. - 

September, Jfcard a lot of singing this month, starting at dawn, usual- 
ly from the Rains Trees heaaf the house. Two neles in adjoining itrees 
singing away. Presumably they sing for the sheer Joy of singing and 
not for the purpose of claiming territory this month. 
6ctober. Saw two pairs in Rains Tree playing follow-my-leader, the 
leaders about a yard ahead of the others. (toe male getting very 
mottled. Very vocal almost daily* 

November. Have noticed colour change varies tremendously Just among 
the birds in our garden. I suppose this is a common feature all over 
India. On 12th saw a male with B lot of black over his yellow breast. 

21st, saw male entirely black 

26th, saw mr.le which had lost nearly all his yellow colouring 

3'rth, saw one male entirely black 

30th, saw another male very mottled though head and neck glist- 
December. Hear sunbirds daily. 

rfaTth saw a male black, except for tiny yellowish potcn unaer 
root of toil. Two yards further along the same wire saw another male 

not changed at all. 

16th. Saw a male who has apparently forgotten to change' his 

clothes; he hasnt even begun to change colour. 

D. A. Stairmand 

Oa 22nd January in the grounds of Governcent House, Walkeshwar Rood, 
there were several male and fecslG Koels and three Grey Hornbills 
(Tockus birostris ) eating the ripe figs of peepul (Plcus relif iosa j. 
It was enjoyable to watch the Grey Hornbills tossing the figs down 
their throats with such obvious relirfr. Towards evening in Borivili 
Park on 27tto December, I saw two Malabar Grey Hornbills (T. firtscusj 
— without Ihe casque — and these birds were badly harrassed by ten 
Jungle Crows and driven away despite the imradiate precence of Racket 
tailed Drongo on the same tree. The tree was a Red Silk Cotton (Sol- 
-malie melabarica) in bud. 

Heweletter for Birdwatchers 

T/£±\±E£ thrcu^b D-»rivIi rack - J ~j: oz l.-th ■ 

thing rather large on the left hand side of the road some forty yards 
_.. ;'. sjrt of me QEd as I slowly approach. 3 :nroh closer ' the thing ' 
took to steep flight and quite frightened me by jts size until I real- 
ised it was a glorious Peacock (Povo cristatus ) when my heart beat 
faster with enjoyment, instead of terror, at ths unknown ' Vampire ' «• 
As soon as I reached hone I picked up Vol. 2 of the Handbook and read 
once again: ' They rise with a loud flappin'g cf wings, ev a on old 
cock with his long, heavy train rocketing almost verticrlly to clear 
the tree-tops. ! During the monBOon months BoriTli Park resounded with 
the strident calls of my-evre , cay-avre and on 25th October I c 
across o Peahen with three chicks resting on n track running along- 
side a pipeline* 

Of late I have been watching the female Marsh Harriu-r ( Circus aeru- 
ginosus ), which was written about by our Editor in an article publi- 
shed recently in a Sunday newspaper, flying over the ! damp littoral ' 
at Vihar sending up wagtails, pipits, ]"rks, nunias, etc. and even 
hoopoes. I never see her catch anything; not that I'm sorry as she 
looks well-fed. Cfa 19th January n King Vulture ( Torgos calvus_ ) was 
in the same area eating a cattle carcass in thu company of Jungle 
Crows. But on to more pleasant subjects — also in the seme few 
square acres or so. Namely, a f*:3y adult male Bluethroat (Erithncus 
svecicus ).ffa 17th January this sprightly robin-like bird was hopping 
around amongst herbage and flew when I walked towards it. Fortunately 
it flew only a few yards and then settled on the ground again where 
I had a perfect view of it for about five minutes cb it hopped around 
picking up insects. This Bluethroat had e white (not chestnut) patch 
within the. blue throat and was presumably of the race abbot ti. The 
Bluethroat had quite a tussle wi1h a green caterpillar before stun- 
ning it sufficiently to deal with. Prior to swallowing this succulent 
morsel the Bluethroat gave a delighted little call. Also in this area 
I noticed a fenslo Collared Euahchat ( Saxjccra torqur.ta ), BOT no male, 
on the m rgin of the lake. I'm mentioning h^r because I see m«iy 
male pollared Bushchats on th«> telegraph wires, bushes and shrubs 
besidC the Goa Road and the road to Alibng, without seeing even one 
female — on some days. Against, say, fifteen males seen in a stretch 
of road of t.vonty miles I manage to see only one or two females at 
most. I suppose the f eoalus must be in fields further away from tte 
roadside but I've searched in vein for them. I find that, in contrast 
the pairs of Pied Bushchats (Saxicoln caprata ) keep very closs toge- 

There are now many Common Snipe around Vihar lake ani quite- large 
gatherings of duck on the lake-. From what I can see ttey are mainly 
Conmon Teal ( Anas crecca ) and on 4th January there were about 2 n Pin- 
tails (Anas acuta ) amongst them. 

"fa 18th January on a mud-tank at Iharamtar, near Pen, ttere were 
six Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta ) swinging their bills, hoctey- 
stick style, through the mud. With them was a Reef Heron (Egretta 
gularis ) — slaty phase — catching mudcrawlers. It was enlightening 
for me to v«ntch the bird walk to the water and wash its bill clean 
after each jab — whether successful or unsuccessful — into the mud. 

At Pnnvel tank on 18th January there was an Openbill (Anas tonus 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

Jacanas, Bronzewinged Jncanas, Purple Moorhens, tot * e _^* ■***?? 
-r *- p ■•: Snnr< - Syeta appear to have tared successfully during tic 
last monsoon." Cotton Teal are also seen there now. 


Dhruv Dixit 

Cn Ifcrch 15th 1969 I «as fitting in the vnrandah of my house at 
Surat at 9.30 .*, when I Daw a Jungle Crow approach a Ifcnhdi jl£W- 
soTia all*) hedge/close by. In the beginning the crow £pt *»£«g 
nearby the h^-dge. After o. while it found one loose dry ettek, *J*g- 
ly B twfc in the hedge. The crow could not pull out the stick at first 
attenpt. Then it seemed to take a good look at the stick, as if to 
study how the stick was entangled. The next attenpt w* very succes- 
•fuJL, as the c row craftily pulled the stick out with minimum effort 
and avoiding the otetacles- 

Aflr removing the stick the crow hopped off «», W """V** 
ttaa tick in its beak. It tried to balance the stick in its *»«£ but 
due to the additional offshoots, the balance was lopr0P»* *£■* 
dewing the twig, the crow broke the distal narrow end with 11b beak. 
A^hftwig was balanced by the crow, but the br.lmce was l»pr°P«. 
w the crow broke the seller side branches of the twig and finally 
managed to balance it in itebeak properly. Then the crow kid the 
twig down r.nd started observing the area around it, » if to de cide 
the course of its homeward flight. Then it picked up the stick in 
its beak and balanced it carefully again and flew of steadily. 

Thisobservation helps us to understand that tte crows do sei.ct 
their nesting material ne thodically and use their intelligence to 
shape an odd object according to their require,* nte. Th e crows also 
seetTto have a keen sense of Judging tte object and its balance for 


At the 10th General Assembly of the International tttea lor the Con- 
servation of Nature, held at New Delhi on 29 November 1969, the 
JchT^^hillip. Ibdnl »as awarded to Dr Salin Ali. The announcement 
was received with tremendous acclamation. It reads » *^°"»- 
• To Shri Salim Ali, Senior Statesman of conservation and dis 
tinguished scientist, whose influence on conservr.tion » ?" 
own continent has been great and whose work and accomplishments 
are known and respected throughout the world; 

Most distinguished ornithologist and field naturalist in 
his own country, whose published works have long to* 
basic aid authoritative references on the birds of his country 
ana tove established him in the foreground of worM omitholo- 

^nterrr.tionally recognized and respected leader in conserva- 
tion, whose efforts over the years have been a major factor 

T i '"letter for Birdwatcher? 

in creating the clinote of acceptance in conservation matters and 
wiMZifs ■. " ■■-': ;- in his owr country today. ' 

It is customary for eoch General Assent" > to formulate a declaration 
on Conservation approjiriate to the tire and occasion. The declaration 
adopted at the IOCN Assembly reads as follows 

1 HeeliBlnff that the splendour of this earth derives from its 
sunlight, it3 beautiful green cover, its interdependent fauna 
and flora, ani from the diversity of its landscapes and Realis- 
ing that since the beginning of its exLateroe, the people of the 
earth oven when poor in naifc-"ial possessions have found life 
richly worth liviiig because of there natural aseets; 
and Realisin g that man, hinself a product of tho evolutionary 
system, is dependent on the stability and self-renewing proper- 
ties of his environment j 

Realising too, that the worlds population is growing at an alarm- 
ing rate ; 

that economic development depends entirely on the utilization of 
natural resources, that this utilization is carried out often 
with little attention to the needs of renewal, 
thai; because of this, much of the earth? once well watered and 
productive, is now impoveriehed and degraded 

that once a^mdant plant, animals and scenic resources, have been 

tha* ^ therefore the attainment of a hi#i quality of living for all 
mankind now depends upon the conservation and restoration of these 
dwindling resources 

an< ^ -ir-ally that the natural resources cf the world are a heri- 
tage on which tho survival of future generations must depend 
Wp the members of the Inotemntjonal. Union -or Conservation of 
Jfatun- and ..'atural Renourcocassonbled at Kev; Xfckiiin November 

Now declare again cur fundamental purpose as an international 
union of concerrwd States, Organizations and individuals 
To urge on all governments a:r! people the adoption, as a basic 
principle of developtent, the conservation and protection of 
ions 'term values rather than exploitation for short term gains 
To foster sound environmental policies and tc promote protection 
of ecosystems, human environments and habit .ts of wild creatures 
from abuse and damage 

To encourage and arrist in the making of co-ordinated legislation 
and international conventions to govern the utilization and treat- 
cent of aoil, water, air, flora and fauna, to minimize pollution, 
and to protect the landscape in general and ecosystems of special 
interest in particular 

and, in summary, to urge upon all nations, action arid' support of 
those values which ma^e life possible and worthwhile, ! 


At the IYth Meeting of the Asian Continental Section of the Interna- 
notlona!] Council for Pird ironor-vation several useful resolutions 
were passed* 

" r w ■• ~ ■• + J ■ ■ ■ *• ■** o f *J ' fflwo^ehcrr 

RESOLUTION 1 relates to Population Studies in Wild Birds. It re- 
commends the imprrtance of field studies on population ecology and 

breeding biology. 

RESOLUTION 2 refers to the serious drain on bird population in 
most Asinn countries resulting from commercial trapping and trade. 

RESOLUTION 3 strongly recommends to the Government of India and 
and the Government of the State of West Bengal to establish ft bird 
sanctuary in the Calcutta Salt late area. as per the recommendations 

of the IUCN. 

RESOnJTlGN 7 pleads for n continuation of International Bird Wig- 
ration Studies in Asia- It says: ' Recognizing the significant in- 
crease in the understanding of the biology of migratory birds achiev- 
ed through international cooperation in recent years, urges strongly 
that all Asian Nations support this vital area research by continu- 
ing studies in their countries, and R3S0IVES that the I.C.B.P. Asian 
Continental Section shall ass\tae the functions of coordination and 
exchange of information in this field. ' 

The President of the International Council for Bird Preservation 
is Br S. Billon Ripley, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution, Washing- 

The President issues a letter from time to time, and No- 18 of 
November 1969 contains an account of the recent ban on DDT in sever- 
al countries. This ban has cone about cs a result of the strong 
pressure wfcich conservationists and scientists have exerted on dif- 
ferent governments and placed before them facts about the damage 
caused by orgnno-chlorinated hydrocarbon. , in order to avoid range 
of speciesparticularly threatened in the temperate environments where 
these chemicals have been widely used since 1940. Birds have played 
a rather tragic role as indicators of the extent of the damage done 
by DDT and other chemicals in their tissues. In England studies on 
the Grey Heron reveal the high percentage of toxicity of many rivers. 
A reference was made to this in December 1969 issue of the lfewsletter 
p. 9. At the present time nine nations have banned the use of DDT. 


Trip to Kama la on 25 January 1 970 

The trip to Karnnla Bird Sanctuary on last Sunday was very interest- 
ing. I reached the Rest House at 8.45 a.m. only, having travelled by 
the first available ST bus fron Bombay Central. I met Mr Vipin Pnrikh 
and his relatives and Mr and Mrs Kalbaug there. We spent our time at 
the foot of the hills only and did not go up. The list of the birds 
identified is as follows: Paradise Flycatchers, Chest rut bellied Nut- 
hatch, Black Drongo, White bellied Drongo, Redwfciskered Bultuls, Ruf- 
ousbacked Shrike, Purple Sunbirds, Common Iora, Magpie Robin, Indian 
Wren-wrbler, Common Bse-eater, Verditer Flycatcher, Jerdon's Chlor- 
opsis, Goldfronted Chloropsis, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Golden 

We also saw n flycatcher of the following description: li^it blue 

Newnlatter for Birdwatchers 

chin arri head, white throat and breast, grey-brown back and long tail. 
F-) black nrrk on nape. Mr Tnril* feels it is a Whitebellled Blue Fly.- 

■her on referring to tfhistler's book. Hit on consulting Mr Robert 
Grucb, I now feel it may be the fenele of KLacknaped Blue Flycatcher. 
I would like to know your opinion about it. 

to return, we stopped at 1ne Ihnvel jheel at The roadside just out 
of Tanvel. We saw the- following birds on the jheel: Bronzewinged Ja- 
cam, Pheasant-tailed Jacana (without the long tril - in winter plum- 
age. This gave us many difficulties in identifying as at that tine 
we did not know its winter plumage.). Cattle Egrets, Pond Herons, 
Grey Wagtail, Common Swallow, Redrumped Swallow, Whiter Wagtail, Spot- 
ted Sandpiper. Cn the telegraph wires, we saw the Indian Roller, 
rti the whole, it was very satisfying trip for me. . h 

II. Ramakrishna 

Santa Cruz, Bombay 29 

January 2, 197^ 

Birdwatching at Surat anc_ Baroda 

Winter is a good season for studying birds and we were glad we were 
rewarded during our stay of a fortnight at Surat and Baroda in the 

third week of January. 

It happily and accidentally smarted with the Bunting. Two flocks 
appearing like miniature clouds, were erratically flying over the 
fields. They included both the Red and Yellowheaded Buntings. The 
birds would occasionally swam a tree or two beautifying them with 
their brilliant yellows. 

We came across a similar flock of Rosy lastors at Shri Motu's Ashram 
near Rander (Surat), amongst fields on the banks of Tapti river. Here 
we also spotted a pair of hoopoes camouflaging themselves ideally with 
tte ground. A lapwing flew off with its dld-he -do-it call and settled 
a little distance away. We also saw ttie crow-pheasant nnd the white 


In Surat *ile walking on the Olpad Road w; were disappointed not - 
to observe any bird life. However when we walked into a field, a 
goldenbacked woodpecker flew and sat on a palm tree. Here arongst 
the stalks of jowar an Indian Wren^'arbler was playing hide and seek. 

On the fields nearer the Tapti on Rander side we saw amrrt from 
the drongo three types of cycae together. The common, the bank and 
the brahminy. Amongst others ware the Common Bee-«ater, the Rufous- 
backed Shrite. Eurple £unbird, and the White Wagtail. Oi the banks 
a whitebreaslef 7caufc r r nd sat silently for a long time on a big stone- 

Hear the Somnath temple on the banks of Tapti we watched a few 
waders. They included the spotted sandpiper, the red shank and the 
green shank. A little far from them were the Indian Reef Heron and 
the Indian Pond Heron. Cto a tree nearby eat a few Whitebacked Vultures. 

However Gorwa Road (Alembic Colony) at Boroda gave us more pleasant 
surprises, both in variety and easiness f«r watching. On the very 
first day we came across a number of IndiaM Skylarks with pipits, 
hoopoes and little brown dove feeding on the ground in the compound 
of Alembic quarters. They would fly off and settle only a little 
distance away. On the second, c new find was of Blackbellied Finch 

Newsletter for birdwatchers 

u - 

lark, difficult to spot but for their movements. £ spotted dove sat 
on the telegraph wires near the Alembic farm. It repented the ftroos 
five times after the initial krukrqo . It wes seen on the same wire 
the next day just like the Blue Jay (Roller) which sat a little away. 
The Holler when approached would fly off with its glistening blues 
into a nearby tree and would return to the acne wire after some time- 
On a tamarind tree (white anbli) a tree-^ie suddenly ceme end o light- 
ed to er.t the fruits but did not terry for long. There were plenty 
of bee-*aters continually emitting their tree -tree electric notes. 
Both the white a nil the grey wagtails were also here. There was also 
a company of large grey fccbblers chattering their harsh fcny, tey , kay . 
Just opposite the Alembic factory was an Indian Robin along with n 
White backed Munia. 

The meet pleasant finishing touch was given by a blackwinged kite. 
It sat solemnly on a telegraph wire and gave a leisurely view of its 
grey and white body with its blackiBh win^s. After a time it flew 
off only to return again on the same wire a little off. 

Vipin Parikh 

Hi i"- 1 - sij^htr: in Hg gOOded fir.rti - r. 

A el#it which thrilled me most recently was a tree-T3ie. It was call- 
ing loud and hard. Oie thing that made sure that it was the Indian 
Tree-pie was its flight, and the hr.rsh calls which I heard. But I am 
intrigued as Dr Salira All has said in his BOOK OP INDIAN HRIS, page 
2 that they are regular members of the nixed hunting associations 
of the forest* I saw this tree-pie singly. 

Master Girieh Ananth 
- Delhi 

/Do not be intrigued. Many birds which are occasionally often seen 
singly may as frequently be observed as me nbers of mixed hunting 
parties - Eds^" 

Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A, Juhu, Andheri 

Bombay 58-AS 



VOL. 10-NO 4 - 1970 APRIL 

I * 


Volume 10, Number 4 April 1970 


A Birdwatcher in East Pakistan, by T. J- Roberts 1 

Signs of Summer Plumage and Song and notes on Birds of Prey in 

the Bom lay Area, fcy D. A. Stairmand 4 

Birds in India's Agricultural Economy. Supplementary Note, by 

Saiim All 6 

Migration of Birds, by Robert B. Grubh 8 

Sone more birds at Kamala, by Vipin Parikh 10 

Correspondence 1 1 

A Serpent Eagle ( Spilomis cheela ) capturing its prey, from 

Thomas Gay 
The King Vultuie ( Torgus calyus ) : A vanishing species in Bihar, 

from Kameshwar Pd. Singh 
Early rising of the Indian House Crow ( Corvus splendens ), from 
Sudhindranath Sen Gupta 

T. J- Roberts 

The old saying that ' distant fields are greener ' , would aptly sum 
up the writer's feelings during rare business visits to East Pakistan. 
Having lived for many years in the semi-desert, north-western part of 
the Sub-continent and being fairly familiar with the bird species 
adapted to that region, a visit in-to the lush green forests of East 
Pakistan, with their tropical fauna presents a really exotic feast 
to the mind and eye. Jrom the very end of January and early February 
it was possible to spend about ten days over there during which every 
opportunity was snatched to go birdwatching . It would not be appro- 
priate to describe all the birds sighted in this Newsletter , nor 
would such a long list make very interesting reading (147 species 
were actually recorded during this particular visit)- I should like 
t? describe therefore some of the highlights and more vivid impres- 

The end of January is probably the driest period of the year in 
East Pakistan, and during this visit temperatures were slightly below 
normal and there was no doubt a scarcity of flowering and nectar 
bearing plants in the forest as well as fewer inundated and swampy 
areas as compared to the impression obtained on prevleus visits. As 
is the unfortunate case in other adjoining countries of that region 
the last remnants of original forest are fast disappearing. I oonfined 
my energies to searching out and exploring what few accessible remnants 
of such forest remained. It may be broadly #lassified as tropical 

O <V J 

. ., _ i c r Bi-dWAT»«* 


ever*~ecn rain forest, particularly in the Aratan region of Cox's 
Etza". The Chittagong Kill Tracts contain a slightly higher l«p«- 
ficn'^f deciduous tropical trees. In both regions tfcere is a tremend- 
ous wealth of tree species with a ttick understory of gM^*** 08 * " 
jf TXOm, vines and bamboo. For the most port there are J^y^f^ 
clearings in such forest and one must stick to man-made footpaths 
or tacks made by wild elephants, ^watching , is not easy in such 

and eye to be able to glimpse even fleetingly with Wnoculars many of 
the birds which are so active in such forests. Rvery tell tree is 
fnstooned with the parasitic Icranthus as well as other creepers, 
and epiphytes such as orchids and gymnosperms. Such a tangled mass 
of vegetation provides all too effective cover for bird life, the 
great majority of which is purely arboreal in its feeding habits in 

such forest. 

Cn tne occasion my wife and I had tmm^ed much further then time 
allowed, misguided by local villagers in our efforts to reach virgin 
forest. We had to content ourselves with patches of cut over forest 
adjacent to cultivation. A tall and apparently dead tree stood out 
starkly above the forest canopy. I heard a Ghestnutheaded tee-eater 
(Morops leschennulti ) calling from ttet direction and wns scanning 
this tree when I noticed that it bore large green figs hanging from 
one branch. My mind had not grasped the botanical improbability of 
such a conclusion when o ne of these fruits emitted a sharp equeak 
and flew awoyJ Whereupon the entire ■ fig crop ' followed their com- 
panion giving toy-like high pitched screeches. They were lorikeets 
( rsriculus vemalis ) which ore not common anywhere in East Pakistan, 
/nd I had "forgotten that the books described its unique habit of 
roosting and sleeping whilst hanging upsidedown flrom a branch in 
bat-like fashion. Its short wings extend exactly the length of its 
stubby tail and when viewed ventre Uy with head tucked under its wing 
shoulder presents a most un birdlike shape and outline. A couple of 
days later we stumbled across one of the rare flowering forest trees 
at that season in which c party of ihese charming parrots came to 
feed* They clamboured over flowering sprigs with the agility of mice , 
and ^resented a most attractive picture in their green and scarlet 
llTOry. They certainly appear totally unrelated both in voi*3 and 
habits to the much larger end gaudier nectar feeding Psittacidine 
which inhabit northern Australia and the southeast Pacific Islands 
and which are called Lorikeets. Cn another occasion we had been fol- 
lowing another forest path for nearly two hours and felt frustrated 
*iy the apparent absence of any visible bird life. A pair of noisy 
woodpeckers pursued for nearly fifteen minutes refused to present 
themselves in any visibly accessible place. Suddenly, there came upon 
the ears in this wild and lonely place the steady chuff, chuff , chuff , 
chuff of an approaching steam engine. This -was no leas a creature than 
Suceros blcomis the Greater Horabill which must be familiar to ell 
readers as the insignia for the Bonfeoy Natural History Society. This 
splendid bird flew right over our heads. A few rapid wing-beats then 

weletter for Birdwatcher 

a glide. The wings ore so short and broad that they almost meet the 
tail which is rather fanned out during the glides. When viewed from 
underneath the black and white pattern on tail and wing further pre- 
sented a most beautiful and striking effect which I can only liken 
to some huge oriental fan. The primary underwing coverts are black 
but over the metacarpals and ulna of the wing itself the feathers 
appeared to be bright yellow. This primitive bird has very little 
down or protective canopy of wing-coverts and when flapping tWe wings 
air rushes through the base of the veins causing the loud whooshing 
sound which can be audible up to a quarter of a mile away and gave us 
the impression of a steam engine. 

to yet another occasion having seen little of interest, we decided 
to leave the forest path and attempt to clamber up a Bteep bamboo-clad 
slope to get a good view of some Eedbreasted Parakeets ( ^ittacula 
alexandrl ). These birds are actually quite common in the better-forested 
areas but usually one is only vouchsafed a distant view as they fly 
noisily calling over the tree tope. On this occasion there appeared 
to be three if not four parrots having an animated conversation 
though we found it difficult to pinpoint the source end direction of 
their calls. The bamboo proved so thick that we were afraid of the 
noise from our ascent scaring the parakeets away. However, we success- 
fully reached our goal for the loud cell emanated from a wild mango 

srSIUrffi 6 ™! fi^JCTTi 8 ?. on fe^iSS that the entire repetoire of 
screeches and loud calls came from one single bird, and it was that 

accomplished mimic the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo ( Dlssemurus para- 
dise us). This bird is fairly widespread in all the better-forested 
areas and particularly up in Sylhet district. 

The forest remnants of 1he Chlttagong Hills as well as Sylhet con- 
tain a fascinating variety of drongoes. The Common or Black Drongo 
(DLcruru3 adsimlUs) avoids forest but is perhaps the most conspicu- 
ous bird in the open cultivated country and paddy fields. On the edge 
of forest, around orchards and tea gardens, one is more likely to 
encounter the Grey or Ashy Drongo ( Picrurus leucophaeus )or the Bronzed 
Brongo (Dicrurus aeneus ). These two species can easily be mistaken for 
the Hack Drongo and the birdwatcher should ever caution himself against 
the tricks played by bright sunlight and shadow. In some lights the 
Groy Drongo looks black all over whilst the Bronzed Irongo looks no 
glossier than the Black Qrongo. Apart from the helpful indicator of 
biotope, one can best identify the Grey Drongo from trying to get a 
closer look at its lower flanks and belly or its irtdes. The flanks 
show a greyish ashy tinge even in poor light- The iris 1b crimson 
whereas it is dark brown in the Black as well as the ^onzed Drongo. 
ihe Bronzed Drongo is slightly smaller on average than the Black 
Drongo and much more graceful in flight, its call notes are distinc- 
tive but since it Is a clever mimic of other bird calls this is not 
always a helpful gui& to identification. In a favourable liriit the 
spangling of the breast feathers as well as the mantle, and wing-coverts 
helps to confirm the identification. I have always felt that the 
name Bronzed ' is misleading, conjuring up visions of burnished 


^:ldf) and b.-ewns. The gloss of the Sronsed Drongo reflects rrtner a 
metallic blue and green li^ht. Whilst the Greater Racket-tailed 
Drongo seems to stick to heavier forest the lesser Ractet-tailed 
Drongo ( Picrurus remlfer ) appears to be the rarest and shyest repre- * 
sentntive of the Dlcruridao in East I£ii3tan. Another very large siz- 
ed drongo, which sticks to heavy forest, is the Hair-Crested Drongo 
( Picrurus hottentottus ). This noisy bird occurs in the Arakan, throu- 
ghout the Chittagong Kill Tracts and Eastern Sylhet. In my experience 
the curious long hair-like crest feathers are very difficult to see 
in the field but the calls are distinctive even when the bird is not- 
visible and the curled outer tail feathers are unmistakeable from 
almost any angle. Likened to the tail fins of a World War II Halifax 
Bomber in Smythies (The Birds of Burma , by E. E* Smylfcies, 1953- Oli- 
ver & Boyd), felicitous phrase, one especially thinks of this bird 
as a dive bomber when it swoops to capture some unwary insect* Actu- 
ally the outer tail feathers are rolled or curled inwards at the tip 
of their outer web like the front of an old-fashioned toboggan. 


D. A. Stainoand 

At Erangnl, Marve , on 22/ii there was a beautiful Blackheaded Yellow 

Wagtail (Motacilla flava me lanogrisea ) feeding around the legs of ■ 
cattle. It wo3 in the most glorious fresh sumncr plumage with blsck 

crown, cheeks and ear-coverts deep black, upper plumage yellowish 
green and the whole lower plumage bright yellow. The bird was far too 
engrossed in catching insects disturbed by the cattle to bother about 
me watching it and later on I saw it on grassy firsts with two flhite 
Wagtails ( Motacilla alba ) one of which had the full black bib df sum- 
mer. There was also a Cattle Egret ( Bubulcus ibis )with the drove of 
cattle and this bird had a smudge on the top of its head. A prelude 
to the very attractive breeding plumage, I think. 

Die Reef Herons ( Egretta gul-.ris ) both at Breach Canty, where they 
are 30+ strong, and at Harva acquired their nuchal crests before the 
end of January and some of the Grey Plovers ( pluvial is squataroln ) 
seen on moist grassland at Marve on 7/ii were in partial breeding 
plumage. EJveu the Common Swallows ( Hirundo rustica ) appear to be 
smarter. Their blue is definitely glossy and I can plainly see the 
pale pinkish colour below, but the chestnut coloration does not yet 
remind me of them at their best. The KLackwinged Stilts ( ilinrmtopus 
himantopu3 ) and Blackheaded Gulls ( iarus ridibundu s) on Mnhim Creek 
were attaining summer dress by mid February. 

The male Magpie Robins ( Copsychus sau3aris_) were in fine song at 
Morve on 22/ii but the song will get more confident, louder and more 

( Kectarinia zeylonica ) was singing excitedly atop in attractive Mango 

Newnletter for birdwatchers 


in flower (i hope the crop is a good one ) in the glorious evening 
sunlight. I realise he might well do this at any time of the year 
but, to cb , he was ore of the heralds of the fast approaching summer. 
Near Pen on 17/ii a male Collared Eushchat ( Sagjoola torquota ) was 
singing a pretty little song. The Collared Pushchats' numbers were 
fewer than previously and there were, for a change, almost as many 
females as males to be seen from the roadside. The male Redstart 
( -fePI 3 "* ct]r _ U3 _ ochru 1 * 08 ) ona * probably the male of the two Desert Wheat- 
ears ( Cenanthe deserti ) seemed to have departed from a stony hillock 
at Erangai by 2i/ii. Tne female Redstart was still around the ruins 
of an old outpost at the base of the hillock and the other lesert 
Wheatear was on the hillock in the usual territory. 

I feel I must mention, in gratitude, that I have recently spent 
some wonderful days watching birds of prey mostly in the Talojn area 
and around Pen. Witching the handsome Kestrels ( ?alco tinnunculus ) 
hovering, sore times for a few minutes at a time, has perhaps been 
the greatest thrill but so many of the birds of prey are graceful. 
The HLackwinged Kite ( Elcnu3 cqeruleus ) is also interesting to watch 
as it hovers .nnd parachutes down on the look-out for prey. Pale Har- 
riers ( Circus macrourua ) are more common around Nasik but I neve seen 
several in the Toloja and Pen areas skimming gracefully over the 

fields and dropping over bunds in search of the unwary. Co 14/ii near 

Tnloja I was lucky enough to see o mole Montagu's Harrier ( Circus 
pygargus ). In habits and looks it is very like the male Pale Harrier 
but the male Montagu's Harrier's narrow black transverse wing-bnr 
across the secondaries was diagnostic in this bird. I invariably 
carry a well-thumbed copy of Br Salim All's The Book of Indian Birds 
with me and the Plate containing the White-eyed Buzzard ( Put as tur 
teesa) in this book depicted quite perfectly the first bird I ever 
recognized of this species as it sat high up in a big Mango above a 
brick-kiln off the Goa Road just south of len. In flight, with its 
rounied wings, it reminded me a bit of the Shikra ( Accipiter badius ). 
That most .familiar of all our raptores the Pariah Kite UlilvuR migrans ) 
came squealing dowards over the ' flats ' at Marve on 22/ii dislodging 
a Whitebreasted Kingfisher and a Common Kingfisher from their look- 
out posts on telegraph wires and swooped at a Ringed Plover ( Chara- 
irius hiaticuln ) which had a broken wing. The plover managed to 

elude the Kite two times by dodging around small rocks but at 1he 
third attempt the Kite was successful and the poor plover was borne 
away high into the air and dismantled. Its vfoite feathers drifted 
across the azure sly on that lovely afternoon. 

The arch bird-of-play the hornbill ( Tockus griseus ) was seen by me, 
from the Goa Road, in Karnala Sanctuary on 17/ii. The relevance? It 
attracted my attention from a moving car by squealing like a Pariah 
Kite that had had a big needle stuck into its bottom] 

r • 6 i * *-• . - a " • i * 


Efi IN IMJIt'S AGRICULTURAL 3C0KOIY. Supplementary Note 

Salin All 

/long with the parakeets, perhaps the most destructive bird pests of 
cereal crops in India, especially of paddy in the rice producing 
areas of the country, are the weaver birds (family PloceidceJ, the 
most widely distributed and abundant species of which is the Baya 
Weaver (Ploceus Philippine ). Recent feeding experiments with captive 
bayas have shown that an adult bird weighing 20 g on the average will 
consume about 3 g of unhusked paddy per day - a quantity equal to 
about 15* of its own body weight, under natural free-flying conditions 
the intake is probably higher. In rice growing areas, and in season, 
paddy forms the food of adult bayas almost exclusively supplemented 
some times by a small quantity of weed-seeds and the like. Allowance 
must also be cade for the extra weight of the paddy husk when oompar- 
ing the birds 1 food with the huskless rice eaten by humans. Therefore 
somewhat arbitrarily we will assume that c single baya eats only 2 g 

of rice per day. 

In Kerala, which is a predominantly rice-eating region, the quantum 
of rice under the statutory food rationing scheiis is 2 kg: per person 
per month (in addition to wheat etc.), or about 66 g of rice per day- 
This means that 33 bayas could run through an adult Keralite's entire 
dail/ricl ration in ?he some tin* No attempt has e ^ n ^ p ^Lj° 
estimate the baya population in a rice-growing area, even JT cjrough 
and ready count but in the season of paddy ripening it must certoinly 
run into several thousand birds per hectare, which gives an indication 
of the enormity of the economic loes they must cause to the cultivator. 
The ravages to the paddy crops are by no means confined to the mya; 
parakeets, House Sparrows and munias add to the cultivator's woes, 
and in winter swarms of buntings, especially the Klnckheaded and the 
Redheaded species, help- to intensify the devastation. 

House Sparrows ( Passer domesticus ) are Just as destructive to cereal 
crops; in the winter months their numbers get vastly augmented by mi- 
grant extralimital races from the north — parkin! from Kashmir and 
bactrionus from Turkestan — and Spanish Sparrows (P. hisi>-.niolcnBis, 
tr rnscasplcus ). Their abundance in parts of the country then is truly 
phenomenal, and their combined depredations on ripening wheat and 
other cereal crops colossal in proportion. 

The only attempt at a scientific assessment of the food of birds in 
India, chiefly from an agricultural point of view, was nade in Khar 
in the first decade of the present century by C. V. Kason and H. 
Maxwell-Iefroy. The report of the investigations, published as a 
Memoir of the Departcent of Agricultre in India (Vol. 3, Entomological 
Series, January 1912) is a valuable document. Unfortunately it has 
been out of print for many years and copies are not easily procurable. 
Stomach contents of 15 Orders and 40 Families of fosserine and Non- 
Passerine birds of an intensively cultivated agricultural tract were 
analysed, particularly for the identification of the insect food nod 
aesessrant of the birds therefrom as harmful, beneficial or of neutral 

Newsletter for Birdwntche 

statua to agriculture • The conclusions were bound to be somewhat 
one-sided since theinvestigations largely ignored the other compon- 
ents of the birds' diet, and other aspects of the food and feeding 
habits of many species such as the different nature of the food brou- 
ght to the nestlings and eaten by the oaults themselves. The accent 
throughout the investigations was naturally on agricultural economy, 
and the findings took little account of the various indirect ways in 
which birds con be beneficial or harmful to other human interests 
such as forestry, minnl husbandry and public health. 

Some aspects of the importance of birds to India's forests, and to 
vegetation in general, are not sufficiently knov.n or appreciated: for 
example their role in tha fertilization of flowers and dinparaal of 
seeds of nuDerous plr.nt species, economically beneficial or the con- 
trary. Specially adapted nectar-eaters, e.g. SunMrds and Chloropses 
do important service by cross-pollimting nany of the flowers they 
visit in quest of their food. <Xx experiments have proved, for inst- 
ance, that the flowers of the Silk Cottc.i Tree, Salcalia nnlaharica 
(which largely supplies the wood for our indigenous safety matches ) 
are chiefly pollinated by birds — the regular nectar eaters as well 
as many other non-specialized species. Baches of flowers were covered 
over with coarse-meshed wire netting which permitted access to the 
usual insect visitors but excluded the usual birds. The result was 
that whereas the uncontrolled flowers set seed in the normal my, 
those from which bird contact was withheld withered and dropped off, 
with very few exceptions. I.'ot being adapted exclusively for ornitho- 
phily, some of the blossoms were apparently fertilized by visiting 
insects. The case of the harmful mistletoe family of plant parasites, 
Loronthaceae , which cr\use serious damage to mango trees in orchards 
and teak trees in forest plantations ore largely — some sepecies 
wholly — dependant or flov.'or-birds for cross—pollination, and on 
frugivorous birds for seed dispersal. Their flowers are of what is 
known as the ! explosive ' type. The buds of Irranthus longiflorus, 
the commonest species in the Bombay area are in shape anS Gise exact 
sheath3 for a sunfird's bill. Even vtoen fully mature they remain 
tightly closed until pressure is exerted on the tumescent apex by a 
visiting bird's bill. On a gentle squeeze from the bill tip the bud 
suddenly springs open, permitting the bird to insert its bill into 
the corolla for the nectar. The essential organs of the flower are so 
placed that in the process they cone in contact with the sunbird's 
throat and forehead feathers. The pollen that adheres to then is 
carried to the next flower and gets dusted on to the style which over- 
tops the anthers. Experimentspreventing access to the mcture buds of 
i"te regular pollinators — sunbirds, white-eyes and chloropses — 
showed that the buds shrivelled up end dropped without opening, where- 
as their uncovered neighbours set fruit in the normal course. 

ilrom all this it is obvious that what is essential in order to 
determine the true status of birds in India and their role in our 
national economy — agriculture, forest and public health — is com- 
prehensive life history studies of the indificual species involved — 
their ecology, food and feeding habits, migrations and local rovenents, 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

■ ./. their population structure and dynamics. Analysis of stomach 
contents, though of great value in indicating the food trends, is by 
it3clf not enough. It must be supplemented by other analytical tech- 
niques and above all by a careful field study of the feeding habits 
to provide the conplete picture. In regard to insect food, for inst- 
ance, nany parts such as the wings of noths are discarded before the 
insect 'iVeaten""'3r fed to the young, therefore they will practically 
never be found among the stomach contents. Soft parts of insects soon 
uiiOmegra"te raking the species of prey unidentifiable except by clues 
fortuitously provided by herd remains such as elytra of beetles or 
heads of moths. 

Eirds hove long been suspected, or actually incriminated, in the 
dissemination of arthropod-borne viruses causing epidemics sometimes 
fatal to man and his livestock- The periodical incidence and spread 
of foot-and-mouth disease of cattle in England has been circurstan- 
tially attributed to migratory starlings from the Continent* Nearer 
home, the Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) of Mysore, caused by a virus 
practically indistinguishable from that of the Russian Sjring-6ummer 
Fever (RSS), is also suspected to have reached here from its \fest- 
Giberian focus through the agency if migratory birds. With the spon- 
sorship of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and other inter- 

lonal organizations, investigations are under way by the Bombay 
:. vfciral History Society on this aspect of India bird migration. 

The urgent need in India today is a properly organized centre for 
larch in economic ornithology in its widest sense, covering every 
aopect of the contacts of birds with man and his concerns; it is to 
b-? hoped that the discussions at this Conference will stress ttie 
iniortance and desirability of such research sufficiently to initiate 
overdue governmental action. 

Thi'3 was a supplementary paper presented to the International 
TJn.-f.ou fcr Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources General Assem- 
bly in November 1969 at New Delhi. — Ed^ 

Robert B. Grubh 

The secret of bird migration is still unravelled though various plau- 
sible theories have been put forward. To put it differently, we still 
are ignorant of the ' why ! portion of the migration. But we know to 
some extent the ' how ■ part of it. Here we shall precisely discuss 
the nugratcry routes, speed of migratory flights, altitude, influence 
of wind and other weather conditions on migrating birds, crd their 
general migratory behaviour- 
Maps showing migration routesbased on the recovery of bended birds 
are often misleading especially when the birds are banded and recover- 
ed at their destinations (i.e. breeding grounds and winter quarters) 
ar.d not along their course. For instance, the Bombay Natural History 

.. . . * t . c _ - - - - I - - - "- 

Society has been bending birds at Biaratpur, Rajasthan, one of the 
main wintering areas for waterbirds. These birds are recovered in 
several parts of the USSR including the Siberian region where the 
birds breed- Thus we connect J&aratpur and, say Norilsk on the nap 
by a straight line. It would appear quite natural to consider that 
the bird took a straight course along this line. In reality, however, 
the linking line indicates only the primary direction of the journey. 

The actual migratory route is far from straight, and is often sub- 
ject to the weather conditions, feeding grounds, a nd the topographi- 
cal aspects of the route. Occasionally the birds tale a curve, end 
at tijifis they even take a totally opposite direction for a while. The 
migratory route includes all these . To get at least a rough idea of 
these routes millions of birds should be banded in India, and the 
birds recovered from all along their paths, in addition to direct 
observations by ornithologists at various stations. This would mean a 
full cooperation from all the neighbouring countries including China. 
While hundreds of banded birds have been annually reported to the 
Society by the USSR, not a bit of information has been obtainable from 
China. Soneone commented once: * Perhaps they dent even spare the 
rings ' . 

The migratory routes can be differentiated into two. The first one 
called the narrow route is used by only a small percentage of birds. 
For example, some storks use a long and narrow flyway through eastern 
Europe and the Near East. The reason is their aversion to cross the 
wide sea. In the second category the birds take several flyways spread 
over a wide area. The width of these routes varies with the species 
and the geographical conditions. At certain places these multiple 
airways may converge because of a narrow territory where the migrants 
get funnelled down in dense concentrations. Aa the passage broadens 
the birds once again spread out themselves. 

Many species prefer to follow low contour routes, rivers and valleys 
to enjoy easier flying conditions. Very often the birds have been 
noted to deviate from the straight course just for the pleasure of a 
flight through the valleys, which are a great attraction for them. 
Just as the rivers and valleys attract the migratory birds, certain 
areas strongly repel them. land birds, especially Fasserines, hesita- 
te to cross wide waterways. In certain cases when they reach the 
shore after a journey across the land, and still have, to croaB a wide 
stretch of sea to reach the destination, they feel reluctant to pro- 
ceed further and change their course temporarily to fly along the 
shore, just to delay the inevitable. 

Migrants are also lured by islanda. According to tiie Dutch observers 
terrestrial birds, after crossing the sea between the Netherlands and 
the Frisian Islands, fly east-west, but change the direction to fly 
the entire length of these islands. The birds seem reluctant to leave 
the islands when again they have to tur~, west over the water. Whereas 
tfte sea repels land migrants, land seems to repel sea birds. Some 
species change their course innumerable times to avoid the land although 
they can save considerable time and energy by dying over email strips 
of land. 

.'..,_ r ~ ' ' - ' 

These observations do not apply always for different species have dif- 
ferent patterns of behaviour which are in turn modified by physical 
surroundings, weather, and psychological factors of flocks or indivi- 
duals. Many birds are not influenced ty the territory over which they 
have to travel. The lesser Blackbacked Gulls from the B»ltic, for 
example, cross the whole continent of Europe to Ifceir wintering 
grounds at Mediterranean, some even proceeding further to East Africa 
crossing unfavourable habitats including deserts. Certain species, 
when they have to cross high mountain rargeo, fly over the highest 
peaks stoically, instead of using the comparatively easier passes. 
Multitudes of small and big birds including ducks and geese cross 
over the Himalayas from central Asia, to winter in various parte of 

India. ... 

The migratory flight is faster than "the normal flight of a bird, 
still holdinga .higher potential speed. The speed of the birds cannot 
be accurately measured because of the effect of the wind. However, 
as a result of several experiments under average ccr.ditiors we now 
know that the hawks travel at a speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour, 
waders between 4C and $0 miles, while many ducks and geese at 50 to 
60. At such speeds the birds can be assumed to fly long distances in 
a relatively short time. Of course they do cover several miles each 
day or night (certain birds make migratory flights during night 

while others fly during the day, irrespective of tteir normal In bits J. 

They fly about ten hours at a stretch and then come down to rest and 
feed. However, very often the birds rest and feed too long. This ten- 
dency, comttned with other factors discussed earlier make the Jour- 
ney much longer. 

( To be continued ) 

Vipin Parikh 

Subsequent to our visit on 25th January (Newsletter, March 1970 ) we 
had a second and delightful outing to Knraala on Sunday, the 18th 
lfarch. The day had mixed surprises in that we did not see some of 
the birds sighted in January, while on the other hand there were 
fresh and joyful additions to our list. 

The first sighted was the Whitebrensted Kingfisher IBalcyon smvr- 
nensis ) perched silently on a telegraph wire and we wondered what 
it could be doing in a forest. However, we were at rest when we read 
in-Salim Ali that it is ' also in light forest at considerable dis- 
tance from water '. The next v/e saw were the Goldfronted Chloropses 
( Chloropsia aurifrons ), but they were not as frequent and not also 
in large numbers as we saw them on previous visit. Perhaps, may be 
because the Silk Cotton trees that were flowering last tiro had shed 
their flame boyant flowers and were bare. Nor were we fortunate to 
come across the Blacknaped Blue Flycatcher (Monarch a azurea) so fre- 
quently seen earlier. A new find was the Common Wood Shrike (Te^ro- 
dornis pondicerianus ) with its short tail and squat build, the white 

vdletter for Blvdwatufeera 


supercilium over the eye being prominent ^nd diagnostic. % saw it 
twice but on both occasions, singly. 

Eut the most pleasant of our surprises came at the Rest House, fere 
in a relaxed mood, we could watch from the verandah our avian friends 
with brilliant colours at' leisure, without straining our necte or 
our eyes. It was a day of the flycatchers and the first to be Been 
was the Verditer Flycatcher ( Muscicapa thalassina ) followed by the 
KLueheaded Rock Thrush ( K"r.ticola c inc lor hyr.chus ? with its chestnut 
breast and conspicuous white wing patches. Oft and on the Verditer 
would come on a nearby tree laden with berries, make its typical fly- 
catcher sallies and return to a tree not far awny. Somehow whenever 
it returned it was always followed ty the thrush. 'Both also left the 
tree one after the other. However, a brownish bird on the same tree, 
with horizontal markings on its whitish breast puzzled us about its 
identity, later on we could confirm it oc the fennle of the Bluehead- 
ed Rock Thrush from the Hill Birds. Its whitish rings round the eyes 
were also quite typical. Again on the same tre^, a third pleasant 
surprise was offered to us by a blue and white flycatcher, with its 
blue unjoined necklace on pure white breast, and a white streak pro- 
minent above the eye. Here again, from the Kill Birds, we could iden- 
tify it as the White browed Blue Tlycatcher ( Muscicapa superciliaris ). 
All the three flycatchers were so frequent for hours together that 
later on we even did not rush out with our bines. The only regret 
was not to have heard the call noteB of even one of them. 

Cfa the adjoining flowering tree the Purple Sunbird (male and fe- 
male) hovered restlessly on the blossoms. It was later followed by a 
brilliant sunbird almost of the size of a thumb. We were wondering 
if it was the Purplerumped, but its bright red rump and back revealed 
it to be the Small Sunbird (ifectarinia minima ). 

Earlier in the morning a pair of spotted doves delimited us with 
their cooing and allowed us a leisurely watch. Our friends Mr Shah 
and Vijay Hiutt had gathered that it would be possible to see the 
Green Pigeon and the Emerald Dove. Throughout the day we kept our 
eyes and ears sharp with expectation and ultimately left with a lit- 
tle disappointment. But the day on the whole, brimmed with exuberance 
of new finds and brilliant colours 



A -?^P e - nt 5££-* e ( Spilkrcls chcela ) £ap_turing_its ^rev^ 

About five o'clock of a late November evening, our party found its 
way to the little fairyland known as the Nachne Water Works, a couple 
of miles beyond the eastern outskirts of Ratnagiri. Two small but per- 
ennial springs of water trickle fran either side, at the head of a 
long narrow gorge, forming a shallow pool at their tiny ! sangam '. 
The whole gorge is thickly roofed by the trees growing on its steep 
hankB. A haunt of peace, and birds. It was here, twenty-five years 
ago, that I found a Blacknaped Flycatcher's nest which, since it was 
still in good condition although its purpose was finished, I took and 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

presented to the Prince of Wales Museum. 

As we scrambled, as quietly as possible, down into the gorge, my 
daughter whispered, ' Dada, what's that big bird over there ? ! . I 
looked in the direction she indicated, and there, on the tank of the 
Sangam Pool, about fifty paces from us, sat a dark heavy bird whose 
size so astonished me that it was a few seconds before I could recog- 
nize it. ' It's a Crested Serpent Eagle ', I whispered back. 

The bird was intently watching the pool, quite oblivious of our 
presence. Suddenly it lurched clumsily forward and launched itself 
on to the surface of the pool, where it lay with spread wings like 
an enormous moth afloat. Thus it lay for two or three seconds, after 
which it rose with a convulsive struggle. As it flapped heavily away 
through the thin undergrowth, wo saw that it held a waternake in its 

This was the first time I had actually seen a Serpent Eagle capture 
its prey. And if anyone else had told me that these birds sometimes 
catch it in the water, like an osprey, I should have dismissed it as 
a fisherman's yarn. However, I saw it happen — and I have three wit- 
nesses J 

Thomas Gay 

Dev Kunj, Prabhat Foad, Poona 4 

The Kin g Vu lture^ ( Torgus calvus ) : A^yanishin^^soecies i n^ffl har 

I want to draw the attention of the BLrd-lovers and Ornithologist 
in the country to the fact that this species is perhaps becoming 
scarce nowadays and I may venture to remarks that this vulture ie 
now rare at least in this part of the country. For the last many 
years I am keeping a constant watch over this bird and I have seen it 
only «m one or two occasions arfl that also a single bird at a time. 
Not a single bird has been seen by me in my recent wanderings througfa 
Tirhut and Patna Divisions of Bihar. I cannot say anything about S. 
Bihar, i.e. Chota fegpur. Birdwatchers from that area can report its 
position thence. Par the rest of the country it Is for the birdwatchers 
to confirm or deny my apprehensions.' 

I hope that other birdwatchers will report their observations regard- 
ing this species in the Newsletter . 

Kameshwar Pd. Singh 
lecturer, A.N.S. College 
P.O. Barn, Diet. Patna, Bihar 

The Editor was happy to find two pairs of King Vultures in the 
Madumalal Sanctuary of Tamil I&idu recently. 

E_2rly_rising_of_the In dian House Crow ( Corvus 3plendens ) 

'to 3 April 1968 around 03.GO hours as I suddenly woke up from the 

bed I found the sky clear of clouds. It was at that time I witnessed 

a peculiar tehaviour of the House Crow. There was a taaed chorus of 

loud calls in quick succession from the nearby roosting trees. The 



w 8 1 t t , . .r • • i ±j . . r 1 i i t ^ - j 

intensity of the call increased gradually showing that more and more 
crows were joining the cacophony- The chorus continued till 04-3^ 
when I saw a crow leaving its roost from a coconut ( Cocos nucifera ) 
palm. It was soon followed by other crows in groups of twos or more 
from different roosting sites of the locality. By about 04*50 hours 
all the crows of the area appeared to have left their roost well 
before dawn. The sun rose that day at 05*30 hours. The next day I 
purposely came out on the terrace of my house around 02. r O hours and 
was surprised to hear the cacophony already in progress. A -1 - that 
time the intensity of the calls was low. This was presumably because 
cnly a limited number of birds were then uttering the call. The in- 
tensity of the call gradually increased and by f-3*5^ this attained 
the highest pitch. Prom about 0',,^- the crows started l*aving the 
most. It appeared, therefore, that the call started with one bird 
in the roost, which was ardently caught up by the neighbouring birds 
so as to increase the pitch of the call as time rolled on. This early 
rising and call of the House Crow was observed till 6 April 1968. 
Prom 7 April 1968 to 11 April 1968 their first call was not heard 
before C4.40 hours of the day. 

5. C. Koul ( J. Bombay nat. Hist- Soc. 47: 386, 195©) and P. I. R. 
Uaclaren (ibid. 48: 372, 1951) reported the first call of the day by 
the House Crow about sixty minutes before sunrise, it is not clear, 
therefore, whether this midnight rising of the crows was the result 
of any disturbance in their gathering as reported by fetes and Iowther 
( Breeding Birds of Kashmir, 1962. Oxford Univ. Press). However, as 
their call was heard in the moonlight night only for a few days, it 
may be presumed that the crows misjudged the moonlit ni^rt as the 
advent of dawn and gave out morning call until they realized their 

Sudhindranath Sen Gupta 

Dept- of Zoology 

University of Calcutta, Calcutta 

Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Ifewsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu lane, Andheri 

Bombay 58-AS 



VOL. 10-NO. 5 - 1970 MAY 


Volume 10, Number 5 May 1970 


Tha Cuucal or Crow-Ifceasant, Centropus sinensis (Stephen), by 

S,. Vr Nilatamta 1 

A Birdwatcher In Pakistan, by T. J. Roberts 3 

Ktgratlon of Birds, part 2, by Robert B. Grubh 6 

Birds of the Manas river, by So/fer Putehally 8 

Be view 9 

The V t Jiu^ple* The Story of the World Wildlife Fund 

Exjt .i.iop.n tc Pakistan. (S. K. Reeves) 
Notes arid Cocre»-t' : ' '^ 

CorreoronJenri 12 

1 Early Rising of the Indian Hcvse <Vow ', ifrom /.nin M. Tyabji 
An excursion to Roorkee, from Rar^i srdra G* 
! Hrdwatching at Sit at and Ibroda ' , from T. J. Roberts 
Pl r . kh eaded Duck In BHaratp'jr, from K. 3. 3, Krishna Raju 

THE CCCCAL CR C ROT -PHEASANT, tantrrpua sterols (Stephen) 

S, . . v ilnkanta 

l^.e d?e? ~nd resonant cooop f c oop, coop, coop sound, which was heard 
r.< rnlng and evening for the post few days had announced 1ke arrival 
cf the Couccl in our vicinity* 

Evo .out sfH-tng; a tatTd it is possible to roughly estimate its 

siM \r. ti-.o rouriL. It uakes<. It la a property of sound that low notes 
reqii^-e a lot of power to produce. It will be noticed that low notes 
: ■ raoro braath to whiatle and more energy is required to pound 

tho piano Ir=eys on the extreme lsf~ end, which produce the luwer 
rutc3 of the sca~», than to strike those on the right end. Small and 
vfiok birds ini animals can mako only higher pitched sounds. 

The Ooucel ip certainly a large bird but was not easily seen for a 
rew dayir Most birds whicii come and go once a ytjr are rather shy 
f.r a short tlBB wher they first arrive. In tfca course of a few weeks 
tlrty Secome increasingly bolder and once .cmo confident 1foat 

w° mean them no har*n, come closer and close:? in search of food. 

The conca"! ^ r. Krd of stealthy habits and skulks in hedges and 
l-r-then. As mentioned before, it is a large bird and is of the size 
c' tbs Jungle crow. In shape it resembles the mole )-^el an! belongs 
to the i;ame ft*mlly* It is glossy black all over and haa br^ht chert- 
nut wln?3, which are rather small (8 ii.chcs ) for a bird cf auch si^e. 
Tie tail, however, which la long, broad and graduated is 10 inches 
end therefore longer than that of a Jungle crow. like the kool, the 
ccucal has bright red e^s which to my f>.ncirv.l imfginat.'.on appear 
to be cru* I. The eyes are provided with brlst^ss lire eyelashes. 

- .:■ . - . I i?at oj: e i b 

The bill of the coucal is large, deep and black, the culmen being 
curved. In proportion it is not as large aa the crow's- The back of 
the crow's neck shows iridescent patches of purple and blue and that 
of the coucal, green and blue. 

The feet of the coucal are black and the toes axe zygodaetyl. This 
beans that it has four tees end wears the first toe backwards besides 
the hind toe or hallux. The claw of the hallux is absolutely straight 
ftnllte the claws of the other toes which are curved. In thiB respect 
it differs from the other members of the family of cuckoos. 

Although the coucal makes nuch a loud booming noise it is not al- 
ways very easy to locate it hy sound. This brings us to another pro- 
perty of soondj which is that unlike high pitched sounds which tra- 
vel more or less in straight lines, low pitched sound can go around 
curves and can stand a lot of reflection without being diminished 
much in volume. It is said that a lion's roar appears to come from 
all directions. 

In addition to the coop, crop sound the coucal also makes some 
bubbling hoots a ni harsh raucous eounls. I have heard the coop, coop 
being uttered and ansv>ered by two coucals some distance from each 
other. like the koel the coucal will answer a human voice which imi- 
tates its call although the imitation may be a very bad one and may 
have hardly any resemblance to the real thing. The coucal probably 
makes all these Bound to establish the presence or absence of other 
claimants to its chosen territory. Having established itself, it 
familiarises itself with every part of its territory. 

Coucals are found all over India and must be quite common. I have 
never heard of or come across n large congregation of coucals. They 
live in bush jungles, river aal canal banks, in tall grassland dot- 
ted with trees and in gardens. 

The zygodactyl feet of the coucal lite the feet of parrots are de- 
signed to enable the bird to climb. Coucals are expert climbers and 
wallc up a tree with apparently no effort. The coucal that has arriv- 
ed in our neighbourhood, has established paths and routes through 
the trees and can be seen climVing particular branches in exactly 
the same way every time. 

The rounded wings are quite small and inadequate to enable the bird 
to maintain sustained flight. Therefore, the bird climbs up to a 
poir.t of vantage and glides down to anottier point. We cannot expect 
to look up into the blue sky and eee coucals flying at great speed 
like green parakoet3, nor can ve expect it to migrate from country 
to country like snme other members of the Cuckoo family. 

die would expect such an awkward, clumsy bird to climb trees and 
eat fruit but that is not so. The coucal is almost exclusively non- 
vegetarian and finds its food on the ground by walking along hedges 
and thickets. This habit has misled people into thinking of it as 
some kind of a pheasant a ni with its long tail and black colour has 
earned itself the well known name of Crow-Rieasant. 

Some members of my household who get sudden bursts of enthusiasm 
for gardening have grown some green coriander near tte backdoor 
steps. Yesterday (11 •iv-l97 r >) our coucal was in the middle of this I 
green plot, digging its bill repeatedly into the coriander and tramp- 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

ling down a sizeable patch. For a moment I thought that the bird had 
turned vegetarian but my doubts were dispelled by its holding aloft 
a large slug which was beaten into an oozy mess art swallowed with 
apparent relish. 

This morning I was watching the coucal turning over dead leaves* 
Suddenly it found sone thing which was making frantic efforts to es- 
cape. After the display of some agile footwork which was aided by a 
spread tail, the coucal secured a large, brown locust. Small snakes, 
lizards, large insects, frogs, slugs and snails are all food to the 
coucal which also eats the eggs of other birds oni kills baby birde 
that cannot fly. Some years back the tailor birds here were breeding 
successfully at an alarming rate end even as I wondered what would 
happen, the timely arrival of n coucal solved the problem of the po- 
pulation explosion. 

Tho eating habits of the coucal do not allow large numbers to gather 

together. Perforce, each bird or pair must have their own separate 
hunting ground or Koture ! e balance between predator and prey would be 

Unlike the koel, the coucal does not lay its eggs in a crow's nest. 
This is a pity because we would like to see the crow population under 
control. Being a non-paraaitic cuckoo, it builds its own nest of a 
globular shape, cede of grass end twigs, with a side entrance. The 
tail of a nesting coucal often stioks out of the entrance hole. 

Ihe nesting season is during the rainy months when food is plenti- 
ful. Three to four chalky, whit© eggs about the size of BBdium-flized 
domestic hen's eggs are laid. The female coucal is slightly larger 
than her mate. The coucal chicks ore hatched naked and develop normal 
feathers without going through a downy phase. 

While sending these notes to the editor, we are hoping that the 
coucal will soon acquire a mate. It will be quite entertaining to 
watch the courtship display of the male which evidently consists of 
wing spreading and tail raising. Even now the coucal struts about likB 
a peacock on my neighbour's roof— top. The coucal may of course wander 
away from this safe locality and fall a prey to the catapults a rrl air- 
guns of the local village boys. The bird is considered worth eating 
and quite unjustifiably recommended for the cure of chest troubles. 

T. J. Roberts 

In a previous issue of the Newsletter (Vol. ^ r >(4)t^-4, April 1970) 
the writer recounted some of the hi^ilights of a recent visit to dif- 
ferent parts of the evergreen rain forest of East Pakistan. This visit 
was made from the end of January to early February, perhaps at a sea- 
son when bird life is at its lower ebb in such forest due to the 
brief influence of winter and the comparative paucity of foiest trees 
in the fruiting or flowering stage which attract feeding birds. 
Despite the season, we were lucky on two occasions to witness a 

2 J - 

- - ' . U i . - 

hatch of winged termites which always provides a feast for a multitu- 
de of birds. I am told by my entomologist friends that there are 
scores of distinct specieB of termite even on this sub-continent and 
that new forms have only recently- been described. These white ants, 
however, appeared very similar to the common form which occurs in the 
dry regions of West Pakistan, in -Stat they emerged fron their under- , 
ground galleries Just at dusk having presumably all hatched about the 
same tin*. Their two pairs of long wings enable them to ascend verti- 
cally bit their flight ia lebmred and they are easy targets for birds. 
Moreover because cf their compaxa-tively Funcu'Lant bodies they are 
eagerly sought after. Cn'the firs* oooaoion tea termites emerged from 
a patch of secondary scrub on r >o oSge of a j. r.e^pple plantation, in 
a region where the original fore fit: had long since been removed. Con- 
sequently -there was not e very ^reat variety of birds in the area 
which could be attracted to tho feast but we were fascinated to watch 
the aerial sallies of even the furtive Redfronted labblers ( Stachyris 
rufif rons ) which cther.v. : : _.. r the ground and in 

dense undergrowth. It was alflo a aelight to watch the swift and grace- 
ful swoops of about a score of FefiwhiclareG Hilbuls ( Pycnonotua joco- 
susj. A few Redvented BuToula ( RrenonotttP cafer ) which Joined the 
scene did not appear nearly an gleeful W adept at catching these 
insects in flight. 

^i the second occasion we w?rc in cone true forest up in Sylhet. 
Dusk was falling and we were haltering along a rather narrow path 
between overhanging bamboos, cnxiou: to regain the clearing and road- 
aide before darkness fell. Suddenly our attention was drawn to the 
noisy chatter of Hair-crested TJron^os (ri crurus hottentottus ) and 
leas than fifteen yards away we could see a column of termites whir- 
ring upwards like a host of small helicopters. There appeared to be 
not lees than six Hair-crested Erongoe taking turns to di-rc into the 
melee from different directions, return: -•• to a nearby branch to 
devour their succulent captvre. During our previous two hours walk 
in the forest we had failed to observe any of this species. There were 
also several Ironzed Drongos (£l£rvruo aeneus ) and one Grey Erongo 
( Dicrurus leucophaeu3 )■ B7en a Z ted Thrbet ( ffegalaina lineata ) 

and two BlacWioaded Orioles' (Oric IU^ ::ant a ornuj ) came to join the 
feast and it was amusing to see flw clunisy~hopoing rushes of the Bir- 
bet as it tried to capture* an irmect without ascending above the trees. 
There were several Whitethroated Bulbula (gr iniger flaveolus ) which 
also seemed comparatively clumpy in thejr ae*vi-l tallies whereas a 
smaller Elacldieaded Bulbul ( .Pyc.onot ua at riceps ) seomed more graceful, 
ty this time a number of Greyha-.dod Wyms ( Stmnus nalabaricus ) had 
alao Joined the throng. As darkness was falling we regretfully left 
the busy scene and aa we reached the edge of the forest and obtained 
a clearer view of the open sky we could see that those termites which 
had escaped the initial onslaught were new providing a feast for a 
doasn or more Small Grey Cuckoo -fchrites ( Corarjna molaachistoe ) whose 
effortless planing flight Showed that this was one of their nornal 
ways of obtaining food. As though to finish the exhibition of bird 
flight display, we were also raw: rd ■■ 3 -vita a fine view of a Blacknaped 

iweletter for ilrdwat-here 


Oriole ( Qriolus chinensls ) which is comparatively uncommon in Sylhet 
compared with the ubiquitous Blackheaded Oriole ( Oriolue xanthornus) 
and also a very brief but unmistakable glimpse of a Fairy Bluebird 
( irena puella ) :belatedlv attracted to the scene. Fairy Bluebirds are 
noisy birds and usually easy to detect because of their fondness for 
perching at the very top of trees but this was our only glimpse of 
this species during ten days. 

The sunbirds afford a special attraction to a visitor from the dry 
northwest, where t«t one species,- Nedtarinia asie.ticrw occurs through- 
out. In freshly moulted spring plumage, and good sunlight, even the 
Purple Sunbird ( Nectsrinia asiatjca ) can be a scintillating jewel. 
&rt it is nothing compared with -the dazzling beauty of the two fairly 
common sunbirds in the forests of Eact Iakia'tan whicji are Yellowback- 
ed Sunbird (Aethopygq siprrnja ) and Van Hasselt's Sunbird ( flsctarln- 
ia ejperata). This latter species has a short squnre tail lite the 
Purple Sunbird and the male can appear all black in certain lights. 
The colouring of sunbirds 1 plumage is 30 dependent on refraction of 
light that it is often difficult to discern any shade tut black espe- 
cially if compelled to look upwards into bright sunlight. But patience 
Is ttoually rewarded, for these restless, active little birds are not 
particularly shy of man and in their concern with threatening rivals 
of the same species or when trying to capture every tiny insect dis- 
turbed they generally display themselves from several different angles. 
Van Hasselt's Sunbird is capped with brilliant green and the feathars 
on the side of the nape look like tiny golden scales in certain lights. 
Ttodemeath its scimmitar curved black beak and beady eye, its tooat 
and upper breast glisten with purple and rosy cyclamen lights like an 
amethyst. The lower breast and belly merges into a rich burnlBhed 
copper-red which is nicely offset by the black wings. 

Perhaps the biggest thrill during this visit was a sighting in com- 
paratively unromantic surroundings. In a visit to the Chittagong Hill 
Tracts our road eventually terminated at the site of a dam and hydro- 
electric works at Kaptai. Standing on the concrete roadway which 
sweeps down to the shore of the artificial lake, my eye caught a swift- 
ly flying bird as it swooped down to the water to capture a dragonfly. 
There wereplenty of Ashy Swallow Shrikes (Artamus fuscus ) in tke vici- 
nity and as this ftird flew up from the lake the rapid beats of its 
narrow dark wings seemed to confirm the identification. But then as 
it flew up my eye saw that it was passing its capture to its beak 
from its feet in a gesture at. once reminiscent of a feeding raptor. 
With mounting excitement I realized that I was looking at a tiny Fal- 
conet. TherS waa a pair, and they were Redbreasted Falconets ( Mloro- 
hierax caerulescens ). both had their favourite perch at the top of a 
tall tree and returned thence after occasional dragonfly hunting sor- 
ties so that there was ample opportunity to study them. The female 
was noticeably larger but both seemed so beautifully proportioned 
that they looked like minature Hobbles with their dark slatey blue 
crowns, back and wings and broad loral streak below the eye. Their 
legs were blackish brown and the heavily feathered tibia was a brigdvt 
. . rufous--red. Having seen s_ome years ago, captive falconets of this 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


species in the Regent's Park Zoo (they had come from Malaya) my recol- 
lections were of rather ill-proportioned, and pathetic bedraggled 
little birds. The wild falconets at Raptai seemed every inch the 
fierce hunting falcon with perfect proportions and certainly empha- 
sized how difficult it is to evoke the wild beauty of many creatures 
once they are confined and restrained within the bars of a zoo. 


Robert B. Grubh 

( Continued from ^ 10, Vol. 1l(4), April 197^ ) 

Jean Dorst (1962, Migration of Birds ) gives the following interest- 
ing information: • In some instances migrants must cover long distan- 
ces without a break. land birds flying from Scandinavia to Great Bri- 
tain fly 220 to 4C0 miles non-etopl North American migrants fly 500 
to 6C0 miles when they cross the Gulf of Mexico on their long trip 
south, yet this flight is ia de by small passerines, even humming 
birds, none of which can pause for rest on the soaJ Migrants on their 
way to or from Hew Zealand travel 625 to 940 miles non-stop, but the 
record seems to be held by the American Golden Plover, which apparent- 
ly flies 2065 miles from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands without stop- 

1 Migrants travelling overland seem to tarry along the way and to 
progress in stages, with rest stops in between which may last a day 
or more. An average ! days ' flight (often by night ) is from ninety 
to 155 miles, which represent only six to eight hours in the air. 
Some migrants average only 65 miles a day. The European roller, for 
example, leaves its breeding territory in August, or September at the 
latest; most of the birds arrive in Kenya by the end of October or 
early in November, but do not reach Griqualand, South Africa until 
early December. The bird seems to leave the latter region about the 
first of February, and large flocks appear in Kenya in March, but it 
is late April, or early May, before they arrive in central Europe, 
la the basis of arrival dates, Stresemann figured that the 2120 miles 
separating Cairo from fenya were covered in 55 dsys et an average of 
39 miles a day; the 224^ miles from Kenya to Griqualand required 50 
days, an average of 45 miles a day. During spring migration the first 
stage trip takes 35 days, an average of 64 mil* a a day, and the final 
stage only 30 days, or 71 miles a day. It is evident the.-; those are 
approximate figures based o" the arrival dates of a whole flock rather 
than on observation of epeoific birds. Furthermore, they assure that 
birds fly in a straight line, whereas they actually do nothing of the 
kind. Detours lengthen the route, so the distance flown daily is pro- 
bably greater than these figxnres indicate. ' 

In earlier days migrants were thought to travel at enormous heights. 
It was argued that low pressure at great altitudes helps the bird it 
its flight and that from such heights they c ould see much farther. How- 
ever, thanks to the modern instruments and diligent observers it has 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

been found that majority of the birds prefer to fly not above 6000 ft. 
Many small birds fly under 200 feet while some others just above the 
waves. But there are birds which travel at much higher altitudes even 
when there ie no mountain barriers or plateaux. A mallard, for inst- 

Z C lL e ° h Lf ! d ?J" aircraft at the height of four miles. Apparent- 
ly the birds adapt themselves to the local conditions and choose the 
optinun elevation according to the wind direction. Also the nature of 
the terrain influences the choice of altitudes. With many exceptions, 

If 1 ? i T ^ fly fci « her above ** sea than over *e land while the 
sea birds behave in the opposite way. 

Although the primary direction of migration is not affected, the 
local migration routes are to sone extent influenced by the wind. 
However, it depends upon the species, nature of the country, and the 
velocity of -fee wind. Several species have been noted to fly against 
the wind rather than follow it which would enable a faster flight. 
This behaviour has been attributed to the thermal conditions: migrants 
prefer the warmth carried ty the wind, to the movement of the air. 

The wind has a limited Influence especially when the geograohical 
features are well defined. For example, when an island is on the route 
the birds go stalgit to it unmindful of the adverse winds. However, 
if the wind is very powerful the birds tend to fly against it, ard if 
too intense, stop the journey temporarily. 

Many birds use the rising air currents for migratory flights. The 
terrestrial gliding birds are often noted to wait till late in the 
morning for the thermal currents to rise upwards. They they soar in 
spirals and drift away slowly in a straight line without beating tteir 

Migrants exploit the wind to the full so as to cover the maximum 
distance using the minimum energy. Bat storms have catastrophic effects 
on them. While many are carried far out of their normal routes, mil- 
lions perish unable to withstand the gale. 

Bssides wind, the other weather conditions such as sun ani rain, 
heat and cold, snowfalls and variations in atmospheric pressure influ- 
ence the migrants. Experiments have been dona in various parts of the 
globe to prove this. Since the birds repond to meteorological condi- 
tions, the behaviour of migrants at least in some cases can foretell 
a change in the weather in northern countries. In fall and winter, 
certain northern birds like geese and swans herald the cold, when a 
cold wave strikes Europe, even before instruments could record it, 
they move farther south. In spring migrants may indicate the approach 
or fine weather. Hit a large section of the birds arrive and depart 
independent of the weather conditions. These birds sometime get 
killed in large numbers due to adverse weather like snow storms. But 
the set patterns of their behaviour do not change. 

(To be continued) 

lest - . ...... 


Zafar Futehally 

The Manas river separates India from Ifcutan and there could be no more 
beautiful boundary line than its shimmering icy-clear water, calm as 
a lake for long stretches, and then cascading over shingle and white 
boulders. The banks are protected ly the tallest trees and the moun- 
tains in the background are so richly forested that not a patch of 
bare land is visible anywhere. 

This is the place where I had my first view of the Eastern Merganser 
( Mergus nergarser orientalis ) in late February this year. A group of 
half a dozen were swiroing through the water, half submerged in cor- 
morant fashion, and when they landed en the bank their long slender 
red bills, most unducklike, and hooked at the tip, ard their red legs 
revealed their identity. While the general colours of the females are 
brown, white and grey, the malea stand out ty their glossy greenish 
black head, black prirario3 and white body and wings. Every few minu- 
tes they went on a fishing expedition, swimming swiftly across the 
rippling waters. They hunt in cooperation driving fish in the placid 
areas near the banks where the quarry is mare easily seized. Salira 
Ali says that little Egrets take advantage of this situation and 
place themselves in the ehallov water near the hanks ready to pounce 
on the fish driven ahead by the pursuing Mergansers. Unfortunately 
there were no egrets around when we were there to provide us with this 
entertainment • 

I got into a boat in an effort to get near the birds for photography, 
but they were somewhat wary and would not allow a close approach. They 
were less apprehensive of a local man collecting drift-wood very close 
to them, tut • civilized ! visitors could not be trusted. 

Another interesting species of which we saw quite a lot during our 
visit was the Greyheaded Fishing Eagle ( ichthyophaga ichthyaetus ). A 
pair was usually seen sitting by their nest on a tall Salnalia tree 
(as the books say they should), or circling lazily over the river. 
©lis is a predominantly fish-eating bird and the fish is captured from 
near the surface of water in its talons. During the breeding season 
the birds feed their young also on snail mammals and birds, and evi- 
dence of Junglefowl and Squirrels have been found from their nests. 

The Rshing Eagle is widely distributed through India right down to 
Kerala. In fact there is a separate race of thrs species in Ceylon 
(plumbeiceps ). The Tamil name of the bird is Vidai ali T an a the comon 
English nana, the Tank Eagle. According to G. M. Henry when masses of 
fish gasp in the drying tanks in Ceylon the eagle gets an easy meal. 
In consonance with the environment around ftfanas, all the birds ap- 
peared to be exquisitely beautiful and there werr; too many even to be 
named. Hearer Gauhati when we reached the plains and less spsctacular 
scenery, less elegant creatures came into view. There were large num- 
bers of lesser Adjutant Storks ( ieptoptilos .javr.riicus ) looking for 
frogs, fish and reptiles in the wet areas around the fields. Sometimes 

n m ir e I e t t e r for Birdwatebe 

r d 

their he fl d3 end nocks completely disappeared from view as they bent 
down to reacn their food, Th< ; y are efficient c avengers ear- render 
great service by feeding on garbage and carcasses on the outskirts 
">f villages and towns. 


SSL ^an 4 .shlng Jungle: The Story of the WorM Wildlife Fund Expedi- 
tlCLa . rtifcUrtan, by Gvy Mountfort. 205 pages; 90 black-and-white 
platen? 26 colour p?atos; 6 line illustrations; 2 end nape; 4 appen- 
dices; Selected Bibliography and Index. Colli.-S, London 1969. Price 

Ja aet- 

IiD« the author's trilogy, Portrai t of a Wll derne ea ; Portrait 
9T| and Portrait J: pgery which deal, respectively, with 

hie ewditions to the Coto Scraaa in; the Ihnube EBsin; and 
.ordan: this is a well-^rodttced, l- ■ illustrated and altogether 

rest attractive took, written in 3uy Mountfort's easy, pleasing style 
about his two expeditions to Pakistan in 1965 and 1967. 

An excellent foreword is provided by . ;. The Prince of ihe 
uatherlands rfio is President of tte V/orld '.Vildllfe Pund. 

Meat of the photographs, both clack-and— feite and coloured, are 
fc7 that celebratad wildlife photographer Erie Hosking, who has colla- 
borate with the author en all his expeditions and whose photographs 
so greatly to the attraction of hie boote. As a whole, they are 
Silent, considering the groat difficulties under which they were 
often taken. 

E*i line iUustrationa by Penelope Gillespie make a pleasing con- 
tribution to the charm of tha book. 

Eh two end naps — cf of iteot Pakistan and the other of East 
Lstan -- are most useful, though could perhaps be a little more 
Lied. Bach is, in effect, two maps, one indicating Elevation and 
G-. er the Distribution cf Climatic Forest Types. Ebth give, in 
eaamon, the usual geographical features, location of towns, national 
t-u 9, etc., together with the re coiuicnded National Parks and 

' '^d'-iife Rpser"es. 

W B and C respectively list the 99 SDecies of Mammals; 
4^ species of Pontiles and /jnplibiars; and the 423 species of BLrds 
observed furirg the ex? 3. 

Appendix D is a note by Eric Hosklng on thephotogranfaic aspect of 
the work of the expeditions* 

^-iog.-ap] extensive, useful and makes lnterest- 

refadmc, hut which could, without a coed dent of self-restraint, 
prove very expensive reading. 

The Index, a very in^ortanS feature of a book such as this, ap- 
pears to be comprehensive and accurate.. 

Bw spendid line illustration of a tiger embossed in gold on the 
front cover adds an attractive touch. 

So.Te twenty-five \?ar3 ago Pakistan was teeming with wildlife and 

Newuletter for Birdwatchers 


was in fact a naturalist's paradise, but since then both the animals 
and their habitats have suffered severe diminution- Poresto have been 
cut down, siva ops drained, roads, railways, airports and new towns 
have teen built. Hunting, trapping and poisoning of wild animals have 
increased alarmingly. 

The extent of the losses was unknown and there appeared to be no 
ready and reliable way of finding out. 

-o World Wildlife Fund and the International thion for the Con- 
■ I tion of Naturo were anxious to gain infermtion and, in conse- 
quence, the former organisation sponsored the two exceditieis which 
v,ire made by Guy Mountfort and his party in 1966 and 1967 to estab- 
lish the facts. 

The credit for the idea that the author and his team should visit 
Pakistan, prompted no doubt by the splendid work of a similar nature 
performs d bj the author and his collaborators in Jordan in 1963 and 
1965, has to be given to Nase^-ud-Ieen-Khan and Christopher Savage, 
who ia a member of ouv readership am~ a contributor to the Newsletter * 

The then President, Ayub Khan, tcok a personal interest in the 
espeditions ard gave them his rer.'sonal support and encouragement and 
took active steps to implement the recoi^endations which were made. 

The book analyses the consequences of mn's influence on nature 
throughout the varied habitats of Pakistan. It is the first authori- 
tative account of the status of Pakistan's wildlife and most effect- 
ively illustrates the kind of work in which the World Wildlife Tund 

Mdatan has some of the world's greatest mountains, rivers, des- 
erts and forests and tb-; toams In their travels of some 15,C0C miles 
by 7s&& Rover, air (including helicopter), rail, launch, dug-out canoe 
and e? rphant encountered these from the snow-<:lad Himalayas and the 
arid Sind Desert to the Sunderbans and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. 

The expeditions found that the losses of some anitral species 
primary vegetation were worse than was feared and some animals were 
extinct and otters on the verge of being so. The Blaekbuck and Chin- 
k-\ra were particularly tcdly hit. However, as the result of the re- 
commendations m de and the urgency with which they are being imple- 
mented by the governments of both WeBt and East Pakistan, there are 
good prospects that cany threatened species will now survive. 

3ha work of tre expeditions had far-reaching results: 2 tfetional 
Parte and 8 Wildlife Reserve have been established, legislation has 
teen introduced xo protect endengered species and programmes of con- 
servation and education have been launched. The recommendations also 
included the formation of a gcvernoEnt committee to deal with wild- 
life problems; changes in the administrative structure affecting con- 
servation; a ban on the export of skinD of wild aniuals; changes in 
the hunting regulations; and the introduction of training in vildlife 
management at certain universities. 

It "vas most gratifying to read that the recommendations were accept- 
ed by all concerned with great goodwill and that immediate action was 
taken for their implementation. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


In his prefaoe,the author says, ' To-day the rich natural heri- 
tage of Rakistan is on the road to survival and the Government fully 
deserves the added lustre which this will bring to its prestige at 
home and abroad ' . 

This then is a fascirsting, but sad story with a happy ending. 

S. K. Reeveo 
Bsokham, Surrey, U.K. 


Alarming reports continue to come in from all parts of the world 
about damage to bird life by pesticides, oil' pollution and by thought- 
less human action in many ways. 

The Smithsonian Institution's Center for Shortlived Fhenrw^na, 
U.S.A. has organized an efficient systsm about reporting dead as well 
as oiled birds from all parts of the v.orld. Hardly a week passes with- 
out reports of serious damage. 

The Cboerv&y " Pf 26 October 1969 refers to the situation in Britain 

* HERTS: Prepare for disaster 

Thousands of dead sea birds were *vashed on to the shores of 
Britain. A week later, someone realised there had been a major 
environmental disaster. After a further week, one bird had been 
analysed, but only for a few chemical pollutants. After yet a 
further week, a dozen birds had been studied to test a few other 
theories, .and the Government, at lest, called some experts to- 
gether- Meanwhile, any further evidence they might need to solve 
this mystery has been rotting on the beaches. So we may never 
know what hapraned. 

Hhis kind of detective work is, in any case, not easy. Each 
possible cause must be researched separately — at considerable 
cost in time and money. But it is no help that the whole inves- 
tigation has, until now, had to depend on the sffortn of amateur 
bodies, such as the Royal Scciety fir the Protection of Birds, 
and whatever frinedly contacts they may happen to have with a 
few laboratories*. It is astounding but true that urtil last 
Friday's meeting of the experts, every Minister and official 
washed "his hands of the affair. 

3>isa8tcr3 .like this, which might possibly affect people as 
well as animals, will happen again. Next time, we must move 
mere rapidly. What ;-e need is seme kind of national environ- 
mental research unit, presumably under Mr Anthony Crosland's 
new I-'inistry, that could ccllect the evidence quickly, co-ordi- 
nate the detective work, and have access to suitable jlaborato- 
ries as of right. ' 

Ne wale t te r for Birdwatchers 



' EarXy Rising of the Indian House Crow ' 

To S. Sen Gupt's note on the above I wish to observe that the 
Bombay house crow (lite quite a few humans) sleeps restlessly on 
brightly moonlit nights. I have tine and again noticed this cawing 
on waking at 2 or 3 o'clock on such nights from crows that are nor- 
mally quite still. 

During the day crows foregather at times and nkean awful noise. 
I have not often been successful on tracing the cause. It might, for 
instance, te a snake. But on several occasions tte intruder objected 
to was an owl. Crows are very jealous of their territory and do their 
best to drive off an intruder. At the Bombay Race Course one often 
sees a pair of crows attacking a kite perched on a pole and driving 
it away. Cnce as I approached a tree on which a crow's nest contain- 
ed fledglings, one of the parents attacked me and pecked he on the 

Amin M. Tyabji 
5-C, Somerset Place, Bombay 26 

An Excursion to Roorke_e_ 

I went birdwatching with that well-known ornithologist, Dr Joseph 
George. We first went to a scrub jungle on the way to the river and 
saw a solitary Starling ( sturnus vul^ris ), the first Starling I have 
ever seen. 

Then we sighted a longtailed Buzzard ( Buten rufinus ). We also 
saw a lesser Whitethroat ( Sylvia curruca ) among the bushes. 

Master Ranachandra Guha 
Aged 11 years, The Boon School 
Dehra ttiun 

' Birdwatching at Surat and Baroda • 

In a recent Newsletter (Vol. 10(3)i 13) I could not help notic- 
ing that the last contributor Vipin Barikh who describes Birdwatch- 
ing at Surat and Baroda goes on to describe the sighting of a * Spot- 
ted Sandpiper ! , Red Shank, and the Green Shank. Of course the former 
would be really exciting because Actitis macularia, the Spotted Sand- 
piper though caamon in North America has never been recorded in ttie 
Sub-continent as far as I am aware. May be the author meant the Spot- 
ted Redshank. Anyway we should encourage accuracy in our recorded 
•bservations even amorgst neorhytes. 

T. J. Roberts 
Roberts Cotton Associates Ltd 
Khanewal, W. Pakistan 

^Tipin Parikh obviously referred to Trlnga glare ola which is 
known as the Spotted or Wood Sandpiper In these ports of the world. 

Newsletter for Birdwate he r s 


How confusing trivial names are? Roberts refers to Actitis macule rig 
(synonymous with Tringa meoularia ). - Hd_-7 

Hajfl»aggd Due k in Thantpur 

I invite your kind attention to the reported occurrence of the 
Pinkheaded Duck at Bharatpur during 1958. It is nentioned by Mr Jack 
Denton Scott in his book Forests of the Wight, p. 157 (Jaico Shikar 

Series, 1959 )• The relevant passage reads: ' and strange types 

later identified for me by the Maharaja (of Eharatpurl): Whistling 
ducks, Andaman Teal, Pinkheaded ducks ' 

I think tte reference is to the Ptedcrested Pochard - 

K. S. R. Krishna Raju 
Gilbert White Memorial Amateur Nature 
Study Club, Alamanda R.S. 
Visakha Dist., Andhra Pradesh 

/l agree with you that the reference is to the Bsderosted Pochard 
There ±p very little evidence of the Pinkheaded Buck now existing. 
— Ed_i/ 

Zafar Putehally 

Editor, IfewBletter far Birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu lane 

Andheri, Bombay 58-AS 



VOL. 10-NO 6 - 1970 JUNE 




Yclune 10, Number 6 June 1970 


Birds on a Kashmir holiday, by Shama Futehally 1 

Some observations on the Common Indian Weaver Birds and their 

iiest3, by A- Navarro, S.J. 3 

Oeprey and others at Borivili National Park, Eombay, by D. A. „ 

Th-3 stitusMof ±he Spotted fte'gs haste;: • ttringarg'dythropus , by F-M. Gaunt™ 
Chandola Talao, by S. K. Reeves Ierc '^ 


A Dictionary of Stylish and Folk-names of British Birds . (R. A. 
Stewart Melluish) 11 

^otes and Comments 12 

Correspondence 12 

Migratory birds in Mysore, from K. D. Ghorrade 

Common -birds of Bangalore, from Girish Ananth 


Shama Putehally 

At the time of writing this, we have spent the first half of Way in 
Kashmir, the time divided between Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pohelgam. As 
in most new places, our birdwatching has been wary and slightly apo- 
logetic, an* our lists are full of question marks in pencil. 

While in the houseboat on Dal lake, the two commonest birds were 
porhaps the Whitecheeked Bulbuls arri the Common Kingfisher* The bul- 
bils v.ere quite at home on the various stumps sticking out of the 
water and the stunted trees on small islands in the lake. The king- 
fishers were amazing, there were hundred of them, darting into the 
water frcm time to time and often close to where we were. On the 
wires overhead we often saw a Pied Kingfisher or two, ard once were 
lucky enough to see one hovering. The other bird which was always 
Pi-ound was the Great Reed Warbler, whose hearty disapproving cackle 
followed us wherever we went on the lake, but we only saw this elu- 
sive species once- Some readers will remember a common wali taken 
two or three years ago behind Juhu, where the Great Reed Warbler 
(heard) was perhapa the highlight of the morning. The only tern we . 
eav wis the Whiskered Tern, in small groups, and there were many 
Elackeared Kites. On one occasion we saw a solitary Little Bittern 
among the reeds. My father also hear the Whitebreasted Kingfisher- 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

A walk up the Takht-e-Sulaiman hills which overlooks the late, re- 
vealed species closer to hou?. We sew a Collared Sushchat and many 
Rufous tacked Shrikes, and at least twice the Blue Rock Thrush, Bit- 
ting on a rock lite a mounted bird and paying us no attention whatso- 
ever, except of course when my father took out his camera, and it 
flew neatly out of sight- There were many Ring Doves, Hoopoes and Com- 
mon Swallows. 

to a day's outing to Xachigam sanctuary, we found many thrilling 
birds on the most casual little walk along a stream* Among them were 
Hodgson's Rosefinch, a Blueheaded Rock Thrush, white-eyes, and one 
bird I couldnt identify which was some kind of finch perhaps, a small 
handsone bird with bright yellow underparts, black head a rd wings, and 
I think a black beftk White streaka on the wings. Perhaps this was 
a Himalayan Greenflcch- Dachigam was the only place perhaps where we 
did not see Hodgson's Pied Wagtail, which was very common everywhere 
elBe, near water as well as away from it- The rocky stream harboured 
another species we were to see again many times, that was the Plumbe- 
ouse Redstart- We also sow the female and hastily mistook it for a 
Porktai 1- However we have not seen a real Forktail yet, which is die- 
appointing. A little higher up we saw many Himalayan Black Eulbuls, 
one or two of them singing like mad. Again we here made our first 
acquaintance with the Cirammon Tree Sparrow, which we were to see 

again wherever we went, ard for the first time heard the Asiatic 
Cuckoo. It was, at first, faintly astonishing to hear the sound com- 
ing out of a tree rather than a cuckoo clock. 

Che bird I should have mentioned in connection with Srinagar was 
about the size of a sparrow, with dull brown-grey upperparts, and pels 
buff underparts, aiti a conspicuously ruffled white throat. This des- 
cription is unscientific, but although there were many individuals on 
that little tree and we craned our necks, the light was very bad ard 
protebly deceptive- IesBer Whitethroat? It would be a very heavy ques- 
tion mark indeed. 

A little outside Srinagar, in the Hokra Bird Sanctuary, ifliere were 
many many Tickell's Thrushes, clumsy and babbler-lite, Indian Tits, 
nesting on the ceiling of the forest hut, and Starlings. The sanctu- 
ary includes a big lake, ard with the most perfunctory sweep of the 
binoculars we picked out Grey Herons, Blackwinged Stilts, Pheasant- 
tailed Jacanas, ard a Golden Plover. There was a vast tempting patch 
of duck just too far away to be seen properly. 

Gulmarg was very cold but full of good thirds. The most common 
were the Simla. Black Tits, and a pair of KestrelB just below the hill 
where our guest-house was situated- More than once we saw the West 
Himalayan Pied Woodpecker, with its black-and-white body and crimson 
cap. we were, very thrilled by the Eastern Meadow Ranting - rusty 
upperperts streaked with black, black-and-white streaked head, white 
throat and rusty underparts - though Salim All ( Indian Hill Birds ) 
calls this ' one of the commonest birds in Kashmir '. We often saw 
the Himalayan Whistling Thrush, and the Whitecapped Redstart, fie took 
one particularly delightful walk along a canal in the pine forests, 
where we saw again and again the Kashmir Slaty Blue Flycatcher, gener- 
ally whiskered and mischievous, and several times the large Crowned 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

Willow Warbler. Then -there were all those snail brown distressing 
things which generally elude most birdwatchers nwH certainly always 
elude us. 

We have been in Pahalgam two days only, ard so far seen just Red- 
breasted Flycatchers and one Himalayan Griffin, circling at Aru, 
about ten miles from Rahalganu 

A. Navarro, S.J. 

The Indian Weaver Bird is one of the few Indian birds that has been 
more studied and observed by ornithologists and have captivated not 
only the admiration of the birdwatchers but also of casual and inde- 
pendent bird admirers. In view of this, I presisse I will not be able 
to put on record anything that has not been said or observed before. 
It is only the occasion that motivated my interest in writing a few 
lines on this subject. At the very outset I feel I must emphasize 
the term occasion ! for, I consider myself very fortunate at having 
the chance to witness the construction of several weaver birds 1 nests 
at such close quarters, that simply by the mere stretching of my arms 
I could touch some of the nests and look in ard out of the weaving 

The occasion offered itself to ne during the days from September 
16 to September 29, 1969, when I was staying at De Nobili College, 
on the Ahmsdnagar Road, in Pooraj the building is large, with two 
central patios and an addition of four small rectangular patios. They 
are all furnished with nice gardens, which include a few accacia 
trees in each patio. 

Free the very first day of my stay there, at sunrise, I noticed 
that the small patios were full of life as if there were small colo- 
nies of sparrows 6e^Sled in each patio; what attracted my attention 
was the fact that in the midst of the chit-chat of the sparrows chat- 
tering, at very short intervals, a very loud and prolonged chee-ee 
shrill sound could be heard, constantly floating on the air. Peeping 
from a window, I discovered that each patio had a small colony of 
three to four male weavers busily building their well-known bottle - 
nest. Most of the nests had just been started and the sharp chee-ee 
sounds of the birds could be heard throughout the day. 

Che day, from the very early hours of the morning I noticed that 
a male weaver was very excited and his shrill chee-ee sounds were 
louder and more frequent giving the semblance of a challenge to a 
full army of opponents. There was no nest yet; he was flying at short 
and nervous flights, all' the time around a particular spot; it took 
me quite some time to discover 1fae real meaning of such fussy behavi- 
our; there was no doubt that he had selected the spot where he wanted 
to build his nest and he was loudly proclaiming to the whole world 
the right of ownership of the chosen spot; in other words, staking his 
claim. I, therefore, came to the conclusion that the chee-ee shrills 
had taken the place of what the ornithologicts call ' the territorial 


f ft r 

Birdwatehe ra 

song '• 'i l he next day 1 notict-d a long ovtu. .tuop uanging niafl Ae se- 
lected spot; this loop is not only the starting point of the nest, 
Dut it seems to be that the whole sUape of tne n?st depends entirely 
on the shape of the loop; the loop, if from the very teginning has a 
long, oval shape, then the weaver will produce a long ami elongated 
nest; if the original loop is of the broader variety, t hen the nest 
too will be broad and short, and may even assure a distorted shape or 
totally out of proportion to the typical long bottle-nest. 


Pig, 1. Hfte loop is the start- Pig. 2- Standard female 

ing point of the Weaver's nest neat 

and the whole support of the nest 

The loop is like a trapeze whence the weaver will perch, sometimes 
upwards and at other times dowiwards; thence he will stretch and 
twist his body to any angle or direction as required to weave the 
nest; this result in the performance of a variety of acrobatic feats 
and movements, resulting finally in the production of his masterpiece. 
First the loop is reinforced and the ceiling or roof is built upj 
then comes the middle portion; at this point the * tube ' is begun; 

„ .. i e ...... p „ ? „ .. 2 * >- .- - - '■ h ; • - 

Mid fiiclly, the closing of the upper pert of the rest from the out- 
side; and then the ' tube ■ is completed. At the commencement of 
operations, the nests are given, but soon the colour fades; the filial 
shade depends on the materials selected! 

Some time ago at Versova I noticed nets that remained green for 
a very long time. But the weavers I wasobserving used to bring the 
grass strips from the grass that was growing abundan tly in the near- 
by surroudings. The first mate-rial was ratter coarse, but as the con- 
struction work advarced, the strips became longer and thinner. Some 
ornithologists, who have studied the weaver habits, say that the strips 
are prepared by the birds, cutting with thsir tea to, a notch on the 
inside of tte blade and tearing it off. To my great surprise, I noti- 
ced that a weaver, now and then, would bring four to five strips to- 
gether; and after long observation I discovered that the weaver, hav- 
ing cut the grass blade into three or four strtps, would cut the blade 
at just the point where the strips commenced and from this point it 
fixed the blade into the nest and starred weaving each individual 
strip, as if the strips had been brought independently of the others. 

The weavers on approaching their nest would be very noisy and would 
end with their typical shrill chees e. There was a lot of quarrelling 
and acts of mischief in the colonies, certainly not without reason; I 

did often observe that some weavers were interfering in their neigh- 
bours' affairs » going so far as to steal material from other nests. 

It is rather curious to note that birds behave quite differently 
under the sane pattern of circ-umstances* Row ard then some weavers, 
at the time of arrival at their nests, with their grass strips, would 
drop these strips, may be perhaps through pure accident or due to the 
quarrelsome atmosphere that prevails at the moment, snongst the build- 

The real fact was that the nests in this colony were being built 
too close to each otherj sometiices a fallen strip, before it reached 
the ground, would perhaps be caught or entangled on a lower brarch; 
ere of the builders would pick this up and the other weavers never 
mada any attempt to retrieve the fallen mpt^rials. 

In one of these small colonies, there wore four nests; three of 
them were at the beginning of the building process, v&ile the fourth 
hau already been finished; tho builders of the nests ware in no way 
interested in the finished nest; I, therefore , .first thougit, that 
the finished nest was an old one, when suddenly I saw a female weaver 
emerge from the nest. Here we have another example of a different be- 
haviour j this must have been tte only nest built a month ahead of the 
resrt in the colonies. IJy the side of a nearty stream were several ac- 
cacia trees a rd almost every tree contained small individual colonies, 
some larger than the others; the larger colonies must have had 15 to 
20 nests; in all this I could not find a single nest that could have 
the appearances of a finished product; the chitchat as of sparrows 
and the chee-ee shrills of the builders could be heard over a long 

distance away. 

Ch my frequent visits to observe the breeding activities, I did 
not see a single female weaver. Ky final conclusion was that the small 



Birdwatche rs 

colonies were snp.ll units of a large colony scattered over an area 
of half a square mile; while trying to survey the neighbouring areas, 
I could not locate a single weaver n^st. 

A few days later on the way to Alibaug I came across another colo- 
ny of weaver birds made also on similar basis, with this difference 
— a large unit of forty to fifty nests and a series of small units 
scattered over small area along the Alifcaug Road. 

Some times later I had a second chance to have another look at the 
colony which was already atandoned by the weavers. As the nests were 
hanging a few feet above the ground, I had an excellent opportunity 
to exanine each and every nest; in all there were about 5« nests. The 
texture and shape of most of them were so similar, it seemed as if 
all had been woven by a single bird; only a few were rather crude and 
flimsy. The most notable difference was on the tubes; some were long 
and thickly woven, others rather so thinly that light could be seen 


IAo **. 





Fig. 3. Combined female and 
male nest - a rare coincidence 

Pig. 4. A male nest that may 
have started as a female's nest 
and ended as a male nest. 

through the walls of the tube; other tubes being short, had a very 
poor finish. We also found a few nests with the external appearance 
of not being fisnished; these nests, at the lower end of the loops 
were strongly reinforced ani frcm one side of the nest there was a 
large, broad, round, entrance, with a lower downward exist, and that 

,. . I . B - ' 


" : ?tc 


was the ' end • of the neat. It seens that Ifcese nests are used by 
male weavers at the tine of incubation (the female alore incubates). 
As there were so few nests of this type, we could conclude that each 
is used ty several male weavers at the sane tine, or as the male are 
polygamous, a few nests suffice for the needs of the entire colony, 
last year during the October vacation I went to Bihar with three 
students, on a birdwatching expedition; we stayed in a tiny village 
called Ranpur — a couple of niles from the Nepal frontier. Fron the 
very first day of our arrival we discovered a tall date-pain tree 
that was literally crowded with weavers* nests. The focus of our at- 
tention was on the pain tree; several tines wc made attempts to count 
the number of nests but we could never agree on the exact number; 



Pig. 5. Standard male nest 
front view 

Pig. 6. Standard male nest lower 
view! / way in j I way out 

nevertheless we all came to the conclusion that there were more than 
?00 on that one single date-rpaln tree; what is still more astonish- 
' lag is tte fact that during our entire stay at Itampur we did not see 

a single weaver bird. _. 

Mogt of the weavers belong to the African Continent, in India we 

have a very snail representative group .comprising four different 
snecies. All the sane, in ny opinion we have reason to be the best 
' havers. A comparative study of the nests produced by their African 
brethren will certainly reveal this real fact. 

If we examine a few of our Indian weavers' nests we will have 
many smll detailsto admire. In all the nests, at the chamber where 
the female deposits the eggs there is r.lways a cluster of a few 
pebbles of mud; anong- ornithologists there has been a diversity of 
opinion regarding the need for these pellets. Vfe hnve not to over- 
look the main purpose of such a construction which is for the safety 
of nest itself, judging fron the way and place where it is attached. 

HewBletter for Birdwatchers 

Kie weaver's nest is nature's device of a cooling system the 
ti3 pellets reen to be actirg as insulating material to keep the 
whole egg at the right temperature for successful'incubation. It is 
rather curious to note that the fane of our Indian Weaver Birds was 
well known in England well into the later middle ages judging from 
the feet that soiie of the old weavers' association were giving a pro* 
ninent position to the Indian Weaver Bird in their respective guild3» 


D. A. Stairmand 

Borivili Nations; Park in March and eaily April was excellent for 
seeing Grey Junglefowl and Peafowl (mainly the cocks of the latter, 
sone of which had glorious long trains) early in the mornings or late 
in the evenings. The Grey Junglecock'e loud harsh crow kruk-.ka va -ha va» 
kuk was heard at those times of day and a cock with one hen or more 
was often on the roadside, or not far off it, gleaning food. I meet 
often saw -them in the areas at the bottom of the hills in the Park, 
near dry nullahs, Zizyphus , etc. and also in the deciduous, lightly 
wooded area above Tulsi lake. The Peafowl were in much the sane areas 
and both these and the Grey Junglefowl were fairly tarn?. ^ that I 
mean I could watch them feeding from a distance of abcut 55 yards. I 
thought the Grey Junglefowl very attractive and the leacocks most 
beautiful. There were a few strident calls of may-awe but not nearly 
as many as during the monsoon. The well-coloured Emerald Coves were 
also on the roadway early in the morning. 

In late March many of the migratory birds ware still around and 
the wisps of snipe, little Ringed Plovers and many lovely wagtails 
drew me to the Deer Ifcrk end of Vihar lake. ( A good attraction 
around Tulsi was a party of Tree Pipits under big shady trees near 
Tulsi Waterworks). Che day in Harch I was disappointed that the party 
of pretty Bluethroats had apparently departed from the surrounds of 
Vihar lake but was compensated tjy the appearance of two Oppreye over 

the lake as I was watching 100+ little Cormorants fishing in concert. 
The little Cormorants moved off leaving centre stage to the CBpreys 
and they turned on a most dramatic show by performing strictly ' ac- 
cording to the book '• They flew stead, ly over the water in wide 
circles about 60 feet up and would occasionally ' check ' in flight 
upon sighting prey and then, once or twice, came a stupendous drop 
with closed wings, the bird hitting the water with a great and thril* 
ling splash and disappearing for a few monents before emerging with 
a fish gripped firmly in its talona. As the Ceprey rises from the 
water it gives a compulsive shrug to shake off the water from i1s 
feathers and takes its prey away to a perch to eat. The Ospreys, when 
with their f catch ', were often chivvied by Pariah Kites, 

During three successive week-ends I noticed an Cteprey either at 
Sihar or at Marve (where it was on a rock on the grassy flats behind 
ffiadh) with crest raised and looking upwards at the sky with slow turns 
of the head from side to side. Once a-other CBprey appeared and the 


one apparently on the ! look-out ' flew up to join it. Bit perhaps my 
line of thought was rather fanciful. The Oeprey is easy to recognise 
in flight by its angled, so® what pointed wing3 end ' necklace ' ac- 
ross the upper breast. 

It was on one of those March evenings at Vihar that I first notic- 
ed a Blackheaded Kunia {'I onchura malacca ) on the tall weeds near Vihar 
lake. I assumred it was an ex-cage bird because of its extreme tame- 
ness and stupidity but I was to see one again on further visits and, 
more recently, I've seen a party of six Blackheaded Munias in the 
same spot. Tfy the end ofMarch all the duck had deported but some Coot 
were still around the grassy margins of Vihar lake a rfl a lone Shikra, 
flying fast and low, would cause panic in their ranks. 

March was also a good month to watch Goldenbacked and Hahratta 
Woodpeckers on soft wood trees such as Sal ma 3 is ^ and Erythrina and 
the Goldenbacked Woodpeckers were frequently working up, and sliding 
down, the trunks of Palmyra Palms. One day I watched a battle between 
a woodpecker and a pair of Common Mynae over a nest hole in a dead 
tree near the Deer Park. This woodpecker played a lone hand against 
the mynas although I heard another woodpecker 'o chattering T laugh ' 
close by. The woodpecker w&a like the common Gcldenbacted Woodpecker 
but had a red rump and v-is poraibly Tickell's Goldenbacked Woodpecker 
( Chrysocolaptea girttacrtatatuB )* Ihe fight was prolonged andnezt time 
I visited the tree I saw no bird. Tihile walking along a pipeline one 
morning I heard a very loud ! tapping ' noise and found three Rufous 
Woodpecters working on a carton-like nest of tree ants. I watched 
them for over one hour and had a marvellous view from the ground as 
the nest was only about 3 feet above ground level. The birds were 
disturbed on two occasions by n drove of cattle, passing ty and they 
then flew up onto a Sill. Cotton an3 drank nect?.r from the flowers. 
None of the three birds had the crescent shape- 1 crimson patch of 
feathersunder the eye and one bird was much smaller than the other 
two. I occasionally saw Pigmy Woodpeckers in tin Park. 

To me the outstanding trees in the Park in March were the Kusims, 
with their new red leaves, and Corals in flower. Early morning it was 
possible to see Grey Hornbills, Golden Orioles, Blackheaded Orioles, 
Racket-tailed Drongoes ani Tree Pies almost with one sweep of my bi- 
noculars. There was soce eating, too. A pair of Ashy Swallow Sprites 
copulated on a branch of a tree just above me will all the insoucier- 
ce of a pair of hippies on Panjim beach. 

The drives through A-irey on the way to Borivili National Park were 
memorable for the roadside avenues of trees such as Rain Trees, Rusty 
Shteld fearers, and best of all,»the Pongams in lovely fresh lime green 


Away from Borivili - while on a godown inspection at Bhandup - I 
listened to, and then watched, two Pied Mynas ( Sturnus contra ) in a 
Tamrind. Very fortunately, I had my binoculars with me as I was visit- 
ing the Vaxk afterwards. 

As a postscript I would like to add that on 25/iv I was pleased to 
see seven Spotbills dipping an! resting on shallow water close in to 
tne edge of Vihar lake. I had not seen duck there for four weeks. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


F. M. Gauntlett 

Volume 2 of the Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan states 
that the Spotted Redshank is everywhere less common than the Red- 
shank T^_ totanus- However this is certainly not the case in a parti- 
cular locality in West Eengal. 

For two years I have been carrying out observations of the birds 
of the Damodar river at the Eurgapur barrage but have not yet seen 
a Redshank there. By contrast, the Spotted Redshank is a common win- 
ter visitor with a flock of up to 40 from January to Karen and 
Bmaller numbers in December and April. In fact, after Temminck's 
Stint, Calidris temminckii a nd Greens hank ?, nebular ia it is proba- 
bly the most numerous ard consistent member of the wader flocks at 
this spot. 

It seems odd that its abundance has not been noticed elsewhere 
and one may conclude that in the past it has been confused with the 
Greenshank with which it often associates and closely resembles in 
winter plumage. Its habit of wading up to its belly when feeding 
tends to obscure its characteristic red legs, further confounding 
its separation from the Greenshank. 

My observations have been made with 12 x 60 binoculars recently 
supplemented by a 6Qx zoom telescope. 

S. K. Reeves 

Vfaat nostalgic memories were evoked for me - a Gujarati born and 
bred — by B. M. Shukla ! s article entitled, ' Visitors from abroad ' 
in the March issue of the Newsletter . 

Some years ago now, when T had the great good fortune to revisit 
Gujarat, I was able to pay three short visits to Chandola talao, 
which as I recall, lies a mile or two outside Ahraedabad on the side 
of the road leading to Kairo. 

I can unhesitatingly support the writer's eulogy of Chandola as 
a birdwatching spot, and fully agree that AhnB dated is anything but 
a dull place for the birdwatcher. Not only would he see a lot of 
td/rds in Ahmedabad and its environs, but also in the district with- 
in easy travelling distance of the city. If he has the opportunity 
tc go further afield, he has Saurashtra, Kutch, the hills about Mt 
Abu and the Surat Dangs within reasonable reach. 

Hy first visit to Chandola was in December aid the second and 
third visits were in February. 

Ch two oi my visits I was lucky enough to see flamingos — the 
first I had ever seen in the wild state and what an unforgettable 
thrill it was to see these magnificent birds with their long, pro- 
truding necks and legs and crimson plumage come flying in, circle 
once or twice and then settle in the shallows of the talao. For one 
disappointing moment I though they would pass on and that I would 



newsletter for Birdwatchers 

not see them again, bait they stayed and I relished every moment of 
the treat they afforded me. There were seven altogether — two adults 
and five juveniles. On the next occasion, I made tte acquaintance of 
a larger company of thirteen birds ; again a mixture of adults and Ju- 

During my very brief visits, 1 also observed 20-30 little Cormor- 
ants; Cattle, little and either large or Smaller Egrets (i regret to 
say I failed to distinguish between these two species); 4 or 5 3rah- 
miny Duck? 3 or 4 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas; large numbers of Sarus 
Cranes, Painted and Openbilled Storks; a large number of Spoonbills; 
1 or 2 ELackwinged Stilts; a fair number of White Ibises and Black 
Ibises; 3 or 4 Grey Herons and a larger number of small waders which 
were too far away to identify. On one occasion, I saw 2, and possibly 
4, Blacktailed Godwits and on another occasion a flock of 10-^0 bird3 
which I am sure was of this species. 

One of -the birds I very much enjoyed seeing here wa3 the Great 
Stone Plover. Ch one visit I saw 1, and possibly 2, of -these fine 

Long may Chandola, and similar talaos and jheels, remain the spl- 
endid birdwatching spot I knew it to be and which it apparently still 


BIRI6, with their History, Meaning, and First Usage: and the folk- 
lore, Weather-lore, legends, etc., relating to the more familiar 
species. London, Witherby & Co., 1913- 266 pages. Bibliography. Re- 
published by Gale Research Company, Detroit, Michigan, 1968. $9-5 * 

like so many recent re-issue3 of old, long out-of-print books, this 
is designed for occasional consultation by the specialist or the 
curious, and he will probably prefer to look at it in a public lib- 
rary than to buy it himself. It is not for the birdwatcher whose 
interest is confined to the practical study of the living bird, and 
it would be an expensive and somewhat wasteful addition to a personal 
library which dees not already contain a good selection of standard 
ornithological reference books and field guides. 

As may be inferred from the title, the more matter-of-fact Indian 
joraituologist will not find it at all useful. Most of the names in- 
cluded are probably obsolete, and many of those which are still cur- 
rent will not be heard in India or met with in recent literature. We 
use scores of English names for our birds, but we use the standard 
present-day ones, and it is of no importance to us to know British 
provincial variants — to know, for instance, that a kite was at one 
time in parts of England called a crotch-tail, a sparrow a spadger, 
or a dunlin a sea-mouse or puxre. It is only a shade more purposeful 
to learn that the name lapwing is derived from the Anglo-6axon 
hleapwjnce. signifying ■ one who turns about in running or in fligit 
or- that the name cormorant is a broken-down version of the latin for 
sea^row, corvus marinus. 

■» 1 t * r ■ .t *** e - ^ 4 ■• * '•■ p * c v o r B 



Setting those limitations agide, I am bound to ladmit that this 
is a fascinating and entertaining work. For those ornithologists whose 
curiosity extends beyond birds as live animals (or dead skins) to what 
one should perhaps call secondary or ancillary studies, such as nomen- 
clature, birds and man (their place in legend, popular talk and lit- 
erature), and the history of ornithology, its reissue will be an 
agrweable and satisfactory event. It is a classic reference book of 
its kind, and it has been unobtainable for many years. It reappear- 
ance can only te gratefully welcomed. 

It is, in its way, a book to rejoice in. Most of the five thous- 
and or so headwords, the vulgar or dialect names used by the cottager, 
farmer, gamekeeper, sportsman and countryman generally in different 
parts of a British Isles which has now vanished for ever, are the 
essence of poetry: they are either superbly apt, or evocative, or 
beautiful, or witty, or all those things together. What could fce more 
fitting, ani charming, than bog drum for the bittern, dip ears for 
the little tern, or, for -the common sandpiper, watery pleeps? This 
last bird also, one might almost believe * answered to ' the namas 
willy-wicket, tattler , and fiddler ; the whimbrel to titterel, chicks re 1 , 
brame , .jack curlew , and checker-bird . The a voce t was variously 
c.ror-^-r , .v. lr.-.-.T , ;.-.:r.vh£lr- , awl-feixdi PJOflginli and bur terfllr. ; I Qd 
cognate with lapwing we have the beautiful variant lipw ingle . I can- 
not resist quoting more. The little grebe came in for more local 
names than most, and among the best are surely drink-a -penny, dive- 
dapper , diedapper , dabber, torn pudding , arsfoot and foot-in -arse. 
Again the pied wagtail was a ubiquitous popular creature, and under 
the entry dishwasher for this species we have the synonyms Peggy 
dishwasher , Molly v/ashdish, Folly wp.shdish, rfanny wash tail, Moll 
washer , washerwoman , end dishlick . There is something irresistible 
about all this, for those who enjoy both birds and words. 

Has any attempt been made, or is it now being made, to collect 
material of the same sort as this among the many languages and 
peoples of India? The field for research hero would appear to be 
enormous. It would be a pity if nothing of the kind is done at all 
in any part of the country before univeral literacy and educational 
media likB wireless and television do what they have done in Britain 
— standardize the villager, destroyhls mythology, and make his lan- 
guage uniform from one district to another. 

R« A* Stewart Melluiah 


Coming Events 

This ye_ir, 1970, which is European Conservation Year, is also the 
year of the Second Internation Congress of tiie World Wildlife Fund, 
with the theme of < ALL HFE ON SAHTH ' 

The Congress will be held at the Royal Garden Hotel, in Kensing- 
ton, London on November 17 and 18, 197C. The speakers will include: 
H.R.H. The Prince of The Netherlands, H.R.H. The IXite of Edinburgh, 

Newsletter for Eirdwatahers 

Mr Peter Scott, Col. Tfeil Armstrong, ani several other distinguished 
international figures. 

The enrollment fee for attendance is £8/- ar.d those interested nay- 
please send for the forss from the Honorary Secretary, World Wildlife 
FUnd, Indian Appeal, Horn till House, Bombay. 

Any enquiries about the Conference oay be sent to the Administra- 
tion Office, International Congress, The World Wildlife Fund, 7-6 
Plumtree Court, London E. C. 4. 

V — V J U tf M J A*. « 
T^ 1% A m R' A W K '^ r\ 

The XVth International Ornithological Congress will be held at the 
Hague from 3012: August to 5th September 1970. Prof. N. Tinbergen, F.R.S. 
is the President of the Congress, and Dr K. H. Voous, the General 

Although the deadline for registration was 1st May, persons inter- 
ested in attending iiie Congress might get in touch with the Secreta- 
riat, c/o The Netherlands Congress Centre, 10, Churchchillplein 10, 
The Hague, The NStherlands. 

Apart from the discussions at the Congress vuich will be of inter- 
est to all ornithologists there are several interesting excursions 
with film shows and other activities which will add to the success 
of the occasion* 

Simultaneously with this Congress there will be a meeting of the 
International Biological Progratmne, Productivity of Terrestrial Com- 
munities Section on September 7\a and 8tn. The aim of this meeting is 
to review first results of international studies on Basser as well as 
as up-to-date results and to discuss new developments and methods con- 
cerning the ecology, syetematics an! energy flow of all kinds of grani- 
vorous birds. The meeting will be an attempt to effect clcser interna- 
tional cooperation for future investigations. 


Mi gratory birds in fl& rsore 

In 1969-70 winter a marked decrease in the numbers and variety of 
wildfowl (ducks) and even migratory birds was noted by me in this 
part of southern Mysore* From other sportsmen I gather that indeed 
in p-'-lia as a whole, migratory birds were seen in comparatively less 
numbers this year. Could you threw some light on the validity and 
reasons of this reduced migration this year? 

K« D. Gh or pads 
Ehujungtera I'arm 
Doddagubbi Post 
langalore district 


i J 

t u 

1 l ^ J i . d »/ 

5 Jl 6 X 

Common birds of Bangalore 

Bangalore is teeming with large Green Sbrbets. Its ringing Kor- 
r-r-r T loitroot kutroo i etc- is Tepeated with monotonous persistsnoy. 
One was seen clinging on a twig and trying to get at b3TTi©e. 

The Common Pariah Kite ( Milvus migrans ) is common. Its shrill, 
whistling is often heard. I have seen kites being chased away by 
crows with indignant caws. 

The Golden Oriole was seen a couple of times. 

While out on an early morning walk one morning I came across 
what I think to be White-eyes, but they did not give. me a chance to 
observe the white ring round the eye. 

The Coppersmith is also conmon. Their Tuk, £ik, tuk calls were 


Spotted Doves have been observed haunting the surroundings fre- 

The Hoopoe's and Black Drongois calls often have whistles inter- 
mingled between harsh notes. 

Bmgalore offers excellent opportunities for birdwatcning. 

Master Girish Anath 

"afar Putehally 

Editor, ffewsletter for Birdwatcters 

32-A Juhu lane, Andheri 

Bombay 58-AS 



* V. L. 10-NO 7 - 1970 JULY 

" T v ;; T. E T T E R P R 

"olume 10, Number 7 July 1970 


A Birdwatcher on Carmichael Road, by T 2a D'Souza 1 
liusing of a bird-loving rustic. 1. Destructive habit and distri- 
bution of the Black backed Woodpecker, by K. D. Ghorpade 3 
Arrival of the Indian Pitta in Bombay; appearance of the Crested 

Bawk-Eagle near Kanheri Caves and other notes, by D* A. Stairmand5 

Birdwatching in Ceylon, ty Prof. Dinesh Mohan 7 

Do nets catch only birds?, by A- 5feverro, S.J. 8 

Ctll9 o* the Peafowl, by Indra Kumar Sharma 9 


Notes end Comments 

Correspondence 1 ^ 

Arrival and departure of birds, from G- Be 

Birds around Bharat Scouta fi Guides campsite at Jogeshwnri, 
Bombay, from P. A* Pal k hi walla 

Mrs Neela D'Souza 

A year on Carmichael Road, in a house with a garden, ho3 fceen a Joy- 
Cur bedroom window on the first floor, looking out on to the lawn 
and the greenhouse , the back garden aid the drop down to Tardeo, haa 
Venetian blinds — excellent cover for birdwatching. The mango tree 
at the teck of the house, devoid of flowers these last few months 
and with one solitary fruit to show in April, in a favourite haunt 
of the White browed Fantail Flycatcher. Hie cheerful little whistle, 
eliding down the scnle, announces the morning and he busily hops from 
branch to branch, showing off his little fan. He lo there for a 
couple of hours, making sallies after insects, trying out the fence 
below as a perch and then returning to his established favourite — 
the mango tree. He is seldom there after nine, although sitting under 
the tree at lunch time one day I found hin back, displaying his. 
aerial and vocal skill »- he never tires of song, 

Reading through Galhreith's urbane find vastly entertaining Ambas- 
sador's J ournal , I came across this observation on the birds of 
Delhi: '" ..... moot obtrusive are the birds which in ttiis non-violent 
land are almost totally unfrightened. They are incredibly controver- 
sial — always denouncing each other in the most raucous and angry 
tones. Indian' birds narely twitter and never sing* instead they 
challenge and scream, ' Had Galbraith wakened to the fantail fly- 
catcher on an April morning in Carmi«hael Road, he would have — ■ in 
a manner of mixed metaphors »— changed his tuneg 

R 9 v i 1 c t t 3 r for Birdwatchers 

H» flycatcher is not the dily one v*io finds the mango tree desi- 
rabi . Tb white-eye perches there too, so close that I can clearly 
see the little circle outlining its bright little eye from behind 
the blind , The white-eye is always solemn of mien and one wishes 
that it were more alive to the joys of April and May — or perhaps 
its appearance is deceptive.. The tailor bird is there every morning 
too; the raai^o tree is an established landmark on its route after 
which it takes off on its regular rounds. The redvented bulbu 1 . pre- 
fers the much smaller tree nearby — name unknown; the mail preferred 
a totally unfamiliar Marat hi name — and i3 lost in the leaves ex- 
cept for its vivacious whistle which is particularly clear in the 
evening, resounding all through the garden. She first tin we had a 
pair of red-whiskBred bulbuls visit our garden tbey took a fancy to 
the bougainvillae that climbs up the wall of the porch in front of 
the house ani sarg a delightful accompaniment to lunch* later in 
April and May they rere tack every morning and quickly discovered 
the joys of the mango tree; not only 30 they look tidier and more 
festive than the redven'ced kind but have more -v^rve ani vivacity in 
theix song. 

April afternoons brought the golden oriolo to c«r garden. He has 
established a claim to the mar^o tree in front of the house, ;-erhaps 
because it is much leafier and he can escape obeerv -ticn among its 
branches. His liquid warbling is part of memories of April light and 
shade and sound; twice I caught sight of him aO the afternoon wore 
into evening and he decided to continue his travels. 

The ar iucaria that stands sentinel before our house began to lean 
to one side and the malls pronounced it dead. They were ready to cut 
it down but the thought of losing that year round Christmas touch 
made us unwilling to accept their verdict. Ito suggested propping it 
up and so the araucaria . is now anchored by a stout rope. Ajd the 
barbet that sits on it3~ topmost branch continues to call with endear- 
ing monotony. In this perch the barbet is practically invisible but 
occasionally he visits the mango tree behind the bedroom window 
allows us to watch him- The one untidy nest on the araucaria b^longB 
to a pair of Jungle crows; perhaps the alignment of the tree thr 
the nest off balance for we discovered a baby crow hopping around 
on the grass below, with a grer.t deal of cawing and consternation 
from his parents who were watching tha proceedings. The young chap 
could not fly .but eluded capture nimbly; T hope he survived the cata 
and dogs and urchins of Cormichael Road for we lost sight of him 
completely. "" 

In May the children found and* rescued a black and white bird 
which we took to be a magpie robin; he has on injured wing and waa 
being tormented by the crows in the garden. Bat he was a most reluc- 
tant captive and refused to eat anything we offered him. The wing 
healed well but the bird suddenly died after a couple of deys. When 
frightened the feathers on his head stood up in a small crest which 
baffled us — or was he not a magpie-robin at all? 

Newsletter for Birdv&tobiri 

Iaet year In V- y t peacock was q dally caller, displaying a fine 
aense of theatre the d-.y after we had moved in by appearing on the 
roof of the house. (Vice he even swished hie way regally Into the pan- 
try and surprised me in the midst of baking — oh that I were a 
Thurbar to immortalize him like the unicorn in the gardenl May morn- 
ings ix year ego had the peacock courting around the greenhouse tut 
thlts year he has not been coming. The peachiok has grown into n teen- 
ager and accompanies her mother every morning to the courtyard to be 
P " H .:;. Once in my absence the children managed to catch n 

bob 11 peachick and impriconed it in a cage that earlier had been 
inhabited by a gay parakeet, long since dead and gone, They displayed 
it to me with more enthusiasm than kindness and were offended to the 
point of swearing off talking to me when I let ouc the poor caged 
creature which had worn a bald spot on ito head trying to escape its 

The gulmohur s on Malabar Hill ore in bloom now but the gu lmohu r 
over the garden wall has Just began to put out ientcMva spites of 
green. It ha3 been stark art bare these last fe.v months but strangely 
beautiful. And very suitable for watching birds 1 Every detail of the 
barbet is c3ear as he tries out different parches on its bare bran- 
ches. Nostalgia accompanies the grcwing green of ths .qulffohur for 
we shall not be here to watch its transformation into flame end gold. 

1. Destructive habit and distribution of the BlnckbackBd Woodpecker 
K. J). Gfaorpcde 

Cne of my favourite group of Mrda have been the Woodpeckers, always 
impressing : fa th?ir attractive colour— pattemo, trim and elegant 

shapee, ever active nature end elusive habits. The manner in whiofa 
tbey conce-:! themselves from the onlooker by goinp round to the 
side of the tree -trunk instantly reminds ma of the common ' blood- 
sucker ' Jizard. a favourite object for the schoolboy's catapult 

Luring my last visit to car estate in Yelburga taluk (Raiohur 
diet., Ifcoore) in JUtB 1969, I had *o shoot a lovely male speci: 
Ox uuc okfcacla ! '.'oodpecker, C'.Ty30Co3apte o feat i vus (itoddaer*), 

at tiie epeciftl recoct of the local peasants y :ase I had oae 

other reason for securing the oird: I had previously taken n facale 
of this species sometime in December 1958 end needed a male to com- 
plete my collection- The farmers of this area have la'-^Iled this and 
other woodpeckers as troublesome pests of loooout tree, esse: 

in£ that the birds mate hcieE into the nuts a rd suck the milk iraidol 
At first I WB3 a bit disinclined to believe this somewhat tall PtcrJ 
but on the repeated allegation by somw of the ryots that they lud 

"-.lly observed this destructive act with their own eyes, I resolv- 
ed mysalf to try and figure out this lirteros',ing phenomena* 

■ wsle tte r for Birdwatchers 


I examined the fallen nuts and sure enough found 3mall at 
the base cf i2ie nut noar the * eyeo ' or depressions (which, inciden- 
tally, are the weakest portions of the r.ut ahfcll). Quite a few of 
the fallen, dried-up nuta had one such hols each wnich certainly 
looked like the woodpecker's handiwork to me. My next move was to try 
end catch the culprit at work and so for the next few days 
more of iry tina to watching the woodpecker's activities- But, to ay 
indignation, 1fce birds ne-vor ventured anywhere near the nuts on the 
trees. They confined themselves to the coccnut tree -trunks and to 
our large mango trees only. 

Although I could not find out anything further that could throw 
light on thi3 destructive aspect of the woodpec>er3 durire W sojourn 
in June, J will certainly try and continue my investigations on a 
more intensive scale during future trips to the estate in order that 
a solution either this way or that may be arrived at- I invite tU£ - 
ge3tions and information relating to this most curious behaviour froa 
readers of the Newsletter, so that together we can attempt to give 
an explanation for this arrant behaviour on the part of the mainly 
insectivorous woodpecker family. 

My friend and fellow birdwatcher, J. P.. Er~havan inferos me 
(pers. comm.) that this destructive babU is aiBO^erolent ocpng .. 
the ' larger woodpeckers ! in Cannanure district (K rala). From hi3 
personal observations and from data acquired free locale in that 
area, it appears that certain woodpeckers have be u n actually seen 
pecking at the coconut fruits and oaueing the nuts to drop down earns 
15-iiO days later after Irying up. Though not considered to fee seri- 
oud pests of the coconut groves there, a proportion of nuts are dam- 
aged every season. Though pecking at the nuts has been definitely 
recorded, there is some doubt whettier the woodpecker * sucko ' the 
coconut milk or not. In any case, we now have confirmation cf this 
peculiar destructive habit of woodpeckers to coconut trees. Probably 
readers from Kerala or Tamil Ifcdu have come across personally or 
heard from others of this aberrant behaviour? 

Tho only other species of the family Pic idee that occurs in cur 
estate and has also been branded as a destructive bird, is the L : 
ser Gjldenbacked Woodpecker, PinopiuE benghalense (Linnaeus). Ch 
go*% through all the available literature on woodpeckers, I 
■not cone across any instance which mentioned the above curious phe- 
nomenon. However, certain woodpeckers have been recorded drinking 
flcwnr-r„otar (of the Coral tree, Krvthrina sp.J, and atill others 
are named ■ Sacauckere ' owing to their habit of sucking the sap of 
some trees. The abo-vephenomenon aleo deals with thi3 sucking mode 
of feeding and I feel that if this habit of drinking the coconut 
milk iB found to to true, it is something which the woodpecker could 
easily accomplish. This modification in the normal feeding habit of 
the Hlackbacked Woodpecker could well be a clever ecological adapta- 
tion; as this particular species baa alwrys seemed to prefer coconut 
grovts nn3 plantations as its favourite habitat. In the course of 

wsletter for Birdwatcher 

the normal boring operations of this species in search of their in- 
sect prey, by chance one individual woodpecker may have made o hole . 
into a drupe (nut) and instead of encountering insects, had its first 
taste of the highly nutritious coconut milk while feeling around vri 
its tonguel In addition to insects and in some cases certain fruit, 
coconut milk would have provided this woodpecker with a very palat- 
able end easily acquired variation in diet* All this is mainly con- 
jecture, tut not altogether an impossible hypothesis. At least, for 
the present we will have to ponder over this probable explanation 
for the Blackbacked Woodpecker's apparent folly. 

The distribution and status of the Blackbacked Woodpecker, without 
doubt a very uncommon and local species, has still to be completely 
worked out for our subcontinent. George Neavoll ( Newsletter 8(11 ): 13) 
in his apparent excitement, overlooked an additional sentence in the 
range of this woodpecker as given by Ir 3- D. Ripley in his Synopsis . 
The complete information given toy Dr Ripley unc range of the 

subspecies C. f. fe ctivus is ' The Western Ghatc- strip from the Suret 
Bangs and Khandesh area in Bombay south to Kerala, east along the 
Satpuro mountain trend through central Indie j north to Dehra Dun in 
U. P., Bihar and West Bsngal. less common on tne eastern side of the 
Peninsula. In deciduous forest biotope, foothills end up to 4000 ft.' 
Mr Neavoll missed out the ' less common on t D side of the 

Peninsula- ' bit which means that his record from Med-jhal in northern 
Hyderabad district (Andhra Pradesh) is not on extension of range but 
only confirms the occurrence of this species in that district. Inci- 
dentally, recent records from Oris or. and Hotel extend its range to 

those regions. 

The present known distribution and status of this interesting 
woodpecker as per records available in published literature indicate 
that except for eastern an3 southern Tamil Rx6u f Rajasthan (?), Delhi, 
Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jamnu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Bhutan* 
ABsam, Meghalnya, NEFA, Ragalnnd, Manipur, Tripure, Burma and bo-tii 
Pakistane, this woodpecker is locally and patchily resident in ell - 
other arens*Df the subcontinent, avoiding drier open country, denser/ 
wetter evergreen forest and hills above 4000 ft, being partial to 
thin deciduous jungle and coconut groves. 


D. A. Stairmand 

One of our ' monsoon • visitors, the Indian Pitta ( Pitta brachyura ), 
was observed below Kanheri Caves at 7 a.m. on 24th May. This bird 
was seen on a bare branch of a tree-about 20 feet up. The Pitta was 
first of all facing me but after less than a minute turned around on 
the branch so that its back was on full view. It was generally over- 
east morning but the slight glare from the sun was behind me and, in 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

in :hese conditions, the shining pale blue of the lower rump show up 
conspicuously. After asking about 4 loud c tear calls the bird turned 
to face me again and uttered a few more of its whistling calls It 
then flaw away- When I again passed through this area (which was 
thinly wooded and largely consisted of bamboo, dry nullahs and a oar- 
pet of fallen leaves) I again spotted a Pitta in a tree. This tree 
had considerable foliage a rd I lost the bird, but it called continu- 
ously for over i»lf an hour until I left. On a third visit later in 
the morning a Pitta was calling the loud clear dovble wfaiatle wheet- 
tew and being answered. I'm not eteolutely sure that the answering 
call was also That of a Pitta as the call made in answer appeared to 
be slightly higher pitched and locking some of the tone of* the first 
caller's. There were those excellent mirics the Hock3t-ta 4 .led Erongos 
and Oiloropees in the area, and the slightly different "all rajght 
possibly have teen an imitation call made by one of them. <V perh 
the male Pitta's call differs slightly from that of the female? 

The Pitta's varied colours were beautiful; although a great mix- 
ture they blend well as invariably happens in nature. Test year I 
notes a Pitta about half a mile away from this area on 18th May.* 

Another interesting call in the area on 24th Kay was that of a 
Muntjac (or Barking Eeer). This was also loud and so.nded like the 

bark, or perhaps loud cough, of a dog. I later saw tns charming lit- 
tle Deer running through taraboo. 

The Indian laburnums ( Cassia fistula ) in flower in Errivili Park 
were quite lovely. 

Oi the morning of 18th May I was walking on a hilly slope in well- 
wooded country near Kanheri Caves when 1 ehsneed to look up above me 
to a bill on the level of the caves and noticed a bird as it. alighted 
on a branch of a tree. I had a good view of the bird through the 
trees, although my position wnS sonowhat precarious and I had to give 
it up after a few minutes. But during that tine I caw that the bird 
was a Crested Hawk-Eagle (s piznetus cirrhatus ) perched upri -'■ a a 
bough. There was a breeze blowing its crest of long black feathsre 
and tfce long slender, powerful legs made the bird look ■ tall in the 
saddle '. After relinquishing my tenure I was unable to o?e the V 
agair. I think its occurrence in Bsmtny is unusual. This bird was 
brown above, white below with black longitudinal streaks on throat 
and chocolate streaks on breast as stated in Er Salim All's The Sock 
of Indian Birds , wnere there is an excellent illustration. The area 
appeared to be well suited to this handsome forent Eagle as I have 
frequently seen hares, peafowl, grey junglefowl and quail in the vi- 

♦Readers will recall that in 1969 a Pitta was seen at Fihim, Colnbn 
district, Bombay oh 18th May, and another on the 21st In my garden at 
Andheri, suburbs of Bombay (Newsletter Vol* 9(7): 9) — Ed. 

Kewslexter for Birdwatchers 

A pretty sight at Kanheri Cavea was a covey of nine Bush Quail 
troopiag in «ingl» *U« owr roc*»- Al»o at Xsoban c*v*» I»t» mw 
wr%ral of t*w btantiful Tfellowtwoked SuaMrde a nS think tb»y muwt 

have bred successfully during April^fay as some of these birds resem- 
bled the female but had the chin and throet a ruby colour and I took 
these to be immature males. 

A wonderful occasion for me a mile or so from Khaneri Caves was 
whan I disturbed a Barred Jungle Owlet and it flew onto a branch to 
be studied in full sunlight. Tt was a charming little bird and in the 
strong sunlignt its bright lecon -ye How irio were brilliant. It was 
near its stipulated company — Itacket-tailed flrongos and Tree Pies. 
I hardly over seen an owl to recognise but many previous fruitless 
searches we a? made up for that morning. 

- luring a brief visit to the Kanheri Caves area on the evening of 
26/v T was delighted to have long looks at two not bc common birds, 
a mutetfcroated Ground Thrush (is this mainly a monsoon visitor to 
Baabay ?) and a male Hearspotted Woodpecker. 

I was interested to note a party of seven Spotbiils ( Anae poeoi- 
lorhvncha) on Vihar lake between 25th April and 9th Jfay and at loaat 
~ tw» •»rlj Marota to 16 to Hmj< 

Prof. Dinssh Mohan 

Willapathu is a famous wild life sanotuary in Ceylon, situated about 
1*0 ^ilo8 north of Colonbo. It covers an area of many square miles 
and is well known for its leopards and other rare animals. It has a 
eerite of ponds ajso which are a paradise for birdwatchers. I had a 
gool fortune to visit Ceylon during Noventer and December 1969 and 
although I missed the Ceylon leopard 3ince I arrived at the Sanctuary 
slightly late in the morning towards the end of November yet I d 
see a good number of birds cIobg to the ponds. A list is given below. 

Hackwingod Stilt PelicoT 

Sandpiper Painted Stork 

whitenected Stork Bedwattled lapwing 

mfMte- fcKPBrm 

House Sparrow Cfcenbilled Stork 

Cattle Egret Little Egret - 

' B iatic Golden Plover Jaybird 

Golden Crlols Souther.? Magpie Robin 

Ceylon Black Robin Ceylon Greet. Ifee- -eater 

Cfaestnutheaded lbe-«ater Blue tailed Bse* -eater 

The Tnite throated Ground Thrush y Zoo^hera cltr'rfx cyanotic ) is 
is suspected to be onl;' a monsoon visitor to Saleet.te area in Bombay, 
but the 'jvidenca available is not con;- , ard oilers birdwatchers 

a subject for investigation. — E6V 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


Ceylon White breasted Kingfisher 


Indian Cliff Swallow 

Ceylon Serpent Eagle 

Brahniny Kite 

Bronzewlnged Pigeon 

Red Turtle Dove 

Grey Horn bill 

House Crow 

Crimsonbacked Woodpecker 

little Cormorant 


Paradise Flycatcher 

Ceylon Hawk Eaple 

Jungle fowl 

Spotted Dove 

Ceylon Myna 

White breasted Watorhen 

Jur^lP Crov: 

Green Iter bet 


A. lavarro, 3. J. 

The Spanish newspaper Carta de Sspanr in its March number 123 of 
the current year carried a novel arnoancement ; n its T.V. section. 
We find there an article ent . m&BLZ TO. * JiII£Epjlfc*B5 , B 

title that looks more like a riddle or a quia I 

The Spanish T.V. conducts weekly corapetiti-us on various subjects. 
The! subject is selected by any individual ard is open to all; a jrisc 
to the tune of a million pesetas is offered to the >ne vtoo fulfills 

the conditions of the competitions | in this case , to the one who 
answers correctly all the questions that go to form the basis of 
the competition. 

On one such occasion the subject was THE INDIGENOLB BIRIS OP SPAIN. 
<«ce the subject was announced, the Spanish T.V. invited the public 
to send in questions) seventy were collected! in the first round the 
condition stated that competitors who answered these with less tlnn 
SIX errors would qualify for the final test, at which the competi- 
tors would have to answer TE?r questions more. The caption for this 
final test reads, IAS DIEZ IE ULTIMAS, a technical phrase which 
translated would mean that the competitor who answers ' the last 
ten questions without any error gets the million pesetas ' . As luck 
would have it Mr S. Gallego Trigo topped the li3t and qualified for 
the prize moneyi there is the answer to the riddle of the n?wnpaner 
title: for Mr Trigo is ' The Beadle of Barcelona university * . 

What is more, this Mr Trigo has been collecting prize ironey at 
practically every eompetitioni not that he comes with a full cor- 
rect solution every timej but the rules of the competition include 
a clause for a certain percent cut for ever,, error. Over and above 
this prize money, the Spcnish Government granted him the decoration 
of The Cross of Alfonso X at the hands of the Prince Don Juan Carlos, 
on which occasion he was appointed Curator of the Zoological Museum 
of Barcelona university. 

Close on the heels of these laurels cane hie membership to the 
Madrid Ornithological Society a->d he was also presented with the 
gold medallion of the 6oeiety; and, of curse, with these honours 

Ilewaletter Tcr Bi 1 fl /rate hers 

ccsj responsibilities: he is n<w flooded with invitations to , 
talkB in Spain unci in scne of the Xcxin Amariean countries. 

P r-orts in "the Spanish press make us believe that he is n qualifi- 
ed HTRDffiVrCHER and a true lover of birds; far, I believe, he has 
never, to thi3 day, used iiroann3; if in doubt about the identity of 
a particular bird, his last resort is the NET? and once butq of the 
identity of the bird, It is released; this goes to prove that he Is 
a fervent and an active conservationist. 

0, being questioned by the press reporters at a press conference 
about hie abllitiOd and when end how this hobby started, he nnde a 
simple nutter of fa/st statement saying his father taught hiir. wher 
to look fcr birds and how to study and classify then. 

Mr Trlgo is fully convinced that only the doctcrine of conserva- 
tion will save what little is left from, the ruthless destruction in- 
dulged in by our ancestors. He is of the opinion that thert. is stjll 
time to save what we have inherited, provided the principles of con- 
servation are applied fully and without exception. 

Indra Kunar Sharma 

The calls of birds are an expression of their Internal feelings. The 
voices of some birds are highly developed and express their various 
moods. The calls of Peacocks are often quite sweet but sccotlrcs they 
appear harsh and bitter, and indicate scoe calanily. Very little at- 
tention seems to hove been paid to this subject by Indian ornitholo- 
gtsM ( Whistler, Dharmakumarsinhji, Salim All and otherB. 

I hove tried my best to represent the coll notes as faithfully as 
possibl3 but of course it is difficult to render them phonetically. 
I studied the calls on several typical habitats around Jodhpur within 
a radius cf. 15 kn. I an now enumerating the various types of calls 
which I had occasion to observe. 

Pozzlo Call: Alien a peacock faels solitary and puzzled it cnll& 
Mee er.o one to tlirea tirus. Vftllst doing so it stretches its neok up- 
wards opnning Its beak widely with violent lerks of its neck- 

T cyous Galls; When the bird feels happy after satisfying its hun- 
ger or finc'ln^ i+rreli in a pleasant situation it gives a single call 
Me eao. 

Alarm Call: Two types of alarm calls wero observed. It calls 
quak. ..loloo when an enemy or danger is sensed In the exstnnce. This 
call is also used to alert ita companions-- 'Then, en onomy is sighted 
it calls dh^nta.._^.^eeeeao.. ..meeao.. .. and on hearing this the o iV er 
birds respond with a cautious call meeao. It was noticed tl_at after 
these calls all the birds become very cautious. 

Escape Call: When an enemy is. nearby peafowl fly up Immediately 
calling ? a..-,.k ..«.k..k... 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

-*uptial CaU- 8 When peacocks get excited en seeing Q peahen near- 
by they give a loud nuptial call Meeeaaooo. . . . . . which is accompanied 

with violent jerkB of the neck. Thi3 call and moirement seem to have 
a positive effect on the females which come near the male and induce 
him to commence his well-known darce. 

Sigh Call: When a dancing peacock finds that the peahen is moving 
away he utters a sigh call Kenk konk. ... 

Fear Call: Whenever there is a loud bang of a gun or thunder all 
the peafowl of that area coll Meeac. ■ . .meao..meao 5 or 7 times with 
a gradual lowering of the pitch, 

I observed that peacocks have several other kinds of calls as for 
instance when a bird has strayed npart from its companions and wants 
to rejoin themj there ore special types of calls in the morning and 
dOj, when they are at *e roost. The birds 4 not usually call during midday 
unless there are some very exciting circumstances, There is a OOOB 
belief among people that dark clouds excite peacocks. This is prob?.bly 
due to the fear of impending thunder. I notice* 3 that young peacocks 
call more actively than adults. New-born young '.hick.i ->.lso caJl con- 
tinuously peeyu. 

I find that the calls of the male birds m • more meiccMouo than 
those of the females. In winter the birds call much less often than 
they do in summer. The number of calls was found to ce less in winter, 
increasing in spring. In summer the numbers of calls decreased again, 
and increased in the rainy season- 


Readers may have noticed some correspondence in the press rently about 
illegal serving of partridge and quail in restaurants and private 
homes. It is regrettable that with the passage nt Bombay Wild Animals 
and Wild Birds Protection Act, 1951. which made it illegal for birds 
to be served at table (except those which have been legitimately nhot 
by a sportsman under a game licence) a large trade in Painted and Grey 
Partridge and Quail continues to flourish in Bombay. The largest dam- 
age to wild birds is caused by netting carried out by Phansipardas 
who get a fancy price for the birds they catch. The birds are merci- 
lessly huddled in chicken baste ts and transported over large dis- 
tances by train and bus y many of them dying on the way. Will our 
readers kindly cooperate and inform likely breakers of the law about 
the existence of this Act, and also pointing out that the maximum 
penalty is Rs5.00/«, or jail for six months. Recently on offense unde> 
thie"Aet committed by a hotel in fimdra (Bombay) was compounded for 

The humble House Sparrow appears tc have created a stir in Australia. 
Apparently two ar three birds managed to get to that Continent on a 
plane or a steamer, and the Australian Government recalling the popu- 
lation explosion of these birds in the United States offered a large 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

sun to any one. who caught the '-trds dead 'or alive. 

It is well known that exotic species tend to create havoc in a new 
environment and the panic of the Australian Government is undu: 


Arrival and departure of Birds 

At the edge of the forest in West Bank of Vihar lake I saw two 
Hod Crested Cuckoo perched and calling and flying away later on. 
Also at the sane spot one pair of Brahminy Myna and one Rosy Pastor 
was observed settling on a tree but returning later to feed on ground. 
As I proceeded a few steps further, a group of about fifty birds ;a 
pink and black flew away, possibly being aware uf ny presence. Pre- 
sumably thie group consisted of Rosy restore. 

The date of observation was 51 at fcfey ard time wis about 6. 30 
p.m. Monsonn arrived in Bombay on the 26th May. 

G. Da 
Indian Institute jf Technology 

Bombay 7 j 

Birds ar ound Biarat Scouts & Guides campsite at Jogeshwari, jtoabay 

I read with interact Mr S. V. Nilakanth's article on the Coucal 
or Crow-Pheasant in the May issue of the Newsletter. 

I was more interested because this particular bird is very com- 
mon at cur campsite at Byran inu£, Jogeshwari, and I in surprised 
that many of our boys and girls do not know such common birds. 

Die other common birds at our campsite are the Jungle mbblers, 
Magpie Robins, Redvented Bulbuls, Black Drongos, Owls, Golden Oriole 
and Iora. The last bird has been very difficult to observe and so I 
rejoiced listening to its sweet call only. 

I was in camp for eleven days last month conducting a training 
course for Scoutmasters and the Magpie Robins were the first to rouse 
us at 5.30 in the morning. They kept up their anting call Juat behind 
our tent till 6 e.n. and even we tape recorded it onoe. 

B. A. Palkhiwalla 
785 A, jCadar, Bombay 14 

Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Ifewsletter for Birdwatchers 
32A JUhu lane, Andheri 
Bom lay 58-AS 



VOL. 10-NO 8 - 1970 AUGUST 

Volume 10, Number 8 

August 1970 

c arrows 

Woodpeckers; Friends or Fees?, by K. K. Neelakantan 

Monsoon visitors to Bombay, by B. A. Stairmand 

Some notes on the Avifauna of Kathmandu, Nepal, with a special 

reference to a number of Birds of Prey, by Dr V- M. Galushin 
Foster parents for ar. orphaned mini vet, by Mira Majithia 
Arrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo (CSamator .ja echinus ) in Ponbay, 

by J. S. Serrao 


Roger Holmes 

Ten days at JJiu, from K. N. - ■ rjee 



K. K. Neelakantan 

Mr K. D. Ghorpede who wrote on the Blackbacked Woodpecker in the 
July 1970 issue of the News let tor seens to have made up his mind re- 
garding the culpability of the woodpecker on very inadequate eviden- 
ce- The nature of his approach to the problem is well revealed by 
the passage : ' My next move was to try and catch the culprit at work 
and so for the next few days I devoted more of my time to watching 
the woodpecker's activities. But, to m y indignation, the birds never 
ventured anywhere near the nuts on the treesT * (Why ' culprit '?, 
Why ' indignation *?) He says that pecking at the nuts has been 
• definitely recorded * by his friend and finds these ' personal 
Observations and . . data acquirec- from locals ' is ' confirmation 
of this peculiar destructive habit of woodpeckers to coconut trees.' 

My own acquaintance with the Blackbacked V.'oodpecker was too 3hot 
to permit me to undertake a defance of this species; but T know the 
lesser Goldenbacked well enough to 3ay that it does not bore holes 
in coconuts at any stage of their growth. I have seen it eating ripe 
mange, cashew and papaya fruits, though, except in the case, of cas- 
hew fruit, I think it choobes fruits that have already' been opened 
by crows, bulbuls or squirrels. I have seen it pecking at the rind 
of jack fruits to. get at ir-sects; but during the past ?C years I have 
never once seen a woodpecker on i fruit of the coconut tree. The 

Newsletter for _xd watchers 


Goldenbacked Woodpecker Is a re^rlar visitor to the crowns of coconut 
trees and spends muoh time probing the recesses between the fronds, 
pulling out and flinging down large masses of decayed fibrous material 
send finding plenty to eat. IV feeding on the beetles and their grubs, 
as well as by removing large quantities of the decomposed fibre amidst 
which these pests hide and breed, the woodpecker renders very veHnble 
service to the trees ard their owners. 

The views and ' observations * of our villagers and farmers are 
seldom of any value. Considering the difficulties involved in follow- 
ing a woodpecker's movements among the fronds, flower~*eads and bun- 
ches of nuts that crown a coconut tree, there is no point in accept- 
ing the sweeping statements made by rustics or even amateur natural- 
ists. However, I have never heard a ry one accusing any species of 
woodpecker of harming coconuts. The story commonly heard in various 
parts of Kerala is that tender coconuts are ' bitten ■ by the rat- 
snake. Villagers believe that the ratsnake bores a hole in the nut 
and drinks the sweet fluid (coconut-water), art they also believe 
that this snake • milkB ! cows ard can enter the human ear tail first! 

I do not know what made Mr Ghorpede think that the holes in the 
fallen, dried-up nuts were made hy woodpeckers. I have examined quite 
a few green nuts that have dropped from trees. Many of them had no 
holes at all. Some had holes near the top; but these were most pro- 
bably made by soma rodent as suggested by the ragged outlines and 
the chewed--up look of the fibre. Along with the palm squirrel, coco- 
nut trees are regularly visited by some kind or kinds of rat. Where 
the flying squirrel is present, most of the blame for destroying nuts 
can safely be placed at its door. 

Plowernectar and the sap of trees are both rather thick and sticky, 
and the woodpecker's tongue should be able to mop them up. Bit even 
if the bird could * suck ' the think milk of the coconut, it would 
get only a few drops from the part closest to the hole bored by it. 
Drinking coconut milk is definitely not something that the woodpecker 
I could easily accomplish ! as claimed by Mr Gharpade. He fancies that 
a woodpecker ' in the course of normal boring operations may have..- 
by chance.. made a hole in a nut and instead of encountering insects, 
had its first taste of the highly nutritious coconut milk while feel- 
ing around with its tongue. ■ The major flaw in this argument is that- 
pecking at green coconuts on the tree is not part of the ■ norral 
boring operations ' of any species of woodpecker. 

Mr Ghorpade says he shot a woodpecker that was accused of drinking 
coconut milk. I wonder why he did not examine the stomach contents or 
send the body after skinning to -the Banbay Natural History Society 
for examination. 

Any woodpecker thnt habitually visits coconut trees should be re- 
ckoned among the chief benefactors of the owner. It is well known 
that the most injurious pests of the coconut tree are certain kinds 
of beetles and their grubs. Equally well known should be the fQCt 
that to woodpeckers the fat grubj of beetles are as Rasgolla to the 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

Bangali. If woodpeckers ore declared to be enemies of the coconut 
tree, we may expect the Purplerumped Sunbird (with its needle-like 
bill and fondness for the inflorescence of the coconut tree) to be 
proclaimed Enemy No. 21 

Man has found enough excuses for the extermination of birds and 
other animals. W», professed birdwatchers, should not add any more 
to these excuses without really watching and weighing the resulting 
evidence. 1 do hope Unt'Mr Gharpade will never again shoot any bird 
simply to oblige some peasant who has branded it a pest. 

]$r the way, I think Mr Ghropade's observation on our winter visi- 
tors ( Newsletter Vol. 10(6): 13) is quite correct. Inst winter I 
found that the numbers of sandpipers and plovers (particularly of 
the Sand Plover) seen on the beaches here was much smaller than in 
winter of 1968-69- Will the Editor put in a special appeal to readers 
to comment on this? 

D. A. Stairmand 

This year I have recorded our three most well-known SW. monsoon visi- 
tors as follows: 

Indian Pitta ! 24.M n .y, below Kanheri O.ves 

Indian Threetoed Forest Kingfisher : 14 June, at a stream 

near the Efecon Factory, Borivli 
Pied Crested Cuckoo r 21 June, at Erangal, Marve 
I had already finished a morning's birdwatching around Kanheri 
Caves on H/vi and was having a quiet smoke in my car at around 1 
p.m. vihen the' resplendent Threetoed Kingfisher appeared on the road- 
side wall of the stream by which I was sitting looking at the water 
rushing over the rocks and enjoying the rr.ther tempestuous sounds. 
Neither I nor the kingfisher were aware of each' other's presence at 
first as I was looking in the opposite direction and the kingfisher 
had its back towards me. I was the first to realise the situation 
and took up my binoculars and had. -a rewarding look at this beautiful 
little bird before my concentration apparently ' bore ■ into the 
kingfisher's back for it -looked over its shoulder, noted my proximity 
and flew off over tM stream* 

My sighting of the Pied Crested Cuckoo will leave no contenders 
for the ' wooden spoon '. The sighting of this meat important 'rains' 
visitor is definitely not my f carte. There were a pair of these birds 
in chasing flight ard I must admit that I had forgotten just how 
elegant they are in their black a?id white colours with attractive 
crests, beautiful long toils and tho conspicuous white patches on 
the wings when in flight. 

May be the following are not wholly monsoon visitors but I would 
like to record 

Whitethroated Ground Thrush*: 26/v, below Kanheri Caves 

♦Pleaae see editorial footnote bo p. 7, Newsletter Vol. 10(7) 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


Heartspotted Woodpecker : 2t>A» below Kanheri Caves. There were 
a pair by 31/v and I think D. 7- Cowen's Plate 52 in Volume 4 
of the Handbook of a pair of these birds is splendid. The fe- 
male's buffy viiite forehead and crown, topping the slender 
whitish neck, and crown of the head surmounted by a big black 
crest made her very attractive. Perhaps even more attractive 
than the mole and her chattering scream was loud from about 

20 feet away- « 

Indian Drongo -Cuckoo : 31/v, below Kanheri Coves. At first I 
suspected a Black Brongo but the Drongo-Cuckoo's sluggish dis- 
position and white bars on the outermost tail feathers near 
their base were tell-tale features. 
last week-end, 20-21/vi, I was delighted to find two pairs of Tel- 
low-wattled lapwings on a stony '-illock at Erangal, Marve. Ctoe pair 
obviously had eggs or chicks cid I was ' dive-bombed * frequently, I 
tad not seen them there in 1£ years of fairly regular visits although 
Redwattled lapwings always occupy that hillock. It seems the wrong 
time of year for Yellow-wattled lapwings to take up such a position 
as "they usually prefer dry areap I was unable to discover either 
eggs or chickB on the red laterit? soil. 


Dr V. M. Gelushin, Unesco Expert, rfew Delhi 

General Impressions of Common Bird s 

A short visit to Kathmandu from 11 to 16th of April 197^ gave to 
the author some impressions of common birds of the Ifepalese capital. 

The general outline of the avifauna of Kathmandu is mostly alike 
to that of Delhi. The commonest birds are the House Crow ( Corvus 
splendens ), Cordon Myna ( Acridothares tristis ), Blue Rock Pigeon 
( Columbo livia ), Redvented Balbul ( Pycnonotus cafer ), Black Droago 
( Llcrurus adsimilis ). There are plenty of sparrows. However, approxi- 
mately three-fourths of them belong to House Sparrow ( Passer flonea- 
ticus ), the rest of them are Tree Sparrow ( Passer montanus ) which 
are absent in Ielhi. The Roseri^ed Paxateet ( Psittacu lo kroner!) 
which is extremely numerous in D" 1 hi rarely occurs in Kathmandu. Gi 

Presumably a resident. - Ed. 

The status of the Brongo-Cuckoo in our area is uncertain. However 
its presence in our midst starts being felt from early June by its 
distinctive short whistling note.,: 1 -2-3-4-5-* (sometires going up 
to 9). The lost specimen from our area collected by the Bombay-Sel- 
sette Survey wr.s towards the end of September* - Ed- 

Newsletter lor Biia.vatchers 


the contrary the Magpie Robin ( Copsychus sa ula r is ) is much more abun- 
dant the^e. Swallows ( Hirundo daiirica and H. rustics ) are also likely 
to occur more often there than in the capital of India, 

Early in the morning of 13th April the author was a witness to a 
mutual hunting by crows, sparrows and swallow upon some moths- Swal- 
lows seemed to be most profitable in that crowd- They were flying 
above the crows and sparrows which searched for moths on the ground 
and walls- 60-90 per cent of ircects nonaged to escape from the lat- 
ter predators by flying up. 

However more than half of them were imma' , iately caught on the fly 
by swallowa. Frightened by these new enemies the rest of the moths 
fell down on asphalt. Now about half of their number became victims 
of crows and sparrows there- So in the long run more than three-fourth 
of the moths which have been discovered primarily by crows and sparrows 
were unable to save themselves against the double attack, both on the 
ground and in the air. If the entire prey tiie greater part fell t* 
Swallows' lot. 

Occasionally (most at the morning excursions) the author had met 
the Jungle Crow ( Coryus nacrcrhynchos ) — 2-3 pairs within the city, 
Whitecheebed Eulbul ( Pycnonotus leucogenys ), Indian Robin ( Saxicolo- 
ide3 fulicata ), Rufousbaeked Shrike ( Ianius sctiach ), some Wren-Warblers 
(most probably Prinia sp» ), White-eye ( Zoaterops palpebrosa )- 

Out of non-Passerines were noted some swifts ( Apus melba , A. af fi- 
nis or A;_ pacifieuiO, one Cuekoc (Cueulus sp. ) and a few Redwattled ■ 
lapwings ( Vanellus indicus ). 

In the northern part of Kathmandu near the Rcyal Palace a snail 
(10-15 nests) mixed colony of the little ( Egretta garzetta ) and Cat- 
tle ( Bubulcus ibis ) Egrets was discovered. Sohb Paddy ( A"rdoola grayii ) 
and solitary little Green ( Butorides striatus )heror,s were also noted 
there • 

At dusk about 7.3^ p.m. on the 12th of April a small owlet, most 
probably the Spotted Owlet ( brama ), flew down from the pole 
close to the Blue Star Hotel (the southern part of Kathmandu) and 
caught a large cricket on asphalt not far away than two metres from 

Two kinds of birds of prey were registered by the author within 
the capital of Nepal. They were one pair of the Himalayan Griffon 
Vulture (Gy jas hlmalayensiB ) on the bank of Eaganoti river and a few 
Pariah Kites ( Milvus migrans ). 

A provisional estimation of the predatory bird population within 

To collect some comparative data to his study of birds of prey 
population of Delhi the author made an attempt to estimate a number 
of predatory birds within Kathmandu. 

Fjt that purpose a special area for detailed inspection was pick- 
ed up in a form of a strip: 5 tan long and 0.5 tan wide. As in Delhi 
it crossed 1he whole city from north to south and included various 
types of habitats: the northern-western outskirts with small houses, 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


kitchen-gardens and scarce trees, the respectable and green northern- 
central part near the Royal Palace with dense parte and gardens, 
the busy and, partly, shopping centres, the stadium, the southern 
suburb along Bagamati river almost deprived of trees. 

The entire area under inspection covered 250 hectares (ha) or 2.5 
sq. km- About 1200 -trees above 8 m in height (including 570 ones 
higher than 15 m) were accounted for within the area, I.e. about 5 
trees (including 2 high ones) per 1 ha in average. 

Three nesting pairs of predatory birds — all of them were Pariah 
Kites — inhabited the area under study. One pair lived near the 
northern edge of the area. The author failed to find its nest in 
dense, park between the British and Indian Embassies. The nest of the 
second pair was discovered on the tree 32 m in height just above the 
southern gate of the Royal Palace. It -was built close to the end of 
*a side branch at an altitude of about 18 m. The third pair nested 
near the Clock Tower within the busy centre. The nest was on the tree 
22 m in height. It was situated on a fork of the trunk 16 m above the 
ground. In both nests the Rites fod their small nestlings. Their 
breeding season seemed to start thare at least one month later than 
in Delhi. 

Three nesting pairs discovered within 2.5 sq. km are equal to 1.2 
pairsper 1 sq. km in average. If the situation within the area under 
study is more or less typical far the whole city which covers roughly 
40 sq. km, we can calculate that the total number of kites within 
Kathmandu is approximately 50 breeding pairs; plus a few pairs of 
Himalayan Vultures and still there might be some rare and unregister- 
ed species; and that to the author's mind, are not more than 10 pairs 
all together. Therefore, the entire population of birds of prey with- 
in Kathmandu city' is unlikely to exceed 60 breeding pairs. 

These data extremely differ from the results of the similar kind 
of a study made by the author within Delhi in 1967-69. The average 
density of the Kite population in Delhi is 16.1 breeding pairs per 1 
sq. km, i.e. 13 times higher than that of Kathmandu. Within the capi- 
tal of India the total number of both Kites (24*X) pairs according to 
the author's estimation) and birds of prey as a whole (roughly about 
30^0 breeding Fairs) outnumbers the corresponding figures for the 
capital of Nepal by 5^ times i 

Mira Majithia 

While walking in the gardens of Government House one late afternoon 
we found a small young bird — fully feathered — fluttering helpless- 
ly at the foot of a tall deodar tree. We locked around for signs of 
the parent birds — high up in the branches we caught sight of a pair 
of minlvets, the scarlet male and the golden female. We then noticed 
that the young bird had a little yellow on his tail and the tips of 
hie wings, otherwise he was dull speckled grey brown. 

Since it was near nightfall and the young bird was obviously unable 

Sew a letter for Birdwatchers 


to fly* we took it home with us to the other end of Nainital, three 
milea away. We made a snail neat in a box and tried to feed the chick 
with oatmeal and a little milk. Tt ate very little a*& then settled 
down in the nest for th e night. 

Early next morning we placed the box in a sunny patch on the up- 
stairs bedroom window, behind a wirenetting. The young bird sat at 
the edge of the box and Btarted chirping — it gradually grew quite 
loud and clear in his tones and within a few minutes a pair of mini- 
vets appeared, frantically flying close to the wirenetting, trying to 
reach the young one. The mother bird was calling frantically and arch- 
ing her body with the tai 1 feathers spread in a fan shape and the 
wings fluttering downr-rds in a hovering motion. The young bird had 
clinbed up on the inside of the netting and was chirping loudly. Ws 
took him downstairs and put him on the branches of a peach tree and 
hid on the veranda to watch. The parent birds flew back and forth 
and several times sat on each side of the young one on the branch. 
He finally fluttered down from the peach tree onto a small hedge a rd 
then still further downwards to a tennis court below, where some 
children were playing. 

It tagan to rain, so we picked him up again and brought him uphill, 
near the house and left him in a leafy apple tree, with the parent 
birds still fluttering around. 

We lost sight of him until afternoon, when the rain cleared. At' 
about three he was discovered on a smell footpath with no sign of 
the ' parents ' . We brought him inside and again placed him on n win- 
dow ledge. Within minutes the couple were back. This time we close- 
ly observed and noticed them literally stuffing the little one with 
food. A large black and white butterfly went down with ease and a 
lot of smaller tit bits were eagerly devoured. He eventually flut- 
tered from the window led^e to a grassy bank outside and sat there 
for sore time, while the parents kept alighting on the ground and 
continued feeding him. The mother occasionally gave a startled ory 
and spread her wings and arched her body as she had done previously, 
flight was falling ard as the ^by bird was obviously still unable 
to fly, we took him inside as before. Next morning again we put him 
in iho same bedroom window, where he immediately started chirping 
loudly. Again the ' parents ■ arrived, calling frantically and beat- 
ing against- the wire screen. We made a small straw nest in a flat 
wicker basket and pushed it into the upper branches of a honeysuckle 
creeper on the house. The parents found him at once and began sitting 
each side of him on a branch. 

Suddenly the young ope flew, quite strongly, in an upward direc- 
tion to a nearby tree with the parent birds. We never saw them again- 

We wonder whether the pair of elder minivets were the real parents 
of the young one. Could they really have followed him such a distance 
(which the baby traversed by car). Or is it possible that another 
pair of minivets found and adopted this young one?''??? 


.Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


IJX is well known That birds, especially in the breeding season, 
are attracted by the cheeps of young bird's, not necessarily of their 
own species — whether ty ttieir 3'iueals of distress or food-begging 
calls. In the breeding season tticre is a strong urge on the part of 
adult birds of either or both sexos to respond to the food-begging 
cheeps of young birds, especially in individuals that have recently 
lost their brood through some misadventure. In this way adults have 
been observed feeding even the young of species entirely different 
from their own. In the present case it seems unlikely that the 
chick's own parents had followed their offspring all that distance. 
What is more probable is that a bereaved pair of minivets found an 
orphaned chick cheeping for food and adopted it. — Eds^ 


J. S. Serrao 

Has the Pied Crested Cuckoo arrived in Bom toy later than the SW. 
monsoon did? ^f . G. De, Newsletter 10(7): 11*7 A section of the 
local press put them down as late and Jeered the birdwatchers for 
their failure to arrive in time. 

As did Mr De, I saw my first bird of the season en 31 .v.1970 down 

Pali Hill at about 7 in the morning. The following day (1st June) I 

saw no less than four individuals about the sane locality, en each 
occasion being chased by crows, and the crov4 in turn being followed 
by the urchins of the locality. Yet J definitely feel that the birds 
arrived in Bombay well in advance of the first outburst of the SW. • 

True we have had cur first showers on 28th May afternoon and they 
were accompanied by gusty winds. Hit I am inclined to consider them 
as our pre-monsoon outtursts duri. - ^ a time an expected storm was re- 
ported by the press. The weather report in the morning papers on l/vi 
indicated that the SW. monsocn was fast advancing along north Konkan, 
wherefrom it is clear that the uhowers we had on 28/v were not the 
true SW. monsocn. 

Yet another indication (perhaps a very rustic one ) that the SW. 
monsoon had yet not commenced in ?omtey was available from the Wild 
Binana. On 31/v an examination of the spots where it grows around 
Tulal showed no signs of its sprouting to life again, in spite of 
the heavy showers of 28/v. The Wild Banana starts doing so with the 
first showers of the true SW. monsoon rains ; any amount of pre-monsoon 
showers fail to induce it to life again. 

It is evident from all ftis that the Pied Crested Cuckooa, harbin- 
gers of the SW. monsoon, were in Bombay well in advance of the SW. 
monsron rains. 

Incidentally the Bombay Natural History Society as far back as 
23. vi. 1910 ( journal Vol. 20: 537-6) oppea&d to its members for last 
sightings of the Pied Crested Cuckoo in Bombay. One such date I have 
is 26«x.l969 from Aarey, Goregaon. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


WATCHING BIRDS. By Jamsl Are- Pp. 64 (20 x 15 cm)- Illustrated 
by J. P. Irani. National Bock Trust, India, 1970. Price Rsl-50 

Author, illustrator and publisher deserve united congratulation upon 
the emergence of this attractive, useful and timely little booklet. 
Timely because of the belated but increasing popularity bird watching 
is gaining as an outdoor hobby in India today. The booklet provides 
a good introduction to birds in general, describing their various 
characteristics in H simply written chapters covering topics such 
as coloration, nesting, migration and bird-ringing, food, flight and 
structural adaptations. Suggestion are offered on how to attract and 
encourage birds around homes and in gardens by providing them with 
food, water and nest-boxes, and finally hints are eiven for neariing- 
ful birdwatching. lne last should be of particular usefulness to 
faltering beginners and new aspirants, and to such as wonder what it 
is all about! 

The booklet is primarily aimed at youngsters ard written in simple 
language to form part of the excellent series Nehru Bal Pustakalaya 
(library for Children) published ty the National Book Trust, India. 
It is written by an experienced and Jmowledgeable birdwatcher, need- 
ing no introduction to readers of the Newsletter, and illustrated by 
one of our upcoming young bird aitiets; a ccmbLnation of their talents 
has resulted in an unusually attractive production. Considering the 
limitations of 2-colour printing (in order to keep down the price) 
the artist has done a remarkably "leasing job 'with his Imaginitive 
sketches. In these days of high printing costs and general expensive- 
neea of illustrated books the prico seems astonishingly — almost 
unbelievably — low. ©lis, togetbor with its attractive get-^ip and 
interesting and useful contents v.ill, let us hope, enable every aspir- 
ing birdwatcher to possess a copy. It should help to start him off — 
no matter his age — on the path o+ a fascinating hobby which can 
provide perennial enjoyment in t>x- out-of-doors for the rest of his 
natural days. 



roe of the keenest birdwatchers in India within recent years, who 
was also a stajnch supporter of the Newsletter, Roger Holmes, was 
killed in a car accident at Geneva, Switzerland, in May this year. 
Friends who had had occasion to rids with Roger in his Jeep over 
the terrifying » cuntain roads of Biutan were always somewhat shaken 
in their -peace of mind, but nevertheless filled with admiration far 
his skill at the wheell It is ironical that the good luck which 
kept him company for so long over those fearsome roads should have 

Newsletter for Birdwatchere 


deserted him under less trying conditions, 

While stationed at Phuntsholintf far the past three years as Manager 
of the Bink of Bhutan, Roger ma* .-■ the fullest use of his opportunities 
to add to our meagre knowledge of the birds of this little explored 
region. Ife went out of his way to be hospitable to, and assist, any 
birdwatcher who strayed within his ken, and helped in no small measure 
to supplement the records of the recent ornithological expeditions to 
Bhutan by Ore Salim All and B. Biswas, fe was a highly competent field 
ornithologist and an indefatigable nist-netter and collector, possess- 
ed of boundless enthusiasm, energy and stamina; seasoned birdwatchers 
like Peter Jackson and Tom Roberts confessed that they were usually 
quite worn out when birding with Roger Holmes 1 

May his soul rest in peace. 


Ten days at Diu 

During a stay of ten days in Diu in February, I observed the daily 
routine of the gulls. lesser- Bteckbacked Gulls, Iarus fuscus were the 
most common along Hie coast. In the NW. part of the islands near 
Vankbara we were able to see a lot of gulls, terns and skimmers, 
particuterly when the fishing boats and trawlers returned. There was 
nothing remarkable to observe in the woods on the mainland, but there 
were rollers, hoopoes, mynas, cr^w-pheasants, parakeets, and lapwings. 
There were snipe, sandpipers, wagtails along the road bordering the 
dry ditches. We once observed a flock of Rufous-fronted Wren-Warblers 
and Brahminy Mynas. Tne Black Ibis was met with on the outskirts of 
the town. My most remarkable experience was on 17th February, and if 
I am not mistaken I saw a Pinklegged Herring Gull ( Iarus ara-ntatua) 
when I was on a fishing trawler c. 20 km off the post of Diu, vtoen 
a solo was seen flying in a NW. direction. 

We are grateful to Vipin Parikh for his useful note in Vol. 10(3} 

of the Newsletter. 

R. N. Mukherjee ( 

Zoological Survey of India 

The fleet, Solan, Simla 

Zafar Futehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu Road, Andheri 

Bombay 58-AS 



VOL. 10-NO 9 - 1770 SEPTEMBER 


Volume 10, Number 9 September 1970 


Birds of Iangtarg Valley, TTepal, toy Robert L. Fleming, Jr. ' 

Khandala during the Sff. monsoon, by D. A. Stairman 4 

Paucity of migratory waders and wQtorbirds In the South during 

1969-70 cold season, by J. S. Serrao 7 

Migration of birds, by Robert B. Grutfc 9 

Peculiar feeding habit of the Whitebrowed Pantail Flycatcher, 

Rhlpldura aureola leas on, E« K. Himmatsinhji 10 

Woodpeckers: Friends or Foes?, by K.S. Iavkumar 10 

1 Destructive habit ' of the Bleckbacked Woodpecker, by K. D. 

Do any PBlcons build their own nests?, by Salim All 13 

Notes and Comments 15 


Correspondence * . 

BlxdwatcMng at the garden tt.p, frcx Ir. Cola A. la via 
Investigations in food and feeding habits of soiae birds of agri- 

ngriculi;rre, ft-om S* Sengupta 

Robert L. Fleming, Jr. 

Iciigta ig Valley, althc^igh net far from Kathmandu, has not been visit- 
ed often by Mrdwatching enthusiasts. It is n hidden valley — hidden 
that is, from Xathmanau. by the jagged Gosainkund range p.nd the Genja 
la peaks. It is well worth the effort to explore — as we found out 

last October. 

Iengtang Village at 11,000 feet altitude is Just six days trek 
from Kathnandu — six fairly unstxenuous days. Eut we ohose an even 
more unstrenuous way to go. At 12,4000 feet elevation an airfield 
for STOL (short-take -off -end -landing) planes has been constructed 
recently. We would go that wayl Cti 1* October, as we approached for 
landing, I took a picture — hopefully of the runway which I could 
not see. In the photograph I now show friends, the field is quite 
visible — if you look hard. 

Redbilled Choughs (PyTrhocorax pyrrhocorax ) greeted us as we eager- 
ly tumbled out of the plane. Massive mountain walls anfl cliffs roee 
sharply from the wide, glaciated valley floor. The Choughs must roost 
and ne3t up there somewhere. A White Wagtail ( Wotacilla alba ), now 
here on migration, ran about a sandbank of the Iengtang Khola. Hteck 
Redstarts ( tftoenicurus ochruros ) and Hodgson's Pipits ( Anthus pelopus) 
fed in the snow-sprinkled meadow. 

BeV» letter for Birdwatchers 

Tlty on this field after about 9-30 a.m. except, perhaps, for tne 

were not as tame* ,,.x,i- * n +h fi 

M «; r r *^^f^ -^i,^ the icfal, * too inkpot .«*h 
£ la"er' f^oftoTa fine looking bird perched on to. of a rounoec 
£~™«. T* '« a a te redstarts black arl red wita the top of t ., 
£S wnite! Tite spofs it. the wings showed la flighx. 

Si weVounTseveraf ^'culdenstadfc Hedstart. at langslsa, 
eigif SlT. up^e »ln valley from Kyangjia. iron, our o £™£J» 
+v»t» it nc-.a-ed that thlo rodE.-iart is very much a ' rock bird. 
» y v,e e^'tll^ly to be found on tu^le, glacial *£>?£« 

the redstart, ate oraoge berries that were cobmu here. 

Tmv3--.a 1. a t place. Tillagera have constructed a large 
sto^ne^in S^tta, , «* sun^r. By*tober^eople £ve 

i *•*. *k<« «it<+iir.-« M^.CCO ft; E J we occupiea their cottage m 
£!t ^ort^o* l^Sisa 4 explored the three «1» glacier, of 

^HorS^x uu th* snout of tl.e great I.ngtang Blaoler (about 10 
JZ&3 £,eer*ed to about I4,C0C fret. O. ioe ^Jjr^f 
wa. *rt :tr^iate:y .isible for it was covered with ^ b °^ dc ^ 
anc awll puVM... Glacie-2 ere not noted, as you can iBagine, for 


2' or Birdwatchers 

spectoeular birdwatching. Nonetheless our curiosity was well rewarded 
for we saw several birds on or over the Iangtang Glacier. A Wallcreep- 
er ( Tichodroroa muraria ) landed on a boulder nbout 15,500 feet eleva- 
tion in the centre of the glacier. Iammergelers ( Gypaetua barbatus ) 
occasionally circled overhead. 

'"nce while we were resting at 16 ,000 feet on a sharp ridge between 
the ablation valley and the main glacier, a small bird shot past my 
ear. Wiat was that? It looked dark and roundish. Following frantical- 
ly with my eye, I watched until it alighted on a Jagged rock fall. 
Here, with my binoculars, I could see it working over the rocks. A 
distinct black crest and white cheeke gave it away immediately. A 
Rufousbellied Crested Titmouse ( Paras rubidivcn tris ) . I knew they 
hunted above the tree -line , but had not realized to what extentl 

Snow Pigeons ( Columba leuconota ) rested on cliffs above the gjao- 
ierj there were no signs of the Turkestan Hill Pigeons ( Columba rupe- 
s trie ) which we might have expected here.. Snowcock ( Te traogallus ) 
droppings on rockB at 15,5C0 ft indicated their presence but they 
kept well out of sight. Ga^e birds in general were relatively scarce. 

By late October, and with tha night temperatures dropping to 10 
below tero (c), we decided to move southward". Alter pacing xhe 
Chetse Factory we cam upon, at 11,600 ft our first Tinaliid — the 
Vttiitefcrowed Tlt-Bafebler (Alcit-r . vlnipe^ :•.-?). It was good to so-? 
this coiifidlog bird again. A strange feeding though, to record ' the 
first ILt-B-'-blers at 11,600 feet. ' Usually we t ' the last 
Ti -^-Babblers were at i1,60C feat. ' But such is the age of air tar 

Around Ipngtang Village are numerous fields and bushes which hide 
Streakul laughing Thrushes ( Garrulax linep.tus ) and Tickell'e leaf 
Warbler ( Phylloso e pUB affinits" ?- Usually the highest altitude 
laughing Thrush is the KLackfaeed ( GarrtU a ?: nf finis ) , but not here. 
Pc * sor>e reason, the Baaclc>eed v.t>9 not seen umri.1 about 3900 feet 
— btlo.v the level of three other lauding Thrash specie3„ 

Bslcw Twngtnng Village, the path wind3 gradually downwards through 
F: -tail and other grasses; numerous forns grow on the banlfl. Across 
the valley beautiful conifers covered the slopes to about 11,50<~ ft. 
At this time of year -he larch ( larix griff 1*fejfl ) turn3 yellow in 
preparation to losing its needles. To see theBe golden trees stand- 
ing erect amongst the dark green Firs ( Abies 3p ec*abi:. ls) and Hem- 
locks (TSuga_ dumosa ) is almost worth the whole trip in itself. 

'Vice down to about 10, ^Co feet, familiar birds began to crowd in 
on all sides. Brown Titmice ( Parvs d iohrcus) , foal Titmice ( Parus 
ater ) , ftreen Shri're cabbl rs 7 .'~ -r ut hi us x antho»hloris ) and Stripe- 
throated (ttLnln str iRula ) flocked together. 

At about 9fco> feet tho valley suddenly narrows, indicating the 
the extent of the Iangta-^ Glacier during the ice ages. Wow, the 
rushing torrcr.t ha* swollen so that it ta hard to hear much bird son* 
unlsos one can get behind a slight ris* and away from the stream. 

Evening was descending so we decided to camp in the forest. Near 
our tents, Spotted lauding Thrushes (Gerrula* owllfltug ) peered sus- 
piciously through tho bushes and then moved silently away. Suddenly 

■ - ■ - ■ . « ij e » e 1 e t t e r 

a strpnfe Kx<3 - "t-^t vr t'. I stumbled ovwr soss-covered logs 

pr.d between yeliov. -leaved Maples to peer iuto a tall dark Oak (Quer- 
cus sem ecq rpifo3- J c)> Wouldn't pq* p thing- Then a movement and the 
songster Sopped • "or. -:. exposed branch* The Loagbilled Ground Inrush 
( Zoothc ra mont i oclO cc nad never heard its loud 

and ruggedly beautiful "3'opg be 

Our como was pjtoi - -plete with numerous 

wild tsar diggi-v^J- ... or:.: felt a little nervous as darkness 
descended in the der - te va-ry r».boirt though, even the 

notorious Flack .r.-ars , of which wo aa£ seen llgna here, will not 
attack men \ml£ss st«iOe8 at o\n& rmge. 

$ie ne?rt mornirg wo continue*. £ ,n , past Nuthatches, Warblers, 

Titmice and Rosefint" "o leave the valley and 

climb up a slope ^xi < -■ -- -,-teep- . "aUefi gorge of the lower 

Iangtang. The I , grassy slopes to the dark forests 

we had ;)ust left was Irai ..:".. atoned Rufourhreasted Accentors 

( prunella strophiata ) while Himalayan Griffons ( 'Qypa himalayenois ) 
circled overhead. Once pat tho grassy slopes, the path descends abrupt- 
ly through beautiful pine woods to SyabruteoJ and the confluence of 
the Jang-ong and Hiote Kosi rivers. Prom ne re it is a ccmfart/ole three 
flay i*\~[V hack to Trisuli B>.^aar end the bus to Eathmandu. 


D. A. Stairce-id 

IV notes werecade ever the past two months covering the week-ends of 
C-7/vi; ^7-?8/vi; a day's visit on 19/vii (when I also visited the 

Deccan Plateau); the week-erds of 25-^6/vli; 1-2/Viii and G-9/viii. 
Lacl: wee:--*tnd consisted of approximately 24 houi-e in Khan da la and this 
was spent *rlth ji a radius of about one mile o* the hotel at which I 
stayC nnd the area included tree3 around the hotel, a well-covered 
i.nd wooded streau, a roadside t-ank, a wooded hillside with a duct and 
power house a little way up it, some open grassland, a cliff and sev- 
eral waterfalls and streams. The ' rains » started earl;;- and June's 
rainfall was well above average but July, palthough off to a very wet 
etart, "ended up considerably below uoimal* Rainfall was picking up 
again in August. The* temperatures were always very pleasant and the 
foliage luch, al*- , -<-u^h this r.rea d'2 rot include any really' well-wooded 
o ountry. 

Tho highlight for no on all «he&« visits was the "Malabar Whistling 
Iftru-'i (M/lq phcneus hcr^fie 'dit) with it? hive-black coat of feathers 
and beauAiXuT / listening eobe it-blue on forehead ond shoulders. In 
certain j'gi.-e — net nocercrriSy bright light — pracLically the 
whole v aok and wings of sone of these birds were a most glorious chin- 
ing blue The rale's rich, rambling -whistling song was heard frequent- 
ly dvnnj *»H iiours of dayli-^ht and its trenquilising effect on me as 
the coug .Tented over the soLaid oi rushing streams was priceless. Rairs 

N'e wsletter for Birdwatchers 


*f these birds were to be seen everywhere In this area, except near 
the roadside tanks- As each pair has a fairly large territory there 
were perhaps not many pair9 but the song carries well and I was sel- 
dom out of earshot of it. (he or two of the pairs were reasonably un- 
afraid and I watched these hopping along swiftly, occasionally pick- 
king up snails or crabs and battering this food on the rocks to re- 
move the shells. Cb 26/vii I was delighted to discover a nest of a 
pair of Ifeaabar Whistling Thrushes on a small window-sill of the 
power house. The window itself was painted over and obviously not in 
use and the nest looked for all the world like a flower pot, this 
deception being enhanced by the fact that some green plant life was 
growing around it. The nest was in an inaccessible position — for 
qb — across the power house tank but I was on a higher level and 
could see three small nestlings being fed. A stream was running into 
the tank and the surrounds were wooded and hilly, (fa ^Aiii there 
wore only two nestlings and this was also the case on 8-9 Alii and 
by that time one nestling, very much larger than the other, was get- 
ting all the food while I watched and looked almost ready to leave 
the nest. The nestlings had been, by 9 Alii i at least 15 days in the 
nest, and in addition, perhaps were 2-3 days old when I first saw 
them on 26/Vii. As they were still in the nest on 9A1U i?-20 teyn 
would" apperr tc be a reasonable assur.; ' for the period from the 

tine of hatching to. the time of leaving r.est. 

A few of the pointB I observed about thie pair of adult birds were 
that the food fed to the nestlings was of a variety of colours — 
someticES appearing yellow or orange; at other times white or muddy 
brown. Ab the adult birds flew out of sight to collect the fcod I am 
not able to elabo.ate on this. Feeding of the nestlings early morn- 
ing and in the evening took place spoxodically at about the rote of 
8 visits in 45 minutes and feeding was carried cut by both adults who 
sometimes arrived at the nest almost cimuJtaneously with reakfuls of 
fool. It would appear, however, that the fenale does nore of the work 
as this adult male was prone to fly away to a tree-top just behind 
and above me and sing away for long intervals or merely meditat after 
depositing his beakful of fcod in a nest. lint's upturned mouth whil£ 
the female continued to visit the nest with food. Towards nightfall 
both birds would remove the nestling's excreta from the nest after 
evejy visit with food. This did aot happen in the mornings while I 
watched. The thrushes were very wary and uttered a warning call — 
a sharp Kreo-ee — in retreating fUgb* upon the approach of an 


The other thrush seen la June - : -,e Whitethroeted Ground Thrush 
(Zootbera oitrina cybX.otVj ) rind although nox consciously seen by me 
in JuV- I xocoy ized its rollicking song, es penally after hearing 
an excellent programs - ; given by »ro. J. Uavturc, S.J. lhe 
firs-o week-end, 6-7/v. , - ^aw chc? ■ th«ush-s vory much as I expected 
to — a fliiroee of a bird on the ground near a wooded stream and then 
bciris able *ff ftftlwi its flight low into a tree — where I could often 
otujy it- Cn 27-26A1 sigh tings wer* much better; firstly a pair on 



Eewsletiiar f ■ Bil <■ i e . o 


a grass bank above a wooded stream when, in sunlight, I could easily 
distinguish the femals fron the male aa b v-blue upperparts 

were sufficed with olive-green. Even better, and more surprising, 
was when I waited onto the pnth leaking to the roadside tank. A pair 
of these lovely birds were on t] e path digging into the 

mulch and flicking over the dUd b looking for insects. They 

were only about 30 feet from me -tid as they" advanced along the path 
industriously so did I. I watched them for 10 minutes like this and 
found their tameness unusual and they were, too, in remartably 'civi- 
lized ! surround in^s . 

I noticed that in addition to the PfolaW Whistling Thrushes seve- 
ral other birds had bred at Wiandala. Cto 6-7/vi pairs of Pied Bush- 
chats (Sax icola caprat a) were feed! ir nestlings in -nests in 
earth cuttings anowlretni^a Swallows, Duaky Crag Martina and large 
Pied Tfagtaila ( Hot ac ills imd erarpatensis )- hid you^g out of nest. The 
Pied Busbchats were not "seen aft«r that week-end. On 27/vi I noted a 
party of mature and inmture BrnhnoAy J-'ynas. (n 26/vii a party of 6 
beautiful Orange (or possibly Scarlet) Mlniveie included young males 
with pale crane? fading to whitish b elow and some yellow on the upper- 
parts. A Dabeblck ant on its pad of sodden weeds on *2<*ating vegeta- 
tion on the roadside tank from at least 2/viii end was still there m 
Q/vlii. Upon leaving the ucst t*w bird al>?ayfl oo/creu the nest with 
91 Men -»eds- last September a pair of Eabchioks had a family of 5 
ar£p©y on th ■• tank. A sole Cotton Teal was on the tank on 2/viii and 
this species, too, had-a family party on the tank last September. R*c 
Bronze-winge \ Jaccnas there this year, tho-igh. 

lards that appeared to be on passage migration were Green lae-eatera 
( Merop r orientalic ) on 7/vi; Chestnut-headed fee-eaters ( Mercns les- 
.Ti nauft x) on 28/vi and Brcwnheaded Storkbilled Kingfishers (Pelnrgop,- 
3 J n"oap enci6 ) stayed over for the week-end of K -28/vi. The latter 
were over end around wooded btrcans, noisy and unmistakable with their 
large siz^, e; armous red bills and pale yellowish brown underparts.- 1 
noted at leaet three of these big kingfishers. 

A lovely Intel lude at lunch time en 26/vii v. as provided by a party 
of about 8 Spotted Babblers ( Po Home urn rufl aepg) in thick shrubs and 
bushes very close to hatel r^one. They were in song and I could not _ 
miss the lou3 percussive elear whistling notes of ttaece charming 
little babblers. Of their song Dr Salim All in Indian Hill Birds 
writes: 'The Spotted Babbler is n -remarkable rongster. It sings pri- 
ncipally in the breeding season, et coutp*, but short sporadic bursts 
may be heard et all -&»• Sh* song is a percussive loud, clear whist- 
ling of several notes, ambling up and down the scale, with many vari- 
ations, qcofitimes Jesting fu!3y tfcrre minutes or more with practically 
no hreek- f I moved up slfMy en ^his party and first of all saw th.ea 
run'infe ar^cid like small fvoil* Fortunately they were not shy arid two 
Spot\e4 fubblsre flew up i few feet and ilxB& to st^m? and sang away, 
born at thu earns time, for several adnutaJ while two ether birds 
(femalf: ?) looked jp at •& cm admiringly from lower &mn the bushes 
and aiic-^ed ecve BuMued 'notes. I was within 20 feet of them and it 
was dtt^r-sweet when they passed on- Another pretty little babbler 

K o \y s 1 e t t e r 

f n r Birdwatchers 

seen by me was ttie Rufous bellied Eabbler ( Pumetia hype rythra) with a 
white throat. — 

Common birds around this area were Jungle febblers, Jungle «ynas, 
Common IoraS, Redwhiskcred and Redvented bulbuls, Tickell's Flower- 
pecker, House and Jungle Crows, Spotted Doves, Magpie Robins, Indian 
Robins, Coucals, Whitebroasted Kingfishers, Purplorumpod Sunbirds, 
Small Green Sirbets and Coppersmiths. More colourful birds seen occa- 
sionally included Goidfronted Chloropsis, Scarlet Minivets, Small 
mnivets end Yellowbacked Sunbirds. I did not note the Small Sunbird 
(Wectarinia minima) which was possibly confined to the forest. Bush 
Quail, Grey Junglefowl and Red Spurfowl were not uncommon and I had 
glimpses of 3 woodpeckers: the Rufous, Goldenbacked,' and the Ifaharat- 
ta woodpeckers, lorikeets and Common Wood Shrikes. The Pied Crested 
njckoo was apparent (even to ml) from July onwards but ' Warblers ' 
wore net. 

Beyond Pariah Kites and vultures I was not able to identifV the 
few birds-of-prey I saw. 

During a short trip to Wadgaon — 20 miles from Khandala — on the 
morning of 19/vii there wn-3 not only n change of scenery in this 
lower rainfall area — ^kbool* (Acacln arabica ) in o tannine yellow 
tells cf flower ftnd open grassland prontfmaj^wt i change of species 
of b^rte. Stre BBtall IterHflrs a un item- rs fiUod 

T^lJ^t ttt ±F C Y 0trio nolSee ^ «i6*« «Li«ht and parties o± 
Sage Grey P.bblers (Tu rdoides mlcoLni ) held sway. Amongst other 
birds seen wore the Grey Tix, Fufousbccked Phrike, Blackwinged Kite - 
White Scavenger Vulture, Radrumped Swallows (collecting nud-for neate), 

V.iretallei Swallows, RedvenUd- Bulbuls, Brahminy Vfynsa, Commcu ?4vm i , 

dozens rf Ifayas wiffa their nofltfl, Sfcylflris, Crested larks, Indian 

-ipits and a pair of fed IPurtlB Doves. 

At lalegaon T put up ter Purple Moorhens (p<r t-hyrio porphyrio) 

**om a nd with their Slav tete rff and Ki^lSofll^t^ori^ 

a very lev form of « sport ■ indeed* 

PAucir/ cp moratory waders ahd waoerbirtp rs the sooth during 1959-70 

coin season 

J* S. Serrao 

Paucity in the Smith* of rajgrator;- w- ters and "horebirds during the 

%{; B :i B ,% ^S" 70 ;- 1? ° ""*lett«r by Mr K. D. Ghorpade 

D U - (6): 12/ and F.-of. ?:. K. Hoe 1- ten tan Aol. 1C(8): 37. A pno- 

siUe erpteation for this shortage is baing sought. This reminds one 
rt en wfc ?1 . entitled ESa BTEOfeSCB GP RAiilFALL H THS MSTRIBUTICfi 
OP SQKIBASClcr WADEBG AND « ,713 BIRIB. ly U. Vidol Ban., f.S., in 1879 
to S^'i ^ there Vol. 6. 170-7*. ' 

The arfetcle was a follTv-up nf one cry A. G. Hume, entitled TiT»rfi c? 
A mCTC :T in 1878 in Stray Fe athers 7: 52-*8. Hum, by an exhaustive 
r ^.3s : had sho-m how a Targe number of species were banished from a 

Newsletter for lirdwatehera 


particular tract in the neighbourhood of Jodnpur (Rajasthan) af ter a 
season of abnormally Ugit rainfall. Precisely similar results, after 
the exceptionally heavy rainfall in 1878, were evidenced in regard 
to migratory shorebirds and waterfowl in South Ronton, ^P^f^ 
appeared to be in contradiction tw Nature's law and prompted Vidal 
to ventilate it in the hope of so. wader suggesting the true expla- 
nation of the phenomenon. .. . 
For the sc4 of his paper Vic analysed a tract of land which 
he was studying for six years - * tract Cj, 70 miles long, and 35-45 
miles wide between the Western Ghata and the Arabia. . Sea. intersect- 
ed by three tidal and navigable (up to o^ 20 miles Inland; rivers, 
the Savitri, the Vashisti and- the Shaetri. The average rainfall for 
the 28 years preceding 1878 was 101.49 inches at Hatnagiri. In 1878 
Ratnagiri experienced a rainfall of 168.66 inches, being by many 

inches the highest on record. 

The wader and duck population during the cold weather that follow- 
ed was at the lowest compared to the year 1877 and those preceding 
it. The rainfall recorded for 1877 was only 87-91 inches, and the 
cola weather that followed had proved to be a splendid suipe year. 
Flamingoes had also • PP **rv4 In ttrtaagirl, but were ceinolet&ly eteent 

during 1878. „ 

in intn oeting feature of iC 77 cold weather was the very large 
flasK of ring ixrve /Tui-t ur risorJa (= Ctrep^cpalia decaocte J/whicn 
exsrared ir the nor^m portion of the dlsxrict from country above 
t» Ghate. in the winter or 1878-79, ns far es could be ascertain^, 
net a sing-e 3ing rove wr s seen. However migratory warblers were 
««11 reprinted in 1878, and the Rosy Pastors which prefer Jte fat 
plains erf the Deucan and usually do not come in ouoh force to the 
area covered were exceptionally abundant. 

A ooapari^cn of listr of birds collected or joen at Kelai during 
ihe winters of 1877 and 1878 jed Vidal to the tentative conclusion 
that thv ex'-septioiaOXv heavy rainfall cf It 78 had provided the mi^"- 
— ..t wadere und waterbirds vrlth proportionately greater oxjKmees of 
Inundatb l iandfl all ever the country than v,-ere available in a year 
cf normal or scanty rainfall, and thup provided Ikem with suitable 
feeding grounds furthor north, making it vnneceosary to proceed 


Vidal 1 s conclusion may be one of the factors for the paucity oi 
waders and shorebirds In the South luring 19^9-70 cold weather. 1969 
was a year of heavy rainfall The fnundatod areas it made available 
to the migran'.s rm^ fcav b^esi proportionately greater than in a 
—or of normal or accnty rainfall? 'leo longer lasting* The facili- 
ties to* create,. ss»1) have cut the rtgrantt ■££ from the necessity; 
cf ptfo6c;ding oo-rthward-' in n'imbers they otherwise do. 


Newsletter f c r Birdwatehe rs 


Robert B. Grubh 

( Continued from KuwsL -. 'tter Vol. IC (5 ) t 7* May 197D ) 

Baeh species has a characteristic behaviour pattern subject ,to 
food requirements, sensitiveness to temperature, breeding cycle and 
other factors. Thus the period of travel as -.veil as the duration of 
migratory flights vary with species. 

Several observers have noted that the young birds have a stronger 
migratory impulse than the adults. Very often the younger generation 
■migrates first and travels much farther than the adults. In Vfoite 
Storks the adult and the young migrate separately, the latter start- 
ing first. Then how they k.iow the direction? No one knows exactly. 

Many birds are gregariouB during migration. Even those species 
which, are habitually solitary become sociable. It is believed that 
the migratory impulse and p. common migratory behaviour more easily 
distributed among birds in a flock than among individuals flying 
separately. However, many f lyenteherd, shriko3 and other kinds pre- 
fer to fly alone, none the worse r.flVcted. 

In *ne flock of flying migrants -io ij h< oesSQXp that only one 

species is included- Several species with sons what the sane spaed 
and mode o!" flight can form a flock. Cbviousiy aany species of 
natural group (e.g. different kinds of sandpipers in one flock, - 
ious species of wagtails in another, etc*}. -are found together. At 
times, however, even entirely unrelated species also fly together. 
The ct.8e of the migratory quail ( Coturaix coturntx ) and the Corn 
Crate (grex creaQ is an interesting example. About every fifteen 
"Is in a flock are accompanied by one corn crake - the former 
a gallinaceous bird while the latter a rail. Years ago ;jeople.-who 
observed t' thought 1 hat this rail woe ii» leader of the.flockr 
and nonce they called it the T King of the Quail '. 

Migrants like anatids, pelican3 , cranes (not the storks), and 
even seme waders fly In the formation cf t n inverted V- One of the 
reasonable explanations is that a bird moving through the air leaves 
a wake like that produced by a vessel on the sea; bixdP flying in" a 
triangle, rest on this wave and thus save energy. The planes which 
follow the patrol leader in this fashion conauny less fuel as they 
take advantage of the eddies. T_iiJ seem^ to explain the distant-' 
shifting in positiu. of She birds in VforBntion, apparently to 
change the wing that is resting cc -ho air currents. 

T^e flight of tbs nlTnnts overhead often elicit an interest 
anion - the ocal resident, and are induced to imitate temporary 
mlgrr.tory nprosuvres^ 

Birds on migration he'va a different psychological attitudes to- 
warc"< their surroundinge and incidents , They are all set with a 
!'""- ; dersrminntion to reach the destination, StoxBS and adverse 
weetMr conditions do n:t demoralise them. Even predators dent 

Newsletter for Plrdw etchers 

create a panic- The members of a flock may have to undergo great 
hardships ; may never reach their destination at all- But they endure 
all the difficulties with stoic indifference- They accept everything 
with cool resignation- 

( Concluded ) 


M- K. Himmatainhji 

I visited Khajuraho (M.P.) m December 18, 1966. There are large 
lawns in the vicinity of the famous Chandela temples - Oi one of 
these big fetches of lawns a bullock was tethered by a rather long 
rope to an ornamental bush and with him was a bird on the lawn which 
from a distance I took for granted as a wagtail ( Motacilla sp. >. How- 
ever as I appronehed nPArer I found to my utter surprise that it was 
a Whitebrowod Fantail Flycatcher. It fcepb <* f JnttcrJng along the 
.ground in pursuit of insect di'jt'irtwd by the grazing bulloo.k from 
the grass. This bird would wait on the surface of the lawn for «<» 
time, at tins. a moving f^o Pi* 1 * to side and plv'^tt'ng In typical 
fairtai V i"J v »t*<tttex -fo*hs<*,, A ti .i would then ewi- ;ly dart u.-mn* to 
ca + 'Ch its nert Yictia* When anyy»w^ »*pjji<vicbcd too close it would 
flj up to tin of. the shad," treca nearby tn return again tr settle _ 
down close fcc its four-legged friend! It kept on darting hither and 
thither eve a between Xhi legs of the grazing bovine- 

Cn nne of its visits to the tree nearby when dia tubed by a passer- 
by I noticed that he had a companion In the same tree, but vhlle I 
watched these birds, the second one never descended to the law or 
came tugwhere near the bullock- 

■•I have refarred to all the literature available with me, and the 
nerrest I "got, so far as the feeding habits of this flycatcher are 
concerned, "-© my above observation in the references waa a descrip- 
tion In the B irds of India by Jferdon (Vol- 1, p. 453) where he says: 
1 I have several tine 3 seen it alight on the ground, and soae times 
on the back of a cow, and persuing flies from this mther unusual 
perch- ! The bird I watched not even once settled r n the back of the 
animal concerned- Y. S. Shivrajkumer infe-raed me that he has en more 
than one occasion observed this flycatcher cccompany grazing animala. 
It would be ir-terennng to find out whether others have also seen 
or recorded auch bebaviOCT in $tffl or olfcer similar flycatchers. 

wopdpec'^'s x fr rams n fuss? 

K- S« Iavkumar 

In the August issue, K. K. Neelakantan quite rightly poured an Ghor- 
pade I'orhis article on tbe greedy Blaokbacked Woodpeoter. I do not 
wish -co add to the admonition, though, I may here comment on the 

Newsletter for riwntchere 


fact that the time haB now- come to assess whether Man alone has a 
right to expect the bounties of this fair Earth- Without all the 
varied and beautiful and bizarre forms of life which arc a unique 
aspect of this bsbII speck In the great cosmos and of ^vhich mnn is a 
very integral part, how dreadfully dull and unattractive this Earth 
would be. We as the most intelligent and rational manifestation of 
life in the known Universe must value the uniqueness of life and 
thereby increase our own value, we can least afford to talk of bene- 
fits for me species or another. Vfe all should share the wondorous 
Earth which is our Mother and our Home. Man as the eldest or so we 
hope is, proves by his understanding nature, must care for the unique 
heritage which he is so fortunate to be able to appreciate. let a 
woodpecker even sip a little coconut Juice and grow fat on the liquid, 
the peasant will not lose much. Even the deadly mosquito has become 
deadly with Kan's own evil habits. Where men are clean there are few 
mosquitos and it is wnere there aro open gutters and smelling cess- 
pools that these small insects become a menace. Even so, a little 
nuisance is better than the ill-advised mass destruction of all in- 
sects by insecticides. Bo I digress from the point? No, I do not. 
Destruction of all life whether -M Bpldors, so naughty and annoying 
as to build cobwebs in corners of rooms, woodpeckers alleged to sip 
coconut juices, aphid s sucking juloos fi-.m cotton or rose bushes, 
all, I say, are the results i's own pergonal desire to owr. 

evuxy'-'lng — the Hod Indians of America were masnered because they 
were vermin, so were the helpless ■ Elack fellows ■ of Australia -nd 
the Rfflhmcn of the Falnhari. Ko f tte desire to kill must be curbed. 
Man must realize the uniqueness of life and thereby in his am value 
aJ a epecies or as an individual. To mind comes the gentle poems of 
' KeOujI ' the great poet of Gujarat! literature: ' 1st the birds 
feed in my garden ■ said "±b Prince-poet; it is a small price to pay 
fir the beauty and the joy 'ftey afford. Please Mr Ghorpade read all 
that ifl coming out in various papers on the destruction of our envi- 
vamsot, Xov are a naturalist; otherwise yoa would not bftve looked 
n J or ' r I -. a about the Woodpecker and all of us must stand united 
in the face of the fight we will have to put up to save what ^ 
little there is left- laox at 'ill the good dene by birds, animals, 
the wendersus plants, large and small, and then we shall be happy 
as we have never teen before. 

K. D. Ghorpafle 

Bb< K. ". He lakantan sec '9 to have got the erroneous impression from 
B7 n-'c m oie Stanl oodpeeker that I h-ve zonal proof of the 

allege, destructive haW.t of tfeis floe bird to coconut fruit and that 
I rav arrived at a definite concixsiTn - I would like to mako it 
erys* I cicr her? that rvrsonsllr I havenx a shred of evidence to 
evtabj sn the validity o- otherwise of ths allegation. However, I 
mu3t confess that some phrases and assumptions in my article were 

K«wol©ttar for Lirdwatchers 


somewhat mis lending and presumptuous, for which I offer my profound 
regrets- I merely intended to inform readers of the existence of a 
belief among the rural farmors ne^r our Telburga estate (that the 
Blackbacked Woodpecker makes holes in the green nuts, drinto the 
' milk f Inside and causes fruit drop ) and to find out if such a 
habit has been seen or heard by any of our fellow birdwatchers. 

My real Intention in writing the note Is quite clearly revealed 
by soub statencnts it contains such as : ' Eut . . . the birds never 
ventured! anywhere near the nuts • • • ' f ' • • • I will certainly try 
and continue my investigations on a more intensive scale in order that 
a solution either thia way or that may be arrived at. ! j ' The above 
phenomenon als^ deals with this sucking mode Of feeding and I feel 
that if this habit of drinking the coconut milk to found to te_ true 
..*';' All thin is mainly conjecture . , . ! | and ' At least, for 
the present we will have tc prndor over this probable explanatioi. 
for the Blackbacked Woodpecker 1 a auEareiit folly ' - Bit Mr Neelakan- 
tan seemingly allowed the ' coraervationist .' in him to cloud his 
otherwise sharp eye for detecting errors of presentation In my note. 

With all due rcspe'ot for his 30 years of field experience and lo^e 
for the birds of our region, I feel I must point out that he himself 
has admitted his almost total ignorance of fee 33j\ckbackB' 3 Woodpecker's 
habits, having had, a cco>«ding tc rim, only a Phort association witf. 
this lar*- erd local epectc^. Ar nuch, he is alfit rot "n a position 
to defend or utt&ck tho validity of the allegation pooed 
agaliidi. *? n T-oodpeckex. I would also like to clarify that I do aoi 
associate thLs proposed destructive habit wi-fo just any woodpecker, 
tut on!;- "i"h the Blackbacked, as 53 evident from the subtitle to 
tj- not). I a* welT. affare of the general food habita of the woodpecker 
family 'hich aro almost totally beneficial and therefore would be 
only too happy if this dubious allegation v.-ero to be conclusively 
11 Spro-ed. 1 woul* also lit™ to assuve Kr Seelokantan that I em 
quit*, familial with the type of damage inflated on the fruit of the 
OOOQot xree by rats and cjulrrelB (both of .vhich are jrceont in our 
eo-ute) ead hat the holes made in a few fallen nuts inspected by me 
cculd not be attributed to fieee menacing rodents. Whereas it is true 
that my ax-tide was hased mostly on second hand information from tee 
' villagers rnd my friend, it is to be noted that these p°rscns stand 
by thsir observations, ard wo cannot summarily reject chun. hovavsr 
inadequate or fallible, without first giving them the benefit of the 
doubt for the time being and carefully considering the problem with 
person.-* fli-st hand vsrttfcfry o. '..i* bird'u food habits. I share with 
Mr Kee:.jta:vtan an intionse 10TO for orr bir^s and a deep concern far 
their conservation , but evry ce'r. has two sides to it and quite a 
fa-.; of our bird 3poci-s tre almost as destructive to man ! s economy 
as th* ■ (j't -^r-efinial. r t id up to us bird-lcr'ng rustics and gentry 
to establish the correct c-cno-nic stable of our different bird sje ciee 
by oarpfU-T. c^servptlcr ard experintnt "ni -thus clear the doubts and 
views '"iJd W the overwhelming percentage Oi cur population in tho 
nsrVl - : Aaa wTM arc n ot interested as much in watching birds for 
pieaaua i, is in watching to see tnat t'aay keep off their crops. 

IT o w e J e t t o r t o *? JS rHwatohfi ra 


Incidental ly. I hcvo junt Evtun»a from a further trip to our 
estate near Xblourpa for.y to note that nearly all Tfta nuts 

were harvested i-ecently. L« my clay of 1C fla^a there, I did not Bee 
a single woodpecker of any species and was not able to get any con- 
crete information on the trip* 

In conclusion, I am afraid I cannot oblige Mr Iloolaknntan by pro- 
mising not to shont a bird In futtre, as we ' ruc+ics and amateur 
naturalists ' have to unfortunately support our observations of un- 
crrnon birds doing unfor-llior things or 1 in odd places by 

having some prcof to back then such as a greasy skin of a once res- 
pondent avian. Kit, I assure bin that the next time I bag a Hlaok- 
bacfcjd Woodpecker, I stall not fail to Salve ?ato the gooey etomach 
entente andlet him kr.ow of its ingred-'entfl- 

Salim All 

Has any of your readers observed any epeoiao of falcon building its 
ry/n nest from start to tlnish end then raising its £an.Vj in it? E» 
term ■ falcon » covers species Hce. £04 to 224 in Ridley's Synopsis 
and in Tola* 1 cf Handbook a£ the Blri^ of Jn; ^kistan . 

W.S.-. freeing with some cf our statements in the Handbook under 
' 3rceilng I an internationally renowned ornlthologiat cenments that 
he is not aware of a single species of the Falconidae that buildo 
its cv.n nest? they invariably utilize old nneto of crows, kites, etc., 
a_id the moat they may dc is tc repair them by adding a few e ticks o 
ThereiToiB a falcon seen carrying a stick is by itcolf no proof of 
nost-bvd fining. 

I muat adnit inat in cares of the above nature I had hitherto 
uncricical3y taken it for grc.r.fced that the, nssts were built by the 
Wi-do threat Ives, though I have a loo corir.mli- found falcons occupy- 
ing the diavsed nests of ether birds. Hovever, in the case of one 
pair of Eadheeded Jferllns (fo leo n hicque ra) I was able to watch the 
neat from its cotamen^eaent .through various Dater stages until young 
were bein^ fed in it, so jpcan bo positive this nest at least was 
self -built. How much of an exception it my be I cannot say- If any- 
one has watched, and son vouch for a falcon (any species) building 
its own nest, aa against merely repairing and appropriating an old 
one, I 3hall be grateful for v Ldencc. 


Headers are particular?,, requested to cooperate in the research on 
the nesting of Saloons suggested by Dr Salim All- Birds of prey are 
a group which are extroiLely difficult to identify unless a great 
deal cf effort is made to study their different methods o^flifiht, 
v/ing-^.atterne, *olcur markings, e-tc. 3*' pursuing the project,' members 

.v Blot t or f n r :? 3 w e t O fc t r o 


will get an opportunity to get better acquainted with this diffi- 
cult group of birds. 


Bird watching at a garden tap. 

Due to physical handicaps my birdwatching is now limited to sit- 
ting in once place and see the bird fly past or watch them on the 
neighbouring trees. But recently my luck broke out. May in Delhi is 
wioted and -this year it was worse with the mercury consistently re- 
gistering 115 P and the hot winds literally blasting away for all 
their worth, till early hours of the morning. Euroing hot is the 
word. And to add misery to misery, the proverbially letting down 
Xelhi water supply undertaking came out in flying colours from the 


Now the garden tap in our lawn has a long hose or rather a rubber 

tubing attached t^ it, used for watering far away plant? aDfl water 
tiickles through it in drops and droplets as the cab 1*4' is not water- 
tight. To this watering place the birds swarm during the not part of 
the dry to i^BEot their dttrPt There is literally a regular streak 
of there feathery vialtora and I have the opportunity of watching 

n from c3ose quarters as the tap is hardly 10 gngtua from where 1 
ait in the . -jrnlngs* No binCC are needed at such a close range* 

Amor.g i,to visitors nr:. a doztn or more Rodvented Balbule, half a 
dozen cjur noisome Common Wynas, which fight with other birds for the 
pride )." plan, a set of fellow-eyed Babblers which live Jn ■'.he gar- 
den; 2 *.airs Ashy YTen-WarolerB % 3 Tailor Birds; one Golden Oriel* 
which has a ntrt in the nearby neem tree; live Low, Crows ( a pair 
of HedcheekBd Bulouls which aftTB taken their residence in our garden 
and which axe nesting in ourhedco. Thoy come 30 regularly that I am 
sure they are taking water to their chicks. Almost all the sparrows 
of the vicinity are here, and a solitary kingfisher also turns up 
occasionally to show there 13 no ill feeling. Quite a tally? What? 

Lt Col. JU ravid 

ftffleers' Qr, A/1 

«ld Police lines, Delhi 6 

Investigations in food and feed in /: habits of soap birds of agriculture 

,_ I would be. obliged if , the readers of th. yews letter could help me 
by Sending 2 toTT^yag ( plycus philinplnvs ) and Common ll^ynas ( Acri- 

dotheres tristjs ) of their locality fixed in spirit or feinalln with- 
in one hour of shot or capture in the field. The following details 
should also be forwarded: (1 ) Date of oppture or shot; (2) locality, 
district, State; (3) Hour of 3hot or c ipture. The entire cost would 
be borne by me. s> Sengupto. 

^isva-Jtaratij'SantinikBtan, W.Bingal 

Zafrr rutehally, 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, Bombay 58-MS 

This Newsletter is published monthly. 
The subscription is Rs. 10 - 
for the Calender Year 1970 

editorial board : 

Dr. Salim All, F. N. I. 
46, Pall Hill, Bandra. 

Mrs. Jamal Ara. 
North Office Para. 
Doranda. Hlnoo P. O., 

Ranchi. Blhir. 

Mrs. Usha Ganguli. 
B-7, Hauz Khas, 
New Delhi. 

Dr. Blswamoy Biswas. 
Indian Museum, 

Zoological Survey of India, 


Kunvar Shri Lavkumar 
Rajkumar College, 

Prof. K. K. Neelakanun. 
Govt. Victoria College, 
Palghat-I. Kerala 

Mr. S. V. Nllakanta. 
Theosophlcal Colony. 
Juhu, Bombay 54. 

Mr. K. R. Sethana. 
C/o. Kadur Club. 
Mysore State. 

Mr. Winston Creado 
Silver Beach, Juhu, 

Mr. B. R. Grubh 
Bombay Natural History Society, 
Prince of Wales Museum Compound, 
Bombay-I BR. 

Editor : 

Mr. Zafar Futehally, 
juhu Lane. Andherl, 
Bombay 58 AS. 

Co*er dvljn by S. NILAKANTA 



VOL. I&-NO 10 - 1970 OCTOBER 

Volume 10, Eumber 10 

October 1973 


Comments on the article » Some Notes on the Avifauna of Kathmandu, 
Sepal with a special reference to a number of Birds of Prey " by 
Vr V. M. Galushin, UNESCO Expert, Eelhi, (few le tter 10(b) i 4-6. 
T& Robert L. Fleming, Sr ' 

Birds at Nasrapur, by !Ihomas Gay 

A few Waders early into Bombay, by D. A. Stairmand 

Birds in a ttngal Garden, by F. M. Gauntlett 

Occurrence of least Frigate Bird (Fregata ariel iredalei Mathews) 
in Eombay, by Rauf Ali ' 

In continuation of coconuts, BLackbacked Woodpecker, amateur 
naturalists, and rustics (also quasi-«cientists), by iavkumar 
'•"• Ehacher 

Notes and Comments 


Mungoose as a predator, from It- Col. A. David 
.tangle Myras and their nests, from R. iu Mukherjee 




Robert L. Fleming, 3r 

S ^L° f * e sur P r3Blr * observations made by Dr Galushin during 'ia 
short visit to Kathmandu last April, has prompted this brief note. 
He outlines the cannon species of Kathmandu well. Hcuse Sparrows 
live in the congested parts of the city where there is little or no 
vegetation. As one moves out from the centre of town, 1*ee Sparrowe 
become more common until they almost completely replace House Spar- 
rows. 3he Bouse Sparrow-'Eree Iparrow ratio is about 1 to 8 around our 
house, (on the outskirts of Patan city). 

Swallows follow much the same pattern as Sparrows with Striated 
Swallows rovinc over open fields and Barn Swallows, mostly, flair* 
over city streets. ■ ^ * 

Rceeringed Parakeets do' not normally occur in the Kathmandu Valley. 
Sometimes they are imported from the plains and soid on Kathmandu 
streets by hawkers. WQ have noticed on several occasions that soon 
after one of these periodic sales drives parties of five or six birds 
suddenly appear to eat the cones of cypreefe trees in our yard. Could 
these birds have been purposely liberated Or were they accidentally 
let go by their purchasers? Sletyheaded Parakeets (pait taenia htmala - 

Newsletter tor H ~ -' fl .T a 1 -'--.a 

are Been In the surrounding hills and soma times do sweep into 

hooded groves in Kathmandu City. 

As Ur Galushin points out both Redvented ani Whitecheeked bulbuls 
are found here. It is unusual to see the Whitecheeked near Kathranflu 

City; they usually prefer the hillside slopes some six mile3 from the 
city. Redvented Bulbuls are quite common here. 

Tha only swift we have seen over the Kathmandu City is Apus affiniB . 
Bometimeo Apus paciflcus hawks insects over the grassy ridges sur- 
rounding the Valley. Kakani, 16 miles MW7. of KalfcmaEdu is a favour- 
ite place for them. Apus melba , a fairly distinctive swift has not 
been seen here ~y?t. 

We were interested to see that Dr Galushin reports three bird spe- 
cies that we have yet to find in the Kathmandu Valley. Our Valley 
list, developed over the past 18 years includes 376 species; now we 
have three more to look out for. Meanwhile, though, we offer these 
comments s 

The Indian Robin is rare in Ik pal; the only known specimens were 
collected within yards of the Indian border in south Nepal. Signifi- 
cantly, Dr Galushin does not report any Saxicolas during his morning 
walks. B»y are common here. Similarly, Prinias are not known from 
the Valley Floor. The Brown Hill Warbler (Prinia crini^er ) is found 
on hillsides where there is sci-jb jungle. The Tailor Bird, which does 
look something like a Prim a, -is common around Kathmandu. 

About two hundred yards behind the * Egret ! tree mentioned by Er 
Galushin is 'a pond around on which Wight Herons nest, lfce birds ar- 
rive here in the spring, nest and then depart in the fall. Young 
Sight Herons, which look something like Green r.erons, frequent the 
Bani Pokhari pool in front of Durbar High School as well as ore of 
the tall tees above the compound wall near the street.. Our records 
for the LUtle Green Heron in Nepal do not bring it higher than 
Phewa Tal, Pokfaara at 2800 feet. 

A tree, covered with bougainvillea at Kaiser Mahal, across ffom 
the Royal Palace is the nesting site for Cattle Egrets; we have yet 
to see little Egrets here as reported by Dr Galushin. Year after 
year, 50 or more Cattle Egret pairs adorn the branjhes of this tree. 
At the moment (August) adult birds are often of f In the field while 
numbers of young birds as large as their parento remain in the tree 

during the day. ■ 

Stuart Baker and Salim All do not mention that the bills of these 
young birds are grey, some darter than others. One failing to see 
yellow bills might mistale these young birds for little Egrets. None- 
theless, there would be very few young birds around during the last 
part of April. 

Our Vultui* population is a shifting one. Practically all are gone 
during the winter, but reappear in mid-epring ard remain during the 
monsoon season. The occurrences of vultures in Kathmandu Valley 
might be summarized thus; 

i Iongbilled ard White backed 

1 • Fairly common 



I HLack and Himalayan Griffon 

f Cinereous, Scavenger and Bsarded. 

. . 


o t i • » t n V Bl 

■\ ■ ti 1. (i i; * _ 

Ike occasional and scarce species usually appear here as solitary 
b-rds; only rarely do we see perhaps two together. We have yet to 
find Vultures nesting in the Valley, although they are. common in low- 
land ffepal. Una Himalayan Griffon, as far as we have noted, picks 
"necting* sites high on- some inaccessible cliff. To find them resting 
In Kathmandu City, as stated by Dr Galushin, would be both a surprise 
an* an ecological shock, 

' Wft do not know the breeding density of Kites in Kathmandu City and 
Er Galushin has certainly stirred up our interest. We have seen a 
mart mum of seven Kites circling together; 5^ breeding pairs for the 

City would iilely be towards the maximum figure. S 

k_ Footmte regarding the Purple Sunbird in Kathmandu 

Just a short added note about the Purple Sunbird about ?,ihich I 
commented in an earlier Mews letter (Vol. 9, No. 8« 1 rt ). Sunbirdo do 
not breed in our Valley but appear here on or about the first of 
June every year. I had assumed that they made a lone terai crossing 
and mounts J up. over the Outer Himalayas to reach Kathmandu Valley. 

2acently a new road from China has been constructed conrecting 
Kathmandu with Ihasai Jrom Kathnandu this road first runs 42 miles 
eastward and then at 1he Sun Koei river it swings northeast to the 
tepal-Tibet border. This March w camped along the road on the banks 
of the Sun Kosi where we found Purple Sunbirds singing loudly but 

frequently stopping to sip nectar from the red blossoms of Woodford la . 
rwo were constructing a nest near our camp site. I would now assuiie 
that when nesting chares are over, it i3 these birds living alcng 
the Sun Kosi and Irisuli rivers that make a short hop over a ridge 
ini into the Kathmandu Valley 


Thomas Gay 

Reeling the need to f escape f for a couple of days, I fled to the 
itual Life Centre at Nasrapur* 22 miles south of Poona on N.H.4. 
>n this mid September visit I- discovered, as I had somehow fail- 
ed to do on earlier occasions, an exfcra magic arisirg from the Cen- 
t-re's abundant bird life. The room assigred to ne was in an isolate* 
cottage backed by a garden with hi^h ficus and gul mohr trees; in 
front, a strip of mixed teak forest lay between me and the Kp*vsnga 
streamj while to my right the forest stretched away to open plough-, 
land with deep^raesed neadows beyond. Turther behind me stood thick 
wood arching over long pools and runnels; and bayond these lay ter- 
raced rice fields, mare grassy meadows', and the standing millet crops 
of Nasrapur village* . 

A short stroll on the evening of my arrival provided a list of 
sixteen different species. Every second tree, it seemed, gave forth 
the a raring t of Spotted Doves, while the croaking of Painted Partridgei 
rai^ from all sides. Within a space of five minutes I watched, from 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

close at hand, a flock of Small Miniveta, a Bufous Turtle-dove, and 
an Incredible energetic Mahratta Woodpecker (female ) rushing about 
the trunk and branches of a batool. Soon after, I watched cock Weaver 
birds in all their yellow glory 3woop.down upon heads of millet, and 
picked out a Painted Partridge hunting over a bare field on the fur- 
ther elope of anarrow valley. As I approached a stream in the fading 
light, a Green Sandpiper wa3 bobbing along the water's margin below 
a steep bank, and a Blue Flycatcher flew up from somewhere and vanish- 
ed in a thorn-bosh. 

My last observation was the silhouette of a Painted Partridge croak- 
ing to the oncoming night free the horizontal branch of a sillc-cotton 
tree, not twenty paces from the last of tiie cattle-sheds. Till late 
at night I could hear the pi-piyaha of a ft*ain-fever Bird mingling 
with the low water noises and the whisper of the forest breeze* 

TOiile consuming my chota hazri next morning, I became aware of a 
White^eye f e nest in aperpe ndicular spray of antlgonum, Just in front 
of my veranda. I watched both parents 'bringing insects to appease 
the frantic little orange gapes thrust at them, and noticed how one 
parent nearly always remained and brooded the chicks until the ma to 
returrecf.^ torn grey leaf, it seemed, fluttere-d from a bramh, and 
suddenly swung up again in aperfect U| and then I found that the trees 
were swarming with Fantail Flycatchers. These ex<jiisite fairy dancers 
were about ne all the day? sad at twilight I managed to stand still 
enough to watch one bathing in a tiny pool scarcely Bix feet away* 

I was less pleased to find the woods full also of Crow-Pheasants , 
of whom a poet is at this very moment writing 

Never more murd'roue throat 
Gave forth a richer note. 

A' pair of hese birds were building their bulky -fist in the flowery 
crown of a teak tree below my cottage, where I could watch one of 
the coueals flapping and thrusting to shape the unruly twigs. later, 
on my morning walk I cans upon five Crow-Pheasants close enough to 
each other to suggest a single gang. It is yet another sign of the 
taneness of the birds in this ■ Little Heaven > that the pair build- 
ing in the teak tree approached the place in the most carefree — 
even noisy — fashion, with none of the elaborate and silent stealth 
whieh I have hitherto observed in all coueals 1 approaches to the nest. 
An one occasion, one bird even emitted a hoot as it alighted upon the 

twiggy mass. 

Prom one side came the fluting of an Oriole, from the opposite dir- 
ection the caw of a JUngle Grow and the tonk of a Coppersmith, while 
a well-known little song of great vigour drew my eyes to a- Tailor 
Bird almost in front of me. Chota hazri was finished at last, and 
teasing myself with the utmost difficulty from- all that could be seen 
just from my cottage veranda, I set out for the morriirg walk. Up in 
the grasslands I heard the clear calling" of a Painted Partridge from 
a hundred yards away, and eventually made out the caller as he eat, 
confident and careless , on the traJDh of a leafless bombax. Walking 

alette? for Birdwatchers 


..crjso a rented field, I sent a little covey of Quail scuttling ba- 
rer i he. A little efaile later, I had to tell myself firmly f There is 
'no' such bird as apale-green Paradise Flycatcher T ( and soon my glass- 
es • olved the mystery! a Spotted Wunia flying alorg the hedge with a 
loi^ grass-blade trailing and waving behind it. 

I vatched five Roeeringed Paraksets fluttering and se creaming round 
the bare top of a dying jembul tree, and was just in time to see a 
CrotHEteasant seize art fly away with a fairly large lizard. I was 
detaired far a while trying to spot a pair of lores in a tree under 
which I passed (surely these are among the very hardest of all Birds 
to pick out from -fee thick green foliage in which they love to spend 
their tlme)i But the loveliest sight of the whole walk was a Grey 
Wagtail tripping along the bank of a steam, twisting this way and 
ihat, leaping into the air, and seeming almost to ask the whole world 
whether it had ever seen a more gorgeous primrose waistcoat. I thought 
ao the sight of any Wagtail always makes me think* that in all the 
»Tite of birds there is no more fruitlessly graceful creature than 
this* -i 

xj. A- Stairmand 

Bite evening* 2/Viii> while returning from Khandalai I stopped at 
the "alt Pans along the Bombay Expressway and was fortunate to see 

2 Redshanks (iriya tot anus ) 

3 little Stints iCaJidris mlnutus ) 

1 Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos ) 

a11 these birds appeared to be in summer dress which was not sur- 
pr?iing, considering the date, 'jhe Redshanks 1 upper breasts were 
quite heavily streated with brown; the little Stints had noticeable 
rufous coloration — particularly above, and the Cannon Sandpiper 
was darker than usual. 

Hfco Common Sandpiper is well known to have odd non^jrseding exam- 
ples over^ummer in winter quarters, and indeed I saw- flights of 
6 and 5 of these birds on ll.vii and I2.vii respectively this year 
at Erangal, Marve, but, taking into consideration the coloration, 
the Bombay Salt Pan* bird * may well have been a fresh arrival. 

Although I have never spent much time there, the Bombay Salt Pans 
appear to contain, many waders and other birds, particularly in Sep- 
tehber/Oetober apd during the winter season. Just after the monsoon 
ended lasVyeer I was able to see severalimmature Reef Herons (Bgrtji- 
tf\ gularlfl) — birds in which I have a great * local ' interest at 
v_ ":ch Candy and Hornby Vellard, when they are there from September- 
'■ .;■ — at *lose quarters and waders, of various species, were occa- 
sionally in good nunbere* 

I often stop elorg the Salt Pans for a few minutes when I see some 
little Egrets or Smaller Egrets, as * did this evening, and almost 

«■ " ■■»! L*. 


JTewnlotter f • r Birdwateners" 


invariably other birds are around. In 15 minutes this evening, besides 
the egrets and waders, I noted Hedwa-fctled lapwings, a Streaked Pantail 

Warbler, S-ahminy Kites — mature and immature — and an tuseen objact 
that moved through the grass of the bund on which I wan walking. 

P. M. Gauntlett 

East la east and west Is west but the most startling difference is 
the number of birds in my Bsngal garden compared with that in the 
northwest London suburb of Harrow. IXoring 1hree years' observation 
in my tiny garden in Harrow I recorded 21 species including those fly- 
ing over. In a shorter period in Bsngal I have seen over 100 species 
more than this. Oddly enough, ell but five of the Harrow species are 
on the Indian list. In Harrow my garden was only a twentieth rf an 
acre or lest, but was ore of several suiBh plots totalling about 2£ 
ac js. In Eurgapur my well-wooded garden Is 2/3rd a«-G and la separa- 
ted from similar gardens by thick hedges erf hibiscus, bougainvillea, 
lantana art sal trees and is conrected by a narrow jungle corridor to 
the last remnant of the original sal forest of the area. 

The permanent residents or regular visitors which be can te seen in 
the garden on any day in the year are Spotted Dove, Keel, Eedvented 
and Redwhiskered bulbuls the most obvious memters, Jerdon ! s Chlorop- 
ses, Common Iora, Jungle Babbler, Indian Robin, Magpie Robin, Tailor 
Bird, Purple Sunbird, House Sparrow, Spotted Munia, Common Myna> Pied 
Myna, HLackheaded Oriole, Black Urongo, House Crow and Tree Pie. These 
are birds of the garden itself but Whitebaeked Vultures and KLack 
Kites, sorrj, Pariah K.te as it is called hers, are always to be seen 
overhead. The Little Nightjar is al s0 resident but isonly heard at 
certain seasons. 

Birds which occur regularly but a little less frequently than those 
in the previous group are Cattle Egret, White-«yed BiffiBarg. SM- kra, 
Riae Dove (this has suddenly becone a conmon Britisl. bird in the past 
lOyears where it Is known as the Collared Dove, its Indian name being 
occasionally used for another species), Green Parakeet (why do all the 
books have to te so long-winded and call it Roseringed ?), Crew Ihea- 
sant, Palm Swift, Green fee-eater, Crime onbre as ted Earbet which should 
now be promoted to the first group because it has already raised one 
family on tie premises and is excavating a hole for another, Golden- 
backed Woodpecker, Yellowfronted Pied Woodpecker which spend a month 
excavating a hole and then gave up, Common Wood Shrike, Yellov^-eyed 
Babbler, Ashy Wren-Warbler, Baya Weaver, Unite throated Munia, Ashy 

Swallow Shrike and Jungle Crow. 

Other species become quite common at certain times of year only to 
depart again later. With the arrival of the hot weather in March come 
Golden Orioles, Paradise Flycatchers, Blackheaded and large Cuckoo- 
Shrikes. It is also an interesting time of ^ear for migrant winter 
visitors returning north, particularly myth's Reed Warbler, occasion- 

. i . 

1 t 6 r I u r l*r dwtli ol. i 

-7 - r jrest "Wagtail "and single records of Brignt Green leaf Warbler, 
* J .-.; ;h T 3 Crowned leaf Warbler, Greycheeked Flycatcher^rarbler, Rufoue- 
tuiled Flycatohor, TickBll ! e Blue Flycatcher, and Bluethroated Blue 
Flycatcher. The cuckoos also begin to tuna up with Conanun Hawk-Cuckoo, 
Indian Cuckoo and Plaintive Cuckoo making a noisy chorus. The arrival 
of the Pled Created Cuckoo heralds the imminent monsoon. 

Tttth the monsoon, there is a frantic burst of nest building actUvi- 

i:. Teeding grounds. It is also at about this time that a small party 
of \ufcusbellied Babblers put in an appearance anfl Tickell's and 

H&Ukbillfid Flowerpe cters raid a small fruiting tree called a ! cherry 1 
by my gardening friends, (it is not a true cherry but some reader will 
will be able to identify it for mo from the description given at the 
end of this note.) Parties of tiiiee species of tern; Whiskered, Black- 
bellied and Hiver fly over from tine to time as do the Openbill Storks 
axA Braaminy Kite. Sometimes Bedwattled lapwings and Little Pratin- 
coles pass over but the passage of Wood 8andpipers ani ducks such as 

kl indicates the arrival of winter visitors is underway, and far the 
next fuw months ttere will be new denizens of the garden of which the 
earliest and commonest is the Brown Shrike. Ihis is soon Joined by 
Wr v -:Bck, Yellowbrowed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Chlffchaff, Black 
Be Ga tart, Bedbreasted Flycatcher, Indian ICree Pipit, Swallow, Hedrump- 
ecT 5iw*llow, Cfcangeheaded Ground Thrush, Grey Drongo and forthe last 
w^Tt-jr only, a Whitebellied Drongo. 

Sum is a long list of birds which are of only occasional occur— 
re:-ca. ttiitenecked Stork, ^ongbilled Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Crest- 
ed Hawk-Eagle, Crested Honey Buzzard, Kestrel, Hoopoe, Holler, White- 
brei ^ted FJ_^fisher heve all been seen flying over. Birds seen In the 
gar'-jn Itself were Common Bustard Quail, Bloesomheaded Parakeet, Col- 
1p -3d Scops Owl (heard: only), Longtailed Nl^itjar, Greyheaded Myna 

u mare frequently than most in this group), Booted Warbler, ftrank- 
li 'a v?ron Warbler, Yellow throated Sparrow, Verditer Flycatcher and 

^rested Itongo. 
"retimes a stray bird stays in the vicinity for several days such 

aa en Egyptian Vulture (so much short3r than • ttiite Scavenger T 
Vulture) which was circling overhead with other vultures on and off 
fcr almost a week and a Whitethroated Fantail Flycatcher which spent 
.eks in the garden. 

l'..nally there le a list of birds which have only put in an appenr- 
once. Uhese are large Whistling Teal, Buddy Shelduck, Booted 
Ecu .: , lesser Spotted Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle , Pallid Harrier, 
. by, little Brown Dove,- Small Cuckoo, Green Earbet, Pygmy Woodpecker, 
Tickell's Hhrush, little a*own I>ove and Blaekheaded Shrike (twice). 

foregoing list, W which must fce added the House Swift, a com- 
mon not weather and monsoon visitor which had almost got forgotten, 
mui: m a total of 124 species is smite close to the total of 134 
Epciea seen Ijp Malcolm MacDonald in the garden of the British High 

Newsletter for B 2, rdwat-.hers 


Commission in Delhi over ^8lmi?^.r period (Birds ja mv. Indian, Garden) . 
Two of his total of 136 are more usually regarded as only subspecies. 
Oddly enougi only 74, or a little ovar half, are common to both lists. 
The difference must be largely due to the higher reinfall and humidity 
In Bsngal finding less favour with those species that like a drier 
climate. However, only 17 of the lelhi species have not been seen by 
me somewhere in W. B3ngal or just across the border to Bihar. 

The small tree in my garden which is such an attraction for Keels, 
Tree Pies, Hynao, Bulbuls, Chlaropsea, Plcwerpeckers and even crows 
is only 6 m tall but Tiery fast growing reaching this height in only 

3 years. The side branches grow horizontally drooping slightly, all 
the side shoots, which grow alternately, ell in the same plane. The 
leaves also grow alternately, ctH tie light green in colour, lanceo- 
late in shape v-ith a serrated edge, the largest being 10 cm long and 

4 cm at *e broadest- The upper surface is smooth and velvety to tbe 
touch. The small white flowers borne singly on stems 2.5 cm xong are 
about 1.5 cm across, the 5 separated petals resemble tissue paper in 
te-rture. Tht fruit startB as a shiny green berry which turns red when 
ripe and is about 1 cm in diameter. It contains a sweet sap with 
numerous fine yellow seeds. The tree is truly evergreen producing 
flowers and fnuit throughout tiw year. 

It is the continuous supply of sweet berries which mates it so 
srttractive to birds ani I would strongly recommend it for the bird- 
watchers* garden, even if only tQ ta«P 'he bulbuls off the dahlias 
and chrysanthemums. 


Bauf All 

On 4 Juno, j97C, a loaf t Frigate Bird, Eregata artel, in Juvenile 
plumage was found exhausted on a beach north of Bombay, 18 55 N., 
72°50 f 3. Cn its wings were two plastic wing-tags bearing the serial 

^information now received from the British Trusffar Ornithology 
indicated that this bird was tugged as a nestling on Aldabra Island, 
Indian Ocean fcrfW, 46*28*3 on the 18th April 1969. It was 
present there up to 29tfc August 1969. 

This is the third record of J 'iis species from India, the first 
being of Fergunon from Trivandrum, 1904, and the second of Humayun 
Tbdutali froTBcmbay I960 (^ T^t^ nat. Hist-. 3°£. - 57* 668) ttiough 
at least six ezanpl^s have been taken on the west coast of Ceylon, 
also during the monsoon months (Indian Handbook 1: 49;. 

The map distance between the points of ringing and recovery in this 

case is c* 440C km. _ „ „ . , _ 

The bird is at present in fee private aviaries of the Maharaja of 
Jaanagar. It is still rather weak, ard it is proposed to release it 
ouTat sea when it recovers, after marking it with the Society's 

I - 

»uwsla*-e_ £ c r Mr J wlti-h 



lavkumar J. Khacher 

Mr Giarpade's spirited defence of his earlier note and my own note 
appearing Just before it in last month's Ifewsletter with the spark- 
igniting article of Mr Heelakantan are all very welcome in that they 
are a debate on a very vital aspect in which the more people get in- 
volved the better, but may I please request that no feathers should 
fly as a result- Such controversies if converted into friendly debates 
can produce saxh good yet if anger and sarcasm enter the repartees, 
which are all too possible in such debates, it is to be regrettod: 
there ere far too few of us to start going off at tangents and our 
meagre numbers must maintain a stolid unity if wo are to continue 
the little good we are now doing. I say, ^he point at state is not 
whether a woodpecker of any specieB is harmful or not, whether it is 
beneficial or not, nor is it important whether our country-folJr have 
ur.:oiert ific views or not, but &at all of us have to accept a few 
very basic ; points and bear them in mind, these are 

Enough destruction has been done to our biological surroundings to 
leave no ' other side of the coin * • 

The f rue ties ' are the rulers of the country by the nature of our 
political structure, and their opinions often will carry more force 

than that of. any other. 

These very rustics have been Instrumental in producing the terrible 
destruction of our plant and animal life, and they themselves are 
sufferiiK the most as a result of consequent cycles of droughts ard 
fierce floole. 

Sfcere are still inarj, far too many well to do ' sportsnen ■ who 
destroy whatever -little there ie and subvert our gams laws with im- 

The country abouiiia in snobs v&o pay for roast partridge and pea- 
fowl out of- season and who, witi aplomb, servo venison to their 

It is therefore an absolute r&tceselty that the very few of us who 
know and feel should close our ranto ani go all out for the cause 
of conservation, We must make this an article of faith and permit no 

self doubts. 

Die irony of the entire situation came vividly to me when a few 
days back I was strolling with Ialsinhbhai Paol in the open spaces 
behind my house on the outskirts of Eajkct. Despite the wonderful 
monsoon rains, there was not a blade of grass for donesticated ani- 
mals to eat and these had ribs showing. Yet if these acres were closed 
by government to parmit grass to grow there would be a hue and cry 
by the rustics far whom there woula" be grass to cut acd stall-feed 
their annuals, through, the rest of the year. Of course we saw no wild 
animals— beneficial, harmless, or harmful to one another, 4o domes- 
ticated ani^s, to crops or to humans. Tet the same area if closed 
and preserved would soon yield tall grass, there would". be birds and 

H e w e 1 s£t ter for Birdwatchers 


and other animals in nunbere with enough to Bpare for man and his 


Hie last paragraph in Mr Qiorpade 'a rejoinder made ma a- little sad. 
Why is he so bent on wanting to prove tha harmful nature of the Black- 
bacted Woodpecker? Would it not be a tragic sacrifice to a small petu- 
lence or desire for self Justification? A mare pleaeanter method of 
inquiry into "the nature of this particular woodpecker comes to my 
mind. Ofae bird should be carefully watched and If it is felt that 
the little aeamp is indeed taking undue interest in the fruits, then 
the sum needed for the amunition to * bag f the bird would easily 
send a little ! rustic urchin T (possibly the future Prime Minister 
of the country) up the tree to inspect the fruits. He eouia bring 
down eny fruit with signs of damage. Even if a hole has been bored 
by the woodpecker, should this he at the top of the fruit, little 
harm would be done for, ae Mr Jfeelkantan says, the woodpecker a 
tongue is not equipped to suck up juices and so nothing could be lost. 
However if the fruit is damaged lower down then there is something 
to cry about for the scamp in reality would be tapping in on the 
profits of the farmer. Even so, apart from the very academic interest 
such observationo possess, would an occasional nut pierced and sucked 
dry, if at all, outwiegh the immense good dons by the same bird using 
its barbed tongue to spear an* and extract grubs damaging the timber 
of the tree bearing the coconut bo damaged? Die rustic could well 
discusa this point and I am certain he would east hiB valuable rote 
in favour of the woodpecker. 

We naturalists, largely amateurs since professionals are all bbut 
non-existent in this country, must rally all our powers of pursua- 
a ion and get every shade of opinion in support of the cause of con- 
servation. It is bejfeter to have a few rogue woodpeckers than to have 
none at all and besides the rustic farmer has little to worry about 
ae he is getting a very inflated price for his coconuts and to the 
consul re, and to himself, a few coconuts more or leea will mean 
nothing to the losses of the former and the profits of the latter, 
finally a point concerning the (xxasi-eciontifie attitude. Enough 
skins repose in collections all over ths world to mate their further 
acquisition redundant, and even if there is coconut milk inside the 
gizeard of a bird, it would not be identifiable. 


One interesting study which readers of the Ifewsletter can carry 
out without much trouble is to assess the presence of various species 
of birds in urban environments. It is cjiite extraordinary how many 
species of birds are found in the moat urbanized portions of the 
city. In the busiest section of Bombay for instance, the Magpie 
Robin, Ashy Wren-Warbler, Tailor Bird, Purplerumped Sunbird, Copper- 
smith, Wagtails and many others appear to be settled happily, whore- 
ever there is a little open apace and greenery. The Editor's garden 
in the suburbs is now completely surrounded by tall buildings on all 
sides. Yet the flock of Common Green Bje-eaters which have been com- 

H e W."B 1 e t fc e r for B i r d w a t r. h e r o 


lng to the area every September ever since the days when the place 
was wild and unihabited, arrived punctually this season also. Some 
trees and shrubs are of course ncessary and with a little imaginative 
planning these can be provided almost anywhere* 

Will readers staying in crowded cities please nend in a list of the 
birds they see in their locality? It might help us to arrive at some 
interesting conclusions on the basis of this data. 


Mongoose as a predator 

Eight from my childhood I have always associated the mongoose wi'^h 
the Black Cobra. Eicky-ticky-Tavy of Kipling i3 still fresh in my mem- 
ory. Hit I never thought vhat a terror it is to the eggs *«* your^ 
of birds till I saw it myself. 

Ifae small 3awn in front of our house is hedged with Jfehai which 
is about 8 feet high and quite thick and usually fcrus the nesting 

pi ce of about half a dozen common birds: the Tailor Bird, the Ashy 
Wren-Warbler, the Eedvented Bulbul and the little Dove. The reet3 
are always there and toere are usually eggs in them, and the birds 
could be seen sitting therein. I have also seen young chicks come out 
but I have never seen them grow and always after a few days they 
mysteriously disappear* I had often wondered at the cause of the 
sudden disappearance, but could never find it out till I saw the 
mongoose doing the damage* There is a mongoose in the garden. I is 
not scared of us and often comes close to us. In May I saw it climb 
a pole of the barbed wire fencing and deftly Jump about a couple 
of jards at the nest of the little Brown Dove. The mother was sit- 
ting in it i nd under i; were three small chicks. *feedfe os to oay 
that Use mongoose badly cripped 'Ihe mother and polished away the 
chickB with relish. 

It. Col. A. Eavld 
Officers 1 Qr., A/l Old Police Lines 
lelhi 6 

Jungle Mynas and their nests 

Nesting of a flock of the Jungle Myna observed since last week 
of April. These ignored spsciee rather raglected creatures selected 
their site far nesting in the holes on the stone built walls of the 
railway tunnels on the Kalka-6iml -, light Railway tract. 

In the tunnel Ko. 36, 37 and 38 near Solan, those nests were 
located on the holes at interval of 3 feet at the height of about 8 
feet from ground. 

The material for construction of nest is mostly soft fine fibre 
which cohbs from logs of pire wood which are still abundant due to 
the presence of two timber sowing mills, nearty. The inner li n i n g 
of the nest was dry pine leaves. 

tehaviour and essential points regarding nesting are moro or 
less^IEo Common^ynas. fi- fi# y^^j.^ 

Simla HillS 

This Newsletter is published monthly. 
The subscription is Rs. 10 - 
for the Calender Year 1970 

editorial board : 

Dr. Sallm All, F. N. I. 
46. Pall Hill. Bandra. 

Mrs. Jamal Art, 
North Office Para. 
Doranda. Hinoo P. O., 
Ranch). Bihar. 

Mrs. Usha Ganguli. 
B-7. Hauz Khas, 
New Delhi. 

Dr. Biswamoy Biswas. 
Indian Museum, 
Zoological Survey of India, 

Kunvar Shri Lavkumar 
Rajkumar College. 

Prof. K. K. Neelakanun, 
Govt. Victoria College, 
Palghat-I. Kerala 

Mr. S. V. Nilakanta, 
Theosophlcal Colony. 
]uhu, Bombay 54. 

Mr. K. R. Sethana. 
C/o. Kadur Club. 
Mysore State. 

Mr. Winston Creado 
Silver Beach, Juhu, 

Mr. B. R. Grubh 
Bombay Natural History Society. 
Prince of Wales Museum Compound. 
Bombay- 1 BR. 

Editor i 

Mr. Zafar Futehally, 
Juhu Lane, Andheri. 
Bombay 58 AS. 

Co>er UeiiRn by S. NILAKANTA 



VOL. 10-No. 11-1970 NOVEMBER 


Volume 10, Number 11 rfovemter 19W* 


31rd notes from Jomaoa, North Ha pal v by Robert L. Fleming, Or 

Bird observation in Sunabeda, by S. K. Sen 4 

Brevity, by D. A. Stairaand » 

Coconut and its pests, by J. B. Serrao 7 

Notes and Comments 9 


Birds in crowded cities - Bombay, from D. A. Stairmand 
Birds in a Coonoar garden, from Mrs Sarah Jameson 

Robert L. Pluming, Jr 

Jomsom has been the destination of inany recent trekkers in Itepal. 

Where it is? What is it lite? Are there many interesting birds 
there? These are questions likely to be asked by active bird enthu- 
siasts visiting Nepal. 
in Jomsom is. the Ifepal desert. Desert? Well, not quite. Jonsom re»ei« 

ves an average of about 27*5 cm (ll.O inches) of rainfall per year. 
Nonetheless, "the brown scenery with low thorn bushes dotting the 
landscape is very reminiscent of a desert* 

An$ yet it is a place for birds. Not the thousands, perhaps, that 
one sees at Hiaratpur Sanctuary in Rajasthan, but a place for spe- 
cial high altitude and Tibetan species. 

To reach' Jonsom one should count on about twelve days to mate the 
round trip; birds are all along the way. One starts the journey by 
flying from Katfcmaudu to Pokhara, o beautiful valley at 3000 feet 
altitude. Here one may relax at the edge of lake Hxewa and watch 
(in winter) the Great Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatua) diving in 
the clear water, or he may stroll along -foe wide paths anl observe 
Hairorested Drongos (Dicrurus hottentottus ) in the Simul (BombaxJ 

trees. , , ^_ 

After engaging porters in PoKiara, one strikes northwestward* me 
mountain views along this trail ar"» as spectacular as anything I 
have seen in the Himalayas (Machapuchare towers 20,000 ft above the 
observer, Annapurna I, 23,000 ft above). * 

At first the path follows cultivated valley with Kestrels (galeo 
tinrrunculus ) hovering over the rice fields. Naudanda village per- 
ches on the crest of the first ridge and offers protection for 
Striated art Common Swallows ( Kir-undo, daurlca and IU rus tiea ) . We 
saw two IammergeierG (Gypaetus barbate ) crusing along togelher 
over the Naudanda ridge during our recent March visit. 

Newsletter for Birdwatcher 

One moves along the Naudanda ridge now, through Iumle where the 
grassy slopes hide loudly calling Upland Pipits ( Anthus sylvaras ), 
then down through remnant forest harbouring large Yellownaped Wood- 
peckers (picus flavlnucha ), to Birethanthi village. 

Now the path swings up along a small stream. Ttiis mountain torrent, 
though, is large enough to have its complement of Brown Dippers ( Cin- 
clus pallasii ) and Whiteeapped River Chats (Chalmarrornis leucocepha- 
lus j Inviting pools teckon during the noonday heat and just before 
turning up the steep climb to Tftleri, we sampled the none -too-comfort- 
able , ice coH water. 

Above UlLsri the trail rounds a bend aid suddenly plunges into 
dense oak forest. Here are numberous mid-Himalayan birdai Ifepal 
Sunbirds (Aethopyga nlpalonsia ), Hlackcapped Sibias (Heteropha3ia 
capifltrata) , Yellowbrowed Titmice (Parus aodestus) and Stripe throat- 
ed "Yuhina ( Yuhina pilaris ). March is a fine time to walk through 
this forest as the Tree Rhododendron (R. arboreum) is in full bloom. 
Some flowers near the Ghorpani Pass (at 906C feet) were pink rather 
than brilliant red. At other places in Hapal, flowers of the same 
species are white! Oho view from the pass is spectacular. Dhaulagiri 
(26,85^ feet), across the Kali Gandak valley, looks surprisingly 
near. Anrapurna I is so close it is hidden by the massive ice walls 
above us. 

Now one descends through oak ard rhododendron forests, passing a 
few magnolias in bloom, to the village of Sikha. lhen on past scrub- 
by hillsides to T^topani (4000 feet altitude) on the banks of the 
Gandaki river. Bathing at the hot springe is possible, but the 
water has to bo cooled before using. 

-Una Gandaki valley has surprisingly few birds to offer here- The 
valley is enclosed in steep, nearly treeless slopes which Is not 
ideal habitat except for a few Ifcown Hill Warblers ( Prinia criniger ). 
Plumbeous Redstarts (Rhyacorn i3 fuliginosus ) caught insects near the 


Above Dana the pa* branches and becomes mors interesting. The 
left trail (aloi_g ifee' ture ri^it bank of the river) clings to the 
gorge cliff3 in a mosf exciting manrer. Along here we saw Himalayan 
Griffore (Gyps himalayensis ) resting on their cliff perches. The 
right fork, on the other hand, is prosaic but is not passable in the 
monsooiB as it invol-ges crossing the Kali Ganiakl on a temporary 
bridge. She ri^it fork boasts a grove of Alders (Alms ncpalensisj 
in which we saw Greenbacked Titmice (Parus monticolus ). Greyheaded 
Flycatcher-Warblers (Se ice reus xanthc-schistos J, and a Brownfronted 
Pied Woodpecker (Dandrocopoo auriceps J. 

Now one enters the land of the hospitable lhakkhali. lower lli&i 
is well forested with Blue Pine (Pinus griffithi jarri Maples (AcerJ. 
A thick unierstcry of dwarf bamboo ( Arimdir.gria ) provides suitable 
habitat for many birds. Eore one finds Chestnuthoadcd Tit-Bibblers 
( Alcippe castaneceps ), Redheaded lauding Onrushes (Garrulax ery^ 
throcoi ■alysJ ^"d Rufouanecked Scimitar Babblers (Pomatorhinus 
ruficcllisj. Sumror visitors, already here by mid Karch, included 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

the Verdi ter Flycatcher fc-tusclcapa thalasslna ) and the Bark Grey Bush 
Chat (Saxicola ferrea). 

In March, Rosefinches were abundant all along -foe trailj they are 
surely one of the highlights of a Jomsom trek. Beautiful Rosefinches 
(Carpodacus pulcherriausl were seen ax 550C feet, while Pinkhrowod 
( C. rh^dochrcus ) and tfepal (c. nipalensis ) were in Ghasa Village at 
6000 feet. Spctwinged Rosefinches (C . rhodopeplus ) lurked in the 
forest at 7C00 feet, as did Redheaded Qfrcpyrrhula subhimacn«0» )- A 
rosefin-oh of spectacular proportions, ttie Eastern Great ( C. rubicil- 
loidea ) occupied the hedgerows of Jomsom in pairs and small parties. 
They were wary and perched on bush-tops to watch us pass. 

Ihe walk from Iete to Hassom is surely one of the most interesting 
a naturalist in -the Himalayas can hsve. Here, within a span of only 
ten miles, he emerges frcsi Ike moist, pine-covered south Himalayan 
slopes, passes between two giant peaks, and then plunges into the 
rain-«hadcw desert north of the Himalayan system. 

Plant life changes abruptly; bird life less so. Irequent parties 
of Redbilled Choughs (p. pyrrhocorroc) feed in the fields as Bobin 
Accentors ( Prunella rubeculoides) porch in the hedgerows. Die fields 
of barley and wheat are green oa3«B in the brown landscape. Birds 
gravitate here. 

We arrived in Jomsom under threatening skies. Ihe next day it 
snowed slightly. In March, though, it was surprisingly warm; in' mid- 
winter it can be bitter here. We sp^nt two days examining ttie birds 
of the JoEsom area — especially in tte fields ard hedge rovra of 
Jomsom and neighbouring Thinl village. 

Birdwatehing at Jomsom is not an all day affair. <"*ne has to rise 
early and cake as much haste as poanible far from about 9.V a.m. 
onwards, bird activity begins tc slow down. 3arly in the morning 
they appear to be everywhere — sitting on tops of small bushes, 
acuiTying about on the ground, or flying swiftly from one apricot 
tree to another. 3y 10 a.n. most of them seen to have disappeared. 

Where do they go? TCiat causes them to behave so differently from 
birds in other places? 3he answer is not visible — at least not 
directly — but is ' feelable '• Wind. Srom mid-morning to lato 
afternoon a strong wind sweeps off cf Ihaulagiri aid rushes north- 
wards along the Gandaki Vslley, reaching a speed of over 5^ m«p«h» 
at times. Birds have adapjfced to this climatic condition so that 
after ten they tonfine their activities to crouching bohird or work- 
ing around beneatft prote«iing Ikjshee or storiae. . It may seem as 
though no birds are here at all but as soon as one clinbs over a 
slight rise, he may startle any number of rosefinches, warblers, 
accentors, and thrushes from the bushes ir. front. < 3ie birds mate a 
hurried getaway, aided as they are fcy the- wind, to tte next protect* 
ing riae. 

In March we were already too late to see seme of the wintering 
rosefinches and other hi/£i -altitude birds. Some wero still around 
throu^, such as -fee Whitethroated Redstarts (Hiconicurus schisti^eps ), 
the Eastern Great Rosefinoh, and Brown Accentors ( Pruj^lla fulves- 
cons ). Brown Accentors look for all the world like bush chats as 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

they perch on top of hedges In the early morning sunshine, Their con- 
spicuous black i mask ' is reminiscent of the r&rk Grey Bush Ghat, We 
found these Accentors, which are rare in Nepal and known from only the 
Jomsom and Muirtinath regions, relatively confiding. They occurred 
singly and spent much time hopping about stonewalls and under hedges 
bordering the fields. When disturbed, their flight is amazingly rapid 
— much mere so than bu3h chats'. 

Another common bird here was the Redthroated Thrush (Turdus r. rufi- 
cpllisj. In Sepal this bird, in its Blackthroated (n r. atroruE risT" 
form, is frequent in the south Hiixlayas; the redthroated variety is 
definitely note. Significantly we did not see any Blackthroated Onrush- 
es here. It v/ould appear that in Central Nepal, the Redthroated Inrush 
winters north of the main Himalaya^, while the blackthroated type con- 
tinues on south. These birds devote much tiie to hopping on the ground 
looking for food. 

A word about the Tibetan Tit-Warbler ( ieptopoecile sophiae ). This 
light sandy-coloured warbler with a contrasting lave nier rump haunts 
bushes and hedges around Momsom. We found them quite frequent during 
our Eeoember visit, but not especially common during March. Our friend 
an excellent birdwatcher Shri leva ttur Singh of Jomsom, says that these 
birds are migratory ond spen2 only winters here. More informati or. on 
seasonal movements of this warbler in Nepal is needed. 

Thus, although there may not be an overwhelming number of birds in 

this unusual area, the species that do live here are of special inter- 
est. The birds combined with grand mountain views and the friendly 
people all make this trek mo3t memorable. 

S. K. Sen 

My bird study, 3till being in the alphabetical stage, mainly consists 
of identification of 'different species, as I have been able to do in 
Sunafceda, during my stay there for one and a half year. 

Sunabeda is a 3mall village in the district of Koraput in Orissa- 
The area is traversed by a highway; only on one side of which is the 
village • fn the other side a small indus.trial township has grown up. 
ae area is a sort of valley studded with low hills and is about 
2500 ft from the sea level and 80 miles from the sea coast. The gen-' 
era! scenery consist of rather barren hilla, low shrubs and scrub 
a A bushes scattered all over the area. Occasionally thext; are^few trees, 

particularly cashew nut3 planted by the forest department. luring 
raiiB the-whols area get covered with all kinds of wild grasses. lur- 
ing my stay, I walked around a radius of 5-7 miles spotting birds. 
There were, of course, lot' of birds coining into the township* 

like all other places, House Crows (Corvus splendenr) . House Sparrow 
( leaser donesticus) and Common Mym (Acridotheres tristis ) , are as 
numerous as anywhere else. Second commonest are Cattle Sgrete (B.xbul- 

newsletter for Birdwatchers 

cus ibisj. Hhese yellowbilled egrets are quite nunBrous attending to 
grazing cattle in the fields and hillsides. In the evening they dis- 
appear . 

There are several winter visitors to Sunabeda of which Wagtails and 
Swallows are most conspicuous- Sheae birds cone to Sunabeda around 
October and leave about March. I have seen flocks of wagtails in the 
lawns, foraging and flying about in their characteristic manner. Most 
numerous are Grey Wagtails (Motacilla caspica) , but there were occas- 
ional White Wagtails (M* alba ) and large Pied Wagtails (M^ Padaraspa* 
tensis ).! also saw two Yellow WagtaLls (M. flava) , one was completely 
yellow but the other was yellow only in the rear part. Ihere were some 
Indian Pipits (Anthus novae seelandiae ) mixed among the wagtails. Pipits 
look rather like the female sparrows tut slightly bigger and more 

Swallows come in plentiful during I.'ovemter. All three kinds, Bedrun- 
ped Swallow ( Hirundo daurica ), Cormon (H. rustrica ). Wire tailed (H. 
scithi ). They keep on flying inciroles catching insects. While fly- 
ing sonetiiw they come quite close, when one can see their colour and 
the wire of the tail. She colour of their plumage is a beautiful blue, 
particularly of the wire -tailed variety. For some odd reason, swallows 
come in flocks to the lawns vhen the weather is dull and cloudy. Wag- 
tails flock in if it is bright and sunny. 

Other species that are commonly found in the township are: Black 
Erongo ( Eicrurus adsii-.ilio) , Pariah Kite ( kjIvub migrans) . Once I saw 

a beautiful brown simll hawk which I thought was a young Shikra ( Accl- 
pitor bad ius ). r "nce I also spotted a Redheaded Merlin (itelco chicquera ) 

Bitting on en e£ ctric pole. Nightjar ( Caprimujgus as^iaticiB Jare often 

pPffiffi^J rfy^waFiSe'g^ly" 111 ^ ** ** Bl,Wle ° f th ° r ° QdS# ^ &P " 

On "ttio east s"ide of the town there is a hill studded with caahewnut 
trees. One of the tree ves colonised by a group of Pied Myna ( stumus 
contra ), reasting and were very noisy* One part of the hill was occu- 
pied by Irdian Hobins (Saxicoloides fulicataj I they started a chorus 
early in the morning which continued long after dU3kJ Diey were pro- 
bably nesting but I could never find a nest. This was in the month of 

Pied Bush Chats (Ssrlocla caprata ) were also contionly found all 
over the town. 

The south side of the town isnot built up» The southern limit of the 
town is by on artificial lcte produced by i\ dam inundating low lands. 
A walk along the lake in the morning, one encounters number of differ- 
ent birds. Hiere were Hedwattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus ), suddenly 
starting to Bcreaa and fly about when disturbed. Sitting on the shrubs 
and hiding in the bushes were Redvented Bultuls (P ycncnotus >afer ). 
Grey Shrikes (ianius oxcubitor ), Common Shrite (gfephrod orals pondice- 
rianus ) aid Rufousbsc&j& Shrike (irvnlus schach ). Shrikes are easy to 
identify from their bill. !Ihere were also several shy srall nondescript 
birdo I could not identify. 

Hie lake is rather shallow with bare trees projecting out of the 
water. Sitting on one of such bare tree branch I identified a Common 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


Kingfisher ( Alcedo atthis ). Near the edge of the late among the rush- 
es I saw and identified two Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos ). I 
also saw six small ducks floating on the lake but could not identify 


Ow path along ttie lake join3 a metalled road at its east and ani 
I was walking towards it. In "foe middle of tiie path I came across a 
Hoopoe (Upupa epops ) with its crest clqsed. 

Walking along the metiOled road menticjud above I saw and identi- 
fied some more specieo of birdn - On the telegraph wire were sitting 
Grey Shrikes and quite a few Common Green Bae-«ater (Me r ops orient- 
alia) . These beautiful birds are quite common around Sunabeda. On a 
tree I spotted one TBhita bellied Drongo ( Picrurus caerulescena ). In 
size it is slightly smaller than a HLack Drongo- Constant call of a 
bird drew my attention and I spotted a Crimsonbreasted Barbet (Mega- 
la ima haemaccphala ) sitting right on the very top of a tree. On 
another tree I found a number of Bpotted Dove Cstreptopelia chinensis;. 

This time I had a binocular with me, so that I had good look at 
the species. I felt ratiier happy identifying all these sieciea and 
thougit of recording all Bpeciee that are found in and around Suna- 
beda. Unfortunately I had to change my plans ani % ave the place. 


E. A. Stairmand 

Mr F. M. Gauntlett, in his very informative and interesting article, 
1 Birds in a Bengal Garden " Ifewslettc-r 10(1^): 6-6 taken ! the 
bookB * to task for being so longwinded over bird names such as 
'Roseringed 1 Parakeet which he indicates should be shortened to 
» Green T Parakeet (as -was done by Malcolm Tiacdonald in his Birds, in , 
my Indian Garden ), further on in Mr Gauntlett's article there occurs 
' E^Wan"vuT^e (so much shorter than » White Scavenger "Vulture; . 
I presume this romark refers to the name and not length of the bird. 

I think both instances are somewhat unfortunate for is the large 
Indian Parakeet (Pcittacula eupatria) any less a ' Green *"*»?* 

already been more than enough chafing of bird', nac* S - both 
^ JSSSSSBlS^B^^^^tZ'ZX^ Mr GauntletT 

Phron nercnopterus percrywrus x ™» "T\ ^ Mr Gauntlett 

^5olT percnopterus p-inrinlanua;. It would appear xno 

Hew sit,, i- for Birdwatchers 

probably sav/ fee Indian Scavenger Vulture an3 not Uie Egyptian Vul- 
ture as tte latter Is sett to be confined, within our area to a great 
extent at least, to tfortl. Weat Mia. If -ve are not to quibble or be 
pedantic ovar " race • and re ^ufeo brevity I suggest ore word - I tfeo- 
chron ' which has been used in books. Many people like the nomencla- 
ture f Snai-ach's Cfaiofcan '• 

With all due roapoet ta Mr Gauntlett, and thanks to him for his 
article, I wonder whether many of -as consider brevity desirable when 
we are reading cur bird books and, incidentally, the 1-fewslctter . Do 
we, in fact, n^ed to write ' binos ' which my mind always insists on 
rhyming with ■ shiiios f and'oinoes' would probably be rhymed' with 
1 30cks ' — I would hasten to moke it clear that I am not referring 
to Mr Gauntlet t or anyore also specifically in this respect. I, per- 
sonally, savour such a title in the Hbwslotter (Cctoter ) as ' In con- 
tinuation of Ccccnuts , E-laokbadcd Woodpeckers. Amateur Naturalists, 
and Rustics (Also Q uasi-Scierttist sVby Kunvar Shri Ienrkumar J. Kacher, 
whether Prince, Ksquire or just plain Mister. Pity about that cryptic 
1 J ■ though. 


J. S. Serrao 

The defence of the Blaekbacked Woodpecker has now covered tiiree iosi^s 

of the Efcwsle tter. Eefcre it closes down it may bo interesting to re- 
call the incident of damage by Rats to Coconut from the article IKS 

IACCAUIVES AND SHE WEST COAST, by A. Q. Hume (Stray leathers At 413, 
et sei . . 1876). The paragraphs narrating tiie remedies the administra- 
tion devised and how such remedies worked .ire reproduced. Iho passages 
Surely have a Iwsscn far us either in our genuine or imaginary ill3. 
Ihe scene is 2fctra-«ar island in the Iaccadive group. 

.'•••••• lastly, I saw and carefully spared a pair of Southern Wood 

owls, (Balaca {Z StrixT' jidranee ) (though one of them oat blinking 
and winking at me in an exasperating fashion far several ninutes); 
but thereby hangs a tale* 

1 I must explain that in some of the inhabited islands -tile p«o*lfi 
are much troubled with rats (Mu s_ rufesoenn i as I found on securing 
specimens), which live up in crowns of the cocoanut palms, and incon- 
tinently drop the nuts on the heads of passers hy, pcd otherwise ser- 
iously diminish the outturn of the tree a aid make themselron general- 
ly disagreeable, rur beneficent Government, anxious to suoconr its 
suffering people, first suggested eats, but the people already had I 
cats, which, however, getting plenty of fish below, felt no call for 
running up 9*"' faot of bare cocoanut trunk in quest of rats, which ti»y 
never saw or even rmelt* Die Government sent down a lot of onakBs and 
mongooses; the former, the people ex1»rminated a3 undesirable colonists, 
•Hie latter, they put up with, but daxived no great benefit from them, 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

seeing that mongooses are not tree climters, aid the rats stick to 
the crowns of the trees. I am aware that the official record claims 
that the mongooses drove the rats up the trees; were this a fact, they 
could hardly have been more unprofitably employed, it being just out 
of the trees that it is essential to drive the rats, but as a matter 
of fact the poor Herpes tes (the only speoimen we got was vitticollis ) 
had nothing to do with the matter. If they did no good, at least they 
did no harm in this direction — s Ince at nc time did the rat ever 
reside anjwtoxa than in the tree tops, and seeing that they have 
plenty to eat there, and nothing to eat below, it could hardly be ex- 
pected that they should. 

1 Wall, having " driven all the rats up the trees? " and I perceive 
from the reports that this imaginary feat was deemed a decided step 
in the right direction, it occurred to some ore to send down a lot of 
fcvls to drive them down again. Hhe conception was really a grand one 
— between two fires, what should the wretched rats do, but curse the 
collector and dio? 

■ * Unfortunately, as is too commonly the case in India, popular pre- 
judice interfered to mar the success of a paternal Government's bene- 
ficent schemes. 

1 When the Pwls arrived, (magnificent Eagle 'Vis, gays the report, 
Uit practically they were Wood Cwls), the people were greatly exer- 
cioed. " lhat ails the Sirkar " said the elders. " Is it not enough 
that they deluge us with snakes, that they flood us with long-tailed 
ground rats (mongooses) that kill our chickens? and now they want to 
afflict us with these devil birds, irfiose cries keep us all awake at 
nigit, and make tho children scream, and the old women foretell death 
and rulnl (Jartainly we are the Sirkar 's slaves —whatever they order 
wo obey, but — we won't have the devil birds. " Hie upshot was, that 
four pairs of the Owls were taken to Itetra-Par, where they might, 
without offence, cake night hideous, and the remaining two, were let ' 
loose somewhere on tie sly. It is true there are no rats on Betra-Iar, 
and that if there were, it would not signify, but que voules vous? 
the designs of a great and benevolent Government are not to bo allow- 
ed to cats to neurit; the ("wis had to be disposed of somehow; in 
political crielseo, compromises have to be accepted, and if the unfor- 
tunate ard guiltless fwls transported for life to meet an untimely 
grave on the desolate shores of B3tra-*ar, do seem to have had hard 
measure mated to them, we must remember that everything was done witii 
the best possible intentions, and that ever, in the highest states of 
civilization, blameless individuals have at times to suffer pro bono 
publico. ' . - — 

A hundred years after what Hume wrote, there appears to be no neces- 
sity of our experimenting tte way ' the benevolent government ' of 
Hume's days did. In the United States the depredations dore by their 
Sapsuclrera (sphyrapicus ruber, S. thyroides and 3«_ varius ) to culti- 
vated apple and pear and other economic trees wa3 estimated at 
$^ f 2^>Qffvy as early as the first decade of the present century. Yet 
the extermination of the Sapsuckers was not considered. Certainly by 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


now -the OS farmer must have some methods of either eliminating or 
minimizing these depredations by' the sapBuekers. These methods either 
adopted of "aacptj'd to suit our conditions here should certainly yield 
results 121 controlling the damage done by woodpeckers to coconut, if 
any (dcubtfulJ)* 

N035S Alter cosbwib 

The HEH1H ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Birdwatchers' Weld Club 
of Indie, will be held cona tins in ttfas middle of Deoember IDfT, ani 
a Hotice with an a^mda will ta circulated with the Decenber issue 
of the Hsvrl ittT, It will ^ greatly appreciated if ne inhere write 
in to the Editor any particular items, which they want to be discus- 
sed at' th3 meeting and eend a note about their proposals. 

In the Editor's garden the Shikra arrived after the rains and was 
first seen .on 4-ttu Cctober. It offered a splendid view aa it sat on 
the edge of the v^ter barrel with a whele troop of crows trying their 
*est to prevent it Sroa having a drink. Both the House- and Jungle 
Crows indulged in harassing the Shikra. 

Die bird has aflng yellow eyes, yellow bill, with a black patch 

on the top of bill, jollow l^gff, and beautiful soft brown lines on its 
white underclde. ies^ondo vertically down the white 

throat. It is eifficult to say b the* it is a nhikra or a Sparrow 
Hawk. Thou^i I hav; nc I would like to believe that it is 

the same bird coming into the garden since the last three years. It 
has been sug.-eeted that the bird could be caught by dangling a lure, 
i.e. a frog, a mouag, or a. bird on the other side of the net, strate- 
gically placed near the ohilca's haunts. If the attempt is success- 
ful readers .vi-U. hoar cbait it 

Incidental^ on the nomine of the 30th October I saw the bird 
on the mango tres and was very a it-priced to find a number of large 
white spots on its beck* The bird wae looking very large with all 
its feature mailed and these spots are apparently on the underside 
of the tack feathers, which are not visible when the bird is properly 
groomed ■ 

A Purvey of the PeBticldo position in India 

It is very important for us in India to get information of pesti- 
cides on the fcllov/ing linens 

i. Tlhat pesticides are produced in India? 
ii. Tfeat are their useB? 
ill. What is the legislation and nature of registration of pesticides? 
Have any specific steps teen taken to ensure that these pesticides 
are used with care and do not pose a hazard to wildlife! 

iv. The authorties, organisations ard individuals who keep account 
of the ecological effect of pesticide- use. 

Tte are all aware of the dangers posed by the new chemicals, but 


Newsletter 2 r Birdwatchers 

1* " 

unless accurate data are available it is not possible to make any 
representations about either improving the law asking for- its better 
implementation. Would any reader agree to act as a coordinator for : 
this* project, collect all the information and submit the data to the 
Editor of ihe Ifcwslettcr - 

The Internatio;Bl tLiicn for Conservation of Nature and Natural Re- 
sources is very much interested in collecting such data from differ- 
ent countries so that it can take action at international level. 

Bie XUCN writesx * Although pesticides are used in every country 
information about their pvc'uction, the situations in which they are 
used, the extent of iheir use, their registration ani control, and 
their ecological effects are very little known except for a few 
countries in the North Temperate Zone. Enough research has been done 
to demonstrate that pesticides are now an important ecological fac- 
tor In terrestrial, freshwater and even marire ecosystems. Iherefcre 
ecological research on their effects is r. important from many scienti- 
fic point3 of view. Background information on the nature, and extent 
of pesticide use is an essential prerequisite for all research on 
the ecological effects' of pesticides and for assessnents of pesticide 
threats to enviroraeirt. 

'Tftiila pesticides hnve teen valuable in preventative medicine and 
agriculture tbsir misuse hi? resulted in serious aide effects which 
have done economic damage, e.g.' selection of resistant genotypes, 
desirability natural enemies of pests ardhence the production of,iww 
troblens. Greater knowledge about pesticide effects *iU reduce eco- 
nomic losses which have been due to the unwise use of; pesticides. 
r Apart from damage to economically valuable species pesticides 
have also done much harm to wild organisms, notably birds, vfcich are 
valued for aesthetic and educational reasons* 

1 fflve acquisition of tasic data on pesticides will help alleviate 
all these problems. ' 


Birds in Crowded P ities - Bombay 

In Newsletter lC(l^): 10-11 our Sditor reiueats readers staying 
in crowded cities to send a list of the birds seen in their loeali- 

I stay in a first floor flat ri^it on Biulathai Itesai Road (war- 
den Road"), Bombay. Ihere is a bus stop in front of my balcony ani . 
our garden has been made so narrow (due to road widening over receht 
years) that when on Hie balcony I can almost lend my binoculars to 
any interested long-earned gentleman sitting on the top deck of a 
bus. '.he garden hag a narrow border containing Shrubs and plants and 
there are several Hibiscus shrubs at the side of the flats. Warden 
Road has a constant strean of extrerely noisy traffic complete with 
home and fumes from 7 a.m. to U p.m. Across the road is a children s 
playgrounl witfc a few trees ani, beyond it, the sea. 

In almost exactly two years I have noted the following 23 birds 
seen from my balcony* 

N e w s 1 e -tfc.. 

- o _? 3 - .'dwajcher 

House Crew, Jungle Crcw r Itedvo^ted Bulbul, Redwhiskered Bulbul, 
Magpie Hobln, Llai.k iVongo. Tailor Bird, Spotted Munia, Red Munla 

(undoubted J. 7 a- ---;-. *), House Sparrow, Common Swallow, 

Purplervmrod rxuUrU* Ooppeiv-^ith, large Indian Parakeet, Hose - 
rirged Bar ittet jaxfceadod Rirakeet, Common Green Bee-eater, 

House Swift, "nitobacked Yuxture, Bariah Kite, ELue Rock Pigeon 

(semi-domec-O^axed), Eeof Heicn,. Pond Heron. 

A great attraction fjj? theQunM::d is a Woodfordia, when in flower. 
I have never seen a Common % r . : on my balcony, which surprises me. 

P« A. starimand 
j/o Mercantile Bank IAd., Bombay 1 

Birds in a Coonoor Garde n 

luring these past three days (letter dated 28th Sept.), I have 
seen no fewer than four T new T birds in this garden to add to my 

On I had a clear view of a Mackbacked Pied Elyeatcher- 
Shrike filitting abcut in the branches above my head. The next day I 
saw a Southern Tree Pie fly from one tree to another, and the very . 
next minute I saw the little bird who is possibly the source of the 
Tiosip I have frequently heard both here ani In Bsngal during the 
winter. I was standing in our rather wild lower garden and the bird 
was JUflt about ten feot away? busily hunting in the rather tere 
branches of a sm?7. tree<. It "/as £ doll olive-brown above, pale buffy 
white below, with one win^ bar and a rather dirty white superc Ilium, 

shaped thust ~- , It BUflt & cie of the warblers, but I flni them 

a most confusing family, and even with the help of Birds of Kerala 
I cannot idert ify iti It does not quite fit either the large Crowned 
leaf Iterbler or Tickell's. 

Yesterday afternoon I heerd excited mribird noises but not those 
I knew, and I rushed out to fird ■cwo small birds chasing around. They 
were definitely NOT the Purple- or the Purplerumped , or the Small, 
all of which I an fairly familiar with. Finally I was able to get a 
good view of them ore at a time in full sun. Cne was brown above and 
yellow below, both had Ions curved bills, and the other was brown 
above and a much paler brown fcelcv, wl* <\ brilliant metallic green 
head and Hie chin and tirosfc shore metallic maroony purple. I have 
never seen or heard -these birds here before, and I csn only think 
the are Ioten T s Sur.birds. According to the took, the male is block 
above, but this bird was definitely brown — a sport perhaps? They 
are said to live up at heighte of £000 feet at least. Cur garden la ; 
almost 6000 ft above sea fevQ&* 

This morning I was so pleased to hear the very familiar voices of 
of our Disergarh Sunbirds, the Purple 7 am for several hours they have 
been busy sipping nectar from tho hibiscus blooms jU3t outside my 
jroom. The male is still in his non-la:eed ing plumage and has a black 
etr ipo down h i s fronts 

*3oma Nilgiri Birdo, by Sarah Jameson. Newsl etter Vol. 9(h)* 5-6* 
Vol. 9(12): 4-6 --2d. 

N e_w. 3 I - ■- t -_.r for 
12-- ' - 

Birdwatche r 

As though all this were not enough excitenBrrt, I have Just found 
two Spotted Munias sitting on a wire in -fee porch. Ore had a black 
■speckled belly, : but the other wan nrnlnJj whitish below f I see there 
are thre"e weTl. bidden dried grass nests in 1fte Jasmine on the porch 
pillars, sc perhaps they will be nesting here. 

Sarah Jameson 
Culmore, Coonoor 

Zafar Futehally 

Editor, Jfewsletter for Birdwatchers 

52-A, Juhu lane 

Andheri, Bombay 58-AS 

This Newsletter is published monthly. 
The subscription is Rs. 10/- 
for the Calender Year 1970 

editorial board: 

Dr. Sallm Ali. F. N. I. 
46, Pall Hilt, Bandra. 

Mrs. Jamal Ara, 
North Office Para. 
Doranda, Hindoo P. O., 
Ranch), Bihar. 

Mrs. Usha Gangull, 
B-7. Hauz Khas 
New Delhi. 

Dr. Biswamoy Biswas 
Indian Museum, 
Zoological Survey of India, 

Kunvar Shrl Lavkumar 
Rajkumar College, 

Prof. K. K. Neelakanton 
Govt. Victoria College 
Palghat-l. Kerala 

Mr. S. V. Nllkanta, 
Theosophtcal Colony, 
Juhu, Bombay 54. 

Mr. K. R. Sethana, 
C/o. Kadur Club, 
Mysore State. 

Mr. Winston Creado 
Silver Beach. Juhu. 

Mr. B. R. Grubh 

Bombay Natural History Society, 
Prince of Wales Museum Compound, 
Bombay- 1 BR. 

Editor . 

Mr. Zafar Futehally. 
Juhu Lane, Andherl, 
Bombay 58 AS. 

Covar design by S. NILAKANTA 



VOL 10-No. 12-1970 DECEMBER 


The TENTH Annual General Meeting of the Birdwatchers' 
Field Club of India will be held on Saturday . ) 6th January . 
1971 . at the residence of Zafar Futehally, 32-A, Juhu Lane, 
Andheri, Bombay 58, at 5.00 p.m. 


1. To elect a Chairman 

2. To confirm the minutes of the last Annual General 

Meeting hold on 20th December 1969 

3. To receive a report from the Honorary Secretary 

about the functioning of the Club and of the 

4. To receive suggestions from members about activi- 

ties for the ensuing year 

5. To elect the Editorial Board for the Newsletter 

for Birdwatchers 

6. To elect the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of 

the Club 

7. Any other business with the permission of the 


Zafar Futehally 
Honorary Secretary 

Birdwatchers 1 Field Club 
of India 

32-A, Juhu Lane 
Andheri, Bombay 58-AS 


tf E £ S L £ T T E R -OH 

Volume 10, Number 12 December 1970 


The return of the Redstart, by D, A, Stairmand 1 
Brevity and bird names, by F, M, Gauntlett 2 

Some gleanings from my memory, by tavkumar J. Kacher 5 

Obituary Note - Mrs U->ha Ganguli 3 

Notes and Comments 9 

Correspondence 9 

Bird problems in the Western Ghats, from F. M, Gaunt- 

D, A. Stairmand 

One of the birds I am most enthusiastic to see in winter 
in Bombay is the male Redstart ( Phoenicurus cxhruros) 
with its black and orange-chestnut coloration and constant 
ly shivering tail. 

Whenever I am lucky enough to stay in a place with a 
good garden I have a fair chance in winter by seeing this 

charming little bird but unfortunately this is a rarity. 

Last winter, however, there were a pair of Redstarts — 
at least one was male and the other female - on a stony 
hillock some way to the left of my company f s Beach Shack 
at Erangel, Marve. That winter * had spent many a happy 
hour watching one or other of this widely separated pair 
of Redstarts mounting tiny stones, standing upright and 
shivering their tails before their bright eyes would spy 
out a minute insect which was quickly caught and devoured 
after a few quick little hops. This process was repeated 
time and again always to my pleasure and the Redstarts, 
if not the insects. I must admit that I preferred watch- 
ing the male Redstart on account of his more handsome 
dress and extreme boldness. As Whistler has pointed out 
it is extraordinary that this bird which is so shy in its 
breeding grounds in the high Himalayas in summer in the 

headers will recall that in Newsletter Vol, 10(4): 5, 
April 1970, Mr Stairmand reported the departure of the 
male Redstart from Erangel by 21. ii. 1970, while the female 
was still around the ruins of an old outpost in the loca- 
lity -- Ed. 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

uplands of- Kashmir. and Ladakh,.. Tibet, Spiti and Lahul chan- 
ges its characters completely in winter and becomes one of 
the most pleasant and friendly of our garden birds. The 
female Redstart is also a pretty little bird and as with 
such birds as the Magpie Robin, Indian Robin, Collared and 
Pied Bushchats I think the -females are always prettier 
with their big innocent eyes, even though the males are 
undoubtedly more handsome. 

One Sunday morning this September I went to the stony 
hillock at Erangel and sat on a stone quite in the open 
near a family of Date Palms. This hai been a favourite 
area of the male Redstart up to March and, as luck would 
nave it, 1 had no sooner sat down than a male Redstart 
flew towards me and settled on a stone some distance away 
going about his business in his customary charming style 
all the while advancing closer to me and fixing a bold 
bright pale ringed eye on me. This bird v ,as in fresh 
autumn plumage with the black body plumage largely obscu- 
red by grey fringes which will wear off as winter progres- 
ses until the bird becomes blacker in appearance. After 
some time another male Redstart appeared but was quickly 
driven off. This, perhaps, indicated a fresh arrival from 
the north and the newcomer will have to find his own ter- 

This hillock also contained Desert Wheatears last winter 
and these are more sober-coloured birds of rather similar 
habits to the Redstart and certain to provide much joy to 
any onlooker. 



F. M. Gauntlett 

Mr Staimand's interesting comments in Newsletter 10(11): 
6 on my use of bird names raises two very important points 
Before I elaborate on these I must declare my wholehearted 
agreement with Mr Stairmand's sentiments regarding keeping 
bird names constant, particularly the Latin ones. However, 
I am also in favour of long term modification where the 
result avoids an anachronism and is shorter to say and 
write. After all, language itself becomes modified with 

On the length of bird names, many of the labels which 
our feathered friends are i'orced to bear were originally 
attributed by our Victorian or earlier ancestors who con- 
sidered it a sign o£ erudition and great scientific know- 
ledge to con'fer names as long as possible. I give all 
credit to more modern ornithologists for abreviating these 
Any British birdwatcher who still called a Goldcrest a 
1 Golden-crested Wren * would be thought a bit of a nut 

Newsletter for Birdwatchers 


case and the use of ' Titmouse ' instead of ' Tit f is dis- 
tinctly old fashioned (no offence intended, Dr Fleming), I 
think this is an improvement, not a renegade step. 

So far as conformity is concerned, there has been a wel- 
come trend in Britain to try to standardise English names 
with usage in other English-speaking countries, particular- 
ly where rarities are concerned. The British have bowed to 
their transatlantic friends and • Yellowshank * and ' Red- 
breasted Snipe ' have become f Yellovvlegs ' and ' Dowitcher* 
respectively in line with American usage. The 'Buff -backed 
Heron 1 has become ' Cattle egret 1 in line with popular 
usage elsewhere. These are just a few examples, but the 
English-speaking birdwatcher is a cosmopolitan, on the 
standardisation of English names. 

On the subject of names for parakeets, I am afraid I 
remain unrepentant. Whistler used the name Green Parakeet 
(with no alternative) in his Popular Handbook of Indian 
j^rds, first published in 1928. I do not know I? this was 
a departure from earlier use, but I consider it unfortu- 
nate that later authors did not follow suirt. Mr Stairmcnd 
and I must obviously agree to differ on this point. 

Mr Stairmand's choice of the Large Indian Parakeet for 
comparison was perhaps unfortunate. Why both ! Large ' and 

Indian f ? It also comes in an * Alexandrine ! model. 
Would not the names ' Large ■ and ' Green ! be sufficient 
to differentiate between the two? As I said before, stan- 
dardisation of English names has a lr^g way to go but at 
least these are better than a lot of the so-called Latin 
names of Which we have to learn a new set each time some 
budding Ph.D. 'revises 1 a particular group and produces 
new generic names, only to find that somebody else a few 
years later has changed half of them back again. This sit- 
uation is stabilised in Britain by the British Ornitholo- 
gists Union which ever/ 10 years or so publishes an offi- 
cial 'British. List \ the English and Latin names therein 
being taken as tandard usage. 

The question of the name for the vulture unleashes the 
whole complex problem of species v. subspecies. By orni- 
thological upbringing and inclination I am a ' lumper ', 
whereas I believe to: Stairmand may be a ' splitter '. 

Europe with its fragmented peninsula* • and off-shore is- 
lands has in the past been a happy hunting ground for the 
subspecieiier, as has India, particularly with the early 
Victorian naturalists vieing with each other to get as 
many subspecies as possible named after themselves. For- 
tunately, nobody has tried to give English names to each 
of the 35 subspecies of Coal Tit resultinc from their 

The culmination of the concept of this era was the pub- 
lication of the Handbook of, British Bir^ s about 30 years 
ago which had a fully subspecific treatment with an English 



2*?f J«* each race. Jhe Handbook of the Birds of India and 
Pakisi^n has admittedly used this TOrFasfts mode?ff uF* 
I think it ,,-as unfortunate to use this . treatment becruse 
it obscures the very real difference in taxanomic value 
between species anc subspecies. A species is a biological 
entity but a subspecies is not. s " 

A S h^ e J^ V ? r ' - he tX i nd *£ Britain . Europe and the U.S. 
J; A e ???* *"■ the subspecies concept towards the 
h?^„ I! I VaSt «*»ity ° f field ornithologists and 

Scot =n$ he "\ A ? an fW"? 11 ?. I have seen Crested Tits in 

ve? -thov wk S > v f t "f 1 :- nd - b ^ h considered valid subspecies, 
yet -they ooth went into my diary as ' Crested Tit • knri 

c&t. 8 d" ni^TJ^ s d s rri vould *?*** * « • seotti* 

orestea lit and Central European Crested Tit • resoec- 
■&!♦& VarX0U 5 "■»*•«• are one of the very few easel of 
English names being used for subspecies in the field but 

?h» ™ G ver y distinctive and recognisable as sulh.' 
.™2?t / S K n at * ltude *l fi»U ornithology in Eurooe to 
species/subspecies can best be summed up by cuoting ex- 

' SSSJS 10 Jj? v ? ?° definite entity, but merely re- 
Cf -^n J^ 1V TK 10nS " ithin the ^ographical range 
mornhnM«4«fi' Y a f 8 ? aCeS « usu a"y determined by 

morphological. characteristics such as slioht differ- 
ences in measurement, shades, colour, et^ Thete 

^"?" n =J generally discernible only to explrt 
comparison of museum series, are given for systema- 
tic purposes, trinomial labels to denote ^gener- 
ic, specific and racial names. . . . Scientists of 

plTn^-'JT ^J?" ^ eS betieeninl" By com- 
paring specimens of the subspecies from either ex- 

dlfferel^ £ 6t 8* 9??9" P hical range quite obvious 
one e 5 ft a f? us i| all y apparent. The changes from 

thf rlH , t0 - t *° ° ther have been bought ab^ut by 
the closely intergra ted process of progressive re- 

cllmate 1P be F Wee " biT J P?P ula tion, P environment Ind 
Sse of ;„;;; Q ^°?- praCtlCa ^ P ur P°ses therefore, the 
tfL • s " bs P??ific names in reference to identifica- 

txable in ornithological systematics at a time when 


trinomial nomenclature had not yet gained general 
recognition . . . but in the. long run the results 
have been unfortunate and the writer has no doubt 
it should now be discontinued. • 

These words originally appeared in « Subspecies and Field 
Ornithology \ British Birds 42; 200, written in 1949, and 
I along with the vast lumbers of other birdwatchers whole- 
heartedly agree with them. 

I have dwelt on the! British and European situation to 
assist readers in appreciating the reasons behind my think- 
ing. To revert to the Indian scene, Dr Dillon Ripley ap- 
pears to agree as any reader of his A Synopsis of the Birds 
2l USu aM Pakistan will see. Each specie a is introduced 
with a binomial name accompanied by an English name. The 
various subspecies follow identified by scientific trino- 
mials only. I think it something of a pity that the new 
Indian Handbook ignored this system in favour of one which 
has been superceded in its country of origin for over 20 

If Mr Stairmand is still in favour of using English names 
tor each subspecies perhaps he would care to suggest a 
solution- to the following problem, of which the Synopsis 
and Handbook are replete with examples. Species XYZ is 
Known as race A in the north of the country and race B in 
the south and a particular line of latitude is taken as * 
whe aroitrary dividing line between them. What popular name 
is the birdwatcher in the transition zone to call it? There 
must be considerable doubt that it is precisely either A 
*YZ_or B XYZ. so does he call it A/B XYZ? I doubt it. The 
logical conclusion is to abandon the A and B altogether 
ana call it just XYZ, at least of that much he is sure, 
-.f that is all right in one area, why not in the rest of 
its range? There is a problem in selecting the appropriate 
name when the two races have different names XYZ and PQR 
wnich are not immediately obvious as applying to the same 
species. I suggest that the English name attributed to the 
nominate or most widespread race be given preference. 

Hence Mr Stairmand should appreciate that my ' Egyptian 
vulture referred to the species Neophron percnopterus 
and no particular race. The differences between the races 
? re ^rJ 9 and I do not ciaims sufficient skill to be able 
to differentiate between them at long range in the field, 
nor be so presumptuous as to attribute a name implying 
that I can. r * * 

There are about 8600 bird species in the world which is 
a manageable number, but to give a name to each subspecies 
nearly 30,000 have to be found. Some of the speoific names 

?fVi, re f! dy f on9 Gnou 9 h - e.g. Himalayan Goldenbacked Three- 
toed Woodpecker, without adding further adjectives or modi- 

So, far from trying to promote a proliferation of new 


names, by using those old established and widely held, I 
was trying to make a small contribution to reducing the 
number to 3 concise, standardised minimum. 

If the editor's patience will permit a few more words, 
I would like to express my agreement with Mr Stairmand's 
feelings on the confusion between brevity and jargon. The 
ornitholoyical outing may be all right for such oddities 
as ■. Spotted ! shank ,n (= Spotted Redshank) and 'L-R-P' 
(= Little Ringed Plover), there are even worse examples 
current in the U.K., but not on the printed page, please. 


Lavkumar J. Kacher 

I have been very careless about keeping on the spot re- 
cords of all my birdwatching and I certainly regret this 
big "driiissibn. but "somehow I just cannot get into the cut 
and dry attitude of a scientific ornithologist and so years 
have passed and I have nothing to show. 1 

Today, having nothing very interesting to do, though 
nothing is more interesting than talking or writing about 
birds, I have picked up my typewriter and decided to see 
how much 1 can put down and how well and interestingly I 
can manage to do so. 

Dwelling far back into my boyhood, and I am amaicd at 
the number of years that have passed watching birds, and 
then onto the present when memories rather than active 
watching birds predominate, there is a lot I can write on. 
I could possibly fill a book if only I can get down to 
doing it. Here then are a few gleanings from the recesses 
of my mind, 

A Laburnum tree draped in hanging racemes of yellow in 
a hot summer. All around are densely foliayed mangoes, 
the sky is blue as they are in Saurashtra for much of the 
year. I am looking out for new birds for I have just re- 
ceived a Salim Ali as a present (it is the first edition, 
just out) and I am determined to see all the birds possi- 
ble. There is a mellow, liquid call. I gaze up into the 
lovely yellow tree and there against the blue of the sky 
among the yellow flowers is a male Golden Oriole, my very 

What has struck me most has been the deep shade and 
bright dapplings of light in junyle nullahs, so cool and 
wonderfully attractive in the summer heat. I am sitting on 
a boulder beside a murmuring brook, and a placid pool is 
reflecting the beams of sunlight. A white ribbon of paper 
floats over the water and settles on a twig close by. I 
hold my breath lest the vision of the apparition should 
fade. The bird swoops in a big circle and returns to its 


perch. I am entranced and gaze on my first male Paradise 
Flycatcher, an adult in full milky white plumage, glisten- 
ing black head and long trailing streamers. 

I am still a boy. He are on a picnic in winter, I am 
snoozing in the crotch of a huge banyan tree. There are 
leaves and figs all around ne and also birds. I am part 
of the old tree and the birds come very close. A robust 
little bird, the size of a Spargow, but so round and so 
dumpy and short-tailed, comes to perch on a branch close 
by, rt is green and has its back turned to me. It hops ■ 
rouncfend I notice brilliant crimson patches on the head 
and breast and yellow on the face. The Grimsonthroated 
Barbet I know very well but never at so intimate a range. 
The bird hops onto a thinner branch and pecks at a fig 
as red as its forehead. 

How large and mysterious the world is to a boy J I am up 
early one winter morning (winters seemed colder then) and 
the sun is still do\/n. Mist wreathes over the water; my 
numb fingers hold my first binoculars. There are strange 
tchks , churrs, and other sounds emanating from tangles of 
reeds and vegetation along the water. Suddenly I see a 
small bird with tail cocked over its back hop out in 
front of me. It is brown on top, dirty white below, but 
I am amascd to see a bright blue on its throat. The Blue- 
throat hops close to me, I stand stock-still and watch it 
pick insects off the mud, hop around among the vegetation, 
I move a little to get a further clear view and the little 
bird files low and fast, rufous in the tail, to drop into 
some wet grass further on. 

The waterside grass is a livid green, and a small bird 
with bright yellow head and lower parts and contrasting 
black b ac ' K r^s and flits over it. Nearby a similar bird 
but with a marked crey-green back actively hunts for in- 
sects. I have the joy of recognizing the two subspecies 
of £he Yellowheaded Wagtail. The sun is so warm, the air 
so coldj 

A clump of rushes grows besides a river pool. The white 
plumes of its inflorescence droops over the groen water, 
small fish dimple its surface, a little bird more a gem 
than a live bird sits poised on a bending stalk viewing 
the water below. The Little Kingfisher has all the colours 
ranging from fine blues to greens on its back. The breast 
is rich orange. I have a pair of porcelain kingfishers as 
book supports. They always bring this moment to mind when- 
ever I set eyes on them. 

The summer heat is on. The vegetation is scorched and 
dust rises before the hot, rasping air. The countryside 
is tawny brown, the sky overhead a clear blue. I am tired 
after a morning walk and nm thirsty as well 3nd walk brisk- 
ly back.- Rounding a hill slpe I suddenly set eyes on a 
blaze of orange-rod^ a Flame of the Forest in full bloom. 



I stand wonder-struck. The tree is alive with birds. I 
raise my glasses. What a sight! The flawing flowers n 
estiny black stalks, brilliantly shining male Purple Sun- 

thl *il ' ^ - lutt 55 a " d Pasture to one another among 
tne i lowers. Their suboued nens in browns and yellow flv 
around and feed. I had the courage though young to pick 
a brush and colour the scene. My friends end I r « OT ^t I 
never continued painting whenever this work of mini is 
seen. Fourteen, is when one can become anything really. 

I remember also the tiresome do,;ands of many to make ne 
play with others cricket; how dull and boring those mom- 
ents ot lorcedand unimaginative play were. 1 How happy I 
am that in tneir eyes I v/as a misfit! 


Mrs Usha Ganguli 

Readers will be grieved to learn of the sad death of Mrs 
usha Ganguli which occurred m Delhi earlier this month 
(November). As a menbor of our Editorial Board and a fre- 
quent _ and much appreciated contributor to the Newsletter 
she will be sorely missed. 

For one who started her birdwatching career almost from 
11 u° t J n J and comparatively late in life, the proficiency 
Usha had acquired durin g the short years was truly remane- 
nt ii J yen se ^oned ornithologists who had the privilege 
-?fwnf^ nQ U t^ h 2 r v/Gro c° n stantly amazed at the unasser- 
tive yet confident manner in which she could put a name 
to almost any unusual or baffling bird, and what is more 

H*i ,* ou P?*^ cluos b V V7hich she reached her diagnosis! 
Her love of oirds and dedication to their study and pre- 
buccp^S ^s almost fanatical and contagious, and she had 
n?hu!« f 'mfecting « quite a band of youthful local 
B22EI3S& 2*5*! an «*ilnatiiig experience to be out 
birdwatching with her in the Delhi neighbourhood, around 

,nd ^ r d 1 NaJaf9 S rh , jhGGl (now no more, alas) and Okhla 
52h. Eh ; pla ?°! ^tt^SS so «•"• Portly before she died, 
«S?rh h tu c ^^ted the MS. of a book about Delhi birds on 

««lS f?H had SP T T ^ for s ^oral ye., r s - a sort of 
field g ide combined with her own careful records and 

?h-t r cK C1 H n S °\ ti ?? ir •»**>• and habits. It is tragic 
h«S\« « ?h n ?V 1V ,° t0 B0 ? its Publication on which she 

1 L L Sfi L her hG?rt ? but let us h °P« «»t the matter 
stand % p LSh Vi 9orously pursued - that book should 
stand as a worthy memorial to her, and to her skill, com- 

E&M»£!! r^ ym °f of + birds - ** 1» regr,t,ble thk ?he 
s Er? nf tC '? 9 Society which had suffered a serious 
te^L°Sl y 4S few m0nthS earlic * *« the going av/ay on 
transfer of its energetic and enthusiastic Secretary Peter 
Jackson, should so soon be bereft of one more, perhaps its 


most active and knowledgeable member. The unfailing kind- 
ness and hospitality of these two, so much looked forward 
to and enjoyed by visiting birdwatchers while in Delhi 
will be remembered with nostalgia. 



The Second International Congress of the World Wildlife 
Fund held in London on the 17th and 18th November was an 
impressive and successful occasion in every way. Among the 
notable participants cf the Congress which included several 
heads of States, were Niel Armstrong, the first man to step 
on the moon. Thor Hoyardahl of the Kontiki expedition, 
Jacques Piccnrd, the famous underv/ater explorer, and many 
others who are world famous. One resolution which should 
please India referred to the statement in the Fourth Plan 
Document on the need f?r ecological planning. The resolu- 
tion expresses the hop? that all other developing countries 
will follow India's lead in this respect. It was evident 
that the general concern of the Congress was with the en- 
vironment as a whole, and there was in fact very little 
reference to Wildlife in specific terms. The audience 
applauded when Mr E. M. Nicholson, the Chairman of the 
Resolution Committee referred pointedly to one resolution 
which did in fact refer to wildlife* It is evident by now 
that the environment has to be kept healthy not merely 
for wildlife but for human beings as wel .. It is also clcar^ 
that clean air, and clean water is necessary for wild and 
civilised life alike. The Minister for the Environment, 
Mr Peter Walker referred to the fact that in the last 
decade over fifty specie 6 of birds had re-appeared in 
London and this was because the atmosphere was being 
steadily cleared and improved. Mr Walker emphasised that 
in future industrial products would have built into them 
a factor of quietness and cleanliness. 


Bird problems in the Western Ghats 

I found tars Jameson's article on Coonoor, Newsletter 10 . 
(11): 11, and her earlier ones, interesting because she 
appears to have encountered a problem similar to my own in 
Kodaikanal in March 1970: That many species of the Western 
Ghats occur up to considerably higher elevations than is 
generally recognised. The books differ on the precise 
liiits, but on the whole it seems best to consider the 


figures quoted as minima particularly as most are qualifi- 
ed in the manner f to at least x,000 ft '.As an example, 
I found both Redvented 3ulbuJs and Spotted Doves at 6 f 500 
ft, which is considerably more than the usually accepted 
limits. This phenomenon has prompted me to draft a paper 
on the subject for submission to the Journal. 

Regarding Mrs Jameson's specific problems, I have no 
doubt that the sunbird v/as I^ten's. I saw this species at^ 
Periyar, elevation 33CQ ft, and its green gloss ( contra 
the blue gloss of Purple Sunbird) v/as most distinctive. I 
also have a strong recollection of watcning a sunbird at 
Kodaikanal which turned out to be ' just an ordinary Pur- 
ple Sunbird ! . Unfortunately, it did not get entered in my 
diary and I now wish I had done my homework more thoroughly 
because a Purple Sunbird at this elevation would appear to 
be news indeed. 

Mrs Jameson's second problem v/as almost certainly a 
Greenish or Dull Green Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus trochi- 
loides . The four factors of eyestripe, single wing-bar, 
colour of upper and lower parts all fit. It is a widespread 
winter visitor and I found it quite common about Kodaikanal. 

It is also the commonest member of its group around Durga- 
pur, W. Bengal, in winter* 

Mrs Jameson is not alone in finding this group a diffi- 
cult one; not even the experts can agree which are species 
and which are subspecies in some cases. In Britain it is 
thought to be enough of a problem to sort out only three 
regular and five vagrant species. In India there are over 
tv/enty to consider. A very useful guide is available in 
Britain covering all the Eurasian members of the group, 
including all those occurring in India. It is intended 
primarily for ringers for identifying birds in the hand, 
but it is useful for field identification also, and from 
it I have devisee a key which works quite well. A version 
of it is being submitted to the editor for a future News - 
letter as other readers may be able to benefit from it. 

F. M. Gauntlett 

Zafar Futohally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A, Juhu Lane 

Andheri, Bombay 58-AS 

This Newsletter is published monthly. 
The subscription is Rs. 10/- 
for the Calender Year 1970 

editorial board: 

Dr. Salim Ali. F. N. I. 
46, Pall Hill, Bandra. 

Mrs. Jamal Ara, 
North Office Para, 
/Doranda, Hindoo P. O., 
Ranchl, Bihar. 

Mrs. Usha Gangull, 
B-7. Hauz Khas 
New Delhi. 

Dr. Biswamoy Biswas 
Indian Museum, 
Zoological Survey of India, 

Kunvar Shrl Lavkumar 
Rajkumar College 

Prof. K. K. Netlakantan 
Govt. Victoria College 
Palghat-1. Kerala 

Mr. S. V. Nllkanta. 
Theosophlcal Colony, 
Juhu, Bombay 54. 

Mr. K. R. Sethana, 
C/o. Kadur Club, 
Mysore State. 

Mr. Winston Creado 
Silver Beach. Juhu, 
Bombay-54. — - - 

Mr. B. R. Grubh 

Bombay Natural History Society, 
Prince of Walts Museum Compound, 
Bombay- 1 BR. 

Editor . 

Mr. Zafar Fuuhally. 
juhu Lane, Andherl, 
Bombay 58 AS. 

Covir desiin by S. NILAKANTA