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Full text of "NLBW7"

HE 
BIKET'ATCHERS 



Vol. 7, He. 1 



January "K 



From & Train. 

Eirda of Kankashvar- 



By k.S. lavkumar. 

By Zafs,r Putehally. 



- ■ ■ ■ ■ 



Avian rechnclogy (F. "produced 

from The y $, Seshadri. 



Review: ^rtraitur*.. ( 

- 

■ 

Botes h Omments. 

Correspondence . 

-rt of Annual Genera] 



lu. 



. 



6 



- 
K.13. ,.«r 






• 



I remember the tnrill of t- -".ich I used t" ftxperi- 

:a as a bey. The axcitemenl as lie, of the changing 

outside the wi the rev , all excited my 

childiBh wonder and even 1 rill has a t me, though 

:e a conscious e: ptible mood* 

ourae now I am more av. and dunt and all the irk- 

arme disc?- which p- - ayaj but then 

awareness a 3ign of 

middle age insiduously creeping into my aystf ■* I am lucky 

in that I can still switcl e excitement of seeing the country 

out marvelling at ' ts ~ re. The w^rld has not lest 

its wonders, an un all the more apprecia- 

tive of the roanii wondrous &- eh, alas, are 

•considered comiirn-pl ■z.'kon foi ray fellow passengers, 

;sy wil . cornea itfi othes and 

ne and due Lea in ita iclacej while I find this inconsoquontal, 

for my mind 1. Lt and nut acri ne" the rich 

gated pl«*T,3 of lucexn ai bands of cotton, sugarcane • 

let, broad gnu E B, deep ;ed banks beyond; 

ugha of : ng 3carlet itea 

and coral j dense thick? ; arabica; wind scanned boulders 

ped hi;;' slopes «f great 

tains; dit water] village wells shaded by vener- 

able pesp;: rling dry leaves into the 

brows iray al~ the track; an elephant sway- 

ing at .ts tevher: off aloes "•allowing in deep mud — - the 

rich an idlan countryside which contains 

richest bird life i! -iijures up birds among 

zp. varying; settings arm 1 al. -■ there below -.he 

aaa along tl -am, 

I pity my cr«-traveller heat and grime and the 

discoml -.fig hot '■ t is 



at momenta like this that I realise the value of all the happy hours 
spent pursuing this apparently valueless hobby. 

Recently I invented a new game which makes each rail Journey one of 
intense anticipation, I do actual birdwatehinp and not in imagination 
alone. The only drawback is the* binoculars are of little use because 
of the train's movement and the short time a bird regains in view, 
but compensation is ample in the great area covered. Tn this manner, 
It is remarkable hew many different species T have beer, able to see, 
and on a long Journ3y, an idea of the Gross-section of the birdlife 
of the- country can be "gained. The slower trains are an advantage in 
the greater opportunity they give to identify the bird. I he ve "watched 
a pair of Sarus Cranes caring for their young; and another pair soli- 
eitiously standing over an egg en o heaped nest of rushes; Pied King- 
fishers hovering over a lily-choked lake near Hyderabad; '-Vhiskered 
Terns skicting' edges of a tidal mud near Bombay, ?lue-cheeked Bee-caters 
rising in hundreds one early September Eorning from an acacia in Marwar, 
solitary Baahiiir Rollers bouyantiy flying South on their autumn migra- 
tion to Africa; teeming multitudes of "Hrblers, ard Wiltethroats flying 
from one clump to another :Lr. the same direction as the Hollers. I have 
noted Indian Rollers in display on a wayside station in Gujerat and 
watched a. migration flight of Yhitr-eyed Buzzards. Tn Andhra, Orioles, 
Hoopoes end Brangccs arc very common alon^ the tracks while palm swifts 
are seen in association with Toddy palms. Storks of various types, and 
flocks of pelicans, are a thrill as the trait, crosses the flat half- 
submerged Ehal. area between Gujerat and Saurashtra and in this area I 
have seen numbers of Brown Shrikes, Shite-tailed lapwings, Ohcrt-toed 
lorka and Marsh Harriers. Flocks of Rose-ringed Parakeets flying 
serosa a pink evening sky is an eternal Indian scene while crossing 
rivers of irorth Indiaj the noise of wheels on bridge girders sets off 
twittering nocks of Cliff Sv.'allowc nesting beneath, r.an Sbrtina are 
more plentiful in North India than els where, though strangely enough 
ny milrond birdwntching has revealed Rajas than and the Western Ganga 
plain as more favoured by Ring Doves and Little Brown Doves. In fact 
the most rewarding journeys in matter of seeing birds arc through 
Hajar+hca, across the- Malwa plateau and the expanses Of the Ganges 
plain. Strangely enough forest sountry seems paor for a railroad bird- 
watcher, possibly because visibility is cut down. Sound, cf course, 
is not much value for this; type r>t work and it if; the eye .vhich is 
most rewarding. At stations however one can hear bird calls and zirikz 
■". note of birdlife around while drinking scalding tea. 

Sometimes 'a train stands outside the yard and here if the place is 
small, there is one-: country around. A stroll outside the compartment 
is refreshing and again ^ne ,;c-ts a oetter view of the birds. They are 
hoard as well - •■he. twittering of -he Cornon Babblers and Purple Sun- 
birds, the warble of Bulbuls, the harsh chiming of warblers, "the jitter 
of Wren w ar bicrs or the strident call of ^rongooa chasing a Bay - 
backed shrike for a wriggling morsel. Coppersmiths iron a nearby tree 
are audible, -.0 is the? trr-trr-trr of a HodbreESted Flycatcher, A 
Great Gre: p Shrike sails down to grab a beetle at ehe front of the 
cnm.ilorer.'c, a Rcdwinged Bush Lar«c sits atop an Agave inflorescence 
sweetly eijiging away While a cocky Indian Pobin hops ;:loSe to appraise 
sie rith a uho?>-button eye - the engine hoots and in the birdwatcher 
s orambles but not before seeing a Green Bee -eater snapping a dragonflj 
off a quivering roed i.n the ditch nearby. The train moves or. and a 
paddy bird rises in startling white to land further into obscurity 
wh: ■ ■ a tall white egret stands erect arid motionless, heedless of 
tr. -langing nonstfT ,;oing by. The engine Fends up great black puffs 
-'-'■•-•• hic-i area cioa: en vo the fields disturbing a trim kestrel 
:h:-h iar.s eff to wh -:•.•". high up above the pall - and so the bird- 
'•atr at-- ha.poj.ly continues his trip, begrimed, parched a little, 
tir.;d •'•3 irciped but happy, far the grime can b; washed away, a 
coo. gl".'- - of water will slake the thirst., a night's sleep will 
: Lata, bus th-; things he saw will always be remembered, 



' V.T , JiU 



at momenta like this that I realise the value of all the happy hours 
spent pursuing this apparently valueless hobby* 

Recently I invented a new game which makes each rail journey one of 
intense anticipation. I do actual birdwatching and not in imagination 
alone. The only drawback ia that binoculars are of little use because 
of the train's movement and the short time a bird remains in view, 
but compensation is ample in the great area covered, In this manner, 
it is remarkable how many different species T have been able to see, 
and on a long journey, an idea of the cross-section of the birdlife 
of the country can be gained. The slower trains are an advantage in 
the greater opportunity they give to identify the bird. I have watched 
a pair of Sariis Cranes caring for their young ; and another pair aoli- 
citiously standing over an egg on a heaped nest of rushes; ^ied King- 
fishers hovering over a lily-choked lake near Hyderabad; vjhiskered 
Terns skimming edges of a tidal mud near Bcr lue-ch^ked Bee-eaters 

rising in hundreds one early September morning from an acacia in Marwar, 
solitary Kashmir Rollers bouyantly flying South on their autumn migra- 
tion to Africa; teeming 1 multitudes of Warblers, and Whitethroats flying 
from one clump to another in the same direction as the Rollers. I have 
noted Indian Rollers in display on a wayside station in Gujerat and 
watched a migration flight of Yftitc-eyed Buzzards. In Andhra, Orioles, 
Hoopoes and Drongoes are very couraon along the tracks while palm swifts 
are seen in association with Toddy palms. Storks of various types, and 
flocks of pelicans, are a thrill as the train crosses the flat half- 
-subOBrged Bhal area between Gujerat and Saurashtra and in this area I 
have seen numbers of Brown Shrikes, White-tailed lapwings, Short-toed 
larks and Marsh Harriers. Flocks of Bose-ringed Parakeets flying 
across a pink evening sky is an eternal Indian scene while crossing 
rivers of North India-, the noise of wheels on bridge girders sets off 

i ttering flocks of Cliff Swallows nesting beneath- San Martina are 
more plentiful in Worth India than elsewhere, though strangely enough 
my railroad birdwatching hns revealed Rajasthan and the Western Ganga 
plain as more favoured by Ring Doves and Little Brown Doves. In fha 
the most rewarding journeys in matter of seeing birds are through 
Bafaethan, across the Mnlwa plateau and the expanses of the Ganges 
plain. Strangoly enough forest sountry seems poor for a railroad bird- 
watcher, possibly because visibility is cut down* Sound, of course, 
'is not nuch value for this type of work and it is the eye vhich is 
most rewarding. At stations however one can hear bird calls and make 
a note of birdlife around while drinking scalding tea. 

Sometimes 'a train stands outside the yard and here if the place is 
small, there is open country around. A a troll outside the compartment 
is refreshing and again one gets a batter view of the birds. They are 
heard os well - the twittering of the Babblers and Purple Sun- 

birds, th ble of Bulfci.l. harsh chiming of warblerB, the jitter 

of arblcrs or the strident call of Drongoes chasing a Bay - 

backed shrike for a wrirgling morsel. Coppersmiths from a nearby tree 

3 audible, as is the trr-trr-trr of a Redbreasted Flycatcher. A 
Great Grev Shrike sails down to grab a beetle at the front of the 
embankmenx, a Redwinged Bush lark sits atop an Agave inflorescence 
swe^tlv singing away while a cocky Indian Robin hops close to appraiae 
me v-itr a shoe-button eye - the engine boots and in the birdwatcher 

•uables but not before seeing a Green Bee-eater snapping a dragonfly 
off a quivering reed in the ditch nearby. The train moveB on and a 
wsdr-y bird rises in startling white to land further into obscurity 

■11 white egrr x stands erect and motionless, heedless oi 
tt *r geiag by. The engine sends up great black puffs 

aom on to the fields disturbing a trim kestrel 
, a off el high up above the pall - and so the bird- 

otlnuea his trip, begrimed, parched a little, 
at happy, for rime can be washed away, a 

ter will sic: atot, a night's sleep vail 

h . B -s be remembered, 

. , ,-. po< t vjrdsworth lid his "host of golden daffodile - 



I 

s 



A list of birds seen from trains by the authc ■ •- 



I. 


Common House Crow, 


2. 


Indif.n Jungle Crow. 


3, 


Tree Pie. 


4, 


It. 


5- 


Jungle Babbler. 


6. 


IB Grey Babbler. 


7. 


Cotamon Babbler, 


. 


Striated Babbler. 


9, 


Fed-vented Bulbul. 


• 


White-checked Bulbul. 


11. 


d Bush chat. 


12. 


chat. 


13. 


Desert ?.heatc • . 


14. 


Pi€ tear. 


15. 


Redstart. 


16. 


■ 


17* 


Blue '"nek Thn. 




Redbrt-astcd flycatcher 


19. 


Great Grey Shrike- 


20. 


Rufous-backed shrike. 


21. 


Bay-backed, shrike. 


22. 


Black Drongo. 


23. 


T ndian Wren Barbl 


. 24. 


Golden Oriol . 


25. 


iy Pastor. 


26. 


Brahrainy Mynah, 


27. 


Common Myn.\ . 


28, 


Bank Myni: 


29. 


Pied Mynah. 


30. 


- 


31- 


'.a throated Munia. 


32. 


Hou ntm 


33. 


Dusky Crtig Martin. 


34. 


Comron Swallow. 


35. 


Ped-ruraped swallow. 


■ 


Cliff swallo ■• . 


37. 


i swallow. 


38. 




39. 


ite Wagtail. 


40, 


Yellow ; i . 


41. 


lowheaded Wagtail. 


42. 


Pied fl&gtail. 


43. 


Tawny Pipit. 


44, 


Crested lark. 


45. 


Short -toed Lark. 


46. 


•1 Bush Lark. 


47. 


Ashy-crowned Pinch lark. 


48. 


Purple Sanbirds. 


49. 


Coppersmith. 


• 


bat. 


51. 


Koel, 


52. 


Crow Pheasant. 


53- 


Roseringed Par 


54. 


lie Parakeet. 


55. 


Blossom-headed parakeet. 


. 


liar. 


57. 


Kashmir Roller. 




-eater. 


59. 


Blue-cheeked Bee— eater. 


. 


»r. 


61. 


Whitebren.-. ngfish . 


62. 


Common 1 sher. 


63. 


Hoopoe. 


64. 


e Swift. 


65. 


Pain Swifl , 


66. 


King ire . 


67. 


White backed Vulture. 


68. 


Lon&billcd Vulture. 


69. 


Scavenger "ulture. 


70. 


Kastr. 1. 


71. 


to-eyed Buzzard ' ' . 


. 


Tawny 


73, 


Erahminy EagI . 


74. 


te , 


75. 


■kvinged Kite, 


76. 


Marsh Harrier, 


77, 


Pale Harrier, 


78. 


Blue Ffock Pigeon. 


79. 


Red Turtle Do 1 . 


80. 


Ping Dc 


81. 


Lit . own Dovi . 


82. 


Peafowl , 


83". 


y Cartridge. 


84. 


id Partridge. 


85. 


Flack Tartridge. 


86. 


Ph': ana 


87. 


Ufl Cranes. 


■ 


me Curlew. 


89. 


Red-wattled Lapwing. 


90. 


Ye: sd Lapwing 


91. 


Whitetailed Lapwing. 


92. 


Terns end Gulls, 


93. 


Plovers . 


94. 


Sandpipers. 


95. 


Black-winged Stilts. 


96. 


rmorant s . 


97. 


Pelicans, 


SB. 


Storks. 


99. 


Herons and Eg 


100, 


Bar- Geese. 


101 


.•cs. 








■* 



BIRDS l-t ?.i-..^r.»ftfi 

2-af-ir 5!\it<ihall; r 



bnkeatamr la a 700 ft. high hiU a few miles to the north of Alibag 
It has a terple on top where there La a j^tra every year, and . aid 

either side of the step, during my school days are now no more, bnne 
tortured stems remain, a pitiful aight, and the few trees which have 
survived the vandal** ax, will soon be laid low, .e M.O* of Al bag 
Atb whom I rerularly dlecuBH Cb. prospects of ref «"*"«*? £"£„ 
L has given up hope of being abl, be a, -1 *^f e f ^^^ 
wood cutters, with the = V leton et Cf * hi J«P"a 1 ; A few J^f 
a isree number of ca^hev: trees wer E planted. Cattle do not eat ««&•» 
niM-sfand H « human ;■ ulatl* a grated, we would ^^ 

had a fine shaded hillside by low, Bui n t a tree uurvivee. 

However, at the very top * Ka^shwar there i* a £•* £*£^ST 
= . , where in season the arange-red fleers of the Aawe tree aaa 
Clre tothe Sace, In t la ores* 3 patch the bird life is quite dlf- 
££5 ^that ■ ,st a few hundred yards ™ay where the tre.os have gone, 
and w3 re in cope*u«u» th« temperature i. much f ff ** J* *f^g? 
•* tv., Vth of BeceotPT we saw /•• 'nana and heard it sing 1*. a wnue. 
fpo^d^me'rfwe^ in great fever and caHed "««» fr- the 
around, ard frcn bushes and trees- -* one small tree I saw a young 
^raulse Flycatcher, with, chocolate t-il ,- ; . , ?3 a ^1 **£/ 
Drongo, und a Redwhiakered Eulbul, very agitated. EHe ^ct '.hat they 
werTal] p ring at the saw spot suggested the presence of a snake to 
SHt tLr p restihly wante< to draw attent ion. Irras and aunbirds also 

f rnt : f ..:; ;; ;' ; L :;, : , :;,,,,,„ : * . , . -•- a delightful «i«i«» - 

*e in ~uch beautiful surroundxngs <*< n such good company. 



then. 



v/cr 



m t >i;-w nevsr seen auvu « -...■..... - -- ,»,,,.. 

J'besiTti - elves wit, -; ■' *-.. — — 1— ;ly. h,, 

W^ n - . r t,i,d3 -.,r.rt frr-u hu: 'a^ ,: that '.re,,. 

., . , M11 ,> P rc were Orraon Green Bee-eaters, Crested larks 

xsssits^s^ -v, . -, «* ■■■-■* fer Tcf a 
£;:■■:■■-.■ v £S-Hr3£ 

■JSSJ ie onu'/L 1 ^ '-:- U— , L, being permanently 
cloae'a for shooting. (Se< , tot - and Cpmments-j 



AVIAJ! TECHNOLOGY 

T=y 

.-, .'■• ■■ adrl. 



[ ... r , , ,, 3 fron "he Times of India) 
,,, : :, : . - r Into a pr^uctlon Uno ino^otor. 



- 



The pigeon can be trained in a variation of the Skinner Box (ramed 
after an American psychologist). This is a * tal box with an observatior 
panel end two levers. The bird learns to pock at a particular lever if 
the part is all right and at the other if the part is faulty. 

The corn with which it is rewarded if it is correct is delivered thrcugV 
a hopper connected with the levcr3. If it is wrong) the lights go off 
for a tine, temporarily ^locking the opportunity to earn corn. This is 
punishment enough and the bird learns tc avoid mistakes. The levers to 
be pecied at na'jf be transparent 1 to* -allow the bird to see through them al 
eye level. 

Experiments have shown that the pigeon, with its very teen eyesight, cat 
be used in the pharmaceutical industry too, for keeping watch *ver the 
production of pills, for instance. A perfect specimen of s pill, kept 
iv- a Skinner Box* helps the bird t" spot faults. 

[pigeons are also doing the same job in Moscow with ball .bearings. Each 

; rd can inspect from '500^ to 4 n 0^ boils in m hcur. ) 

* * * * 

VIES 

BIRD PORTRAITURE. By C. F. Tunnicliffe. pp, 96, 1st ed. Imdon 
r.-r jfew York, 1945, The Studio, 

I ""ad this book only when I first began trying to draw birds and was 
cor."js..rl with too much advice. Mr. Tunnicliffe' s full and general 
ti - :ment of bird sketching end painting, then, became a welcome 
stepping-stone from the purpose to the realities of amateur bird 
portrai tui e. 

Such e stepping stone of course c-:n only hope to succeed if it. is as 
pr- •:*.-.' as tin subject allows it to be. The advantage (or disadvantag 
of bird printing is that several factors matter beside; hard talent or 
iraagimtirni correct observation, for instance, and a knowledge of the 
anatciy of birds i which is encouraging for us talentless aspirants. 

Mr. Tunnicliffe begir-s with -. chapter entitled T king a Beginning' in 
which ..e deals wit] bird anatomy and th drawing of stuffed birds, and 
then goes on to drawing from life, 'An a rule, unless the bird is aslae 
there ■■: often Quite Lively movement.,. Mow then err, we make drawings ■* 
the quick-moving bird? I know only "ne way, and that ia to. watch, and 
watch, end watch again. Do not attempt to draw while you have the bird 
in view, bat try to get accurate irapressi ons photographed in your mind, 
which you sir. set down on paper after the bird has disappeared. ' 

The next two chapters deal with field work and equipnfint. These early 
chapters are those nee ssary to a complete beginner. The author then 
novi s Lnto mori i ni Ltious fields ~ plunage study in the different seas 
poses and action studies, colour and tone, picture-making, and so on, 
v! .eh cpn support tb eader*s inti r at later on as his drawing ircprovs 
or which can be very successfully helpful to a comparative veteran. 

The stylo is pleasant a\ continuing, \ b veral admiring sxclamation 
narks expel a concentratedness in the writing. The author draws entire: 
on his ample supply of personal ijrpi riences and conclusions, and his a 
superb- sketches and paintings (with which the book is filled) are a va: 
supplement to the text, 

Mr. Tunnlcliffi is knewffi Ln British natui 1 history circles as the autl 

- : • ■/•-■ cot -•- ■••■ , now an ' istebliehed favourite', and as an expert 

pxnitholo, J it and t . -. ! artist. If his bock r icl 3 the inexperienced 
birdwatcher only to sketch new Shapes quickly on the field, it in doin) 
i ,. . L:ip , - ■;'■ lexvici , for the ability should be valuable; even if ' 
suuject Ls tot pursued -s r. major hobby. 

S.f. * 

6 



seres asd coacms 



Ks £»= sts r~;.r^- stirs' 

Whnf w» „ f "^servntion to go hand ir. hand with politics, 

«2! + " e Qre trying *° ereate a P ublic awareness of the need for con- 
■£«*«*, it 4nU be remembered that it should first Ste ™t h 
our government. Sustained effort in this direction do bri* results. 

5 St^tS cfv2i fl 2Tf y Natu f x Hi3tory 5ociety - Aa the ■Sfc 

hL2t\T i c i^li8ation expands, there will bo an increasing 

•£*daX SSnSTV - We 1 Cain °\ d0 t6 * -** *•"* the linesTf the 
eont^«t, ^ ^ n0W leern that the ^rashtra Comment is 
SS'XrXjJ?* 1 ? 1 S^TS th ° *«««aii* T«-ta cempfetely 

f T S JS' ^ * to " ° f th ° iKt ^«*l»g bira life thatlxists 
rtbUr ?J% ^ heart£ - nln e exiapte Of Government responding f 

puDiic (i.e. one man) pressure, 

I™^f °i 1 OUI " reQdeM a 7 ery teppy ' New Iear » and ™«>»et that the 
annual subscription of *$/- be sent at your earnest convenience. 



CORRESPONDENCE 
Field Characteristics : 

£*! ' J L 'Member 1960 iosue of the Newsletter . I felt impelled to 
, hnater. to the defence of Whistler and his grand bo«k. 

h> «. ,1 ? l w I * aftrd *° thG COl °^ ° f the dark ^rkir«s on the underparts 
of the Ashyerowned Finch-Dark ( Eremite rvx griBga), although Salim All 
describes them in the 6th .edition of THE BOOK OF INDi/jj BIRDS (p. 4?) 
as being black, they are shown in the accofflpanyiliK plate ( Plate 22) ni 
being very dark chocolate brown, ' 

Stuart Bek«r in mm OF BRITISH INDIA, Birds, 2nd edition, Vol. 
5, p. 554, describes the coloration or the parts in question as follows 
Mores, face, a broad euperciliua to the nape, chin, throat, 
sides ->f neck, breast, abdomen and under tail coverts dark 
choeotete-brewn, the head parts practically black; car-aoverts 
and cheeks white mixed with fulvous, sides of body ash-grey 
naxed with dark brown; axillariea arri under-wing coverts deep 
chocolate '• 

Lt, Barnes in his HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE BCMPAY PRESIDENCY 
'iencribda then thus: 'a deep brown or black bond from the base of bill 
through the .yea, continued to the occiput; chin and throat, sides of 
neck '.extending at right angles behind the ear coverts and thus taking 
the lorn of a cross), breast and lower parts deep ch ocnlate -brown or 
black. . . ' 

The truth nay well be that the colour of these parts can be, as 
Barnes says, either deep chocolate-brown or black. The colour perhaps 
varies slightly as between the Sexes or according to the age of the 
bird. :n the field, of course, full allowance must be uade for the 
false impression of colour which lights of different intensities art 
etrlilng at different angles can give. 

♦See last Sews letter. 



: 7 : 

A3 to the scantiness of what Thintl.-r has to say about the song 
of the Large Pied fl&gtail, 7 can only say that he tin:; i" ■■"- •■ "■-■■? -.r. y , 
for I can find very little about the song of this bird. Stuart Baker, 
for axjdplc, in the EAUNA OF BEITISH IHBIA., previously mentioned, is 
altogether innocent of any reference to its song. 

5. K« Beeves 
BOO Idiom, Surrey, England 

•j: he 'jour cf r. Shama : 

Ipst May wo were in Tikerpare forest bungalow* One day while we 
were ri iscussing the behaviour an f l nature of some common birds of w» 
Bengal and Orlssa, Mr M. Bettey {who has to look after the bjr.boo 
forest ■■f Angal as a representative of Titagargh & r Mills) informed 
me of p, peculiar experience with a sh&ma. 

As we were keenly interest L, h« c :orapani •.(} us next morning to Baginunda 
forest about 13 miles from cur eanp at Tikerpare. The distance we 
covered in half an hour driving and got I wn from the car at a place 
where hie people wer* cutting bamboo: and making them ready for easy 
tro.r.sport. Thereafter walking for a few minutes, Mr B ttey started 
whistling in a v*ry peculiar manner. The whistling was continued for 
a few minutes witl regular intervals. All the '■'■ - we were keenly 
watching the situation* As there was no res] a le from nr\y side we left 
that place. And started for the next spot. After about ] km, distance 
he selected a place, where his peonle were engaged in stacking the 
cut pieces of bamboo. 

There from the car itself, Mr* Battey started whistling with very long 
note and high pitch. He repeated the call thrice and then kept quiet. 
Within tw^ or three ainut s we he r ■■. i-ilrr whistling from a very 
distant place. The from bl is end he replit I and got the response* T'r. 
Battey asked ma to help him; according to his instruction T started 
whistling in the seb nanner. From xh 1 :: en' ;] whistle was a long 
note or. : comparatively low pitch* Answ ring whistles came from the 
other end all t - fcis ■* All op a sudden Lt toppec".. '■■>■ waited for 
about four minutes, then I located ■■ plac- whi-ra only the tail ^f a 
bird was visible, Mr Ba tey, whistled in a very decent; manner, then 
th- bird :■::•.:!■ Its place, '• r &rd - callj p rhaps it was; searching 
the source of whistling. ] whistled very slowly and observed that 
it again chei ;ed thi place. That bird was it ting in a place where we 
could see only its breasl and nothing else. Next moaentit flew away 
and after a minute caa nd sat an a br nob without much leaves. Hero 
we saw it *learly, the 'istanea was only 16 metres. 

H. P. Mukher.lee & R.N. Mukherjee 
Zoological Survey of India 



: etingofBlKI ftTClEFS 1 HELD CLUB OP INDIA 

The Annual Gener 1 Meeting of the Birdwatchers' Field Club of Inciia was 
held at the resMence of Mr ZafaT Puteholly at Andheri, Bonbay, on 
Saturday, the 17th D cenber 1966, at ?.3Q p.m. 

There were a large numi r '' peopl . i . t ; in foot larger than at any 

i vious meeting. This was undoubtedly du to the attraction provided 
by the showing of Mr. E* p. Get 'a films La er on. 

Br Salim All was elected Chairman of fc] i raee tine* 

The Hon n ry Secretary tgv n brief report about the working of the 
Clut. He sail that the proble: of getting suitable material for the 
NewP letter still persist* I ■ p aled *n members to send in notes 

on their otserva ions, clippies from Sh press which oould form the 
bar. is of artic] :;. , book revi ws, ind i JCt] Lata from ornithological 
tn r :■;' neu. 

In vi f - 1 lifficultiea of get^in; mat rial one of the regional 

li ors had ugges ie-J that it right' be better to pro'iuce the TJewslc-ttcr 
ov rv two months. The Honorary Secretary felt however that most members 



altogether innocent of aqr reference to its song. 

S, K» Beeves 

r:"i>h; •■ , ; urr..y, ^r.gl'nc 
** ■-* 

2j-hci*"io'-ir ci r. Shasa : 

last Ifay we were in Tikerpare forest bungalow. Cos Say while we 
were discussing the behaviour and nature of som common birds cf W, 
Bengal and Orissa, Mr N, Battey (who has to look after the tec boo 
forest of Angal as a representative of Titagargh ' r Mills) informed 
!ne of a peculiar exp i I awe with n . shama. 

As we were keenly interested, h accompanied us next morning to 2n.gmun 
forest about 15 miles from our camp at Tikerpare. The distance we 
covered in half an hour driving and got down from the car at a place 
where his people v.-.r cutting bamboos and mp-king then ready for easy 
transport. Thereafter walking for a few minutes, Mr Br.ttey started 
whistling in a very peculiar manner. The whistling was continued for 
a few minutes with regular intervals. All the ti we were keenly 
urate) :- r the situation. As there w a no response from any side we luft 
^hat place. And started Tor the next spot. After about 1 km. distance 
he selected h place, where his people acre engaged in stacking the 
cut pieces of bamboo. 

There frou the car itself, Mr. Battey started whistling with very long 
note and high pitch- He repe; ted the call thrie and then kept quiet. 
Within twn or three ainut 9 we heard a si Llr.r whistling from a very 
distant place. The from this end he replied and got the response. Mr, 
B=»ttey ask< I Die to help himj according to I Ls instruction I started 
whistling in tl ■■• satis man . ,r. Prom thi3 end whistle was b lon^ 

note on :• eoirr-'or. '.. . ly low pitch. Answcrii . whistles came i'rom the 
other end all the tii . All of a suddec Lt stopped. We waited for 
about four minut r, eher ! located a place where only the tail nf a 
bird was visible, "r B tey, whistled Ln ■■- very dsoect ; manner* then 
tte bird or- ■■■ its place. ..> heard • oallj p rran? it was searching 
the 3 our eo of whistling. I whistled very slowly and observed that 
it again changed the place. That bird was sitting in a place where we 
could ;:•: only its "or ast and nothing else, Next menentit flaw away 
and after a minute di and sat on a branch without much leaves* Here 
we saw it elearly, the stance was only 16 metres. 

H. ?. Wukherjee & H.N. Mukh< rj 
Zoological Survey of India 



" jeting ■- 'BIB! HTCBEHS 1 FIELD CIU3 OF ItTDIA 

The Annual Genernl ".: ti ,■- of the Birdwatchers' Field Club nf India we 
held at the residence of Mr ZafaT Put hally at Andhcrl, Bonbey, «n 
Saturday, the 17th Dece bar 1966, at 5r3C p. in. 

There were a large r.vr< r f people present; in fact larger than at ar 
previous meeting. This was und ubtt '-ly du ■ to the attraction provided 
by the showing of Kr, E, P, Gee's films la ir on. 

T)r Salim Ali was electi • Chairman of th - :eting* 

The Honorary Secretary gavi n bri i report f:bout the working of the 
Glut. He sal* thi t the problem ■ : gi ttin suitable material for the 
Newsletter still pt:. . ' ' nop aled to members to send in notes 

on their obaervailonB, clippings from tin press which could form the 
bai Ls of articles, booh reviews, and extracts from ornithological 
m ..'.- net ■ 

lr. v :-. ' -' Lifficulties of gettinp material one of the regional 
editors ht 1 3Ugges ! that it right be better to produce the Ncwsle tti 
every two months^ The Honorary Secretary felt however that most meralbe: 
wcruL ;.i-i..r to get the Nav.'sletUr every month, and this feeling was 
t orss tl by tin. me . till ~. 

.... 8 



, mts , Secretary said ttet b J rdwa tchcra 

• 1 C^b of be grateful to n«aerr- nine Co. Pvt. 

Sd. for absorbing most of the expenditure in connection with the 
production of the Sewclet'-er. 

Fhilc fld. action continued, the ^^^^IjTlJ^Zf'' 

position to donate more were r .quest ^ ^. (»-J 
be nentioned that a handsome flomtion of W- ms receive a 
of tte regional editor ir^dintely after the meeting.) 

It was .. imously decide the l^*™" ^**«J£* ion 

■ m become a member of ° r "™ . ^^tion cfStur- 

and a Friend of the International Council ior conserve 

» eaa unani^sly decided that the preset office bearers v.ould continue 
in office for another year. 

The nesting concluded with a vote o "*« 

^ *v- *+<«= M "P Gee whoe wac present f -cellent 

which "-ly appreciated. 

Zafar Futehslly 

Mitrr, » '3r for JirdwatcK 

32-A Juhu fr 

iteri, Berbay 58-A3 




** * 



NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 



Volume 7 -No. 2-1967 February 



\ 




EIRUWATCHERS 



Vol* 7, Ho. 2- 



February 1967 



contents 

Birds of Darjealing. By E. D. Avari 1 

Random Observations, By S. V« Hilakanta . .... 5 

BIRDS IN OUR LIVES. (L. P. ) 7 

Notes and Comment s ... .................... 7 

Correspondence: 

'A Rribuke'. Chairman, The Countryman (p* &)i Birdwatching at 
Feriyar, Kerala. "By Louis Werrtr (p. o) . iird bookr: nu Pair (p. 8-9) 



BIRDS OP MEJEFLlNCr 

By 

E.D. AVABI 

Any resemblance between what f*Li"*ws and to that of a scientific paper 
is entirely fictitious. A psychological dread of appearing in print 
has enabled me to live happily, alas, until the letter arrived from 
the SHitor r»f the NEV3L3TT3R, ... "a long article /abort article/review/ 
letter, etc..." ffl cap this, a nightmare see- lowed, (after severa] 

years ^f a guilt-ridden existence), in which the ~ditor stood over my 

waving a large sword, threatening immediate decapitation, unless 
something appeared in the February issue! I still shudder as I franti- 
cally type this after a hurried consultation of" my moth-eaten notes. 

■■>r let it be said that the writer (oh] wonderful word), ever had 
1 have any pretensions of being anything but one who has been 
interested in forests, shikar, and all the treasures thereof. Most 
of eg n s tes aro therefore necessarily confined to animals & measure- 
rs, and odd thrilling encounters which occur once in a bluemorn, 
3 are then generally talked about every week or so by 'intrepid 1 
shikaris! 

already hear the groans of all the protectors of wild life, so 
xll my story: Luring the past three decades it has been my 
have ti . hiked, and bivouacked throughout the 

■let, most a^ ffepal, all "f Sikklm, and parts of Ehu1 
; os "int- Tibet during \sy srho'>ldaye also eome to mind. By and 
i that ths bird life ft the hill areas is common to 
•;al ft this District. Starting from the belt of TeraJ 



T«ut\? ! " 9e tr °P ical *»!*«** thmughout the base of the 

four re^cns mentioned above, in similar Savannah-like riverain 
forests, are fnund the lapwings, ibisbills, Nightjars, Herons, 
Mergansers (Goosanders), fairy Bluebirds, both! soeciea of the 

STS^ T^/' u^ Gpeat * the LeSS ^ r ' the ^™ s including 
the flashy 3merald, the Spotted, and the Rufous Turtle-, net to 

speak of the ubiquitous Red Jungle . Vml, the Peafowl, flnipe. 

Partridge etc. and of course the delightful Koklas end P<n Tail 

Greeners. The bartailed Cuckoo-Dove can be heard throughout the 

plains, and its rather mournful cry, together with the call of" 

• tee Green Pigeon from a Silk Cottm tree, is one of the lasting 
memrries of the jungles. Among the myriads cf bird calls, one Ian 

• never forget the call of the Forest =agle Or/1. While siting in a 
machan awaiting a maneater, over a rather epooky-?.ookin* eorW 
of an elderly Erahran, one's imagination tends to run riot, -s- 
pecially in a youngster barely 17. A horrible cry rather Hke that 
of a mad woman being strangled to death e«anated from a tree near 
by, at about TO p.m. renulting in considerable alarm and despon- 
dency, and one was very sorely tempted to leap out of the machan 
and leg it for camp as fast as one's legs could g-. Only the worse 
thought of the maneater licking its chops below, prevented this 
course, and for the next hour or so, the tree shook with the trem- 
bling of the intrepid shikari. Many moons later it transpired that 
the call originated from this devilish bird, and much laughter 
ensued around the camp-fire when the story was told. 

The lower Forests from about 1000 to 3000 feet above sea level have 
most of the birds mentioned above, with some startlinglv beautiful 
ninivets, including the short-billed (Perierocctus brevirostris) 
and the flamboyant Scarlet ( P. sp eciosuB J "which liven" the^erVerT 
foliage with the scarlet and-bcautiful yellow plumage rf the males 

nfVnX 1 ": Itt^rT MCMi ^ a fa °ily <* Minivets und another 
Jfi?J? U T * % CpajtolfetflldfeLsBMcJa) caused an unscheduled 
halt for a band of 200 men on a route march for so-* tsn minutes 
or so, while the lovely birds entertained. Another memorable halt 
which nearly resulted ua a stampede, occured whan party ef men 
on manoeuvres, expecting an enemy ambush, suddenly heard a trio 
of Great Hombills (^iohoeeros bicornia L. ) take ? ff ^-on -he too 
of the tree beneath which tbey lad paused. 7he whooshing of wings, 
the racous calls, all adding up tn the- mounting tension, c used 
much pent up thoughts to be released in limits of laughter. I have 
often wondered why this aagnlfieent bird was not named the National 
Eird of India. It has many of the habits of 3U r countryrren, is 
averse to strong drink, but indulges in picking fermented berries 
occasionally and gets hilariously drunk, while still trying to 
maintain a ridiculously funny poise; the womenfolk are locked up 
at home, while the crlitary males club together -for a chat, and at 
the last moment remember to collect delicacies for the old lady 
and the newly arrived youngsters. They hate neat, but occasionally 
little nana to themselves, and have also been observed trying to 
surreptitiously make a meal of some strictly non-vegetarian diet. 
Ky "innocent suggestion to this effect at n Wild life Foard m-eting 
was rather rudely turned down by ar. irate «5iite_„ — j Opstarfc 
(rhaj^arrornis lejuoccphalus Congr^ssii). Pe that t.s it mpy there 
is no denying that the CreaT Ifaartajrah"Ttortrt>ni f (surely the largest 
of the species) is a magnificent bird deserving every protection. 
Unfortunately all the rarer species of animal? and birds are much 
sought after by various tribes and others for their suoposedly 
medicinal properties. This bird is reputed to yield an oil from 
its beak, (a process known to but a handful ), which has the magi- 
cal property of penetrating through to the joints; invaluable for 
gouty and rheumatic patients. Since nobody can extract the oil in 
the correct maimer, -the quack thrives on the illegitimate slaughter 
of these innocents. 

...3 



Mc account of the forests mentioned above would be complete without 
mention of the brilliant gen of a Three -ffced Kingfisher ( Oeyx erithaca? ), 
flashing over the mountain streams and glittering like a blue and lilac 
diamond. 

The Kiddle Hill ^rrt.at^ between '^OtO fo 6000 feet abound in trees of the 
oak, eh-str.ut, cherry, maple, V:'-':. .t' aXd.-r groups, a veritable 
paradise for birds. Orioles, espejiaily the Oolcjeij und the Elack-riaped 
( Qriolua ^rjcl-js T„ 1 and (r -r i"l us £h;r.vr,sls) congregate together with 
the fascinating Orongo clan of these J'.' st.; T such as the bellicose 
Racket Tailed '' Ilcrurus reni f k- r t ^c t < r •'s tri s ) y the truly named Hottentot 
or Hair Created, the atecl grey f_*jjjru ru::" " lTuc0pha ei'5 hopwc*di), and 
a beautiful black little «ne whicE has a metallic bro-nee" sheen of green- 
ish blue in the aiai, (which, imitated r.y whis J ie while J called my dog}* 
in company with the Chlfrooo iB hardwic kii , arc Eluebearded Bee -eaters 
( Nyctyornis a. athertT.i) the lattc • oin- common around Sukna (alti- 
tude abcu+ 800 feet). The flue .fay (' r urys t onus ori entails cyani cfllis) 
on New Year's day 1967 gave; a spectacular display of aerobatics on 
the banks oi 1 the pygr.ee t which river separatee this District from 
Slkkim. Or. another occasion ' heve seen this oxford CambridgH type 
hurtling through the air, and catching insects on the wing, then fly- 
ing straight into its lair in _ 3 <"lo Et the top of a very high tree, 
on the bunks of the M echi 3ust oj the Nepal border. 

The Upper Hill forests between 6000 tr 3000 feet, comprise of much of 
the lrw»r types, together with the cr* ferae md rhododendrons. Oaks 
with parasitic mistletoes, beeches, blnuS (locally Called Utis), and 
the Bamboos, varieties of then, vivn l rc beautiful Magntlias, includ- 
ing the regal Canpbellii, proTi'^e much Interesting substance fnr man 
and bird alike, but alas much »f :' . r r 3+3 are being destroyed in 
and around Darjeeling, V» make rem fT man, and the mammals and birds 
nave suffered, -is time alone will testify. 

Around Darjeeling the Black-healed Sibia ( ii^tgr->phasia cap j, strata 
teyleyi ) , the C.rtonbackrd Tit lEarus mor.'-ieolus . ), the Strong footed 
Eusi Pi'arbler ( Cettta f« rtipes . . T (sellom seen tut alway3 heard), and 
the leiothrlx ~r Pekin Enbin (l/elothr lx luten calipyga) are among the 
most vociferous during the different seasons. I heard the first Sibia 
yesterday kid January 1967 -it oalapnfcar (TnrJeeUng) altitude 7500. 
It was an experimental e-.ll, and after tentatively calling twice, 
weakly, it decided to wait for the proper time, about n month hence. 
Th'.,- Fortipes la a menace: in the vicinity of Darjeeling with its w^lf 
calls, and many a plains visitor ni - bht fairer sex is fooled int-" 
thinking tha" she has m^rit. d the attention of anme hill Eome^. 

TCirjeeling rv?~ourse is a veritable meeting place for birds throughout 
chc year. Catapults in the lv r/l- of skilled urchins and other modern 
educated youth- have taken tj eir toll, not ji" much in casualties but 
certainly by disturbing their nesting ar.d migration. We are art a 
very conservati'n minded race as a rule, and all ">ne can dn ia t» 
confiscate the "ffendtng woapen. "a take a person such as this t" the 
police would rear.lt in upraised eyebrows, and ">nc would be- made to 
look like the village idiot for d- ring to arreBt one who has merely 
hurled stones at tirde, while there are sc nrny other important things 
to think about. Th* Verditer, The -iltava and the Himalayan V^histling 
Thn-rh are quite CMnciOnly met with slong the less frequented walks 
skirting the town* 7n Gangtok I found almost the same type of birds 
present, except thm I cam.- across eot-j Leaf Warbl :rs than I have seen 
her:. Hegarding : ' r ocd-:ock I sti.l squlna lr= r-rr.br.rrassment when T think 
of the jo you 13 announcement I :.:'.d-j o.it crening in f9^7 to c band of 
fellow bunder a after a successful ahcit at Ttkdah, abnut 10 milES fr *m 
Darjoeling, at an elevation of about V000 feet, where we had sh«t 
'several woodcock and Kalej together with sotnii muntjac, and pig. T said 
that I had seen a woodcock fly with a you.jg "nc clasped between its 
l^gsj At least it certainly I'jcI&hI li": thit to me being clearly outlined 

...A 



gainst the sky. Hcwls of derision end laughter greeted thia remark, 
While some Locke mention thin as a possibility, which I oeme to know 
later, I wonder if there was sobs optical illusion after all, for I 
have never since seen anything like it again. 

in the Alpine and Tibet Alpine regions racing from 900? to 11000, 
and 1?0O0 to 18000 feet respectively, the most coeimu birds one comes 
across are the famous Hodgeon * iGrandala, floeta of wUch have been 
sen at Singalila, 12,000 ft. (Barreling), Ihimpu (T3hutan) 9,000 ft,, 
Kathang (Sikfcim), larcphpram (Kepal) 11, COO ft. , Thanggu (&ikkfcn) 
1 3 ,50oM., Ifethila (Sikkia) 14,200 ft.? t.nd other hi r h P^« *** 
, r ; new forgotten in the mists of ti.^. I alway* reiMiber the beauts 
t.t these birds, end my notes say "remarkably silent f?^rs adding 
to the eeriness cf a still afternoon before a snowctom". Again it 
Lid sec* that the -1* population have taken , holiday f™, their 
r"S«iW wives, all the birds ?ee~ t-> be males, very few of The 

," t , nf „iL v^i™ -' «iT Hn fvidence". This was near Gycgong 

browner fenalos tuing ax ax^ in , viue..^. 

(Sikkim) ab~u J , 15,500 feet. Lr the Gurudongma area near a very 
large lake, north cf Zanchanjha. (not to be confused Wl th Kr.nch.nd- 
aonBE), I saw ana shot at q draggling wile goose flying in a N-r- 
Sly direction, in >.v«ftcr 195', -",h * .22 Rifle. It tork the 
,u)lc; with en nlnort ■etallie clang ,hlch pulled hi* up in uodair 
fcr a mr^ent, then carried on as if nothing had happened. It was nt 
till he pot to the end of the lake that he suddenly dropped like a 
HtonV ihen £ «o- f him a half hour later, fully a mile away, I 
fount^t th= ?22 bullet had taken hi, through the chost thmugh 
nrotectiv* X-.y-.r nf hard ice fully one inch thick, fe. ^ t» wander- 
in< Barhoad?'? I cannot remember. 

-n the Dcngkya la area in !93fi, I f» large floekn of the Red Billed 
ttow* V'5. J hav. also «ts at the Batbu ^ I**, J«lep la. '*P-P. 
SSSlli Cae, ar-- ^ "hard I*™* (Tibet), »hcr I trl d a colour 

S t?^ not saU S fy, as the colour of •-- blue sky appears 
biack^s is wen, to do on snaps ta- n t high altitudes, and the 
birds &re not to be seen J 

,he yellow ^£^^ ^^^T^lJ^^s 
£V5S tc + S. S st" £/* .p tl :•,-, S a^e, all day with 
iheir aartol antics, in thaee uninhabited lr ry olacee. 

T hf - I«mm*rgcier or Fearded Vultur-: 'r^yuztu: barbotus L. ) 4«. not 

r^a ln^^ -ad - ot ( ; tne ^^ 
faang) (Tibet), before dro ?r 3 -. « ft»m r height of about W ft at. 
t, 5t.i alight* n,or the ,c,r.. T it. =rlw , ; and ^*J ** *SiSS« 
corpse 3 ust like an ,oglo, aeiee* the pup art took )1 like a faght.r 
rlane. I nu,.: say it scared the w^tc out of mc one mining when a 
^Ucularly larjo ,p ..oinc:: drrn.i ,ant ny head with the noxec of 
a young aircr ft at high sp:ed. 

s, - m v b— f-ieodB in ho bird wrrld nan be counted the f-arless 
Ut«e^ito Sack^it (^rus ruMdlvntrie _bcavani ) , which keot 
uf its cN^iul llttl y i^T?^her like tha common Sirjeeling Rreen 
Z k-d tit.lh^i-hout , fearful thun^rBtorm, with lightiing strik- 
!rj thG raeVhbovrinfi Silver •'ir? a^ Jur.irors ncoompanir.d bj tnt 
:?♦ -^ h n^ enly heard at the h.ignt.o of oandakhphu and 
I I^ZJm ,-ux . (th, tr"..iunction of ftip.il, Sikkim and l^r 3 ee ling 

■:■■:;** ;\;:. t •■ 600 -■• i). -mn - ^^- cw«mw before this 

:-' ..;■■. : - ' •,' x ^t ; rRt ; - . uttie I -:^ call-d away merrily, 
.:-" ;>- '., W 3 ■ • w-i«hoe, whiwh,e, as if telling me not to worry. 
. /'•'; . , r r , " t -'- - --^ n»U > ■■•, r-tahly died cf heart failure 
,.V;;' ": pc r ..„ I ,; 3 a nearly dio ^1^ that frightful experience 
. , - . . " csv .• .xn t oar. 



He acceunt of the forests mentioned above would be complete without 
mention of the brilliant gee of a Three -*toad Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca?), 
flashing over the mountain streams and glittering like a blue and lilac 

diamond. ' 

The Middle Hill Fertatd between jOCO *o 6000 feet abound in trees of the 
oak, chestnut, cherry, maple, biyl - -.-v alder groups, a veritable 
paradise for birds- fr fries, especially the Colder, and the Elack-naped 
(Oriolus oriclus L. ) and f orfrlus Chir.e nsia) congregate trgether with 
thp fascinating "rnngn clan of these f crista, ^uch as the bellicose 
Packet Tailed "i ^lcrurus reaifyr t^ctir^Etris), the truly named Hrttentot 
or Hair Crested, the steel grey (atjru rus leucophaeus h opwcWi), and 
a beautiful black little *ne which has a metallic bronze- ahcen of green- 
ish blue in the sun, fv.hiah, imitated my whia*lB while T called my dog J, 
in company with the Ch irrs i3 Pardwjckji, ftnd Hue bearded Bee-eaters 
foyctyornia a. ath ertoni) the latte- Lei^c common around Sukna (alti- 
tude abou+ 800 feeTjr^fhe Blue Jay ( "uryp tomus ori^ntalis cyanicrllisj 
on New Year's day 1967 gave a spectacular display of aerobatics on 
the banks of the Rugneet which river separates this Ktetrict from 
Pikkimr On another occasion ] have seen this oxford Cambridge type 
hurtling through the rir, find catching insects -m the wing, then fly- 
ing straight iirtr its lair in :. ! ^le at the top ^f a wry high tree, 
on the banks -T the '*cchi just <-.i the Nepal brxcer* 

The Upper Hill forests between 6000 to 3000 feat, emprise of much of 
the lower types, together -ilth the e*r< ferae md rhododendrons. Oaks 
with parasitic mistletoes, beeches, ulnaa (locally called T'tia), and 
the Runbnos, varieties of then, with M*.e beautiful !*agr.*lias, includ- 
ing the regal Campbellii, orovl^ cuub interesting substance for man 
and bird alike, but alas -auch rf ' , \ S <?■ ata are being destroyed in 
and around Darjeeliiag, ti make rorn fn man, and the mammals and birds 
have Buffered, as time alone will testify - 

Around Sarjeellng the Elack-lM?alec! Si tin ( He.terophasi a capigtrata 

bfvleyij, the Greenbacked Tit vParjs morticolua .), the &trongfo*ted 
Bash Sarbler { Cettfr f-rtioes . J [aTlTomVeVn but always heard), and 
tlc -^^thrix t PakiiTEnKir. ( r >;iot hrix lu tes calipyga ) are among the 
most -^oiferous during the differert se"sens. I heard the first Sibia 
• sterday knS January 1967 at .:alapahar (l&rjeeling) altitude 750C. 
*\ was an experimental call, and after tentatively calling twice, 
weakly, it decided to wait for the proper time, about a month hence, 
• The Fcrtipes is a menace in the- vicinity of Barreling with its w*lf 
calls, and *any c pi-:-. ins visitor of tht fairer sex is fooled int- 
thinking tha- she has writ, A the attention of some hill Roneo. 

Parceling bourse is a veritable meeting place for birds throughout 
the year- Catapults in the hands of skilled urchins and othbr modern 
educated youths have taken their toll, not so much in casualties but 
certainly by disturbing their nesting and migration. V/G are not a 
very cor.serv.itlT. minded race as a rule, and all -me can d* is to 
confiscate the -ffending weapon, •?« take a person such as this to the 
police would res- It in utjrais fl eyebrows, and one would be made to 
lo^k like the village idiot for d ring to arrest one who has merely 
hurled stones at birds, while there are so many other important things 
to think about. Th* Verdi tc-r, The Hltava and the Himalayan Whi at ling 
Thrurh are quite commonly met with .long the less frequented walks 
skirting the town. 7n Gangtok I flund almost the same type of birds 
present! except tha, T cam, across mor. Leaf Warblers than I **««•» 
her.-. Heparding "ocd-ock I still squirm ir embarrassment wher. T think 
of the Joyous announcement 1 wrf-: »:* fining in 1947 to a br,nd of 
fellow hundera after a successful -hent at Takdah, ab«sut 10 milea fr*m 
Iterjeeling, at an elevation of about .'%"" feet, where xve had shot 
" several woodcock and Kale;} together with ?^ nuntjao, and pig. I said 
that T had sr.en a woodcock fly with a ;ou.-.g -ne clasped **•**""■„., 
letsJ At least it certainly Hctad life tMt to me being clenrly outlines 



against the sky. Howls of derision and laughter greeted this remark. 
While some books mention this as a possibility, which I came to know 
later, I wonder if there was some opti'cal illusion after all, for I 
have never since seen anything like it again. 

In the Alpine and Tibet Alpine regions ranging from 9000 to 11000, 
and 12000 to 18000 feet respectively, the most commsn birds one comes 
across are the famous Hodgson 's Grandala , flocks of which have been 
seen at Singalila, 12,000 ft. (Barjecling), *Thimpu (Bhutan) 9,000 ft., 
Nathang (Sikkim), Lampheram (Nepal) 11,000 ft., Thanggu (Sikkim) 
13,500 ft., Nethula ( Sikkim) 14,200 ft.? and other high places which 
are now forgotten in the mists of time. I always remember the beauty 
r»f these birds, and my notes say "remarkably silent fliers adding 
to the eeriness of a still afternoon before a snowstorm". Again "it 
would seem that the male population hove taken a holiday from their 
nagging wives, all the birds seem to be males, very few of the 
browner females being at all in evidence". This was near Gyagong 
( Sikkim) about 15,500 feet. In the Gurudongma area near a very 
large lake, north of Kanchr.njhau (not to be confused with Xanchend- 
zonga), I saw and shot at a straggling wild goose flying in a Nor- 
therly direction, in "rvember 195 A » wfoh a .22 Rifle. It took the 
nullct with an almost metallic clang which pulled him up in midair 
icr a moment, then carried on as if nothing had happened. It was'nt 
till he got to the end of the lake that he suddenly dropped like a 
stone. Vhen I got to him a half rcur later, fully a mile away, I 
found that the .22 bullet had taken him through the chest, through 
a protective layer of hard ice fully one inch thick. Was it a wander- 
in*: Barhead?? I cannot remember. 

In the Dongkya la area in 1938, I Paw large flockn of the Red Billed 
Chough, which I have also seen at the Nathu Is, Pans, Jelcp La, Kapup, 
Singalila Range, and at Phari Bzong (Tibet), where I tri-.;d a colour 
photo, which did not saxisfy, as the colour of ".he blue sky appears 
black as is won: to do on snaps taken at high altitudes, and the 
birds are not to be seenl 

The yellow billed Onough is o«rraos be+ter equipped for flying at 
even higher altitudes than its red billed ecasin, but both varieties 
are a treat to watch sin^v bhey keen themselves amused all day with 
their aerial antics, in these uninhabited dreary places. 

The lammprgoier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetua barbatus L. ) does not 
Jook like a vulture at all ~o me, but rather "XiRe "a"n aristrocra tic 
member of the Eagle family. A truly nob] ."-looking bird which once 
took a small puppy from a Khamoa notiad i .nt (on the way to Chubi- 
thang) (Tibet), before droppiag it from a height of about 4^ feet. 
It later alighted n^ar the ccene if its ztItli. and walked up to the 
corpse just like an eagle, seized the pap and took off like a fighter 
plane. I must say it scared the wits out of me one morning when a 
particularly large specimen droned pant ny head with the noise of 
a young aircraft at high speed; 

Among my best friends in the bird world can be counted the fearless 
little Sikkim Black Tit (Parus rubidiventris beavani), which kept 
up its cheerful little song, rather like the common Barjeeling Green 
Backed tit, throughout a fearful thunderstorm, with lightming strik- 
ing the nejghboiring Silver firs and Junipers accompanied by the 
mc-t awesome thvndo>- enly heard at the heigntn of Sandakhphu and 
Phf llelung (phajux, 1 , (the tr '.junction of Nepal, Sikkim and Barjeeling 
IV trie t at alout 11,000 feci). Hhilf I stood cowering before this 
display cf "r'ouro's wrath thi little fellow called away merrily, 
M'-ilwheo, wli.whi.-e, v/hiwhee, whiwhee, as if tolling me not to worry! 

U- lower. UJ-titU'lo jousins would have probably died cf heart failure 
;n tne spot, as I very nearly did during that frightful experience 
••,.■'.. . i:h iarfvid ov -.- an hour. 



: 5 : 



The BrCwn and White Snow Pigeon ( Ceil umba Xej-iconota. Jleupojipta.) , and 
The Snowcock ( Tetraogallus tib etanui? aquilonifer) are commonly met 
with all around the heights of Oyagong (SikkimTT Pepethang (Tibet), 
etc. The latter bird together with the Blood Pheasant (ithaginis 
££H£E tu ?_ a /j f A n _ i £) snou l d be prepared by a good Lepcha cook, who knows 
how to remove the high gamey smell usually associated with these birds; 
rather like removing the musk pods from a musk deer and not allowing 
it to come into contact with the flesh, after which they make good 
eating. 

The Crimson-horned Tragopan (Tra gopan satyra) is called the Monal in 
Nepal, curiously, and the real Monal, the majestic Impeyan Pheasant 
(laShophrrus impe.ianus ), is called the Eafay, (pronounced very nasally). 
Unfortunately these birds are being wiped out ruthlessly all over, as 
they are very stupid and give their positions away, sometimes not even 
daring to run. Eoth make excellent birds for the table, but will fas*t 
disappear from the -face of the earth. 

There are so many things one could write about reminiscent ly, but I fear 
that I have made this into what the Editor would term a Long/ letter, 
and I must say in conclusion that I strongly feel that for a person who 
is genuinely interested in birds there are very few places like our 
environments here in the whole wide world, where one can at once observe 
wild life from an altitude of a few hundred feet to many thousands of 
feet within such a short time, and with comparatively little effort, 
watch a fast changing panorama of Nature in full glory unroling herself 
before one's fascinated gaze. 

f * * * * * * 

RA'JDC?" 0B3UR VAT IONS 

By 

S. V. Filakanta 

This winter I am a little disappointed because I have taken fro granted 
that the little Blyth's Reed Warbler ringed by me on 20 February 1964, 
is bound to return without fail. It has not done so. Actually, two of 
these birds were banded on that day and one of them has been* returning 
to this place for the last two winter seasons. Since I did not succeed 
in catcning this bird a second time, I am unable to say whether it bore 
the number A-451^1 or A-451^2. Another Blyth'3 Reed Warbler has now 
taken its place. This territory of less than a thousand square yards is 
probably too small to accommodate more than one or two of these birds, 
though just before their northward journey, I have seen five of them 
chasing each other. 

A few weeks back there was some ex3it?ment in front of our gate near 
the hedge. A Jufousbacked Shrike, which often comes here in the dry 
season, had caught and just killed a garden lizard. This lizard appeared 
tc be about eight inches in length from head to tip of tail. Even 
after death, the body of this lizard was struggling and the bird had 
to batter it considerably to quieten it. A very large garden lizard 
which was much heavier than the shrike, saw this and ran across the 
road towards this struggle. The shrike iirme diately picked up its prey 
and flew up to the wooden framework, half way up our gate. Great 
difficulty was experienced by the bird in carrying such a heavy and 
unwieldy weight. The shrike held the neck of the lizard in its powerful 
beak. The trailing body of the lizard was held by the feet of the bird. 
The large garden lizard paused a few seconds to get its bearings and 
after rolling its eyes, once again streaked across the ground in 
pursuit of the bird. This tine, the shrike was better prepared for 
flight and took off with the prey held in the same way as mentioned. 
The bird flew away to the back of the house safe enough in distance 
to prevent further pursuit. This flight was also very laboured , the 

bird not VlP"inCT nhln +.n v>-i an twto tVinn +wa -Cr,^*- -P-^™- J-V, „ ~~~.„.J 



The Brcwn and White Snow Pigeon ( Cduaba XejA.con.ota. JUaiCgnafca.) » and 
The Snowcock ( Tetraogallus ti b e tonus aquilpnifer) are commonly met 
with all around the heights of Gyagpiig CslMinOT Pepethang (Tibet), 
etc. The latter bird together with the Blood Pheasant ( ithaginis 
cruent ua affinis ) should be prepared by a good Lepcha cook, who knows 
how to remove the high gamey smell usually associated with these birds; 
rather like removing the musk pods from a musk deer and not allowing 
it to come into contact with the flesh, after v/hich they make good 
eating. 

The Crimson-horned Tragopan ( Tragopan satyra) is called the Monal in 
Nepal, curiously, and the real Monal J the majestic Impeyan Pheasant 
(JaB-hoEhcrus impe.ianus 'h is called the lafay, (pronounced very nasally). 
Unfortunately these birds are being wiped out ruthlessly all over, as 
they are very stupid and give their positions away, sometimes not even 
daring to run. Both make excellent birds for the table, but will fast 
disappear from the -face of the earth. 

There are so many things one c^uld write about reminiscent ly, but I fear 
that I have made this into what the Editor would term a Long/ letter, 
and I must say in conclusion that I strongly feel that for a person who 
is genuinely interested in birds there are very few places like our 
environments here in the whole wide world, where one can at once observe 
wild life from an altitude of a few hundred feet to many thousands of 
feet within such a short time, and with comparatively little effort, 
v/atch a fast changing panorama of Nature in full glory unroling herself 
before one's fascinated gaze. 

f * * * * * * 

RA'iDOr OBSERVATIONS 

S. V. Hilakanta 

This winter I am a little disappointed because I have taken fro granted 
that the little Blyth's Reed Warbler ringed by me on 20 February 1964, 
is bound to return without fail. It has not done so. Actually, two of 
these birds were banded on that day and one of them has been returning 
to this place for the last two winter seasons. Since I did not succeed 
in catcning this bird a second time, I am unable to say whether it bore 
the number A-451^1 or A-451^2. Another Blyth's Reed Warbler has now 
taken its place. This territory of less than a thousand square yards is 
probably too small to accommodate more than one or two of these birds, 
though just before their northward journey, I have seen five of them 
chasing each other. 

A few weeks back there was some excitement in front of our gate near 
the hedge. A Slifousbaeked Shrike, which often comes here in the dry 
season, had caught and just killed a garden lizard. This lizard appeared 
to be about eight inches in length from head to tip of tail. Even 
after death, the body of this lizard was struggling and the bird had 
to batter it considerably to quieten it. A very large garden lizard 
which was much heavier than the shrike, saw this and ran across the 
road towards this struggle. The shrike inure diately picked up its prey 
and flew up to the wooden framework, half way up our gate. Great 
difficulty was experienced by the bird in carrying such a heavy and 
unwieldy weight. The shrike held the neck of the lizard in its powerful 
beak. The trailing body of the lizard was held by the feet of the bird. 
The large garden lizard paused a few seconds to get its bearings and 
after rolling its eyes, once again streaked across the ground in 
pursuit of the bird. This time, the shrike was better prepared for 
flight and took off with the prey held in the same way as mentioned. 
The bird flew away to the back of the house safe enough in distance 
to prevent further pursuit. This flight was also very laboured, the 
bird not being able to rise more than two feet from the ground. 



This incident reminds no n-p r,„„4.v 

the Newsletter teteStoiLt^" ?**' ^ EBbruBry 1962 issue °f 
'he ld in its Te g. w gh^Lr ^ X r d the ° aiTyin S of »***» " 
by Dr Salim A li in tie nSt LL ^ ° bSer ^ tion ™« <***« queried 
aware of this controvert ^"aS^iT*^ *" Shrlke ' X «- 
as accurately as possible. 6ner to "^ m y observation 

2LS^£S closJTthe wT *° **•"**• «-» were a few 
I had not notice"! a^^lloS ZZrtl iZt SS ^T* ^^ 
year, at the end of Seotemb-r I went f.™ w! ^J 1111 ^ of Bomb ay. last 
by train. There was nothing Ll"l ^J^ 6 *^ to Vishakapatnam 
journey. Again there were^ast nLZ \ I ° irdS during thct ****» 
noticed any in Bombay Perfeps IZ^I\ ^^ ' Qlth °^ h J ** ** 
different sumrcr homes. P ay birdS and And ^ birds have , 

In Hyderabad I met Mr -Jamshed Vatcha who st-vs in -v. •■, 

**. * , t its POint of ^L^TrL n r;^r^ b - a ^ M 



arrying the material. 




Preparing to bring 

free ends through 
loop. 




he finished knot. 



7 



next operation is to b.nd tov'n anl \Tt hoTo? tT 5°* Slip dOW "' The 
bird passes its bill and oart nf t ! ., the free ends ' The 

loop to get hold of tS f re? ends Cf ++ ne ^ssar y through the 
the loop to make the tart as shOT/ ; S t L ^tT^h. dEQWn thr ° Ugh 
Mr Jamshed Vatehn rt-iri no+ + n 

the construction of Its^^f Jid^S'L^T* 8 ^^ W " h 
built on his clothes line af+er its f 7™+ T * SUn bird once 

destroyed. Most of the Sterol ^ J 1 ™,*,™ 8 * WaS ac °Wentally 
nest to build tho next. * qm ° kly sieved from tho first 



* ^'St^Z^s I^bST^' *«-> Arnold * ^ 
Wildlife. ineS ' ArtlSt ' ^^ of Sport, Fisheries and 

equivalent^ our^^niftry 6 S'SS ^ * ^ t0 be the 
task in brighing out this larJeVo^e/^O ^ ^ *? "^ ^^tive 
produced with customary AbbpI^i 3.J P "^ V ° lume on Biri3s » 
from most bird books VrusTlTll^ 53 '^* b °° k iS different 
-from the frankly sentimental to L oare^f ^ different *™1" 
chapters on -Sunday at the z~. , 'Pai^nrv' ^ ? SCientific « There are 
'Birds on Stamps'. At the other end W^ • ^ to the Bible '> ™* 

Birds and Science, and amther by lo^er Jor^ l\ aTt±cle * E « Mayr on 
purpose of the book is revealed in tSf^FJ?** 3 *" 1 ' Sti11 the "»1 
beginning with an article on BirS and p^^T Sections > ^ich, 
fine articles by conservationists'* and SS?^'^".? t0 SeVeral 
the gane laws and the work -one bv th I ^ t0 deScribe ** detail 
midlife, indeed the last 2 5 o "pes of ^fn °f " P6rt ' Plsheriea a « d 
f a S ^^te volume, it maL^first rat °l COuld be minted 
general, and indicates the trend of t>iS ° n conser ^-tion in 

J- S. with a description of Se work be ^"f ^ ^ *** ct in the 
document which might inspire the Z "* d0ne there - Jt could be a 
notably India, ^^STatJtSSTS 1 ^* *" COUntrieS ' 
this respect. "iTuaes of the U. S. Government in 



L. P. 



NOTES AND COMMENTS 



E. D. Avari who wrs '^pw.-,, -, 

in a single contributi^lLS hisTenf ""J* Board f0r no * «««* 
amends by his article publS in th i T « °ffJ Ce haS *»* ^o! 
of birdwatchers will enjoy his re?e'enc e to ^ - U P ° litical s ^es 
^£essii, and we hope we wir h™ ZL *° ^£^2922^ jfiucoeeAalue 
future. For most of us tho bird's n7^° ^ 1Cle8 from ^^^1^1^ 
vicariously. ra ° n ~ Reeling can only be enjoyed 



•::-*# 



The Newsletter has in the + ,. 

mgazines when °rig iml m ? e J al ^ 6 ^ ^icles f rom other mture 

of course of the publishers, m our fZlZlt ?Sf W " h the ^^^sion 
article on Anting was r-pro^.o^T. r 1966 issue however the 

958 inadvertently vat h out ^ SeZZtTl °* ^ ^unt^man of 
correspondence section the rebuke' from ilV" Wil1 be ^en from the 
in remarkably gentle terms but it Ss ^ ° hairm ? n has ^en couched 
some of our readers may want to i cr t * *? ^ M ' Incidentally 
a fine magazine. saosenbe to The Countryman which is 



: 8 : 

CORRESPONDENCE 



■A Rebuke 



The Editor of THE COUNTRYMAN has drawn my attention to the fact 
that in the No-vember issue of your 'Newsletter For Birdwatchers* you 
have used an. article lifted completely from the Winter 1958 issue of 
THE COUNTRYMAN. 

He points out that in view of the nature of your publication, 
he would certainly have been willing to give permission had he been 
asked, but he would have asked you to include the address of our 
magazine so that interested readers could write for a copy if they 
wanted to do so. 

Perhaps in future if such an occasion arises you will write to 
him, he is: 

Mr John Cripps, 

The Editor, 

The Countrymm limited, 

Burford, Oxford, 

England. 

Yours sincerely 

Sd. IT. A. Whinfrey 

(chairman) 

The Countryman 
10 Bouverie Street, London E. C. 4 
Dated 17 January 1967 

Birdv/atchi?:-*; at Periyar , Kerala 

On a recent trip to soeo game sanctuaries in the south, my wife 
and I spent parts of three Jays (October 30 through November. 1) 
birdwatching at Periyar. Although we found Periyar less suited to 
birdwatching than Bandipur and Mudvonalai, in our time there we did 
see members of sixty-odd species well enough to be sure of what species 
they belonged to. Seven of these species are not' definitely recorded 
in the five notes about Periyar and the area around it that you have 
published since June 1954. These seven species are: 

L.Pied Flycatcher-shrike ' 

2. Rufoustailed Flycatcher 

3. ".'lagpio Robin 

4. White backed ?.'unia 

5. Osprey 

6. Median Egret 

7. Indian Blackcrested Baza. 

Louis 'Verne r 
Tear Panth Nibas, Bhubaneswar 2 
Orissa 
January 4* 1967 • 

" Bird Books " 

"Bird Books" by vr r. ..R.A. Stewart Melluish in December issue of The 
Tev/sletter for Birdwatchers was really a very fine review of some of 
the reference literature available and forthcoming on the Birds of 
our Country. I congratulate him for this. Such articles will be very 
useful for persons whose acquanintance with ornithology is not of 
longstanding a.nd who propose to take a keen interest on the subject. 

x would like to add one more Book to his list i.e. The Books of 
^outbswn India by H.P. Baker and 0.!'. Inglis. This Book was published 
■tj ;fcc Govarrcnent of ?ladras during 1930 and costs Rs.15/= per copy. 



I understand that conies arp s+-m , 



rat 



per copy. 



re a -feed can 
at a reduced 



P^MTif ££ :/s\j\— - ~ — - 



This costs Rs.8=50 and was published 



by ' 



ifeelakantan ( J-'alayalam ) , 
Kerala bahithya Akademy, Trichur 



■•: 



Y- Nanu J> T air 
Forest Ranger 
Fulamavu Post 
(via) Thodupuzha, 
KERALA STATE. 



Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 
32-A Juhu Lane, 
Andheri, Bombay 58-AS. 






NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 

Volume 7 -No. 3-1967 March 




I 



FOB 
BIRDWATCHERS 

Vol. 7, No. 3 ' March 11967 

CONTENTS 

A visit to Kanha National Park. By Jasper Newsone 1 

Birds of Simla in autumn. By Mrs Usha Ganguli . . 4 

Bird-ringing. By D« N. Mathew 6 

Notes and Comments • • 8 

Correspondence 

Birdwatching in Kolaba, By R. A. Stewart Melluish (p. &)', The arrival 
of the Bank Myna in Bhubaneswar. By S. D. Jayakar, Louis Werner, and 
Susan Werner (p. 9 ); Behaviour of an escape Chloropses. By P. Edalji 

(p. 10) 

A VISIT TO KANHA NATIONAL PARK 

By 
Jasper Newsome 

In the last week of January this year my friend Christopher Petyt and 
I visited Kanha National Park in the Mandla district of-Madhya Pradesh 
We spent five days in the park during which time we were able to see 
quite a good number of bird species, although we had less luck with 
the mammals which are the main attraction of the park, failing altoget 
to see either tiger, gaur, and blue bull* At night we heard tigers 
roaring close to the Forest Rest House, aid often in daylight whilst 
walking along the forest-tracks we came across fresh footprints. Deer, 
however, we saw many of, though the great bulk were spotted deer, but 
we did see rare parties of both swamp deer anJ barking deer. 

The habitat at Kanha is mostly sal ( ShOrea robusta ) jungle, for the 
most part quite well grown with a good canopy for feeding parties of 
birds to forage in. The undergrowth is mostly bamboo. There are open 
spaces (or maidans) at several places in the park, primarily around 
the Forest Rest Houses at Kanha and Kisli. There are also tanks 
sheltering waterfowl and waders. Thus although the greater area of 
Kanha is thick forest nonetheless there is a diversity of habitat such 
that a few days there will produce a sizable and varied list of birds. 
I do not propose in this short article to include all the birds we 
saw, nearly one hundred species in all, but merely those less familiar 
species that we found more interesting than most, whilst at the same 
time giving an idea of the diversity of genera that make up the 
avifauna of the area. 

First I should like to deal with the birds of the forest proper, since 
these are more worthy of mention in this habitat' than elsewhere. For 
the most part we came across these forest species in mixed feeding 
parties of invariably one dozen species or more, woodpeckers, drongos , 
flycatchers, warblers, tits, all feeding according to their specific 
habit, yet al3o cooperating. A typical party that I have described in 
my field note-book consisted in the following species: feeding up the 
trunks of the trees were the small Scaly Bellied Green Woodpecker 
(?icus xanthopygaeus ) , two nuthatches, the Velvetfronted and the 
'"■ • Chestnut be Hied ( Sitta frontalis and castanea ); on a convenient perch 
from where it often launched into the air in pursuit of insects 



disturbed by the trunk-feeders sat a White be Hied Drongo ( Dicrurus 
caerulescens ) whilst amongst the upper branches of the trees Grey Tits 
( Parus major ) and Yellowcheeked Tits ( Parus xanthogenys ) foraged about, 
acrobatically gleening the undersides of the leaves for any creeping 
food they might be harbouring. In the same way loras ( Aegithina tiph'ia ) 
fed, whilst the very topmost part of the canopy seemed the province 
of the minutest Phylloscopi warblers, that very difficult genus of 
drab olivaceous birds that confounds most amateur birdwatchers. We saw 
very cany. of. these birds, we watched them until our necks ached, and 
made many descriptions',' noting the presence or absence of one or two 
bars -on the .wing, the colour and extent of the' supercilium, whether or 
not the birds had coronal baids, what. their calls were.... in spite of 
my partiality to this genus and a decade of watching them, several 
birds stumped me completely, -but we were able to positively identify 
three species. The commonest was the Chif f chaff ( Ph. collybita ) , which 
has no wing-bars, no coronal stripe and a fainter supercilium than the 
majority of the genus. Usually the chif f chaff has black legs, though 
this character is unreliable as often in winter the legs are pale, an 
often quoted characteristic of the very similar Willow Warbler ( Ph. 
trochllua ), a much rarer bird in India than the Chiff chaff* The next 
most numerous species was apparently the Dull Green leaf Warbler ( CTw 
trochiloides ), a species with a single wing-bar ; and a clear, creamy 
supercilium, no coronal markings , rump uniform with back-colour and 
having no white on the sides of the tail as some species of this genus 
do. This Dull Green species is inseparable in the field, essentially, 
from another species, the Iargebilled leaf V/arbler ( ph. magnirostr is) 
were it not for the great difference in calls. Whilst trochiloides has 
a typical, single call-note sooe et, m agnirostris has a distinctive 
double chir-chee call note; on the evidence of this call note along 
we saw only one definite magnirostris, that was on our first day at 
Kanha. The bird was moving about the upper branches of a good sized 
sal in open woodland, not in any feeding party or closely associating 
with other, birds though there was a flycatcher in the same tree that 
we could not identify immediately. This flycatcher was olive-brown 
above, a darker, browner shade toward the tail which was itself almost 
rufous. The bird had a .clear buff eve-stripe and white throat patch, . 

*» lertter- bounded b^iow by an W dftrk'grej, ^most black. 9 

call note I described at the time as 'a whistle and jarrr'. My tentative 
identification is M uscjcapa monileger , the Whitegorgetted Flycatcher, 
I say tentative sinco it was far beyond the range given far this 
species in Dillon Ripley's SYNOPSIS, but there is little definite 
information on the status of this rare bird. 

v,e were given a trying time by several species of flycatcher, so much 
so in two cases that I had finally to abandon the attempt to fix their 
identity. The commonest occurring species r?.s the Eedbreated Flycatcher 

M. parva )- which we saw almost everywhere on the forest edges and in 
clearings. This species has a very individual' jizz' — those characteristics 
especially behavioural that a bird may be unfailingly recognized by. 'Very 
often words fail one when attempting to describe the 'jizz' of some 
species, but not so that of the Redbreaste.d Flycatcher: this species is 
given to low perch? e and frequent descents to the ground, tail-flicking 

that highlights the white tase to the tail) and the tic tic tic call 
:;ote.. Another flycatcher we were fortunate to neet with was the Little 
?lue aha White Flycatcher ( M, superciliaris ). We met this bird on the 1 
longest sustained walk that we made, a walk through all the biotopes 
;f the area, covering over a dozen miles and clocking up many species 
like this flycatcher that we were not to see again. Or as I should say» 
■.c: ' o ".' -" ally liont^fy subsequently: we saw a confusing multiplicity 

:: L - -ik; t* ._"- a' i leme Lo flycatchers that we found hopelessly unmanageable. 

I- '?.:• is a "•cot confession coming from a pair of keen and fairly competent 
iritich urvirtholcgists, who at home ere accustomed to missing nothing, 
immature, f:a?ile or otherwise; but our avifauna is neither as varied nor 
mite.,so confusing as that of In'aia, ) The Little 31ue and White Flycatcher 
-.s p. cobf It-blue -.love and white below with a. black smudge on either side 
oi the b:::;ast and a whit? eye stripe that is variable in size and shape. 
tVio v-;-r,-i sis iwfl r> emll white strine above and before the eve. Another 



wp?i ^n^.r 8 Z S™ 1 * blaCk ^ f0r White 8upercili«K(dl8tlnct and 

wh.L r^ )f ^ the baSG ° f tail (aS latter ) and with some 

J* 6 " 1 thS Wi Sf' The «*«P«tB of this species were quite white, 

JEEffT 7 r? 1 ^* ThG SaDE hOUr * SaW and Ascribed a diminutive 
female flycatcher that at the time I farcied was the female of thil 

same species since it had similar patterning but was olivaceous above 
• apart from a brown tail. What made me feel acutely that it was the 

ItZ V f the l Scme 3peciGS was its warbler-like feeding habits, rather 
than the usual perching and swooping habit of most flycatchers. These 
birds were little Pied Flycatchers (_M. westermanni ). like scaled-down 
Pied Flycatchers <* hypoleuca) that are familiar birds of a European 
sunmer. The final definitely identifiable) species of flycatcher that 
we are able to record from Kanha was the small, drab Brown Flycatcher 
(jfc l|tirastris) that we saw several times, usually around the Forest 
Rest Houses where they fed much more like chats than flycatchers, 
flying to the ground after crawling prey, much as the Eluethroats 
(. mscrnia svecica) and Collared Bushchats ( Saxicola torqua ta) were 
doing, ' 

1°!V! ^! ^J 1 *™* Bushchats wc saw seemed typical, but one bird we 
watched often during the first two days at Kanha seene d aberrant. The 
upperparts were normal but the urrierparts were lacking a collar although 
the throat was grey and the breast pale rufous. The rest of the unier- 
parts were creamy. The tail had conspicuous amounts of white on the 
Outer webs of the outer feathers. I do not know which subspecies this 
was. Most closely it resembles S, leucura which Ripley suggests may or 
may not be a separate species. In these open spaces around the Rest 
Houses we found Rufoustailed Finch larks ( Ammomanes phoenicurusl.Ashv 
Crowned Finchlarks ( Sremopterix grisea ) large flocks of Waxbills 
l Estnlda amandava ), and Spotted Munias ( ionchura punctulata).Tn these 
openings tanks had been constructed for the game to take water at. We 
found that they had also attracted good numbers "of watfrfowl, mostly 
lesser Whistling Teal ( Dendrocygna javanica) also smaller numbers of 
the large Whistling Teal (D^ bicolor ) and several Common Teal (Anas 
creccaj . in addition we found Spotted Sandpioers (Tringa glareolaT" 
and Common Sandpipers (T. hypoleucos ) there were abundant Redwattled 
lapwings and several Yellow-wattled lapwings ( Vanellus indicus and V. 
maiabaricus ). — 

Finally I shall mention the predators that we came across at Kfenha 

before concluding this note on a most excellent short visit to a fine 
area. Most commonly seen apart from the three species of vulture that 

seemed ever overhead was the Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela), 
never an hour seem d to pass without us seeing one of these handsome 

Birds. On our final day we saw a lone Crested Hawk Eagle ( Spizaetus 
cirrhatusj perched by the track leading out of the park. Everyday we 
saw Shikra ( Accipiter badius ) and Kestrels ( Falco tinnunculu s )and one 
day we saw a puzzling falcon that it seems must have been some race 
(maybe peregrinoides) of the Peregrine ( Falco peregrinus) . The distinc- 
tive characteristics of this bird, or birdiTl should say as we saw a 
pair was the bold black barring on the flanks and the very distinctive 
call note which I wrote down at the time kit-weeoo. We first spotted 
the pair circling very high overhead when suddenly first one then the 
other went into a might*, stoop, it seemed they could have topped a 
hundred miles an hour, and they landed in a tall tree-top in a clearing. 

In preparing this article f have merely gleaned a few pages of my 
field notebook. There was much that we saw, especially in the forest 
feeding parties, such as barbets, parakeets, minivets and drongos of 
several species which I have somehow not found space to cent ion. But 
many of these species are more familiar to me than most of those which 
I have menfc ioned and no doubt they are quite commonplace to most readers 
too. I have also omitted the many, many Hoodwinks ( Nyctitator spp.) 
that came our way in se-eral days we spent at Kanha. 



•*#•**# **# * ** * ## 



BIKES OF SIMM IN AUTUMN 

By 
Usha Ganguli 

I spent nearly 19 days in Simla from October 21 to November 8, 1966. The 
main object of this visit was to compare the birds of Simla in autumn 
with those of Ranikhet where I had spent three weeks in October-November 
1965.. ' 

Simla is 7000 ft. above sea level, a thousand feet higher than Ranikhet 
and the vegetation varies accordingly with more firs, spruce, deodars 
and blue pines in the higher reaches, but the Himalayan Oak and Horse 
chestnut are common to both places. Simla lacks the wild cherry trees 
and the eucalyptus groves of Ranikhet and has few of the. common pine 
trees, but it is richer in wild fruit and berry bearing trees and shrubs 
such as the Himalayan Holly, Corpus macrophylla, Rhamnus yirgatus and . 
others. As it is a fairly populous city and our hotel was centrally 
situated, I had to walk a mile in any direction before I could expect 
to. find anything of interest. In contrast, I could watch a variety of 
birds in the hotel compound or from any of the quieter roads at Ranikhet. 
I found much of Simla proper singularly devoid of interesting birds, and 
only along the approaches to Jacko Hill did I see birds that interested 
me. Perhaps it would not be out of place to mention that I was surprised 
to find seven or eight varieties of butterflies visiting the last of the 
season's flowers. I hardly, saw any skinks or lizards though I had seen 
both these and a snake at Ranikhet. I did see a family of martens on 
the Jacko Hill. ..... 

The Blackeared Kite and the following vultures: Pondicherry, Egyptian, . 
Whitebacked, Bearded, and the Himalayan Griffon were common to *»Bi 
hill stations. The Whitebacked Vulture was seen up to a height of 85W 
ft. near Kufri. 

The peregrine falcon was the only raptor net with at Simla. It was seen 
flying leisurely among jungle crows anl vultures on three occasions, 
each time with the jungle crows chasing 'it. 

A lone male Kaleej Pheasant was sighted once on the. road to Sanjoli* 

The Rock Pigeon commonly seen about large buildings at Simla was 
absent from Ranikhet while the Rufous Turtle Dove was met with at both 
places . 

The Slatyheaded Parakeet is present in most hill stations but the presence 
Of the large Indian Parakeets baffled me completely. I saw parties of two, 
three, and four on three occasions, twice near the office of the Chief 
Conservator of Forests. On the second occasion two males and a female 
were 'on an oak tree when one male drove out the other while the female 
entered a hole in the trunk of the tree I i The large crimson shoulder patch 
and the loud call were diagnostic. Whistler and Ripley give the range *f 
this bird, as up to 4^00 ft. and inoo ft. respectively. 

The Great Himalayan Barbet, resident in most hill stations and the most 

noisy of the tribe was only heard occasionally, and the midget Spotted Piculet 

also a resident was seen only once in a small bamboo clump. 

Woodpeckers were surprising few in number and variety and strangely silent 
i;oo. In Ranikhet I saw six varieties of which three species, Scalybellied 
Green Woodpecker, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker and the BrownfrOnted Woodpecker 
were uncommonly numerous and vociferous. These were the only three varieties 
that were seen* at Simla.. ..Why were they so few in number? There was no 
appreciable difference in temperature between the two places at that „ime 
of the year, sc perhaps the altitude had soms thing to do with the lack of 
insects on which these birds feed. Perhaps my young friend Julian Donahue 
who is specializing on entomology will enlighten me. The Common Myna m 



By 

Usha Ganguli 

I spent nearly 19 days in Simla from October 21 to November 8, 1966. The 
main object of this visit was to compare the birds of Simla in autumn 
with those of Eanikhet where I had spent three weeks in October-November 
1965.. 

Simla is 7000 ft. above sea level, a thousand feet higher than Eanikhet 
and the vegetation varies accordingly with more firs, spruce, deodars 
and blue pines in the higher reaches, but the Himalayan Oak and Horse 
chestnut are common to both places. Simla lacks the wild cherry trees 
and the eucalyptus groves of Eanikhet and has few of the. common pine 
trees, but it is richer in wild fruit and berry bearing trees and" shrubs 
such as the Himalayan Holly, Cornv.s macrophylla, Ehamnus virgatus and 
others. As it is a fairly populcus city and ovx hotel was centrally 
situated, I had to walk a mile in any direction before I could expect 
to. find anything of interest. In contrast, I could watch a variety of 
birds in the hotel compound or from any of the quieter roads at Eanikhet. 
I found much of Simla proper singularly devoid of interesting birds, and 
only along the approaches to Jacko Hill did I see birds that interested 
me. Perhaps it would not be out of place to mention that I was surprised 
to find seven or eight varieties of butterflies visiting the last of the 
season's flowers. I hardly, saw any skinks or lizards though I had seen 
both these and a snake at Eanikhet. I did see a family of martens on 
the Jacko Hill. . 

The Blackeared Kite, and the following vultures: Pondicherry, Egyptian, . 
Whitebacked, Bearded, and the Himalayan Griffon were common to both 
hill stations. The Whitebacked Vulture v/as seen up to a height of 8500 
ft. near Kufri. ' 

The peregrine falcon was the Only raptor net with at Simla. It was seen 
flying leisurely among jungle crows ard vultures on three occasions, 
each time with the jungle crows chasing "it. 

A lone male Kaleej Pheasant was sighted once on the. road to Sanjoli* 

The Bock Pigeon commonly seen about large buildings at Simla was 
absent from Eanikhet while the Eufous Turtle Dove was net with at both 
places. 

The Slatyheaded Parakeet is present in most hill stations but the presence 
Of the large Indian Parakeets baffled me completely. I saw parties f>f two, 
three, and four on three occasions, twice near the office of the Chief 
Conservator of Forests. On the second occasion two males and a female 
were on an oak tree when one male drove out the other while the female 
entered a hole in the trunk of the tree i J The large crimson shoulder pateh 
and the loud call were diagnostic. Whistler and Eipley give the range *f 
this bird, as up to 4000 ft. and 1000 ft. respectively. 

The Great Himalayan Barbet, resident in most hill stations and the most 

noisy of the tribe was only heard occasionally, and the midget Spotted Piculet 

also a resident was seen only once in a small bamboo clump. 

Woodpeckers were surprising few in number and variety and strangely silent 
too. In Eanikhet I saw six varieties of which three species, Scalybellied 
Green Woodpecker, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker and the Brownfronted Woodpecker 
were uncommonly numerous and. vociferous. These were the only three varieties 
that were seen at Simla.. ..Why were they so few in number? There was no 
appreciable difference in temperature between the two places at that time 
of the yehr, sc perhaps the -altitude had sons thing to do with the lack of 
insects on which these birds feed. Perhaps my young friend Julian Donahue 
who is specializing on entomology will enlighten me. The Common IVyna in 
Ranikhct v/as common in certain areas. 

• . . . 5 



The Jungle Crow was the boldest and=most abundant bird in every part 
of the city from the most crowded areas to. deep shady hillsides. I saw 
some of them pulling out from a burning pile some food stuff that was 
being roasted or smoked. Their unusual abudnance probably explains the 
total absence of the Blackthroated Jay. The Redbilled Blue Magpie was 
also scarce at Simla. I saw four on one occasion feeding on wild pear 
and heard them a few times. This and the Jay were uncommonly bold and 
abundant at Ranikhet. 

Simla was rich in thrushes and chats at that time. One morning I saw 
the Chestnutbellied Rock Thrust catch wat looked like a hornet with a 
brown and yellow banded abdomen. 

The highlight of my birdwatching was the sight of 4 thrushes, two of 
which were new to me. I had noticed a narrow footpath that went up 
through a grove of Abies which appeared too shady for birds. Only 
towards the end of my stay when I saw nothing of interest for days did 
I go up the torturous path to discover that the forest of firs was 
interspersed with Hiralayan Holly and soon came to a little clearing where 
a golden bean of sunlight lighted up an enormous manure heap. This was 
surrounded by various types of shrubs and a single deciduous tree; 
Ccrnus Bacrophylla ? completely bare but full of tiny clusters of small 
blackish berries. The manure head had attracted several Orangeflanked 
Bush Robins, al 1 in female plumage. As some male birds sometimes breed 
in that plumage I suppose there wore some male birds among them. A few 
were on the heap. Others were flitting about the bushes. I saw one or 
two male birds in brilliant plumage, but they were rather shy and te pt 
to the centre and lower branches of the shrubs and bushes. There I saw 
two Plainbacked Mountain Thrushes, ( zoothera mollisima ) and two Small- 
billed Mountain Thrushes ( Zoothera dauma ) feediag at the opposite edges 
of the te ap. Both these birds were new to me. According to A. E. Jones 
the Plainbacked Mountain Thrushes are rare in Simla. Suddenly a Grey- 
headed Thrush appeared at another corner of the manure dumpj I had seen 
■this bird only once 3 years ago at G-ulmarg in June for a few moments, 
but I was fortunate enough to hear its wonderful song for at least ten 
minutes. To this day I cannot say which is the finest song bird in 
India, the Greywinged Blackbird or the Greyheaded Thrust. Watching this 
beautiful thrush at such close quarters I was thinking of my first 
encounter with it when a male Greywinged Blackbird appeared on the 
scene while the Greyheaded Thrush disappeared. Soon two Variegated 
laughing Thrushes were' busy feeding from the heap and a Streaked 
Ianghing Thrush foraged about the undergrowth nearby and a Himalayan 
Whistling Thrush flew in and landed on a tall bush. 

I visited this charming spot on the remaining two days of our stay, and 
not only did I see all four kinds of thrushes and the Bush Robins feeding 
on various berries, chasing each other through the fir trees; occasionally 
visiting the canure heap but I also saw in that limited area: Shortbilled 
Minivet, Whitecheeked Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Stripethroated Siva, Black- 
headed Sibia, Greyheaded Flycatcher, Yellowbellied Pantail Flycatcher, 
Greyheaded Flycatcher-Warbler, Orange-gorgetted Flycatcher, Rufous- 
breasted Accentor, Crested Black Tit, Redheaded Tit, Green backed Tit, 
Himalayan Tree Creeper, Whitetailed Nuthatch, Himalayan Pied Woodpecker, 
and the Bluefronted Redstart. 

I wish to add that all the four thrushes were completely silent. The 
Variegated Laughing Thrush had several different calls like the Black- 
header! Si*w> whicj, W as fairly common at Simla. The Himalayan Whistling 
Thrush sang quite often. 

1 did not see any sunbirds but one day I was very fortunate in seeing 

2 male "Fire breasted Flowerpeckers in a garden one of which had a thin 
black line running down from the red breast to the centre of the abdomen. 
This puzzled me at first but Stuart Baker says that the black patch under 
the crimson breast is sone times prolonged down the centre of the abdomen. 
The Whitetailed Nutchatch, is resident, fairly common and very noisy even 



r^T^ l£Z ?!£?<? the « rc "* plckin « "P se "^i »n Mack 

xixb Dira a-c Kasauli 6000 ft. m June, at Bhatroikhan *>ocr\ -p+ 

SS in Noverater and in June at Oo * ™ ST^St^ ft * 

On a day's trip to Wild Flower Hall 8200 ft. near Kufri the onlv t™ 

X s £9en TOre a lone wren t*" *w ) S^fS 5^2- 

There were two birds which I was unable to identify. The first about 
the 3ize of a Grey Tit, was ashy brown above had a rufous tail wll? 
dark central feathers; a broad indistinct fulvous su^rcilium £ white 
nng round the eye, whole of the underside pale ashyfchin aS thrS 
very white contrasting v.-iih darkish head and cheeks and rale^Lhf 
urderparts. It was constantly flicking its wings. It flefup ?rom a 
small bush and caught a fairly large winged infect. I saw « agSn 
about the same place (below Grand Hotel) in the evening utteriS a 
harsh cry. I never saw it after that. The second was at out aslfrge 

includin ra ^ f ' anked ^ Sh E ° bin bUt SliEmer ' the who ^ upper back 
SS? I ^ TO ! aSh grey; l0r0S ' Sides of fa °*> forewSg and tail 
black; chm, throat and upper breast (like a bib) blackishf rest of 
underside white as also a broad white patch through t^ wings. In 
behaviour xt was like a Redstart, dropping down t? the ground frSm its 

SS Him ^mo ™ al :° fee f^ ° n the blaCkiSh SSs'oTc r^us 
aT^nlfeT tr"- t ; TS^r^f - that thiS ~ thS Mrd that * had-s^n" 
percSTftrel/ '^ ^^ lM,e0t8 1±ke & ^catcher from its 

I do hope some birdwatchers will identify these birds for me. 

BIRD-RINGIKG 

■ 3r 

B. M. Mathew 
General 

: Zow small-scale ringing was done in Great Britain from 189» 
onwards, but Christian Mortenson of Viborg Danmrk (1899) was the first 
person to unaertake systematic large scale ringing, Germany took up 
KnM^oi 1 ? V 903 ' :: " : ' - ! - G3 ' Gr " at ^ tain 1 ^> Yugoslavia 19S, 
the 1^. 5 'i^f 1S1 ' ,? DenF " rk 19U » Ho ««y 1 ^H. In the new wo,id 
tit;™? 13 ? ndin * /ssociation was founded in 1 9 09. Before 1 9 14 

£steaf S ^ "! Wi ' df ° Wl With ril ^ S Carr ^ Biblica l quotations 
instead 01 serial nmibers] 

The U. S. S. R., Japan, %ypt, the Republic of S. Africa, Beleian Con™ 

S^i.*? ^ aland ' AUStralia a ^ Pakistan «• «» other c^LT' 
wher- bird ringing is done on a large scale. 

Mrd ringing in thus free of any regional slant. Every year bird ringers 
the world over ring over 1,000,000 birds about 60 ,«ob of the«4 Se S!s. 

Bir .', rir. ;u£_: .1 /; 1 ir. 

+ n . . ";~ ? i * nese thc Maharaja of Bhar was probably the first m rson 
to o...rfc biia ringing in India. Out of the 200 ducks and teals ringed 

tl^°t h 926 "* 1929 ' t6n Were rec0Vered * ™*> During ?928 
3 , -fe iB G was started in Bahawalpur State and some ring in? of 

d n^ an l^;ir! d . 0aethere a P in in tte la ** 30-s. Some ~ was 



< 



that time. The Rouse Sparrow ana xne uinnamon i«e optui-u» "«-= >•"«" 
residents but I was surprised to see -2 Spotted Munias on a deodar. I 
nad seen this bird at Kasauli 6000 ft. in June, at Bhatrojkhan -5200 ft. 
near Ranikhet in November and in June at Ooty 7200 ft. where it was 
breeding. 

On a day's trip to Wild Flower Hall 8200 ft. near Kufri the only two 
unusual birds seen vere a lone Wren ( Troglodytes ) and apair of Meadow 

Buntings. 

There were two birds v/hich I was unable to identify. The first, about 
the size of a Grey Tit, was ashy brown above had a rufous tail with 
dark central feathers; a broad indistinct fulvous supercilium, no white 
ring round the eye j whole of the underside pale ashy; chin and threat 
very white contrasting wilh darkish head and cheeks and pale ashy 
underparts. It was constantly flicking its wings. It flew up from a 
snail bush and caught a fairly large winged insect. I saw it again 
about the same place (below Grand Hotel) in the evening uttering a 
harsh cry. I never saw it af t&r that. The second was about as large 
as the Orange flanked Bush Robin but slimmer, the whole upper back 
including wings was ash grey; lores, sides of face, forewing and tail 
black; chin, throat and upper breast (like a bib) blackish; rest of 
underside white as also a broad white patch through the wings. In 
behaviour it was like a Redstart, dropping down to the ground from its 
perch for insects. It was also feeding on the blackish berries of Cornus 
mecr ophyll a. I am almost certain that this was the bird that I had seen 
aTBanikhet the year before hawking insects like a flycatcher from its 
perch on a tree J 

I d.5 hope some birdwatchers will identify these birds for me. 

*********** _ . 

BIRD-RINGING 

• By 

D. N# Mathew 

General 

Sone small-scale ringing was done in Great Britain from 189* 
onwards, but Christian Morten^on of Viborg Denmrk (1899) was the first 
peison to undertake systematic large scale ringing, Germany took UP 
the studv in 1903, 2s f-sj- I33»i Great Britain 1909, Yugoslavxa 19lt, 
Holland 1911, Sweden .1911, Denmark 19H, Norway 19H. In the raw wo^ld 
the Anerican Bird Banding Association was founded in 1909. Before 19H 
Jack Miner was uarking wildfowl with rings carrying Biblical quotations 
instead of serial nnnbersi 

The U. S. S. R., Japan, Egypt, the Republic of S. Africa, Belgian Congo, 
Tasmania, New Zealand, Australia and Pakistan are the other countries 
where bird ringing is done on a large scale. 

Bird ringing is thus free of any regional slant. Every year bird ringers 
the world over ring over 1,000,000 birds about 600, 000 of the* in the U.S. 
and Canada- 

Sir.- rir.yus ■ -i ": 1-: - r - 

Hie Highness the Maharaja of Dhar was probably the first person 
to b.;~rfc bird ringirg in India. Out of the 200 ducks and teals ringed 
at Dhar between 1926~ and 1929, ten were recovered by 1935. During 1928 
arri 1929 ringing was started in Bahawalpur State and some ringing of 
duoks and teals V as done there again in the late 30* s. Some ringing was 
done at "Bharatpur also curing the same period. In all, about 5*« or e* 

» * » » / 



ducks were ringed by 1959. - 

The BNHS/WHO BIRD MIGRATION STUDY FIELD PROJECT. 

In 1959, the World Health Organization took up Dr Salim Ali's 
proposal that a project of ringing migratory birds at suitable locali- 
ties be started with the special purpose of investigating the possible 
role of birds in the dissemination of arthropod -borne viruses. Sje cial 
attention was to be focused on the transmission of viruses responsible 
Kayasanoor Forest Disease (K. F. D. ) which killed men and monkeys at 
Kayasanoor in Mysore* 

Thus in 1959- with the expert advice of Dr. A. Schifferli of Switzer- 
land ard with the cooperation of the Virus Research Centre, Poona,the 
Bomber Natural Hj story Society started the present programme of bird 
ringing. Birds trapped in mist nets or by trappers are narked with 
numbered rings bearing legends INFORM BOMBAY NAT. HIST. SOCIETY a™i 
are examined for ectoparasites like ticks. These ticks are sent to the 
V. R. C. for Virological Studies. Besides, blood-smears and blood- 
soaked discs are collected for studies, by Russian experts in the USSR. 

By 1966 November, the BNHS/WHC Project has ringed a total" of 74,579 
birds of 128 forms. Of these 87 have been recovered in various parts 
of the world, largely in the USSR by December 1966. 

R inging of Passerine Bird s' 

Among the perching birds the project has concentrated on the 
ringing of migratory v/agtails. Mention must be na&e here of the 
remarkable discovery of the gigantic wagtail roosts in Central Travan- 
cere in Kerala. In 1961 Shri P. V. George, a Zoology Teacher at a College 
near Kottayaa found large numbers of wagtails flying in a particular 
-direction every evening. From a knowledge of the average speed of 
flight aid the time before night fall George estimated the rough dis- 
tance of the roost from his site of observation. His surmise was 
proved correct and "the roost was located at the village of Edanad rear 
the town of Chengannur. Here a few square miles of sugar cane planta- 
tion is "used .by millions of yellow wagtails as nightly roost, day 
after day from I/ovember to April every year. As a result of intensive 
ringing at this roost during the years 1961-64 the project has banded 
over 48,000 wagtails 1* of which have been recovered in various places 
in Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the USSR. These ten recoveries 
even though only one for ever 4800 or so roughly indicate some of the 
possible routes taken by these migratory passerines. For instance a 
Forest Wagtail which visits our country from Siberia during the «»old 
season was ringed at Chengannur in Kerala on 25th March 1963 and kkx 
recovered at lid dim Chin Hills in Burma on 25th April in the same 
year. A Yellow Wagtail ringed on 2nd February 1963 at Chengannur was 
collected near Kabul by a Kabuli school-boy and handed over to his 
teacher on 10th May in the same year. This teacher happened to be the 

keen German biologist, Dr Meyer-Ohme, who not only reported the 
ratter to us but also took part in our next ringing session at Kerala 
in 1964. Thus birds oan act as ambassadors of goodwill! As more of 
our banded birds have been recovered from farther north of Kabul in 
the Kirghizia in Russia, and also from south near Lahore in W.Pakistan, 
-our rork would indicate that some of the Yellow Wagtails which visit 
• us from ^X"i3ia d"> pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan crossing the 
Hindi'-kush mountains between longitudes 65 and 75 • However, at least 
50 recoveries are needed to make our experiments conclusive. Also 
interesting wore the two inland recoveries of wagtails ringed at 
BharatpuT and Calcutta which were subsequently recovered at Chengannur 
in Kerala, 

Pinf dry of Ducks 

Our ringing of migratory ducks have been more fruitful in terms 
of recoveries. Out of some 2300 ducks ringed by us in the past 5 years 
in Rajasthan and Bihar 50 or 2.14$ have been recovered in various parts 

_ • b l a — ■ - — — -> in in j~" _.u 



ki. « n^-p 



The ENKS/WHO BIRD MIGRATION STUDY FIELD PROJECT. A 

In 1959, the World Health Organization took up Dr Salim Ali's 
proposal that a project of ringing migratory birds at suitable locali- 
ties be started with the special purpose of investigating the possible 
role of birds in the dissemination of arthropod-borne viruses. Spa cial 
attention was to be focused on the transmission of viruses responsible ■ 
Kayasanoor Forest Disease (K. F. D. ) which killed men and monkeys at 
Kayasanoor in Mysore* 

Thus in 1959; with the expert advice of Dr. A. Schifferli of Switzer- 
land and with the cooperation of the Virus Research Centre, Poona,the 
Bomber Natural Hj story Society started the present programme of bird 
ringing. Bird3 trapped in mist nets or by trappers are narked with 
numbered rings bearing legends INFORM BOMBAY NAT. HIST. SOCIETY and 
are examined for ectoparasites like ticks. These ticks are sent to the 
V. R. C. for Virological Studies. Besides, blood-smears and blood- 
soaked discs are collected for studies. by Russian experts in the USSR. 

By 1966 November, the BNHS/WHO Project has ringed a total'of 74,579 
birds of 1 28 forms. Of these 87 have been recovered in various parts 
of the world, largely in the USSR by December 1966. ' 

R inging of Passerine Bird s - 

Among the perching birds the project has concentrated on the 
ringing of migratory wagtails. Mention must be r.ade here of the 
renarkablc discovery of the gigantic wagtail roosts in Central Travan- 
cere in Kerala,. In 1961 Shri P. V. George, a Zoology Teacher at a College 
near Kottayam found large numbers of wagtails flying in a particular 

-direction every evening. From a knowledge of the average speed of 
flight aid the time before night fall George estimated the rough dis- 
tance of the roost from his site of observation. His surmise was 
proved correct and the roost was located at the village of Edanad re ar 
the town of Chengannur. Here a few square miles of sugar cane planta- 
tion is "used .by millions of yellow wagtails as nightly roost, day 
after day from J.ovember to April every year. As a result of intensive 
ringing at this roost during the years 1961-64 the project has banded 
over 48,000 wagtails 1* of which have been recovered in various places 
in Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the USSR. These ten recoveries 
even though only one for ever 4800 or so roughly indicate some of the 
possible routes taken by these migratory passerines. For instance a 
Forest Wagtail which visits our country from Siberia during the <»old 
season wa.s ringed at Chengannur in Kerala on 25th March 1963 and xsot 
recovered at Tiddim Chin Hills in Burma on 25th April in the same 
year. A Yellow Wagtail ringed on 2nd February 1963 at Chengannur was 
collected near Kabul by a Kabuli school-boy and handed over to his 
teacher on 10th May in the sane year. This teacher happened to be the 

keen German biologist, Dr Feyer-Ohme , who not only reported the 
ratter to us but also took part in our next ringing session at Kerala 
in 1964. Thus birds oan act as ambassadors of goodwill] As more of 
our banded birds have been recovered from farther north of Kabul in 
the Kirghizia in Russia, and also from south near Lahore in W.Pakistan, 

-our work would indicate that some of the Yellow Wagtails which visit 
us from Russia d"> pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan crossing the 
Hindvkush mountains between longitudes 65° and 75 • However, at least 
50 recoveries are needed to make our experiments conclusive. Also 
interesting wrixe the two inland recoveries of wagtails ringed at 
Bharr.tpm and Calcutta which were subsequently recovered at Chengannur 
in Kerala, 

Pin pinr of Ducks 

Our ringing of migratory ducks have been more fruitful in terms 
of recoveries. Out of some 2300 ducks ringed by us in the past 5 years 
in Rajasthan and Bihar 50 or 2.14$ have been recovered in various parts 
of East and West Pakistan and the USSR. For example, take the Common 

.... 8 



Teal which visits us in winter from central and eastern parts of Russia. 
we have ringed 1206 birdsof this species and have recovered 30 or about 
2.5%, It is interesting to note that "common teal ringed at a particular 
locality in Monghyr district in Bihar, have been recovered ji^n areas in . , 
Russia as far apart as longitudes 71 (Uzbekistan) and 132 in East 
Yakutian ASSR in Siberia. 

Compared with the number of recoveries reported from Russia* those from 
our own country either of our rings or of Russian rings is very poor. It 
is believed that many of our sportsmen who shoot banded birds fail to ^ 
report the matter promptly. The few recoveries we have had so far indicate 
that most or our migratory visitors come from various parts of Russia. 
One of our banded buntings — a bird related to sparrow — was recovered 
"in Cyprus. Much more remains to be known about the exact routes *>f most 
of these birds and about ^heir role in the transmission of diseases if 
any. Only more intensive ringing in many centres in the country and better 
rates of report of recoveries cai provide adequate answers to those and 
many related problems of bird migration. 

NOTES AND C01TMENTS 

We are happy to reproduce here the report of the Birdwatchers' Field 
Club of Roorkee for 1966. The small batch of birdwatchers in Roorkee seem 
to have been active throughout the year. It would be interesting if 
Regional Editors of other areas also report on their activity — *r 
inactivity — in the past year. 

Birdwatchers' Field Club of Roorkee 

During the year 1966, avaried programme was arranged. A good number *f 
members and their friends participated in field outings which were 
orgai ised at least once a month. 

Five special lectures were arranged. Dr Robert R. R. Brooks, Cultural 
Attache, United States Infrmation Service, New Delhi, addressed the 
Club on BIRDS OF NORTH AFRICA. The lecture was illustrated with slides. 
■ It. Gen. Sir Harold Williams described the ducks found in Northern India 
and explained the project OBSERVATION SURVEYS AND COUNTS OP MIGRATORY 
WILDFOWL. He also arranged to show the film WILD WBGS. 

Mr Gurdial Singh, member of the successful Indian expedition to Everest 
spoke on EVERET illustrating his lecture with slides. As part of the 
Club's membership enrollment drive, Dr Joseph George gave a talk «n 
BIRDWATCHING FOR BEGINNERS to an audience consisting largely of students. 
Mr M. D. Chaturvedi retired Inspector General of Forests, addressed the 
Club on WILD LIFE IN INDIA. 

A new feature intsroduced during the year was the screening of films on 
birds and other wild life. Fimms loaned by the British Information 
Services and the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, were shown »n 
' four occasions. This activity has become popular with students. 

Joseph George 
Honorary Secretary 
^Central Building Research Institute 
Roorkee, U.P. 27 Jan. 1967 



CORRESPONDENCE 



B irdwat chine: in Kolaba 

In last December' s issue of the Newsletter Mr Futehal ly wr«te *f the 
's-joerb view from fairly close quarters' which he and I recently obtained 
in iharamtar Creek, Kolaba, of a 'Hen-Harrier'. Since no reader familia* 
with Kolaba' s birdshas so far made any comment on this note I am dung s« 
myself. I think it is worth while, because the range of the Hen-Harrier 
( Circus cyaneus ) is described in Ripley's SYNOPSIS as 'West Pakistan and 
northern India, east to north Burma'. 



The bird we saw fidgeted about on alow bush less than ten yard's away 
from us and gave us an excellent, though too brief, opportunity t* 
study its plumage in excellent light. To judge from the unsullied 
rufous-buff of the underparts , it was a young bird. Young males and 
both young md old females of all of the Indian species of harriers 
except the Marsh are notoriously difficult to identify with certainty 
in the field, and although soke authorities (like G. M. Henry) would 
have us believe that, separation is possible on visual characteristics 
alone, others are less optimistic. To be really sure of a bird's iden- 
tity one must inspect its primaries in the hand, and measure its tarsus. 
Sob i tines putative field diagnosis cm be sunported, if not confirm d, 
by the presence of an identifiable adult male in the vicinity. Indeed, 
en this occasion there was amale bird about, but it was ton far away for 
us to identify with confidence, and hence also too remote from the other 
bird for it to be safe to assume any relationship. All we had to gn on 
therefore was a good view of a bird with a very distinct buff ruff, 
unstreaked with sepia, which imiediately reminled me of the Pale Harrier 
(Circus cacrourue) in G. M. Henry's painting (a GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OP 
CEYION, plate I9) r 

The Montagu's Harrier ( C. pygargus )does not have a distinct ruff, and 
that of the Pied Harrier( c. melanoleucos ) is more or 3e ss streaked with 
sepia, but even if we are bold enough to eliminate these possibilities 
we are still left with two alternatives Pale ( c. macrourus ) and Hen 
( O.cyan eusJ. I have recently examined the skins of sone of the harriers 
in the Bombay Natural History Society's collection, and if their labels 
are correct (some of the harriers' are evidently not), the females of • 
these two species look too similar for separation in the field to be 
possible - at any rate, by your correspondent. I cannot myself assign 
the bird we saw to a species with any confidence. On the grounds that 
the known range of C. cyaneus does not seem to embrace Bomhy , it is 
surely more probable that our bird was macrour us. 

R. A. Stewart Melluish 
The arriv al of the Baik M y na in Bhub aneswar 

v, o .° ne °L US 5 s * D * J ') has been in Ehubanenwar since August 1962, and 
has sirre then been recording every species cf bird that he observes and 

TSi? iV^ identif y- ^ other tw ° arrived in Bhubaneswar in February 
1966. But since then they have done fairly intensive birdwatching in the 
Bhubaneswar area, particularly near their hone in the area that lies 
between the New Capital and the old religious centre. Therefore it is 
unlikely that a bird of the size, appearance and behaviour of a Bank 
Myna (Ao ndotheres ginginianus ) wou] 1 have been missed by all three of 
us, had individuals of this species been present in Bhubaneswar before 
the date on which we saw them. 

S 1^7 19 i l 967 ' Wh±le U W * WaS h0pi "S *« ^ow S. D, J. a Wryneck 
that L. W. and S. ¥. had seen several times less than 100 m , from their 
nouse, the three of us saw two Bank tfynas on ihe ground just outside 
a /lt ant ° om P ound - Tw " Suk Mynas, presumably the same ones, spent much 
of their day from then until January 25 o n the same x>atch of land. 
Common Mynas were always present when the Bank Myna s were. Other birds 
usually present were several Common Swallows, many Jungle Crows, seven to 
ten Common Drongos, firve Motacilla alba (two premnr.hly p^rsonata in 
breeding plumage, three presumably dukhun^nsis ) , two Pipits, two Pied 
Bushchats (Saxicola caprata) and two Indian Robins ( Saxicol oides fulicata). 

Occasionally present were two Bush-larks ( Mirafra sp. ) and a Wryneck! 

The small patch of land had not attracted many birds until the beginning 
of the year when (a) the soil was turned and (merely coincidentally) (b) 
a five-day gathering of sadhus and pilgrims scattered food and refuse in 
the area. 

Though it is not surprising to find the Bank Myna in this part of India, 
it is perhaps worth recording such first app= arance in a specif io area ' 

in the Newsletter. „ „ _ 



rufous-buff of the underparts , it was a young bird, Young mal^s and 
both young aid old females of all of the Indian species of harriers 
except the Marsh are notoriously difficult to identify with certainty 
in the field, and although some authorities (like G. M. Henry) would 
have us believe that, separation is possible on visual characteristics 
alone, others are less optimistic. To be really sure of a bird's iden- 
tity one must inspect its primaries in the hand, and measure its tarsus. 
Solstices putative field diagnosis can be supported, if not confirms d, 
by the presence of an identifiable adult male in the vicinity. Indeed, 
en this occasion there wa3 amale bird about, but it was ton far away for 
us to identify with confidence, and hence also -too remote from the other 
bird for it to be safe to ass-ume any relationship. All we had to go on 
therefore was a good view of a bird with a very distinct buff ruff, 
unstreaked with sepia, which imnsdiatfily reminled mo of the Pale Harrier 
( Circus cacrourus ) in G. M. Henry's painting (A GUIDE TO TIE BIRDS OF 
CEYLON, plate 19)r 

The Montagu's Harrier ( c. pygargus )doos not hive a distirc t ruff, and 
that of the Pied Harrier ( C. melanoleucos ) is more or 3e ss streaked with 
sepia, but even if we are bold enough to eliminate these possibilities 
we are still le ft with two alternatives Pale ( C. macrourus ) and Hen 
( C.cyaneu s). I have recently examined the skins of sone of the harriers 
in the Bombay Natural History Society's collection, and if their labels 
are correct (some of the harriers' are evidently not), the females of 
these two species look too similar for separation in the field to be 
possible — at any rate, by your correspondent. I cannot myself assign 
the bird we saw to a species with any confidence. On the ground s that 
the known range of C. cyaneus does not seem to embrace Bomby , it is 
surely more probable that our bird was racrour us. 

E. A. Stewart Melluish 

The arrival of the ftnk M y na in Bhub ane swar 

One of us (S. D. J.) has been in Bhubaneswar since August 1962, and 
has sirre then been recording every species cf bird that he observes and 
which he can identify. The other two arrived in Bhubaneswar in February 
1966. But since then they have done fairly intensive birdwatching in the 
Bhubaneswar area, particularly near their hone in the area that lies 
between the New Capital and the old religious centre. Therefore it is 
unlikely that a bird of the size, appearance and behaviour of a Bank 
Myna ( Acridotheres ginginianus ) woul i hove been missed by all three of 
us, had individuals of this species been present in Ehubaneswar before 
the date on which we saw them. 

On January 19, 1967, while L. W, was hoping to show S. D. J. a Wryneck 
that L, W*. and S. W. had seen several times less than 100 m. from their 
house, the three of us saw two Bank Mynas on ihe ground just outside 
a vacant compound. Two Bank Mynas, presumably the same ones, 3pent much 
of their day from then until January 2J o n the name patch of land. 
Common Mynas were always present when the Bank ^ynas were. Other birds 
usually present were several Common Swallows, many Jungle Crows, seven to 
ten Common Brongos, firve Motacilla alba (two prestrcr.bly personata_ in 
breeding plumage, three presumably dukhunensi s ) , two Pjpits, two Pied 
Bushchats ( Saxicola caprata ) and two Indian Robins (Saxicoloides fulicata). 
Occasionally present were two Bush-larks ( Mirafra sp* ) and a Wryneck. 
The small patch of land had not attracted many birds until the beginning 
of the year when (a) the soil was turned and (merely coincidentally) (b) 
a five-day gathering of sadhus and pilgrims scattered food and refise in 
the area. 

Though it is not surprising to find the Bank Myna in this part of India, 
it is perhaps worth recording such first apps arance in a specific area 
in the Newsletter. S .X> Jayakar, Louis Werner and Susan Werner 

Bhubaneswar -, n 



3c>ha""i.aur cf an e sc ape Chloro pses 

Your readers will be interested to know that I have about six chloropses; 
one of them a Goldfronted one flew away, and one fine morning I was surprised 
to see the bird returning to the garden after a lapse of more than six months. 
As soon as I opened the cage and put in some fruit, it got hack into it. They 
are the best mimics and song birds I have ever had. Only one of them is a 
goldfronted one; the rest are of still brighter colours with electric blue 
on their wings, and . mauve borders on their tails. 

P. Edalji 
Calcutta 



Zafar Putehnlly 

Editor, Newsletter for Eirdwatchers 

32-A Juhu lane, Andheri, Bombay 58-A3 



NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 

Volume 7 -No. 4-1967 April 



i 



' 




I 



FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 

Vol. 7, No. 4 April 1967. 

..-_.,*. iJ „_.< - j^, udU x.j.EJ'XtyX %1-j'l dJSllu Uixu t5 W. B.ix.!i .n.j'V.CtMG HYDSIh 

racoon £.,- CONTENTS., _ .,-, - C|t i0 ^1*1* ao 

a&xW sis eearft dir€. .ff:>ax'i Ei.odTttroM a'aoas&oH to ss-W-inq If/ica brtj; 

BirdTra1arfJi22g).^t..FNarkandav.(SiiB3^)»rf) SftR Stre«j .A<>i ; NavarrGty- S.J. $., f^ot 

olifcrirl od: .n 0OO t Tr tutfr el ifoMw lfc*jAfeuJ)uftW*» i±o::'j o* n-ritfei 1 

tr;tt:/2i yry- to 2ctJx"X •* \Lmsb ,-At te^ftomp aaiqqod xose ;>•/.• rrr-T'l a.void 

larks. By Mrs. Jamal Ara. .^Xafii-^ >[,:,<•:•; 4 

Ar^»»eBii^cBt«'3!aBteart3Eak6fftPoon». rj;-vBy---MS% -.fhcanae.-'QfiRi;; - r: iv ,t; c^t'-i 7 

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Notes, *iCoimnexits#-I'-J- ;: sdfr q^id.", oia/n sw ae»f«jij-.+rp cf-.-t-a-'x-: i r - :+.• aion'rf- 8 

• '.:•""■• '"v;.;X -■-;:• ;w':fv*soi!sa,, ;; J>^ ; w v;X.)j!'>j;!h'ii:'.-i Emr alqzxHl 
Correspondence. 9 



BIRDWATCHING AT NARKANDA (SIMIA) 

By 

Bro. A. Navarro, S.J. and Mr. A. Dubach 

For our birdwatching excursion last October, we marked Simla as the venue 
from where we could most conveniently make detours to the surrounding 
countryside. Mr. Daniel of the B.N.H.S. had informed the Chief "Wild life" 
Warden (Himachal Pradesh), Mr. K.L. Mehta, beforehand of our projects, and 
so on our arrival at the Forest Dept. Simla, we were pleasantly surprised 
to find that we were not altogether strangers to the staff officers. In 
fact Mr. Mehta had carefully' outlined for us several programmes so that 
we could utilise to Jhe utmost the short, period of our stay "and see as 
much as possible of the* best fauija of that locality. 

Thanks to -the spontaneous and enthusiastic co-operation of Mr. Mehta our 
trip proved to be a success. Mr. Mehta was not only aware of the need for 
the up-to-date upkeep and maintenance of the status of the present fauna 
but determined to go further and. try to improve it. By his own unstinted 
efforts Mr. Mehta has brought about, the remarkable achievement of simul- 
taneously building up a combined zoo and pheasantry. 

Farkanda was the spot selected as the headquarters for our birdwatching 
as it happens to have a nice and comfortable P.W.D. bungalow ideally 
situated' on the mountain ranges and in which we rented two rooms for our 
stay. Before our departure for Narkanda, Mr. Mehta invited us to pay a 
visit to his Pheasantry and he accompanied us round the magnificent zoo 
and pheasantry which he is trying to build up on quite a big scale. 

Situated on the outskirts of Simla town,, the zoo cum pheasantry stands 
in the recess of a valley. The locale of this zoo is unusual; in fact it 
dees not resemble at all the ordinary types of zoos, as most of the animals 
like Sambhar, the Chital (Spotted Deer), and some birds were kept in their 
natural surroundings - that is, a wire netting fence served to enclose a 
rart of the forest area so that the animals could roam about freely. Some 
of the rare animals in the zoo were the Musk Deer, a She-Yak, with her 
yu*;ng one and the cubs of both the black and the brown Himalayan Bears. 
The Musk Deer was more timid and shy than the other animals. 

Mr. Mehta has succeeded in maintaining a beautiful pheasantry, perhaps the 
only cne of its kind in India where he breeds various Indian and foreign 
pheasants; Amongst the pheasants that he was breeding were the common Kalij 
pheasant, the Koklas, the Monal pheasant with its brilliant plumage, the 

2 

• 9 £ 



the Chinese Silver Pheasant and the Japanese Golden Pheasant. 

The Indian pheasants were breeding very well. All the birds were 
looked after very well by a devoted staff of workers. Although the 
birds were in captivity, a striking point was. that their plumage 
was in an excellent condition and they seemed to be at home in the 
scenic surroundings of the Himalayas. 

There was a small artificial pond at the entrance of the zoc where 
they had kept a pair of Bar-headed Geese, White-eyed Pochards, Red- 
headed Pochards, a pair of Swans, white in colour, which, we were 
told, were imported from Russia. They are very well fed and looked 
healthy. In a separate pond enclosed by a wire netting were a pair 
of black Swans. As soon as we went near the netting to have a closer 
look at the birds, the male black swan rushed towards us and started 
pecking aggressively at the wire netting, so much so that we thought 
it would break its red beak. There were also a tame kite and a young 
eagle which we could not identify. In another mixed aviary there were 
different varieties of Mynias and a pair of green Pinches. 

Undoubtedly, along the Himalayan region extending from Kashmir to 
Darjeeling right up to and around Bhutan and Assam, we find the best 
and the most colourful avian fauna of India. Part of the Himalayan 
ranges belong to the Paleartic region, and part to the Indo-Chinese 
region. In spite of this division it is very curious to observe that 
there is a certain uniformity of fauna along the Himalayan range with 
the difference that within this uniformity the eastern and the western 
sides have produced their own forms. That is why often in the English 
nomenclature we come across definite terms by which we distinguish 
the eastern and western "positions of the species, for example, when 
they say: the Eastern Spotted Porktail and Western Spotted Porktail. 
However we found that with a keen sense of observation we would be 
able to discover certain isolated spots with their own typical and 
selective fauna that naturally will be based on several factors, 
such as topography, altitude, flora, temperature, dampness, water 
and exposure to strong currents and dra'^hts. In particular the last 
factor may occasionally be responsible ±6t scarcity of bird-life in 
area? where there should be found a 'larger and more variety of birds. 

Gathering the results of our findings and analysing our observations 
at the end of the third day, we found that in certain areas we could 
scarcely see any birds except for the Jungle Crows, Mynahs, Nutcrackers 
and a few Thrushes but in other areas there was plenty of bird-life, 
later we realised the fact that the side hills facing the open view 
of the snow peaks of the Himalayas were less frequented by birds. 
The main reason for this could not be other than the open exposure 
to the strong, cold and freezing winds coming from that side. 

Iferkanda is 40 miles from Simla, its altitude being about 9,500 ft. 
The hill ranges opposite to Narkanda are 10,000 ft. high and the 
highest, Hattu Peak is 10,500 ft. At this (Hattu Peak) altitude we 
saw the Himalayan Mouse -Hare, a tail-less "creature which is typical 
of the Hi m alayan ranges. On the same place we saw the Accentor or 
Hedfre Sparrow. This is a bird that very rarely can be seen below 
on altitude of b>,GuG it. Nearby en several occasion^ we saw large 
and small -arties of Hodgson's Mountain Pinch. Beth these are birds 
found at a very high altitude and during the summer season they 
return to their usual habitat which is about 17,000 ft. The little 
brown Wren was ueen hopping amongst the desolate ruins of the Hattu 
Peak temple. 

Prom tl. .; very first day we observed that the most common birds were 
the Himalayan Crow and the Himalayan Spotted Nutcracker. Here and 
there at different altitudes v/e came across the Red-billed Blue 
Magpie and infrequently v/e had a glimpss of the Himalayan Jay. 



m unexpectedly came across not less than five varieties of Tits,. vie. 
the Indian Grey Tit, the Simla Coal Tit, the Brown-Crested Tit, the 
Red-headed Tit and the Yellow-Cheeked Tit. In their company we noticed 
the Simla Warbler and some other warblers which we could not identify. 
These small birds could be seen flying in mixed parties, and they are 
found everywhere except in the open country. 

The forest was mainly built up of three varieties of trees, namely, 
Pine, Rhododendron and Fir. These little creatures, the Tits and the 
Warblers, apparently preferred the Rhododendron for their roosting 
resorts. Certain it is that this is the tree that offers them more 
protection from the weather and safety from their enemies. 

We never came across a great number of Thrushes; nevertheless we had 
a chance to see seven varieties. But the White -Throated laughing Thrush 
was seen only once. At the outskirts of the forest we often came across 
parties of Gilgit laughing Thrushes. Cnce we saw a small party of Small- 
Billed Mountain Thrush. The Simla Plane -Backed Thrush could be seen 
everywhere on any altitude but always in pairs. On a few occasions we 
observed parties of Red-Headed Thrushes on the ground. Once we saw the 
Blue-Headed Rock Thrush, and the Himalayan Whistling Thrush could be 
found along the main roads and footpaths through the forest. 

fu W ^?. then With Tits and Warb l e *-s ™ found two varieties of Nuthatches, 
the White-Tailed Nuthatch being the most common and the White-Cheeked 
Nuthatch. The latter is a pretty bird and looks more like a tail-less 
Wagtail but it is a pity that it has such a melancholy call. Twice we 
observed the Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babbler. 

Another common bird in the forest was the Himalayan Tree Creeper, and 
on a few occasions we saw the Hodgson's Tree Creeper. This Tree Creeper 
is smaller and the breast and abdomen are lighter than the Himalayan 
Tree Creeper. , 

A \ S i!?V! 8aW Very ° ften the Bla <*-Headea Sibia, Cinnamon Tree Sparrow 
and the Red Vented Bulbul. The White Cheeked Bulbul was not very common 
at Narkanda but we had the chance to observe a few pairs. The Blue- 
Fronted Redstart was occasionally seen around an altitude of 10,000 ft. 
but the White-Caped Redstart was found only at the foot of the hill 
along the nullahs and rivulets. Several times we Came across- small 
parties of Blue-Headed Robins and with them, we noticed the presence of 
a few of Red-Flanked Bush Robins. '..<•• 

The biteck and yellow Grossbeaks could be . seen in small parties but ' 
always in the forest; at times we observed them on the. ground searching 
for food, but when not on the ground they could be seen perching on the 
tops of the highest trees. They are rather sociable and noisy birds in 
their behaviour and we observed that most of them were in a heavy moult. 
In their group once we saw the Pink Browed Rose-Finch. 

Coming out of the forest on a large open part of ground about 9,000 ft. 
nigtt, with some undergrowth, we found a pair of Rock Buntings. This is 
another bird which has a preference for high altitudes. On the same spot 
we saw the Fire -Breasted Flower Pecker. 

The Sind Pied Woodpecker could be noticed everywhere. On a few occasions 
we found the Western Fufous Woodpecker but only once had we the pleasure 
of admiring at a high altitude of 10,000 ft. the beautiful "Broadbill 
Roller" that was perched on a high Fir tree in the interior of the forest. 
On the same grounds nearby we found small parties of the Great Himalayan 
Parbets. In the late evenings, by their calls we could identify the 
Collared Pigmy Owlet and Himalayan Scops Owl. 

As for large Birds, we noticed the Indian Griffon Vulture and the White 
Scavenger Vulture. On more than one occasion we had a chance to admire 
the mrgestic flight at a rather low altitude of the Himalayan Bearded 
Vulture. The Indian Black Eagle and the Indian Serpent Eagle were also 
seen several times. 



The only dove we came across frequently was the Rufus Turtle rove. A 
few of these birds were found right into the forest. 

We found three varieties of pheasants. The White-Crested Kalij waa 
to be found often on the lower part of the hills. The Koklas pheasants, 
the most common of all three, were seen at a much higher altitude but ' 
the Impeyan pheasant or the Moral was always found on the topmost 
part of the hill very well around 10,200 ft. Bsth the Koklas and 
the Moral gave us the impression that they liked heavy forest and 
precipitous hill-sides so steep and difficult to manouver that at 
times it was not possible to follow their trail. The Chukor Part- 
ridge was noticed on the outskirts of the forests mostly around 
cultivations. 

With reference to my previous remark- 'isolated spots with its own 
typical and selective fauna* - I would definitely consider the 
Narkanda range to: be an example of a locality with its own selective 
fauna.- At the end of our birdwatching excursion we found in j our list 
a total absence of Flycatchers, Eabblers, Pigeons, Sunbirds and in 
general a very scanty population of Passerine birds. Nevertheless ''. 
we are quite aware that our list cannot be considered as a complete 
survey of the Fauna of Narkanda range having in view that the bird 
population in regions where the four seasons of the year are well 
defined changes every season. 



LARKS 
Mrs. Jamal Ara 




larks, the most terrestrial 
of Passerine birds belonging 
to the Alaudidae family, are 
familiar little birds forming 
a well defined small group 
of their own. They hpve large 
pointed wings to sustain them 
in their hovering flight, the 
longest primaries being much 
longer than the secondaries. 
The tail is always shorter 
than the wings and slightly 
forked. The? shape of the bill 
varies according to the food 
habits of the particular bird 
and ranges from short and 
thick, conoid to long, slender 
and slightly curved. , They have 
a well marked crest, formed 
by the elongation of the 
feathers of the crown, which 
is "eared" in the Horned Larks. Their feet are well suited to running 
on the ground by taking alternate steps instead of hopping like most 
small birds. Their shanks have separate scales up to the back as well 
as the front. The. hind toe bearing a straight claw, is much longer 
and sometimes more elongated ' while the claws of the forward toes are 
slightly curved, and generally short. This distinguishes, them from 
other families of similar habits. Their plumage is usually brown. .. 
below; while some are nearly plain or black. This colouring is very 
well adapted for concealing themselves by merging with the back- 
ground of their habitat. The variations in the plumage of individual 
species is linked up with their habitat: Thus species living in the 



«« »«*, uuve » e came across frequently was the Rufus Turtle Dove A 
xew of these birds were found right, into the forest. * " 

We found three varieties of pheasants. The White-Crested Kalij wa* 
the ™,Hn ° fte V n * h \ l0WGr Part 0f the hil ^ ^e Koklas pheasants, 
III 11T ° f I 11 th f ee ' Were seen at a ™ ch h ^er altitude but 
T a l + ^ ?f Peasant or the Monal was always found on the topmost 

'?S Mof 1 ^ Wel1 aTOUnd 1 °' 200 ft * ^ *«' Koklas and 

the Monal gave us the impression that they liked heavy forest and 

precipitous hill-sides so steep and difficult to maneuver that at 
times it was not possible to follow their trail. The Chukor Part- 
ridge was noticed on the outskirts of the forests mostly around 
cultivations. 

With reference to my previous remark - 'isolated spots with its own 
typical and selective fauna' - I would definitely consider the 
Narkanda range to be an example of a locality with its own selective 
fauna.- At the end of our birdwatching excursion we found in -our list 
a total absence of Flycatchers, Babblers, Pigeons, Sunbirds and in 
general a very scanty population of Passerine birds. Nevertheless -V 
we are quite aware that our list cannot be considered as a complete 
survey of the feuna of Narkanda range having in view that the bird . 
population in regions where the four seasons of the year are well 
defined changes every season. 



LARKS 
Mrs. Jamal Ara 




Larks, the most terrestrial 
of Passerine birds belonging 
to the Alaudidae family, are 
familiar little birds forming 
a well defined small group 
of their own. They have large 
pointed wings to sustain them 
in their hovering flight, the 
longest primaries being much 
longer than the secondaries. 
The tail is always shorter 
than the wings and slightly 
forked. The shape of the bill 
varies according to the food 
habits of the particular bird 
and ranges from short and 
thick, conoid to long, slender 
and slightly curved. : They have 
a well marked crest, formed 
by the elongation of the 
feathers of the crown, which 
is "eared" in the Horned larks* Their feet are well suited to running 
on the ground by taking alternate steps instead of hopping like most 
small birds. Their shanks have separate scales up to the back as well 
as the front. The. hind toe bearing a straight claw, is much longer 
and sometimes more elongated while the claws of the forward toes are 
slightly curved-, and generally short. This distinguishes. /them from 
other families of similar habits. Their plumage is usually brown.' 
below; while some are nearly plain or black. This colouring is very 
well adapted for concealing themselves by merging with the back- 
ground of their habitat. The variations in the plumage of individual 
species is linked up with their habitat: Thus species living in the 
desert are very pale under the influence of a dry atmosphere, while 



those which prefer humid areas have a darker livery. The larks-love to 

roll and shuffle in the dust instead of washing themselves. Most of 
them feed on grass seeds and grains after harvest; but also consume 
a large nuiiber of insects. They constantly remain on the ground, seldom 
perching during the day but never at night. They naturally nest on the 
ground - collecting grass in a hollow. Their eggs are greenish with 
speckles and blotches. 



'x: 



Ley mal-3 v ? fcr their lack of brilliance in plumage by a gift of melody, 
riome being good singers. They are gregarious assembling in large flocks 
specially during winter. Most of them are resident but some, such as the 
Sky larks of £harope (Alauda arvenris) which also inhabits the Himalayas, 
migrate long distances. 

I will deal here only with those larks with whom 1 have spent many a 
happy hour both in the field as well as in hand - an old Mirshikar used 
to bring them for me to fondie first before selling. The place was 
Gidhaur in Monghyr district. Gidhaur is 300 ft. above sea level, a fairly 
lerge village situated between two small rivers, with no forests within 
range but large amounts of cultivation of all kinds. large patches of 
sugarcane, sandy beds, grassy and rocky tracts and fallow fields were the 

ideal dwelling places for the larks. 

■» 

The first lark which comes to my mind is the Ashycrowned Pinch Lark or 
"Gotov;li", Many a time it has allowed me to approach it very closely, 
but all the time keeping a very careful watch with its pair of black 
smiling eyes; but whenever it realised that I was crossing my limit it 
'vould fly off playfully a few yards and settle down again close by. It 
is fully aware of its protective colouring and remains crouched, thus 
; ii-capi:^- notice. 

The "Gotowli" is the most amusing and playful of all larks. It delights 
m springing suddenly in the air to a height of 30 to 35 ft. , and then 
descending with closed wings, till it almost touches the ground; then 
up again ? b goes thus repeating the performance 8-10 times. This merry 
game goes or. until a rival attempts to join the fun, then it darts off 
after the intruder and chases it away some distance. This is most common 
duriirg courtship, 

Apart from this, the "Gotowli" is easily recognised by its colouring. 
The male is dark grey with white cheeks and sides of breast; a broad 
black band down the middle with a black streak running through the eyes. 
Jha correctly points out, the black on the throat forms a Cross. The 
fcaale is H' -hter wherever the male is black. 

During the breeding season the males are tireless singers, singing both 
on the ground as well as in the air. While singing in the air the flight 
comprises a scries of steep rises and falls. The song is a sweet trill 
j.ike 'Trrreeef:trr' v/ithout variations. 

The most famous, and at the same time the most familiar songster of the 
g-oup is the Sky Lark or "Bhurut". The Sky lark bears the name "Alauda", 
bo ieved to be ^rom a Celtic word meaning "great or high songsters", 
en! in Italian it is, "Allodola", "the one who gives priase", no name 
cou_d ce core fitting. Luring the chilly winter the bird is more or less 
client, tut bursts into song as soon as spring re-awakens the slumbering 
fires oi day. The sky lark sings with the break of dawn, soaring as if 
"° l00 f;/ 0j ' t: ' e-jz still far below the horizon; and ends with the shadows 
ol nigi-t closing in. No doubt the song, as in other birds, is the main 
..actor of suc,;ecs during the critical time of courtship. Luring this 
period, the singing and soaring of the males increase. They spring up 
from the ground and rise to a great height in the air until they are 
-\visi__C; "arl rainlike music scatters from on high". The birds rise 
surest ver "icily, with their heads against the wind, on fluttering 
wings, veering no-v to the right, now to the left. The soaring differs 
-.•cm that of a b-.>a of prey, as it is accomplished by the continuous 
effort and action of the wings. Then the discent begins - the birds 



come down "after having reached the desirable height, with their 
wirlgs outstretched, without any beats, the tune changing as well. 
Finally as they draw nearer the earth, the song ceases and they 
drop like a stcne till they are within a few feet of the ground. 

Each bird lias its domain over a certain area of ground which he 
guards jealously against all rivals; and from there all tres- 
passers of his own sex are firmly and promptly driven out. In 
the occupied breeding area, several males can be seen chasing a 
female with great rapidity through the air, and every now and 
then breaking l-ut into the sweetest of s«ng. Sometimes, a male 
will hover above a female who crouches down amongst the grass, 
and in various ways the male seeks to display his charms. 

After the courtship is over, a cup-shaped nest of grass and roots 
is placed on the ground amidst longer grass. The actual construc- 
tion of the nest is done chiefly by the female, with the male 
'collecting the materials. But in the incubation and the feeding 
of the young, the male bears his share of the burden. 

A closer inspection reveals that the sky lark is somewhat larger 
than a sparrow, with wings long for its size, and a thin feeble 
bill. The plain, streaky brown plumage is the same in both sexes. 
There is white in the outer tail feathers while the chin, throat 
and breast have numerous black streaks. The hind claws are very 
long and straight. 

The Ganges sand lark or "Retal" is differenciated from the sky 
lark by its small size, dull while under plu m a g e with some brown 
streaks on the breast, and a more slender bill. The flight is 
not very strong and it never SOARS. The "Retal" never wanders 
far from the river-side into the adjoining fields. When the bird 
is in- love, a pleasant and musical note can be heard throughout 
the day. These notes can be heard as the bird flits about from 
one sand-bank to another, or is on wing. 

In the month of April a nest was seen in Gidhaur by me in a 
slight depression in the sand lined with grass while a few soft 
white feathers were placed in the middle. 

The singing bush lark or "Aghin" has the inner web of the outer 
tail feathers white; a short and stout bill, and a slightly 
curved hind toe. "Aghin" flies better and higher than the "Retal", 
but it too, never soars only flutters in the air. The bird fre- 
quents open land, grassy, stony, and cultivated tracts. It often 
perches when disturbed. A sweet song is sung both on the wing or 
while seated on a bush. 

The nest, well hidden among longer grass, is made out of fine 
grass mixed with soft feathers. I found a nest in June among 
sugar-cane fields at Gidhaur. Dry cane leaves were used on the 
outer side of the nest while the inside was lined with softer 
grass. I contained two eggs tinged with light green and buff on 
a white back ground. 

The crested lark or "Chundool" differs from all the other larks 
by possessing a long and powerful bill in addition to the head 
being decorated with a sharp pointed crest, composed of a few 
long feathers, which project backwards and upwards from the back 
of the head. The underparts are creamy white with dark streaks 
strongly marked on the breast. The "Chundool" loves to spend its 
time in ploughed fields and open plains. Its habits and manners 
fall halfway between the sky lark and the Bush lark. Similarly, 
the song as well is somewhere between these two. The "Chundool" 
soars like the "Ehurut" and sings on wing - the song is sweet 
"Tee-urr, Tee-urr» Tee", repeated 3-4 times. 

...7 






on the ground in the shelter of a stone or even a clod. The eggs 
are mostly incubated by the female, but male helps in feeding the , 
young and brings food quicker than the female. 

The Rufous-tailed finch lark or "Aqqiya" is a dark-brown bird with 
red on the lower back and tail. The bill is thick and slightly _ 
curved. "Aqqiya" visits all kinds of open country, ploughed fields 
and stubbles - often in small parties, outside the breeding season. 
It has a pleasant but weak song of short twirling notes. The bird 
sings mostly from a hillock. While displaying in spring "Aqqiya" flutters 
a let in the air at a height of a few feet and comes down with a soft 
whistle but stops as soon as it touches the ground. 

A saucer-shaped nest is made of fine grass. 

j * * * * f 

AN EVENING AT PASHAN IAKE, POONA 
Mr. Thomas Gay. 

» 

I scanned the lake from end to end. And there they were, scattered 
over a patch of weedy water swelling here and there into a small mud- 
fle.t, away beyond a long stretch of tall reeds. My powerful binoculars 
showed me Cotton Teal and Common Pochard for certain, and probably 
other kinds too; about 100 in all, with dozens of Coot paddling and 
diving busily among them. I walked down to the reeds, leaving my child- 
ren to start their game of cricket, or get tea ready, as they preferred. 

A Bay -backed Shrike flew to the top of a thorn bush. Red Wattled 
lapwings, eyeing me warily, moved out of my path on mincing feet. 
Beside them, a lone Blue Pigeon took off in typical fashion, as 
though it had just remembered an important engagement. Passing an 
inlet of the lake, I stood transfixed by the gorgeous colouring of a 
pair of Purple Moorhens, trampling the edge of a reed-bed in slow 
motion, and floodlit by the westering sun. A Jungle Crow called 
harshly from a babhul tree behind me. The ground fell away towards 
the long reed patch, which I entered to the protests of a Reed Warbler, 
and now I could no longer see the open water. 

I forced my way through the reeds as silently as I could, noting with 
relief that the muddy water "did not come much above my ankles, until 
the stems thinned sufficiently to show me the blobs of white, black 
and brown still well ahead. I raised the binoculars, looked through 
the last row of stems, and began to count the duck. There were 112 
of them, and whereas the drakes could be identified with certainty, 
the females were a little bewildering. It would not be far out, I 
thought, to say "50 Cotton Teal, 45 Common Pochard, and 14 Common 
Teal"; about the three magnificent Pintail- drakes there could be 
no doubt at all. Among the duck bobbed a labchick or two, as well 
as large numbers of Coot which there was no purpose in counting. 
Away up the lake were Egret, but I had eyes only for the duck. 

At last I tore myself away, to go on luty as third fielder. Cricket 
on a tussocky pitch is a lively game, and we were soon hungry enough 
for tea and sandwiches beneath a gnarled old mango tree on the bank 
of a dried-up rice-field. Now the air was full of Redrumped Swallows, 
with an occasional Pariah Kite floating lasily above. Red-vented 
Bulbuls flitted along a thorny hedge, and a King-crow surveyed hxs 
domain as he balanced on the top of a babhul. Ring-doves flew down 
and picked industriously in the rough grass. large Grey Babblers 
shouted "Creaky-creaky" to each other. 

4 • #0 



_n „.&/ a oEaitow cup-snapea nes-c 01 grass is made and is placed 
on the ground in the shelter of a stone or even a clod. The eggs' 
are mostly incubated by the female, but male helps in. feeding the 
young and brings food quicker than the female. 

The Rufous-tailed finch lark or "Aqqiya" is a dark-brown bird with 

red on the lower back and tail. The bill is thick and slightly 

curved. "Aqqiya" visits all kinds of open country, ploughed fields 

and stubbles - often in small parties, outside the breeding season. 

It has a pleasant but weak song of short twirling notes. The bird 

sings mostly from a hillock. While displaying in spring "Aqqiya" flutters 

a lot in the air at a height of a few feet and comes down with a soft 

whistle but stops as soon as it touches the ground. 

A saucer-shaped nest is made of fine grass. 

f * * * * f 

AN EVENING AT PASHAN IAKE, POONA 

By 
Mr. Thomas Gay. 



I scanned the lake from end to end. And there they were, scattered 
over a patch of weedy water swelling here and there into a small mud- 
fle.t, away beyond a long stretch of tall reeds. My powerful binoculars 
showed me Cctton Teal and Common Pochard for certain, and probably 
other kinds too; about 100 in all, with dozens of Coot paddling and 
diving busily among them. I walked down to the reeds, leaving my child- 
ren to start their game of cricket, or get tea ready, as they preferred. 

A Bay -backed Shrike flew to the top of a thorn bush. Red Wattled 
lapwings, eyeing me warily, moved out of my path on mincing feet. 
Beside them, a lone Blue Pigeon took off in typical fashion, as 
though it had just remembered an important engagement. Passing an 
inlet of the lake, I stood transfixed by the gorgeous colouring of a 
pair of Purple Moorhens, trampling the edge of a reed-bed in slow 
motion, and floodlit by the westering sun, A Jungle Crow called 
harshly from a babhul tree behind me. The ground fell away towards 
the long reed patch, which I entered to the protests of a Reed Warbler, 
and now I could no longer see the open water. 

I forced my way through the reeds as silently as I could, noting with 
relief that the muddy water "did not come much above my ankles, until 
the stems thinned sufficiently to show me the blobs of white, black 
and brown still well ahead. I raised the binoculars, looked through 
the last row of stems, and began to count the duck. There were 112 
of them, and whereas the drakes could be identified with certainty, 
the females were a little bewildering. It would not be far out, I 
thought, to say "50 Cotton Teal, 45 Common Pochard, and 14 Common 
Teal"; about the three magnificent Pintail- drakes there could be 
no doubt at all. Among the duck bobbed a Dabchick or two, as well 
as large numbers of Coot which there was no purpose in counting. 
Away up the lake were Egret, but I had eyes only for the duck. 

At last I tore myself away, to go on luty as third fielder. Cricket 
on a tuss Dcky pitch is a lively game, and we were soon hungry enough 
for tea and sandwiches beneath a gnarled old mango tree on the bank 
of a dried-up rice-field. Now the air was full of Redrumped Swallows, 
with an occasional Pariah Kite floating lazily above. Red-vented 
Bulbuls flitted along a thorny hedge, and a King -crow surveyed his 
domain as he balanced on the top of a babhul. Ring-doves flew down 
and picked industriously in the rough grass. large Grey Babblers 
shouted "Creaky-creaky" to each other. 

« . .8 



Suddenly I became aware of a bird flying from behind me towards a hedge 
on the further side of our field. I recognized the dipping flight 
of a woodpecker; but when the bird settled on a thin horizontal spray 
of a babhul, exactly like a dove, I thought I must be mistaken. But 
I wasn't; the binoculars showed it to be a Yellow-fronted Pied Wood- 
pecker. And there it sat for several minutes, with a self-conscious 
look that seemed to say, "I know that woodpeckers are not supposed 
to sit like this, but I'm going to do it, all the same." 

There was still one more treat in store. A flock of some forty Red 
Amadavats, came over the field like wind-blown leaves, and settled 
beside some Brahminy Mynas among the grass-tufts beyond an earthen 
bank. I stalked them carefully, and got close enough to be thrilled 
by the cocks' astounding crimson heads and breasts. And in a few 
minutes the air grew chill; the sun had gone; and suddenly it was 
an almost birdies s world. 

* * * * . * * 

NOTES AND COMMENTS 

We reported in the January issue that the Birdwatchers' Field Club of 
India, the "owners" of this Newsletter, have decided to become mem- 
bers of the International Council for Bird Preservation. A remittance 
of £5/= has now been sent, and the Presidents letter dealing with 
important matters of conservation, and circulated twice or thrice 
during the year has been received. National Sections of the I.C.B.P. 
are operating in 58 countries, and in India the Section is headed 
by Dr. Salim Ali. 

The September '66 President's Letter, mentions among other things 
the XIV World Conference of the ICBP and says : "The XIV World Con- 
ference of the ICBP was held in Cambridge, England from July 11-15, 
1966 and was attended by representatives of 31 different countries. 
A large range of subjects were discussed including the urgent pro- 
blems of the effect of toxic chemicals on bird life, and also oil 
pollution of the sea and pollution of rivers and inland waters. 
That the decrease of birds of prey is a world problem was only too 
clearly proved. Many species are in a serious plight especially 
those at the end of a long food chain. Fish-eating species are 
particularly vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals and their 
loss of fertility seems evident. 

The question of the artificial re-introduction of indigenous species 
to places where they have been extirpated by man brought out varying 
points of view, but the President emphasized that this. is a question 
with which National Sections must eoncern themselves, give advice, 
and if necessary intervene. 

A full report on threatened species showed that much data are lacking 
concerning many of them. It was therefore resolved to enlist the aid 
of zoological and educational institutions throughout the world to 
co-operate in surveys and studies on the status and biology of these 
birds. 

The danger of bird ringing by unskilled and unqualified persons and 
the need to control the use of mist nets were discussed and recom- 
mendations adopted. . 

In dealing with the problems of birds which are a menace to other 
specie j, and in particular the Herring Gull, which has been a great 
problem. both in the Netherlands and Germany for the last decade, 
the Netherlands Section reported that there had been such a drama- 
tic decrease in this species during the last few years that control 
is no longer necessary. 

...9 



n a special nee uirg 01 the Executive Board of the European 
Continental Section a Working Committee was set up to study the 
possibilities of improving the International Convention for the- 
Protecticn of Birds 1950, with a view to enabling those countries 
which have been prevented for various reasons from ratifying the 
Convention to do so. 

At the conclusion of the meeting resolutions concerning the main 
subjects discussed and a number of recommendations on specific 
problems were adopted. It was also agreed to send letters from 
the Conference to Governments and other appropriate authorities 
on 11 different questions concerning individual countries." 

**************** 

A remittance of #3 has also been sent to the IUCN, so that our club 
is now a FRIEND of IUCN. The IUCN issues a quarterly Bulletin and 
extracts will be reproduced in our Newsletter from time to time. 
The July-September '66 issue contains an interesting yet a sad account 
of the Keoladeo Ghana Sanctuary, Rajasthan: 

"The abundance and variety of birds and mammals, the easy visibility 
of the wildlife, the accessibility of the sanctuary throughout the 
year and its proximity to major tourist centers, all combine to make 
Keoladeo Ghana unique among India's reserves. It is, therefore, dis- 
tressing to read, of a number of serious problems which affect the 
sanctuary so adversely as to cause grave concern for its future. 
These include high domestic livestock density and the resultant over- 
grazing and trampling which has severly damaged the vegetation. In 
some areas, particularly the eastern and northern parts, the grass 
cover has been almost completely removed, leaving only bare soil ..... 
Some of this human activity also adversely affected the vege- 
tation. For example, although the Forest Department has licensed 
only 56 Wood collectors to remove dead wood from the reserve, as many 
as 15 illegal loads of wood were seen leaving the sanctuary in one 
evening. Wood collectors were also observed in 1965 to break down 
growing trees for firewood; in 1966 many of them used axes to fell 
living trees. The problems of Keoladeo Ghana confront most other 
sanctuaries of India to a greater or lesser degree. The task of 
preserving a remnant of the unique fauna of the country lies with 
the present generation . It cannot be too often reiterated that the 
sanctuaries of India with the wealth of wild animals and plants which 
they contain are irreplaceable and as much a part of the nation's 
heritage as the Taj Mahal and the ruins of Khajuraho." 

*************-'<-****** 

CORRESPONDENCE 
Crow eating its feather ; 

At 5-30 p.m. on the 9th of March, a crow perched about 5 feet away 
from me on the windowsill of the Bird Gallery of the Bombay Natural 
History Society. While I was thinking what a pleasant change it was 
to see a live bird so close after a day with dead skins it started 
behaving in a curious way. With the feet on the sill, the crow would 
bend down laboriously and get a primary or secondary feather in its 
bill. It would then move the foot on that side very clumsily and get the 
middle of the feather under the foot. It would then tear a bit of the 
wing and eat it. This behaviour was repeated for about five minutes 
alternating between the two sides. It must have removed considerable 
parts of its wing feathers this way as was evident from the denuded 
appearance of the primaries and secondaries. After five minutes of 
feather-eating the crow tried to fly up but lost balance and fell 
down on the museum ground. I watched it move about very clumsily for 
about 2 minutes on ground attempting to fly but not succeeding. It 
was also pecking at paper, dead leaves and cotton wool from a heap 



of refuse when I sat down to write this note. It could not have been 
on ground for long, as I could not see it anywhere in the compound" 
after finishing this note. Had this bird accidentally swallowed some 
poisonous chemical which temporarily removed the normal inhibitions 
necessary to limit preening activities within a required level? 



D.N. Mathew 
Bombay. 

Bird Books ; 

I am most grateful to Mr. K. Nanu Nair for taking the trouble to 
comment so kindly, in the last issue of the Newsletter, on my 
recent article on bird books. Writing such articles is a dreadful 
swot, but it is worthwhile if someone reads them with pleasure. 

In the first paragraph of the article I mentioned, in passing, 
reproductions of the illustrations of John Gould. In so far as 
this implies that Gould executed all the plates for which he is 
famous, it is a misleading statement, and the truth is sufficiently 
interesting, I think, for a correction to be published. In his 
introduction to Audubon's American Birds (Bateford, 1949), Mr. 
Sacheverell Sitwell describes Audubon and Gould as the 'authors, 
artists, promoters of the two greatest series of illustrated bird 
books in existence'. However, it is interesting to learn from 
Mr. Sitwell that unlike Audubon Gould was 'not, except in a very 
few instances, the artist responsible for his own illustrations'. 
1 These were drawn by his wife , who died young ; by Edward Lear 
(the nonsense poet), one of the most magnificent of all ornitho- 
logical draftsmen, who drew, especially} parrots, owls, and cranes; 
and by William Hart, who helped Gould in the production of his 
plates for more than forty years.' 

E.A. Stewart Melluish 

Holloway's Cottage, 

19, Casamajor Road, MADRAS 8. 

* X» tt XXX * "X * XXXX 

Flamingos at Kapurwadi Tank near Ahmednagar : 

In the Newsletter of October 1964, Vol.4 No. 10, I mentioned the 
presence of Flamingos at Kapurwadi during the month of July. The 
visit of flamingos to this area in the same period is now confirmed. 
It seems that Kapurwadi is a favourite place of flamingos during 
the rainy season and in winter. 

This year I have been observing the winter visitors of Kapurwadi 
tank, though this is a draught year for Ahmednagar, and its sur- 
rounding area. 

During the last fortnight of December 1966, I observed flamingos 
in varying numbers. The period for which flamingos remained here 
in winter is comparatively more than the rainy season and the 
party was also of good number. This party was of two adults and 
the varying number of young ones from 4 to 7. 

My observations are as:- 

Day. Date. No. of Young. Adults. i Total 
Thursday 22.12.1966 2 2 

Monday 26. 12. 1966 (Morn. ) 3 -3 



on ground for long, as I could not see it anywhere in the compound 
after finishing this note. Had this bird accidentally swallowed some 
poisonous chemical which temporarily removed the normal inhibitions" 
necessary to limit preening activities within a required level? 



D.N. Mathew 
Bombay. 

Bird Books ; 

I am most grateful to Mr. K. Nanu Nair for taking the trouble to 
comment so kindly, in the last issue of the Newsletter, on my 
recent article on bird books. Writing such articles is a dreadful 
swot, but it is worthwhile if someone reads them with pleasure. 

In the first paragraph of the article I mentioned, in passing, 
reproductions of the illustrations of John Gould. In so far as 
this implies that Gould executed all the plates for which he is 
famous, it is a misleading statement, and the truth is sufficiently 
-interesting, I think, for a correction to be published. In his 
introduction to Audubon's American Birds (Batsford, 1949), Mr. 
Sacheverell Sitwell describes Audubon and Gould as the 'authors, 
artists, promoters of the two greatest series of illustrated bird 
books in existence'. However, it is interesting to learn from 
Mr. Sitwell that unlike Audubon Gould was 'not, except in a very 
few instances, the artist responsible for his own illustrations'. 
'These were drawn by his wife, who died young; by Edward Lear 
(the nonsense poet), one of the most magnificent of all ornitho- 
logical draftsmen, who drew, especially, parrots, owls, and cranes; 
and by William Hart, who helped Gould in the production of his 
plates for more than forty years.' 

R.A. Stewart Melluish 

Holloway's Cottage, 

19, Casamajor Road, MADRAS £ 

Flamingos at Kapurwadi Tank near Ahmednagar ; 

In the Newsletter of October 1964, Vol.4 No. 10, I mentioned the 
presence of Flamingos at Kapurwadi during the month of July. The 
visit of flamingos to this area in the same period is now confirmed. 
It seems that Kapurwadi is a favourite place of flamingos during 
the rainy season and in winter. 

This year I have been observing the winter visitors of Kapurwadi 
tank, though this is a draught year for Ahmednagar, and its sur- 
rounding area. 

During the last fortnight of December 1966, I observed flamingos 
in varying numbers. The period for which flamingos remained here 
in winter is comparatively more than the rainy season and the 
party was also of good number. This party was of two adults and 
the varying number of young ones from 4 to 7. 

My observations are as:- 

Day. Date. No. of Young. Adults. Total 

Thursday 22.12.1966 2 - 2 

Monday 26. 12. 1966 (Morn.) 3 - 3 

" (Even.) 4 4 

.11 



■ 



Ho. of 


Young. 


Adults. 


Total. 


4 




2 


6 


7 




2 


9 


3 




2 


5 


3 




2 


5 


3 


, . 


2 


5 



Day. Date. 

Tuesday 27.12.1966 
Wednesday 28.12.1966 
Saturday 31.12.1966 
Sunday 1. 7.1966 
Monday 9. 7.1966 

The young ones differ from the adults in their size, colouration and 
in their resting position. 

Young Flamingos : These are mostly whitish in colour all over the 
body with the exception of beak and most of the primaries which are 
black in colour while the legs are with reddish colouration. They 
have the height of 20 to 22 inches excluding the neck. 

The young ones always move in pairs and also feed side by side in 
a company in the shallow waters. I never saw these birds in the mid 
of tank or any spot round about the greater depth of water. 

These birds feed invariably in shallow waters and never feed on one 
spot. These are constantly in search of food and walk in the water 
so slowly that their reflection gets less disturbed. During feeding, 
the neck movements are similar with the trunk of elephant. Once, if 
the bird locates the area of food, then it starts feeding, finish 
the material from the spot within a minute or two and again move for 
the next spot. While feeding they have their necks and heads bend 
down in such a position, that the upper mandibles rest on the ground 
and then feed. 

These young birds get engrossed so deeply in their feeding that I 
could go as near as 50 feet and observe them and make a rough pencil 
sketch. 

Flamingos can walk easily on the muddy banks. When these birds are 
not engaged in feeding, they keep the neck close to the body in the 
form of 'S' shape. I never saw these birds running or swimming. 
Plying is another mode of locomotion. During flight neck and legs 
form a straight line and the wings beat at right angles to it. The 
wing beats are of moderate speed as. the distance to cover them 
was short, "ttiile landing these birds are unable to hold themselves 
immediately on one spot but they are to run the distance of 10-15 
feet and then stop. 

Adult Flamingos ; These differ in general from the young ones in 
height and colouration. The height is about 30 to 32 inches. The 
colour is rosy or scarlet at the beak, wing covers and primaries. 
The tip of the beak and primaries is black. I could not observe 
the adults during their feeding and walking. These were either at 
rest or sleeping whenever I went to Kapurwadi tank. 

The adult flamingos stand on one leg during their rest or sleep 
while the neck is bent back and the head is kept under the wing, 
especially under the right wing. I could sketch this position of 
the adult too. 

Resting position of the young ones is different from the adults 
and these young birds stand on both the legs even when these are at 
rest. 

It S3oms that one of the adults also work as a guard for the party, 
because one of the adults use to look around the area every few 
minutes. At this time the neck was in an 'S' shape position for this 
short period. After taking a short survey, it then inserted its 



i 12 t 



head within the wings as usual. 

I could not take the exact date of the departure of these birds 
but during ray next visit to'Kapurwadi the 15th January 1967. there 
was not a single flaningo in the shallow waters of the tank. 



B.J. Dangre 
Ahnednagar. 



Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu lane 

Andheri, Bombay 58-AS. 



NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 

Volume 7 -No. 5 -1967 May 



i 





FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 
~Vol. 7, No. 5 May 1967 

••;-.• --••-•;-:.-.. ... -■ ■ CONTENTS .. ■•■• 

■ -A XinnaeJi*. Alphabet. "By R, A, Stewart Melluish 1 

Reflections- on a report ef arson by the Cannon Crow. By K. K, -tfeelakan- 
tan ............. • *«*-.................... 3 

Social life. By Mrs Jamal Ara 4 

Whitespotted Fantail Flyeatcher. By Zaf ar Futehally 5 

Notes and Comments 6 

Correspondence : 

Birds of Assam. By Maureen Thorn (p. 7 ) ; Some bird notes from Bhuban- 

eswar, Orissa. By Leuis Werner (p. 9 ) ; An evening's birdwatchlng. By 
Kishore Kadiwar (p. 10)i On a peculiar nesti-ig b ehaviour of kite. By H. P. 
Mukherjee (p. 10 ) 



-— 



A LINNAEAN ALPh^BET 

By 

R+. Stewart Melluish 

It i«- unsatisfactory to be making constant reference to the Liannaean" 
names of birds without having any idea of their significance or the mean- 
ings of. their components. Even a little knowledge of these things not 
only makes the names much more useful but adds yet another facet to the 
pleasure of ornithology. I recently felt this very strongly and so began to 
compile a few notes, some of which follow. In these I am obviously doing 
nothing more than scratching the surface of the subject, but they do reveal 
some of its possibilities, For the purpose of this article I have merely 
taken one or two names beginning with each letter of the alphabet, and explo- 
red them to see what happens. The selection is not entirely random, though.^ 
I have chosen words that excited my curiosity. Some names look, and are, 
dull; others, either by sight or by sound, exercise a kind of enchantment, 
and demand investigation. 

As typed below, words in capitals are Linnaean names; those underlined are 
Greek unless I have "said they are something else. Verbs have been quoted 
in the first person singular of the present indicative, but translated as 
infinitives. The first time a word is mentioned I have marked the long 
vowels in it, if any, with a superior line. Nothing much is to be achieved 
by offering any further aids to the pronunciation of classical words, 
because to pronounce them as their original users aid is neither necessary 
nor possible. It is a help, though, to distinguish long and short, vowels. 
I would only add that ch in Greek words cannot reasonably be sounded as 
in 'church'; it probably ought to be Jkh' , like the hawking noise people 
make before they spit, but is is generally and acceptably passed off in 
contemporary English speech (the French and German practice would be 
different) as 'k' (cp. chloropsis,. shrysanthemum;. 



Most of the names I have listed are generic, but as they are singular in 
form I have translated them into the singular, or else avoided the awkward- 
ness of this by introducing the word genus. 

ACRIDOTHERES, the name of a genus of mynas, is a compound formed from 
akr *s (ste m akrid- ), locust, and therap , to hunt or chase. Similarly 
ARACHNCTHSrA" is one who hunts the spider, arachnes . 

AETHOPYGA, sunbird. aitho is to burn or blaze, and aithon means fiery, 
blazing or, of metals, flashing, glittering.- Cp« Ethiopia, which is the 
.land inhabited by Aithiopees ( aithon plus ops, face), men whose faces are 
burnt by the sun. pugg means rump or buttocks: the same word occurs in 
PYGARGUS, the specific name of the Montagu's Harrier, which has a white 
rump ( argos , gleaming,' white).' 

AETHOPYGA and PYGARGUS are so spelt, in spite of the spelling of their 
Greek originals, because almost all Linnaean names are lantinized, and the 
Romans turned, the Greek ai into ae, (usually) u into y and the ending -os 
into -us. 

The sunbirds' vivid coloration is reflected in two of their specific names 
as well a s the generic one: IGNICAUDA is from the Latin words ignis , fire, 
and cauda . tail; and saturata is Latin for richly dyed or saturated with 
colour. 

BUCEROS, hornbill. Horned like an_ox, or cow. From bous, an ox, and 
keras, a horn. In the family bTJRHINIDAE, the stone curlews, it is the 
birds' noses or beaks which are supposed to be ox-like: the word is rhls , 
which has a stem rhln-. Cp. rhinocerus. 

CHARADRIUS, plover, charasso is to cleave or cut into furrows, and charadra 
is a stream which cuts itself a furrow down the side of a mountain, hence 
also the bed of a gully or ravine itself. The word 'character' has the same 
origin: it is an engraved or impressed mark. The charadrine birds are so- 
called because some of them inhabit the beds of streams. 

CHRYSOCOLAPTES is a fine-sounding name for the golden-backed woodpecker. 
chruso3 means golden, and a koiaptes is one who pecks or chiseels at 
something: kolapto is the verb, and kolapter is a carpenter's chisel. But 
if I kolaphizo someone I box his ears* 

DELICHON, used of the house-martin, sounds as if it were -Greek, but it 
isn't, and seems to have been invented fairly recently. Mr, itiacleod, in 
his admirable book entitled A Key to the Names of 3ritish Birds (Pitman), 
says it is simply an anagram of the name of the closely- related swallow, 
CHELIdON. (CHELIDON has also been corrupted to provide a name for a genus 
of terns or sea- swallows, CHLIDQNIAS.) 

One of our representatives of the genus CHARADRIUS mentioned above is 
DUBIUS, the Little Ringed Plover, dubius has several meanings in Latin, 
but one which suits this bird very well is 'moving in two directions 
alternately', a s if dubious of the better path. If the ornithologist 
who chose this name for the species did so for some other reason, the 
ambiguity was a happy accident indeed. 



( To be continued ) 
* ■«• * * * * # 



REFLECTIONS ON A REPORT OF ARSON BY THE COMMON CROW 

By 

K.K. Neelakantan 

A few weeks ago a Trivandrum newspaper reported an interesting case of 
incendiariait. A crow, it was alleged, had stolen a burning wick from an 
oil lamp, carried it to the top of a thatched roof and set fire to the 
house. At first I dismissed it as another newspaper yam, as one cannot 
imagine a crow flying even a few feet with a burning wick, limp and oil- 
.--■:-;, without getting badly singed by the flame that would be swept back 
&a the bird flew. The theft of a wick from a lamp that is not lit would 
not be "news"; and if a 'crow* carried a burning wick some distance and 
placed it en a roof, it would be no crow but a poltergeist. That was how • 
I looked at it. But then I recalled a series nf ^-..-,^,i n(J articles by 
Dr. Maurice Burt-sn, in THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, dealing with a very 
similar subject, He had found R.S.R. Fitter, in his NATURAL HISTORY OF 
LONDON, quoting with wry humour, a hoary legend that some of the notorious 
fires of London had been caused by birds carrying live coals to roof-tops. 
Dr. Burton was not inclined to laugh at this old story because he had a 
■". c ; j>: /.'':..; n»r->-- r -or»bie which had a real mania for burning matches and 
- .,"±cd -l^^uveij. 

When Dr, Burton laid a handful of straw in the cage and set fire to it, 
Corbie at once carried off some of the burning straw and went into 
ecstacies over it -i.e. it "anted" with the burning straw. Dr. Burton 
says that the bird seemed to be immune to the flames. Often he had also 
observed it passing a burning match under its wings, and rubbing the glowing 
end. of a eigarerte into the feathers. 

Dr. Burtcn says that some other birds in his aviary reacted to smoke, fire, 
lemon-peel, moth-rings, raisins, hot ash, ant coccoons etc., in the same 
way c All this leads him to survey the literature on 'anting'. He examines 
the various theories and finds most of them inadequate. One of the theories 
is that some birds - even sophisticated Western ones! - are as fond of fire- 
walking as Indian holy-men. Dr. Burtoi does not accept the tdde.lv held view 
that birds 'ant' in order to get rid of ectoparasites. He found that birds 
free from such parasites were more addicted to 'anting' than "lousy" ones. 

In the final article (December 7, 1957) he writes: "My guess is .. that 
anting., represents a posture assumed at the height of e:;:'t.Rment, and it 
is normally associated with stimulation of the taste-buds primarily by heat 
or the impression of heat. If this hyp: h=?sis is correct it would mean that 
the anting posture is not an innate reaction to ants, and it would mean 
that ants, per se, have little to do with it." The NEW DICTIONARY CF 
BIRDS (1964) by Landsborough Thomson states that "the evidence points to 
its being a feather-ca;-. activity." Dr. Burton's hypothesis appears to 
ignore the fact - repeatedly observed by him - that his birds passed lighted 
matches under their wings. If the effect of fire and the other substance 
emp.oyed lor anting is on the taste-buds, why should birds apply these to 
the underwing? 

irfost of Dr Burton's first-hand observations relate to a jackdaw, a crow, 
and a jay living in his aviaries. If I remember rig'-'-., the observations 
of H,R. Ivor (summarised in an article in the NATION.. _' GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE) 
were also based mostly on captive birds, (for Dr. Bv : -,n's article see the 
ILLUSTRATED LGNDuN NEWS of July 16, July 23, and uc-. ,r 22, of 1955; Julv 
21, 1956 and Dec eir.be r 7, 1957. ) 

These essays make one wonder why there are few records of Indian birds 
'anting' ever fire and smoke or using cigarette-stubs, lemon-peel etc. 
This is remarkable considering the profusion cf sr.ouldering cigarette stubs, 
open fires, braving garbage etc, around our homos, on car roads, railway 
platforms and m^idans. Not a day passes without my seeing heaps of garbage 



burning somewhere on the way, and I have got quite used to the sight of 
bare-footed pedestrians suddenly leaping, into the air after stepping on 
a smouldering cigarette. Invariably there are crows and mynas all over 
the place, but I have yet to see any bird anting with a cigarette, at a 
fire or in smoke. Crows and common mynas 1 tempted with burning cigarette 
stubs have shown nothing but disgust. By- flinging out slices of coconut 
or other edible stuff which could be a colorable imitation of cigarette 
stubs and then suddenly throwing a cigarette stub, I have discovered that 
a crow can distinguish between edible things and the fag-end, even from 
great distances. It has never swooped down even to examine the cigarette. 
I have lighted fires out in the open where crows and mynas were present, 
but they either flew away or just ignored what should have been an ideal 
opportunity to rid themselves of ectoparasites or of stimulating their 
taste-buds I 

However, we should feel happy that Indian crows and mynas are seldom 
tempted to play with fire. If they were to develop thermophily and 
pyromania to the extent to which Dr. Burton's jackdaw, crow and pet jay 
appear to have done, the Indian country side and our urban slums would 
always be ablaze. 

Are birds living in a cold climate more prone, naturally, to seek waimth? 
Or do they find their normal diet so bland that they welcome every chance 
to titillate their taste-buds? Or cou''/i it be that birds in captivity 
take to various forms of anting to relieve the boredom of the cage, as 
modern youth in an addluent society is said to relieve its boredom by 
resorting to drugs? Fortunately Indian youth has so far been as well- 
behaved in this respect as the. Indian crowsi 

The article on anting in the NEb Dli/TIONARY uF BIRDS supports the view 
that only captive birds use substances other than ants for anting. It 
says that some individuals, "particularly those in captivity or other 
unnatural environment, come to use inappropriate 'substitutes' which have 
seme basic character or characters in common with ants, Such substitutes 
include smoke, moth-balls, cigarette ends, citron fruits and insects other 
than ants." 

I hope this note will not make the I.C.A.R. seek to strengthen its argu- 
ments in favour of crow- slaughter by saying, "CATCH THAT CHOVi before it 
destroys our slums and shacks". 

*********** * 



SOCIAL LIFE 
By 
Mrs. Jamal Ara 

Much has been written about the social life of insects like the bees and 
the ants, but the social life of birds has remained unpublicized. There 
are, of course, no queens, no drones, and no slaves either, in birdland, 
but birds have social habits, and some of thorn nest in colonies, birds 
of several species hunt together in mixed hunting parties, one helping 
the other. Salim Ali, one of the travellers into the Indian birdland, 
who has chronicled his experiences eloquently in his "Book of Indian 
Birds", says: "Just as you begin to despair you may round a bend in the 
path and suddenly find yourself confronted by a gathering that well nigh 
includes every species of the neighbourhood! There are birds on every 
hand: on the ground, among the bushes, on the trunks of the lofty trees 
and in the canopy of leaves high overhead. Tht-re are tits, babblers and 
tree pies, woodpeckers, nuthatches and drongos, flycatchers, minivets, 
and tree warolers and others besides. These mixed assemblages are a 
characteristic of our forests, both hill and plain. Here birds do not as 
a rule spread themselves out uniformly, but rove about in cooperative 
bands of mixed species in more or less regular daily circuits. All the 



-:( 5 ):- 

members of the association profit through the coordinated efforts of the 
lot. Babblers rummaging amongst the fallen leaves for insect-food disturb 
a moth which is presently swooped upon and captured in mid air by £ drongo 
on the loox-out hard by. A woodpecker scuttling up a tree trunk in search 
of beetle galleries stampedes numerous winged insects resting upon the pro- 
tectingly coloured barn or linking within its crevices. These are promptly 
set upon by a vigilant flycatcher or warbler and so on". 

This cooperative hunting by various tribes of the birdland is an achievement 
of social organization. The birds do not spread themselves out uniformly as 
in open country, because in the dim light of the forest the insects are very 
well concealed by protective colouring and if each bird were to search for 
its food by itself it may not get enough sustenance. In the roving together 
the maximum food is obtained at a great economy of effort. 

Social breeding in the bird land is usually of members of the same species 
nesting in one tree or the same locality. However, there are instances of 
birds of different species cooperatively nesting on the same tree. The 
Black-headed Orioles, and some other mild-uannered birds a s doves and 
babblers often build in the same tree as holds a nest of the black Drongo. 

Jt mSans the milder birds en J°y a degree of protection against nest 
robbers like crows and tree-pies. The Drongo will tolerate the proximity 
oi his harmless dependents with complacency, but a crow or a tree-pie has 
only to show himself in tho precincts of the nest tree to be furiously set 
upon and beaten off by the Drongo. In recognition of such duties the 
Drone c is unknown throughout the Deccan by the name of "Kotwal" or Policeman, 
and surely thxs is the strangest vocation among birds the world over. 

ff ?£ f ° r f, est u r°bbers and birds of prey crime is an insignificant factor 
in life in the bird land. There are a few delinquents like the Rosy Faster 
who occasionally gets drunk and the various cuckoos who shirk the drudgery 
of incubation and rearing up of children and lay their eggs in the nest of 
otner birds. The dupes rear the young interlopers which soon after hatching 
mil a few rightful chicks. One cuckoc with a forned tail uses the 
resemblance to the olack Drongo to be parasitic upon the policeman of bird 
-L&na himself'. 

WHITES! OTTED FANTAIL FLYCATCHER 

By 

Zafar Futehally 

On the 1st of April the newly bom White spotted Fantail Flycatchers were 
just three blobs of flesh, quite unsightly with the black skin shutting 
out their eyes and with nothing to indicate that thwy -had anything in 
common with the graceful parents which v.'ere flying around. It seamed to 
me then that the parents themselves were not too infatuated with their 
offspring for I went within two feet of the nest on several occasions for 
a look and I was neither attacked nor scolded. After a w< : ek on the 
morning of the 7th the situation had radically transformed. The three 
chicks looked most alluring, with the white eyestripe quite prominent, 
the body well covered with down and wing feathers, the eyes, very much 
open, ana the parents definitely unhappy about my being close to the 
nest. The three young are spillin, over the sides of the nest, and I 
cannot underst; ; .:d how they will be accommodated for the next few days 
11 they grow at the rate they have been doing. 

Both Parents feed the young. 1 was interested to see whether the three 
were fed by turns and during the ten minutes I observed them today, this 
was definitely dene: The feeding cycle being 1 2 3, 1 2 3 



-H 6 78- 

The nest is on an Ixora, just 4. feet from the ground, and alongside tfce 
wall of- our house. The overhanging branches of mango trees are full 'of ■ 
crows, and if this family survives their wicked intentions it will be 
a tribule to the fighting qualities of the adult Flycatchers. They can 
be pretty vicious when the survival of their progeny is involved. 

SA/ftZi Saw the three youngesters sitting erect in the nest at 10-00 
A.M. One of the parents flew close to me and scolded me quite loudly. 

21/4/67: The young chicks are now fairly grown and I have become persona 
UPJJ grata with the family. The adults keep me away from getting too 
close to the young. The three cfcicks are still being fed by the parents 
but have grown sufficiently mobile' and strong to avoid becoming, an easy 
morsel for crows. 

NOTES AND COMMENTS 

During the last outing of the Club at Tulsi lake on 19th March, members 
were fairly agitated at the impudence and unconcern with which head loads 
of wood, from trees freshly cut were being taken away. A suggestion was 
made that a delegation from cur Club and others interested in the outdoors 
should wait on the Chief Minister. The Honorary Secretary wrote to the 
Chief Minister as fellows: 

^'Unauthorised, lar^e-scale cutting of trees continues in Tulsi forest, and 
in view of the importance of this area for our city, a delegation of 
members of the Bombay Natural History Society, the Birdwatchers Field Club 
of India, and the Friends of Trees would like to call en you to discuss 
the possible ways in which the situation can be saved. 

This area of forest surroun ding our drinking water lakes, has to be 
preserved to prevent lakes from silting up, to induce precipitation of 
rains during the monsoon, to maintain the interesting complex of birds and 
animals which exists here, to preserve a fine laboratory for naturalists 
and a splendid recreation area where thousands of citizens enjoy themselves 
during the weekends. All that the Authorities need to do is to prevent 
the trees from being cut and to preserve the area from unauthorised exploi- 
tation in any way. It must" be stated with regret, that in spite of several 
representations made by the Society and ethers in the past, the Authorities 
have not taken any effective steps to bring this. 

Since the issue transcends in scope the jurisdiction of the Minister of 
Forests, and since it involves a basic decision of the land use of an 
area, we are writing to you. 

The delegation would like to impress upon you the vital importance of 
taking strong and urgent measures to prevent further denundation of the 
forest, and to offer suggestions about how this could be dene by the 
Authorities with assistance from voluntary organisations. 

May I request you to give us a suitable time during the next fortnight 
to meet you about this very important matter. " 

The PA to the Chief i-linister wrote to say that the CM was too busy at 
the moment, and "he desires that we should first see the Minister of 
Forests". A letter has been addressed to the Minister of Forests, to 
which there is as yet no reply. Members in their individual capacities, 
through the press, and contact with officials are requested to pursue 
this matter with the energy which the cause "deserves. It is gratifying 
to note that NJN in his 'Sunday Soliloquies ' of 16th April spoke up 
strongly for this representation for Tulsi, made by our Club. 

* * * * * , * * * * * * 



CORRESPONDENCE 



Bi rds of Assam 

Ever since 1 read the November Newsletter 1 h : -ve boon meaning to write and 
say how interested I was in i-ir. Pratap Singh's article on the birds in 
Assam and the Naga Hills. As you know, I was in Assam for many years, and 
though 1 never could go up to the Naga Hills, I did go more than once to 
Garampani, the Kaziranga and rianas Sanctuaries, to Daran£, to Shillong and 
Sonapahar in the Khasi Kills, to tea gardens in lipper Assam, and to Forest 
Reserves in Kamrup. As Ar. Singh so rightly says, it is a most exciting 
area for birdwatchingl I did not see all the birds he writes about, but 
perhaps he would be interested to hear where our observations coincidedl 
Reading through his List:- 

1. Fishing Eagles-. There were many Ringt ailed up and down the Brahmaputra 

round Gauhati, the i'lanas and Garampani. I also saw 
the Lesser Fishing Ea^le in the Kamrup forests. 

2. Crested Serpant Eagle. Often seen in Kamrup District. 



3. Black Eagle 

4. Brahminy Kite 

5. 'Shikra 

6. Barred Owlet 

7. Pigmy Owlet 

8. Pied Harrier 

9. Long-tailed 

Nightjar 

10-12 Swifts 



13. Bee-eaters 



14. Hornbills. 
15-16 Barbets 



18-21 Woodpeckers 



I do not thinN 1 ever saw this, but I an not very 
strong on eafles! I have notes on Ospreys. 

Seen in aU areas. 

In our Gauhati garden 

Heard and seen in cur Gauhati garden 

Heard only, in our garden 

Seen in fields in Kamrup 

Both heard and seen in Kamrup. The call was "chounk - 
chounk", so from Smythies 1 summary P. 370 I agree with 

Mr. Singh's identification. 

I watched house Swifts nesting in Shillong and palm 
Swifts round Burnihat, and both overhead from my 
garden, where there may well have been other varieties 
intermingling. 

I saw Dlue-bearded Doe-eaters in Kamrup jungle, in 
Garampani, occasionally in my garden and in tea gardens 
in Jorhat. Other Bee-eaters seen were the Blue-tailed 
Chestnut-headed and Common Green. 

Large Pied in Garampani, and in Kamrup Forests. *lso 
the Gr-=at and the Grey in Kamrup forests and the Manas. 

The Great was only heard m Kamrup forest and Sona- 
pahar, but i heard arid saw one in Garampani. 
Other barbets common to all areas are the Blue-throated, 
Lineated, and, of course, the Coppersmith. 

The Lesser Ye How-nape d can be seen in Kamrup jungle, 
Sonapahar, Garampani, and, once, in mv garden. The 
Pied and the Sfclden-backed are in all areas. 1 did not 
spot the Rufous and the. Pigmy 1 



22. Large Cuckoo- 
shrike . 



In all areas. The Lesser se- ; n only occasionally. 
23. Scarlet Mini vet In all areas. Jerdon's, once, in my garden. 



24. Chloropsis- 
The Orange- 
bellied 



In G^raapani, as well as one I couldn't identify. 
Gold-f rontid can be seen in all areas. 



The 



25.. Fairy Bluebird In Kamrup forests, Garampani and the lianas. 

26-31 Bulbuls I did not see the olive bulbul. 1 saw the alack in 

Shillong, Kainrup jungle, Sonapahar, Darang, and the 
Black-crested Yellow in Kamrup, Darang and my garden. 
The Brown Vvhite-throated was in Darang, Kamrup forest, 
the Manas, and Garampani. The Re d-whi Peered and Red- 
vented are common. 

32-38 Flycatchers No Ferruginous, but the Grey-headed and Red-breasted Come 

to the Kamrup forests and my garden in winter, and I saw 
both in Garampani in March and in Sonapahar in April, 
The Red-breasted was in Shillong in September. The 
Verditer is common there, and a rare winter visitor in 
my garden in Gauhati - the Black-naped i-Ionarch likewise. 
Both seen in Garampani and Manas in March and April. 



39. Babblers. 



40. Laughing 
Thrushe s 



41. Rock Thrushes 



43. Si bias. 



44. Tits 



45. Silver-eared 
Mesia 



I was interested in Mr. Singh's description of the Brown, 
and wish 1 could have another look at the ones I thought 
were Jungle 'Babblers. I saw or heard Quaker, Spotted and 
Striped in Kamrup Jungle, and the Scimitar in Garampani. 

I did not have the luck to see the White-crested, but I 
did see the Rufous-necked in Sonapahar, and the Neck- laced 
in Garampani . 

I saw the Chestnut- be Hied in Shillong and the Blue in my 
Garden once, and more frequently in Sonapahar, Ita.Tru 
and Garampani. 

I am in confusion over SibiasI I thought I saw the Grey 
Sibia in Shillong, Garampani and Sonapahar - and the 
Chest nut- backed in Sonapahar. 

The Green-backed are in Shillong, the Yellow-cheeked there 
and in Sonapahar, and the Sultan in Garampani. 

Seen once in Shillong. 



46. Red- starts 



47. CdLred Bush 
Chat 

50-51 Shrikes 



The Black Redstart was in my Gauhati garden in April '65 
and there was no sign cf white on the wing. 

I saw them in Garampani in December and April, and in 
winter from Kamrup roads, and in Kaziranga. 

The Black-headed was in Garampani in Decanber and in 
Sonapahar in January. The Tibetan comes to my Gauhati 
garden, Shillong, Kamrup Forests, together with the 
iirown, in winter. 

The Racket-tailed is in the Kamrup forest. The Hair- 
crested Ashy, Bronze and Slack are in all areas. 

Spotted in Shillong. 



53-56 Drongos 

57-53 Cinnamon 

Tree- sparrow 

59 Tree-pie 1 thought it was the Rufous that 1 saw. 

60. Mrs Gould's I have copious notes on this bird, having only once seen 
Yellow-backed the yellow back in spite of it being very common in 
Sunbird Gauhati '. 



* 



61. Imperial Pigeon Seen in Garampani and the Manas. 

63. Green pigeons Shikari friends produced the Thick-billed and the 

Yellow-footed, identified in Smythies. 

64. Rufous Turtle- Seen and heard in Gauhati garden, Sonapahar, and 

dove Kamrup Forest . 

66. Kalij theasant. 1 did not examine it as closely as Mr. Singh but 

saw it in Upper Assam, Kamrup forest, Manas, 
Sonapahar, Kaziranga. 

iiy notes cover many other species, not mentioned above, but I am already 
appalled at the amount of space I have taken up'. I wish 1 could compare them 
with Mr. Singh. Incidentally, I would like to add that I also enjoyed Mr. 
Melluish's article on Bird Books in the December issue, and endorse his 
mention of the usefullness of Smythies Birds cf Burma. It was invaluable in 
Assam and 1 do not know what I would do without it now, in the Terai 1 . 



Maureen Thorn 

Seme bird notes from Bhubaneswar, Orissa. 

On February 6, my wife and I saw a small flock (consisting of perhaps a dozen 
individuals) of the 31ack- throated Weave rbird ( Plo c eus benghalensis ) about 
six miles south of Bhubaneswar and a third of a mile west cf the Puri Read. 
About half of the time that we saw the birds, they were on some Ipomea sp. 
(ca rnea ?) that formed the border between a sizable marsh on the west and a 
dried-up paddy field en the east. The rest of the time, the birds were in 
the vicinity of the spiked bushes that I think are seme A^ave sp. These 
bushes divided segments of the dried-up paddyfield. 

The birds of the marsh, which lies near a fishery project, are remarkable in 
several respects. But if Salim Ali, Ripley, and Whistler are quite precise 
in their stateuents of the distribution of t loceus benghalensis. the occurrence 
of the flock in this area is probably the most noteworthy of the marsh's 
features. 

We regret that the marsh is not one of the places we can visit every day, 
and that we therefore do not know vjhether the flock had been there for some 
time, or even whether it is still there. *«e also regret that because Mr. 
o.d, Jayakar is not presently in Bhubaneswar, we could not ask him to 
confirm our sight- record. 

On March 7, in the neighbourhood of the Bhubaneswar Airport, I noticed a 
Coomon hyna ( Acridotheres tristis / whose "head" cr 'hood" appeared not the 
usual black, but entirely yellow. Once before, in t-'oona, I had seen a 
Cofimon Myna of similar appearance. The bird in iroona was on a rock in the 
Mula-Mutha River some distance from me, while I was on the bundh near the 
Bundh Garden; and I did not have binoculars with me. So I cculd not tell 
what gave rise to the poona bird's peculiar appearance. 

When I saw the Bhubaneswar bird, 1 happened to have binoculars with me, and 
I was able to get within thirty ft&t of the bird. He had almost no feathers 
on his head. There was a tuft of black feathers on the right side of his 
crown. There appeared to be two dark spots where his ear-coverts ought to have 
been; these spots were probably his cars. He did have feathers on his upper 
breast, though none any higher than this. But curiously of the feathers on 
his upper breast, only the lowest (i.e. , the ones closest to the abdomen) 
were balck. The uppermost were a pale colour. His "neck" on all sides was 
unfeathered and pale, not the bright yellow 01 his he ad and chin. 



-:( 10 ):- 



Since the bare patch at the eye of an ordinary Common Myna is yellow, I 
suppose the Bhubaneswar bird was not peculiar in his skin-colcur. As the 

phenomenon of a ye How- headed Common i-iyna does not seem coimnon, 1 suppose 
that the phenomenon dots not occur in the course of ordinary moulting. 1 

should of course like to know whether these two suppositions are correct, 

and also what might account for the Bhubaneswar bird having non-black 

feathers on his upper breast. 



Louis Werner 

An evening's birdwatching 

1 am now on my holidays from school, and quite frequently, I go out cycling, 
and keep .my eyes open, noting the birds around. I have seen ccthing very 
unusual,, -but on each occasion, I see birds which I know and which are 
commonplace, but each time, they become more familiar, and I find the same 
interest 'to watch theffli In fact, on each occasion, I seem to get a greater 
pleasure at watching them because I seem to know more about them, and also 
because 1 an finding it easier to look for the interesting facts about them, 
here is a small note on a cycle outing I had on the 2nd evening to the 
saltpans a few miles out from Jamnagar. 

On my way out, I first passed a pool of dirty water where there were wader3, 
out of which the Black-winged stilts were present in great numbers, There 
I also saw a Grey Heron. Riding further, I passed the city refuse dump, 
and there, I saw my friends the Black Drongos bullying the crows and the 
kites. It was really interesting to watch many other birds feeding on 
insects. 

At the salt pans, I saw many birds. Unfortunately, it was difficult to 
identify them as trey were quite far out in the shallow water, and I did 
not have a binocular with me. At least, I could recognise the Flamingos 
which were among them. There were a few Common Swallows flying a little 
above the water. 1 suspected a Wire-tailed Swallow among the group. 

I also saw two Terns (Gull-billed Terns?;, and a Gull flying towards the 
sea. In the distance on the far side of the pans, I could see a large 
congregation of Flamingos which appeared as mere white specks. 

As the sun was setting, I returned homeward, and on the way, I saw a vast 
flock of Rosy Pastors roosting down in a tree, passing the dirty pool, I 
saw a fohite-breasted Kingfisher, and so back home in the gathering dusk. 

Ki shore Kadi war 
Standard IX 

*• # # # «• -if- * # # # * 



Cn a peculiar nesting behaviour of Kite 

Last December '66 during our usual holiday for bird watching, we came 
across an incident which seemed to be a very peculiar. 

Krishnapur Village is situated C 4 Kms. east of the city, where mirshy land 
and salt lake covered a great portion. 



< 



-:( 11 ):- 

In last August we observed a nest cf Jungle Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 
wagler on the top of i big tree of Ficus relijiosa Linn, (which is 
commonly known as Asyotha). 

As we were interested to know the breeding, we were keuping a keen watch 
on that nest in view to study that, but uni'ortunatexy a pair of fariah 
Kite hilvus migrans Govinda drove them out and occupied the nest in last 
November '66. That time we observed that they -were busy in building, 
rather reconstructing ani repairing that nest which was little damaged 
in one side '. 

After this, in cur routine visit, as we v.ere keeping a close eye on it 
saw thi-t they were in possession of that nest. But after few weeks we 
could not locate them any more nor the original owner and builder. And 
lastly in the month of December '66, instead of the Pariah Kite we 
observed few Brahmini Kites were gliding on their wings above and around 
the tree. 

We saw some green twigs etc. they were putting on the nest, as they have 
occupied the left nest. 

Some nursery ponds for fish culture etc. nearby which seemed to be a good 
source of abundant food for them mi,<ht have created interest to prefer 
that place. 

I suggest these fish culture ponds have created interest as well as have 
attracted a number of Brahmini Kite Kaiiastur indus Boddaert. That 
abundant source of food hao become the target of them. On the contrary 
those tariah Kites could not tolerate their presence so they left that 
area. As that nest was nearby they have prefcred it. 



H.F. Mukherjee 



Zaf ar Futehally 

Editor, Nev.'sletter for birdwatchers 

32-A Juhu Lane, 

Andheri, Bombay 5&-AS. 



MSLE TTE R 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 



Volume 7-No. 6-1967 June 



1 



' 4 




FOR 

BIRDWATCHERS 
Vol. 7, No. 6 j un e 1967 



CONTENTS 

A note on the Genera Passera and Petronia 

in West Pakistan by Ton Roberts 1 

A Linnaean Alphabet by R.A. 3tewart Melluish 6 

April Comments by K.S. Lavkumar £ 

Crows moving house by Nazir Latif 9 

Notes and Comments 9 

Correspondence: 

Feather plucking and eating in birds by W.V. Soman 
(P« 10); Corrections by Mrs. Jamal Ara (p. 10). 



A NOTE ON THE GENERA PASSERA 
AND PETRONIA IN WEST PAKISTAN 

By 
Tom Roberts 

The sparrow tribe attract the attention and indeed the 
affection of anyone interested in birds not only because 
their sociable and vociferous habits make them obtrusive 
but also because they may usually be found in association 
with human habitations and in such a wide variety of 
country. 

Apart from Australasia and the New World where they have 
been all too successfully introduced, sparrows are found 
throughout the Ethiopian, Palearctic and Oriental faunal 
zones, and they tend to be resident in most of these areas. 
It is, therefore, noteworthy that two species and several 
races exhibit, strong migratory tendencies in West Pakistan. 
But before going on to record some of my observations of 
each species separately it is possible to characterise the 
two genera in a general way, by saying that all are rather 
small birds with strong finch-like bills ideally adapted to 
splitting hard graminaceous seeds. That they tend : to be 
highly gregarious in foraging, particularly in winter, t 
establish communal nightly roosts, to construct their bulky 
and untidy nests in holes or crevices, and to be garbed in 
rather sober browns and greys. All species have conspicuous 
pale or white tips to the median and greater secondry wing 
coverts which reveal themselves in two wing bars when at 
rest. 

The genus Montifringilla is closely allied and includes the 
snow finchs which probably don't enter into West Pakistan 
(Ripley 1962). Certain species of Passera are confined to 
Africa or the immediate Arabian region. But all the other 
known species of Europe and Asia, are conspicuous at certain 
times and regions in West Pakistan. 



THE COM .ON HOUSE SPARROW, Passer domesticus occurs in West 
Pakistan in three races all of which exhibit varying degrees 
of migratory tendencies. P.d. indicus is the common house 
sparrow of the Indus plains and all the Punjab where it does 
not migrate at all. The male is really quite a dapper gen- 
tleman in breeding plumage, having much whiter cheeks and 
brighter contrasting patches of liver chestnut on the sides 
of its crown and hind-neck than the European race. Anyone 
flying from, say Karachi to London, is at once struck by 
the contrast between the slim pale soarrows at the Air Port 
of embarkation (typical P.d. indicus ) and the much darker 
and larger sparrows which greet one at the point of disem- 
barkation which belong to the nominate race P.d. domesticus . 
Even the soot and grine of London and the undoubtedly less 
clement weather do net account for the sparrow's darker 
colouring and more puffed-out appearance. It is in one of 
the larger and more fasnionable of Karachi's hotels that 
this sparrow demonstrates perhaps the most striking feature 
of the species, that it is truly a commensal of mankind. 
The fully enclosed dining hall of this hotel has a resident 
population of sparrovs which appear to subsist entirely on 
the crumbs they gleai from around the tables, never ventur- 
ing for long out into the open and even nesting within the 
wainscoting ledge near the lofty ceiling. I have watched 
these sparrows and noted that they are extremely wary and 
hard to approach, yet will almost hop over the feet of an 
unsuspecting diner. Their nestlings are obviously reared 
on a diet of bread rather than the usual one of insects. 
This is only one typical illustration of other similar 
situations which the reader will no doubt call to mind 
showing how perfectly this little bird can and has adapted 
itself to man's way of life. 

I have observed that in the bigger townships of Baluchistan 
in the summer months, ths House sparrow is a common summer 
visitor and these birds appear to be identical with the 
race P.d. indicu s. In winter they all migrate to the plains 
and leave the field to their hardier cousins the Tree spa- 
rrows. In the northern Himalayan reaches of West Pakistan, 
two other races of the House sparrow are largely migratory. 
One race first noticed by Whistler is described as P.d . 
park in i and is characterised by its larger size- slightly 
longer wings and generally brighter colouration. I have 
observed that a few of these hardy birds remain throughout _ 
the winter up in Gilgit and Chitral valleys, but the majority 
migrate to the adjacent plains, preferring to spend the 
winter in the smaller and more isolated villages. I have 
seen them in winter in the villages on the edge of culti- 
vation on the border of Bahawalpur desert as well as in the 
S a lt Range. Whistler himself described the birds, which 
are resident in the Murree Hills and Rawalpindi plateau 
as being somewhat indeterminate in type between indicus 
and park in i (Whistler 1938* ). It is interesting to note 
that parTcTni prefers holes for its nesting sites (Bates 
and Lowther 1952) . The other race which is highly migra- 
tory, is Passer domesticus bactrianus and it breeds even 
further north and to the west, in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan 
(Vaurie 1959). The difference between these two races are 
very slight in fact and there is even some doubt as to 
whether they are separable (Ali 1963). But one year, in 
mid-April, I was motoring through a wild and lonely stretch 
of n orthern Baluchistan when I encountered numerous flocks 
of House sparrows flying from oast to west towards the 
Afghan border. 1 was particularly struck by their swinging 
flight and bold turns executed in perfect unison, Examina- 
tion of a flock of 150 or so which settled in some thorn 
bushes revealed these to be large House sparrows. With 
rather restricted black throat- patches and very dark chest- 
nut patches in the nape and side of crown, these sparrows 

. ;->^.l >»> -~^.r\ + ■ .- i-h,-. yar-c hapt.Harnia anrl woro c\r\ 



rctft-xaocui j-ii t-ui-ee rdtss cu.j- ux wnj.cn exniDit varying degrees 
of migratory tendencies. P.d. indicus is the common house 
sparrow of the Indus plains and ail the Punjab where it does 
not migrate at all. The male is really quite a dapper gen- 
tleman in breeding plumage, having much whiter cheeks and 
brighter contrasting patches of liver chestnut on the sides 
of its crown and hind-neck than the European race. Anyone 
flying from, say Karachi to London, is at once struck by 
the contrast between the slim pale soarrows at the Air Port 
of embarkation (typical P.d. indicus ") and the much darker 
and larger sparrows which greet one at the point of disem- 
barkation v/hich belong to the nominate race P.d. domesticus . 
Even the soot and gri.ne of London and the undoubtedly less 
clement weather do net account for the sparrow's darker 
colouring and more puffed-out appearance. It is in one of 
the larger and more fashionable of Karachi's hotels that 
this sparrow demonstrates perhaps the most striking feature 
of the species, that it is truly a commensal of mankind. 
The fully enclosed dining hall of this hotel has a resident 
population of sparrovs which appear to subsist entirely on 
the crumbs they gleai from around the tables, never ventur- 
ing for long out into the open and even nesting within the 
wainscoting ledge near the lofty ceiling. I have watched 
these sparrows and nctec that they are extremely wary and 
hard to approach, yet will almost hop over the feet of an 
unsuspecting diner. Their nestlings are obviously reared 
on a diet of bread rather than the usual one of insects. 
This is only one typical illustration of other similar 
situations which the reader will no doubt call to mind 
showing how perfectly this little bird can and has adapted 
itself to man's way of life. 

I have observed that in the bigger townships of Baluchistan 
in the summer months, the House sparrow is a common summer 
visitor and these birds appear to be identical with the 
race P.d. indicus . In winter they all migrate to the plains 
and leave the field to their hardier cousins the Tree spa- 
rrows. In the northern Himalayan reaches of West Pakistan, 
two other races of the House sparrow are largely migratory. 
One race first noticed by Whistler is described as P.d . 
park in i and is characterised by its larger size- slightly 
longer wings and generally brighter colouration. I have 
observed that a few of these hardy birds remain throughout 
the winter up in Gilgit and Chitral valleys, but the majority 
migrate to the adjacent plains, preferring to spend the 
winter in the smaller and more isolated villages. I have 
seen them in winter in the villages on the edge of culti- 
vation on the border of Bahawalpur desert as well as in the 
S a lt Range. Whistler himself described the birds, which 
are resident in the Murroe Hills and Rawalpindi plateau 
as being somewhat indeterminate in type between indicus 
and parkin i (Whistler 193$). It is interesting to note 
that~ parkihi prefers holes for its nesting sites (Bates 
and Lowther 1952) . The other race which is highly migra- 
tory, is Passer domesticus bactrianus and it breeds even 
further north and to the west, in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan 
(Vaurie 1959). The difference between these two races are 
very slight in fact and there is even some doubt as to 
whether they are separable (All 1963). But one year, in 
mid-April, I was motoring through a wild and lonely stretch 
of n orthern Baluchistan when I encountered numerous flocks 
of House sparrows flying from «ast to west towards the 
Afghan border. I was particularly struck by their swinging 
flight and bold turns executed in perfect unison, Examina- 
tion of a flock of 150 or so which settled in some thorn 
bushes revealed these to be large House sparrows. With 
rather restricted black throat patches and very dark chest- 
nut patches in the nape and side of crown, these sparrows 
undoubtedly belonged to the race bactrianus and were on 






V 



^url 71 !!! p5.SSclgc by one-Li w couiiig giumiu^ -^» «*£,— .- — w .. 

A friend of mine working in Sind noticed huge flocks 
gathering in communal roosts in late March, around 
jacobabad and Usta Mohammad Khan in south eastern Baluchistan. 
These sparrows disappeared at the end of March, and were 
probably of the same race bactrianus . 

TKE SPANISH SPARROW - Passer hispaniolensis . This sparrow 
is resident in the Meditarrenean countries where it co-ex" ats 
with the House sparrow. It is sometimes called the willow 
sparrow in such countries because of its predilection for 
damper places and for nesting in pollard willows. In Europe, 
it is confined to the rural areas, whilst the House sparrow 
occupies the urban areas* It is a veryhandsome sparrow with 
bright white cheeks, a much more prominent white loral streaK 
and line behind the eyes. Its upper breast is covered with 
rich black streaks which extend right down its flanks, jnere 
is an eastern race formerly known as Tschusi's sparrow which 
breeds in Turkistan and Transcaspia (Gavnloy 1963). .It is 
highly social or colonial in its nesting habits and migrate 
into West Pakistan as well as India in winter. I have twice 
encountered it in the S a lt Range a large flock m late 
October and several small flocks on the borders of Cnolistan 
desert in Bahawalpur in mid-February. It shuns ^an's 
dwellings in winter, keeps in flocks and though it feeds in 
stubble fields and depends upon cultivation, it sticks to 
open country and keeps v'^U away from villages, it gathers 
into enormous congregations at the start of its northern 
migration and travels through the former N.W.F.P. (Whitehead 
1909) and Chitral in late March and early April (Fulton 
1904). This must be one of their main migration routes; 
in October lesser numbers are observed passing through 
Chitral. 

TREE SPARPCW - Passer montanus . Only one race occurs in 
West Pakistan, which is distinguished by its very pale 
colouration. This is a rather shy sparrow which in Europe 
is confined to the better wooded areas. However, in Asia, 
it is a bird of the mountains and where the House sparrow 
offers no competition it is trully commensal with man. It 
is found through the higher regions of Baluchistan from 
Mekran right upto Fort Sandeman, I have not noticed it 
away from villages and human habitation. From April onwards 
to late November it can and does coexist with the House _ 
sparrow but the latter is undoubtly more aggressive. It is 
interesting to contrast the very barren treeless hills of 
Baluchistan with the better wooded areas of Europe which 
this same species normally prefers. In Lorelai on May 8th 
I watched Tree sparrows feeding their fully fledged young 
on the lintel of a house in the heart of the bazaar and 
have no doubt that they had nested in some crevice between 
the roof and the wall. Like other members of the genus, 
both sexes assist in the nest building operations and also 
in feeding the young before and after they leave the nest. 
The Tree sparrow aoes not build its nest in the fork oi a 
tree as the House sparrow occasionally does and the Spanish 
sparrow invariably does. Up in Chitral., in early June, I 
have observed the Tree sparrow to be the dominant species 
in villages of the main valley; exhibiting all the. traits 
of the house sparrow. Foraging in huge flocks and attacK 
ing ripening wheat grains and living in the heart of the 
bazaar. The same race P.m. dilutus occurs in- Chitral as 
in Quetta. It is the only sparrow I know oi where both 
male and female wear identical plumage. 

SIND JUNGLE SPARROW - Passer pyrrhonotus . Here, we have a 
sparrow which definitely shuns the proximity oi man and 
his activities, which is resident and non-migratory and 
more restricted in its world distribution than any other 



within the Indus nlain a«a +•>,« ^ . ,^'* . ■ Ll ' s r ange falls 

in a hole in a tret hut «?? • aest ls als0 n °t built 

or climbing vineT i e ° ! "v! " 6 dense tho ™ thicket 
a_i . fo VJ - iiC « i nave seen the oarpnt-n pawwi«™ f~ j 

It is comparatively uncommon in southern chitral in ? ho 
better wooded area but its main stronghold is in Jazara 
District and. the jjurree Kills where it even comes into th« 
villages when it doesnot have to compete with thl Uolle 
sparrow. But normally if retreats before the latter IL„ 

i ine Sws? ^1/lT^^ ^ ^ / ^ -^ 

ffn^t? Ve S ^M Vel) -' This was obviously a second brood 
as nesting activity in that area commonly starts in lite 
?K V In , late September it tends to gather into quit* 
Jprf«/i°^ S i2 nd S°~ d6SCend t0 the outfr hills 5he?eblre 

The genus Petronia contains but two species both nf «hi«u 

an? Alia? ^ I " ountain ran S es °^ both southern Eur Spe 

THE YELLOW THROATED SPARROW - Petronia xanthocullis is a 
summer visitor to northern SinTuBTTSe Pun ^arr iving 
April'^wLS al r, ^ fetter. wooded districts frcTelrSf 
h?n= ??JSF?' , It extends right up to the Kurree foot- 
™ (4 °^° Ieet above sea level) to breed in the early 
summer. in southern Sine! it may be parcially residential 
They are at once recognizable as sparrows in general 
appearance but their bills are much slimmer at the base 

?H^'t^? Sh ? rpIy £°i? ted > ? howi «g a lesser degree of 
adaptation to a wholly grain diet. In fact they are extre- 

rSon°w?rrl ?*?? : - ulb f!"' les when they first arrive in t hi 

hiMi hS, 1 ^k The \ y " re much raore arboreal in feeding 
hrnan h Su,J Y ° t ^ e °2 her s P arr °ws - and rather shun S 
human habitations. As they come to this area to breed, 



-: ? :- 



they remain fairly dispersed, but in parts of India where 
they winter, they congregate into flocks and feed in the 
stubble fields. They always nest in holes of trees and 
i have found several nests in what appear to be abandoned 
parrots nest holes, in both Tamarisk and Dalbergina trees 
in late May and even early June. 

This is the only sparrow of these two genuses in this part 
of the World which has no streaks on the mantle feathers. 
Its wings have two very prominent white wing bars and the 
lesser secondry wing coverts are bright chestnut. The male 
has a lemon yellow spot on its upper breast (not throat) 
which is fairly easy to see. It has quite a melodious 
little song during the breeding season, in contrast to the 
other sparrows. The race inhabiting this region is P.x. 
transfuga . 

ROCK SPARROW - Petronia petronia intermedia. This bird 
breeds from Transcaspia to TurKestan, Uzbekistan and northern 
Afghanistan. In winter it migrates to the outer ranges of 
the Himalayas and Whistler recorded seeing a flock of 15 on 
the rocky banks of the Indus as far south as Attock. My only 
experience of them is in Gilgit main valley in mid-December 
feeding in stubble fields in mixed flocks with Pine Buntings 
Common Rose Finches and Meadow 3untings. They were conspi- 
cuous by their generally pale sandy colouration, pale super- 
ciliary streak and darker median streak on the sides of the 
crown." Their tails seemed relatively short and their whole 
build was thick-set and stubby. The yellow throat patch was 
very difficult to discern. Their bills are much heavier 
than the other Petronia species and though most books des- 
cribe this sparrow as shy and avoiding human habitation, I 
saw it frequently fly up to the walls and roofs of villages 
houses on the edge of cultivation. They nest usually in 
holes in the ground or rock crevices, preferring to occupy 
disused animal burrows. 



REFERENCES 



RIPLEY S.D. 



WHISTLER H. 



BATES R..S.P & 
LOWTHER E.H.N. 

VAURIE C. 



ALI SALIM 

GAVRILOV E.I. 

WHITEHEAD C.T.H, 
FULTON H.T. 



A SYNOPSIS OF THE BIRDS OF INDIA AND 
PAKISTAN (1961) Bombay. 

The bird of the Rawalpindi District - 
IBIS. Jan. 193S. 

Breeding birds of Kashmir (1959) Oxford 



The birds of the Palearctic Fauna (1959) 
London. 

A note on the Eastern Spanish Sparrow etc. 
J.B.N.H.S. Aug. 1963. 

The biology of the Eastern Spanish Sparrow 
etc. J.B.N.H.S. Aug. 1963. 

The birds of Kohat & Kurram IBIS Jan., 1909. 
Birds of Chitral - J.B.N.H.S. Vol. XVI 1904. 



LANDS BOROUGH 
THOMSON A. 



A new dictionary of birds (1964) London. 



A LINNAEAN ALPHABET 
( Continued) 

By 

R.A. Stuart Melluish 

ERMOPHILA is the horned lark, erema are deserts, and 
g|i? means love. The birds of thTs-genus are truly ere- 

?QWTBn?E™ ?i ln e ? 1 J dei ????' 0f E - ALPESTRIS 
LONGIROSTRIS, alpme and longoilled, which breeds in Kashmir, 
Bates end Lowther write, 'this is .... one of the desert " 
mTh.rSift" stronghold is amongst the upland plateaux 

and bare hillsides across the mam Himalayan divide 

nothing is to be gained by looking for them on the green 
grass and bush-dotted hillsides and margs, but only on the 
bare screes and drier slopes well above the treeline.' 

S^ESSFJAh.* ge T S , ° f f inch "larks, contains the same idea 
of desert compounded with pterux , a wing, hence a bird. 

ERITHACUS, which is applied to a large genus of 'flycatchers' 
d??f^?f *J e Ni Shtingale, Rubythroats and Bush Robins, is 
hi J iSS* *? account for ' " Plin y ^es it of a bird, but it 
na ? evidently not oeen translated. The very similar word 

llil ^ e T o S H b f" b ^ ad ( ' the P ° llen oi ' flow ers collected by 
-tch L fo? • °f their young', says Chambers's), or sanda- 
rach, which is the resin of the sandarach tree, a Moroccan 
lE e mi?7 ° C ° nif ? Which is P° wder ed to form pounce and used 
in making varnish. And erithacis is a female day-labourer. 
Very wide of the mark. y Xctuuuxer ' 

^i?2' falcon. This word is probably from the same root as 
Phalkos, bandylegged, phalkes, the bent rib of a ship, and 
iaxx, which is Latin for a pruning-hook or sickle. The root 
appears again in the Latin verb flecto, meaning to bend, 
which has many familiar English derivatives., e.g. flex. The 

their n beak-? thelr am * Z ° thS ° UrVe ° f their claws > or is ^ 

GELOCHELIDON, gullbilled. tern, gelao is to laugh, but if 
one wished to name a bird 'laughing swallow', happy notion, 
analogies suggest that the proper form would be gelTJtoche- 
lidon. Cognate with gelao , however, (.the root is gal, to 
far t r n 1S f^ ar8 ^ SnF-(cp. galaxy), and gelo, fge Latin 
iorto freeze (wBTch gives us the English worcTjelly), and 
it is probable that in GELOCHELIDON we have a milk-white 
swallow, or one the colour cf frost. 

Our GELOCHELIDOMES are NILOTICA simply because the typical 
specimens were described from Egypt. 

HALCYUN, kingfisher. This, word is the Greek alkuoh. The 
initial h has been added on the apparently mistaken assum- 
ption that the first part of the word comes from hals, 

sea (cp. HALIASTUR, HALIAEETUS). The related LatirTword ' 

is alce"do , used of another genus of kingfisher and in the 
iamily name. In mythology Alkuon, or Alcyone, is the wife 
oi Ceyx, son of the morning star (and yet another kingfisher 
genus j. Ceyx being drowned in a shipwreck, Alcyone finds 
his dead body and is so overcome with grief that the gods 
ta*ce pity on her and metamorphose both her and her dead 
husband into kingfishers . Alcyone and Ceyx make- -their- -■• '" 
nests atsea, and the Alcedonia is a period of fourteen 
days during winter when the waves stay calm for the purpose; 
hence the familiar phrase 'halcyon days'., applied to a 
period of peace and quiet. 



ICTHYOPHAGA, the genus of fishing-eagles, is ajnis-spelling 
for ICHTHYOPHAGA, from ichthus, fish, and phago, to eat. In 
classical literature the Ichthyophagi were a tribe of men 
who inhabited the shores of the Arabian Gulf ana, one must 
suppose, ate its fish. 

IRlNA PUELLA, the Fairy Bluebird, is to my ear a particularly 
charming name, as long as 1 in IRENA is rhyme a with 'ram'. 
eirene means peace; puella is Latin ior a girl. 

IXOBRYCHUS, a genus of bittern, is puzzling bruch- is the 
stem of a verb meaning to roar or bellow, ancHnust denote 
the bitterns' boom, ixos is mistletoe, or oirdlime made 
from its berry; ixeuoT T^o catch with birdlime. What 
should we understand by this compound? 

JYNX is the Greek word iungx , meaning wryneck, which was 
so-called because of its-cry: iuz£ means to shout or yell 
with grief or pain. Liddell ana Scott's Intermediate 
Greek-Engl ish Lexicon contains the following comment, 
w hich I find somewhat obscure: 'The ancient witches used 
to bind it to a wheel, believing that, as it turned, it 
drew men's hearts along with it.' Hence the word was used 
metaphorically of a spell or charm, or a passionate yearn- 
ing? Pliny suggests that by means of a _ wryneck and the 
proper spells unrequited lovers could win the hearts of 
those they longed for. 

KITTA is the only satisfactory K, and in naming the magpie 
thus modern science has merely borrowed Ar istot eso 
word. Another form is kissa. kiss^ means to crave for 
stranre food, as pregnant women are alleged to do. ine 
ilea Iprings fromthe greedy false appetite of the bird. 

LEPTOPTILOS, adjutant. leptos , fine; ptilos, down. 

LONCHORA, the munias' name, describes their tail, oura, 
which is the shape of a spearhead, longche. 

LYMNOCRYPTES is a fine name, though in fact a mis-spelling 
of IIMNOCRYPTSS. limne is a mere or marshy pool, and 
krup™ if onfhidHenT- It fits the snipe kind admirably 
and^un f ortunately no longer seems to be in use. The Latin 
papftta which has replaced it, is a shegoat, or (as a 
Se^of' abuse) a dirty fellow. The connexion with snipes 
. t "„«„„ Lit it ic= nrobablv through the star called 
Capefla in the consLSatfon'of Auriga, the rise of which 
?Se Romans associated with the coming of the rainy season. 

MEROPS is the name of the bee-eater genus, but the reason 
whv eludes me. merops is made up of two words, '^ros 
fining hL? e and-0£^voice, and itself connotes^Tgo 
t divides the voices that is to say, one who is ^.rticuiax-e 
12 sketch. I don' t understand what this has to do with 
eating bees. 

MOLPASTSS was a fine evocative name for the bulbul which 
is ^fortunately now replaced in use by th ejejune and 

& PY S2 M lllfof^e rerLre?r!4m\;he d s^ froot 
H^HloSy? Though Melpomene was the Muse of Tragedy, 
her name means Songstress. 

is the first Sf the month, from neos, new and asn, 



arquata is Latin for arched or arc-shaped. Whoever first 
applied these names to the Curlew was as much poet as 
scientist, for it would have been hard to produce a more 
lyrical or evocative combination. They are fine liquid 
words, lapped by the ripples of an estuarine meander, 
and they reflect the sheen of wet mud. 

( To be continued) 
* * * * * * 

APRIL COMMENTS 

By 
K.S. Lavkumar 

April is a month of expectations; the trees which have lost 
all their leaves after the strong winds of March, are flu- 
shed with a light mantle of green as buds appear ready to 
burst forth into full foliage immediately the first rains 
come. Gulmahores or Flambouant Trees, Coral Trees, and a 
few late Flames of the Forest are ablaze with orange, red 
and crimson flowers, Indian Leburnums are a splash of 
yellow while a white b*lo surrounds leafless branches of 
Drumstick Trees. In gardens Jasmins are in full bloom 
and their white flowers spread a scent into the surrounding 
air. The Neems are now green and shady and one realises 
why they are so popularly grown in backyards of rural homes, 
for just when the summer heat is at its maximum, these 
gracious trees are deep, cool havens for man and birds 
alike. So also are the Pipals and the Banyans. Banyans 
are possibly the grandest of trees during' summer time when 
with the world looking jaded seem to be totally impervious 
to temperature or dryness. Their red figs are an added 
scource of attraction to hosts of avian visitors. With 
the Banyans, Mangos cast their gracious shade, and. most of 
these fine trees are loaded with unripe fruitdust storms 
are noc very welcome now as it would mean the ruin of the 
mango crop. 

Birds, who are c_uite the most sensible of living things, 
are all full of song and cheer. Sunbirds are about with 
families about to graduate from the nest into a great 
world full of flowering -trees, cocky Dhyals rise to the 
top.aost twigs of trees to pour forth liquid tunes 
englogising the morning sun, Parakeets are busy courting, 
and exploring cavities in trees for their nuptials, White- 
eyes are shyly singing their ditties as they explore for 
suitable twigs to sling their hammocks of gossamer from, 
perky Tailors have already started sowing cradles for their 
prospective families, and Co;.,..on Mynahs and pretty Brahuiny 
Mynahs are trying to evict sleepy Spotted Owlets from their 
bedrooms in hollows of gnarled trees. loras have begun to 
aquire their raiments of gold and satin and Orioles flash 
among the . cool arbours continually letting flow their rich, 
fluid notes. Black Drongos have chosen their mates and 
have started staking out territories around thorny Babools 
while Rollers and Hoopoes- seem to find the summer's heat 
heady ana their courtings are in full swing. Oh I forgot 
to j'.iantion my next door neighbour the coppersmith buoy 
Konk - Konking away, but then there is so much to write 
about, that there is no time left to do so. One day, I 
hope to sit down and write, and write to the wonderful 
month of April, and also produce words of praise for 
summer the forgotten season. 



CROWS MOVING HOUSE 

By 

Nazir Latif 

I observed a curious phenomenon the other day which has 
left me wondering. 

From the verandah of our flat in Alipore, Calcutta, we 
overlook a mango tree which grows in our neighbour's 
garden but whose branches trespass into ours. Every year 
for the past three years that we have lived in this flat 
crows have built a nest in the mango tree and raised a 
family during March/ April. On each occasion, except this 
year, the nest was located in a particular fork of the 
tree. This year the favourite fork was abandoned in favour 
of another on the opposite side of the tree. 

Imagine my surprise when, on my return from office one 
afternoon, I -'ouna the whole nest bodily transferred from 
its new location to the fork which had been the nesting place 
during the last two years T The transfer had taken place 
during the course of one day as I had noticed the nest in 
its original place whilst I was having breakfast in the 
verandah that morning. The twigs which went to make up the 
nest were not tidily arranged in the new location and I 
rather assumed that the mali next door, having climbed the 
tree to pluck green mangoes, had found the nest in the way 
and having bodily flung it on to one side it had happened to 
alight in the old fork. It soon became clear, however, 
that such was not the case. The nesting pair of crows con- 
tinued to visit the nest and in due course an egg or eggs 
were laid in it and last week a chick was duly hatched. 
It was not possible to see whether there had been more than 
one egg laid but in any case this does not affect the poin* 
of my story. 

The reasons and even more so the method employed fcr moving 
the nest bodily have left me mystified and 1 won«er if any 
of your readers can throw any light on this occurrence . 



* * * * * $ 
NOTES AND COMMENTS 



From time to time Birdwatchers have been apprehended by 
the police, and by "patriots", who suspect that the 
binoculars are being used to unearth state secrets useful 
for the enemy. Your Editor had to do a lot of explaining 
before being released, once in the Kolaba District in 
Maharashtra, and again at Mehrauli in Delhi.' Both these 
incidents took place during or immediately after the Indo- 
Pc..kistan war, when patriotism had reached its high water 
mark . 

But it is surprising to learn from a letter received from 
Mr. K.P. Jadav, Rajkot on 5-4-1967 that his "binoculars 
were suspected as a means of spying". 

It is time the Government and particularly the police were 
told that there is such an occupation as bird watching, and 
that a person with a pair of binoculars and note book and 
Pencil is not necessarily a criminal. 

$ 3{c # * $ 



CORRESPONDENCE 



Feather plucking and eating in birds 

Reference correspondence on 'Crow eating feathers' by 
D.N. Mathew of Bombay, published in your. issue of April 
196?, it is often noticed that the disease - "Feather 
plucking and eating" is found in caged birds such as 
parrots, canaries etc. and so also in the fowls. 

The cause of this disease is said to be the lack of alkaline 
salts or calcium, at times a very high protein diet or even 
a complete deficiency of proteins may lead to this ailment. 
The disease is similar to "Licking sicKness 1 ' 1 in bigger 
animals. 

No definite reason can be given in this particular case of 
the crow, but it is just possible, that the bird was being 
troubled by some minute insects such as lice or had very 
heavy feed on the animal protein (dead animal), and when 
felt uneasy, tried to get itself relieved by some erratic 
means. 

W.V. Soman 
Bombay 



* * >[( >je * $ 



Corrections 



Please refer to the April issue of the Newsletter for 
Birdwatchers. There are number of printing errors. In the 
article, "Birdwatching At Narvanda", 'Rufous' has been mis- 
printed as 'Fufous' in the 2nd last paragraph on page 3. 
Then in "An Evening at Pashan Lake", the writer is referring 
to 'Avadavats ' , which has been misprinted as 'Amadavats', 
in the concluding paragraph on page 8. 

Regarding my own article on "Larks", a portion has been left 
out on page 4, line 6 from below. The sentence "Their 
plumage is usually brown below", should read as "Their 
plumage is usually brown with darker streaks above and white 
streaked with brown below;". The Hindi name of the Rufous 
tailed finch lark is "AGGIYA", and not "AQQIYA" as misprinted 
on page 7. 



Mrs. Jamal Ara 



Zafar Futehally, 

3ditor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 

32-A, Juhu Lane, 

Andheri, 

Bombay 58-AS. 



NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 



Volume 7-No. 7- 1967 July 



. ). 




' ■ FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 



Vol. 7, No. 7 



July 196? 



CONTENTS 

Birdwatching in the Dangs by E.M. Shull 1 

A visit to Periyar by Miss Shama Futehally 4 

A Linnaean Alphabet by R.A. Stewart Helluish 6 

More about Moondaidappu by K.PC. Neelakantan n . i 

Rajkot on 10th June by K.S. Lavkumar 8 

Notes and Comments , . . . : ., , , 9 

Correspondence: 

Arrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo in Ahiuedabad by 
S.D. Jayakai (jf.10 ); Indian Reef Heron observed in Poona 
by V.N. Kelkar (p. H) ; Miscellaneous observations by 
Lt.Col. A. David (p. 11 ) ', N3Sts made of wire by the Common 
Crow by A.S. C-ilao , (p.12 ); 



BIRDYtf'ATCHING IK THE DANGS 
r-nest M. Shull 



For more than a quarter of 
interest people in nature 
of birds, while living at 
the Dangs District, I trie 
teachers, farmers, foreste 
magnificent avifauna of 



century I hav 



a century I have oeen trying to 
study and particularly in the st 
Ahwa (1952-64), headquarters of 



been trying to 

study 



oouden'os 

the 

the 



Surat Dangs. 
2; ; 1 species 



t\ 



ne area na 
Ln the Danes. 



were collected and the o 
Dr. Salim All's two articl 
ehed in Volume 52 of the J 
HISTORY SOCIETY, have been 
the birds of th; range. 



d various ways to interest 
rs, officers and others in 
is area, c Dmrrionly known as 
a wealth of bird life. I found 
Out of this number 140 species 
ers constitute sight observations. 
es on THE BIRDS OF GUJARAT, publi- 
OURNAL 0F_THE BOMBAY NATURAL 



invaluable to me in studying 



By collecting biros for the American Museum of Natural 
History in New York, a great deal of interest was created 
among the Bangis. The students of our Mission School were 
fascinated by the bird study skins. Many students and 
others liked to watch me skin and prepare the birds. I 
frequently used these specimens for bird lectures in the 
school and in other institutions. 

The bird collection stimulated interest in hiking to see 
the live birds in their natural habitats. The Dangs forest, 
with its teak trees, bamboo clumps, hills, valleys, and 
streams, attracts a great variety of birds and offers many 
fine hiking opportunities. Occasionally a small ir teresteci 
group or a class of students was taken on a bird hike in 
this area. "A:.ny sight observations took on more meaning 

when t.ho hi rvi in t.hp f*i p"M was rn:,.narp.ri wi t,h thp itimirit.pri 



and eggs, but not to molest or destroy them. This was an 
exceedingly difficult concept to teach in the Dangs, because 
these hill tribe peoples were often hungry. Birds and eggs 
of every species - even those of the tiny white-eye and 
sur birds - were eaten by them. I watched a Dangi boy catch 
a tailor bird on its nest and then heard him remark that he 
was going to eat it. Although such situations are to be 
expected among poor people, they are also regrettable. 
Cormorants, darters, fish-eating ducks, and other oily birds 
are frequently eaten. I recall with a degree of remorse my 
first taste of a darter or snake-bird which was roasted over 
an open charcoal fire in the Dangs forest at night. Its 
flesh was tough, but free from oil because it had been 
thoroughly roasted. 

I use every opportunity to teach the importance of the con- 
servation of birds and other kinds of wildlife. When I was 
shooting birds with a 1 2-guage Winchester shotgun and its 
two adapters (one .32 and one .410), the question was some- 
times asked about my part in the conservation program. My 
explanation of the scientific nature of the project probably 
satisfied some of my questioners but not all of them. After- 
all, the Hindus respect for all living things (a concept for 
which I personally have a great deal of respect) makes the 
collecting Oi any form of animal life more difficult. Never- 
theless, the limited objectives of the bird-collecting 
project were largely achieved. 

While living in the Dangs, 1 continued to record daily the 
birds seen and heard. The discovery of another species 
added to my everincreasing Life List of Birds, which now 
numbers 1,142. Of course, I have had the advantage of 
three trips around the world and sixteen years of residence 
in India. Daily lists become more significant when detailed 
notes are recorded; for example, counting and recording the 
number of each species in a selected bog, marsh, swamp, 
field, forest, or garden. In the Mission School Garden at 
Mulchond, a village five miles down the ghat fromAhwa, some 
birds were permanent residents, others winter visitors only, 
and still others of uncertain status. Students could easily 
see the damage caused by the Rose-ringed, Blossom-headed, 
and Large Indian Parakeets to the mango, guava and other 
fruit trees in our school garden. Yet, it was probably not 
so easy for them to understand the value rendered to the 
garden by the presence of the many species of owls, hawks, 
woodpeckers, swallows, flycatchers, warblers, thrushes, 
sunbirdo, flowerpecke^s, and many other species occupying 
the garden. The value of these birds to the gardener, the 
forester, and the cultivator needs to be stressed. Generally, 
the hill people were interested only in their value to them 
as a source of focd, especially of meat which most Dangi s 
/help in relish. Thus it was imperative to teach how these/many other 
ways . In fact, the listing of hawks, owls, and other birds 
of prey (excluding the vultures) as vermin in the Small Game 
L icence of Bombay State is a grave mistake, as I see it. 
As ornitnologists know, birds of prey help to control the 
number of rodents, harmful insects, etc. . Each species 
makes its own contribution to the balance of nature. If 
the law regarding ohe free shooting of the birds of prey 
(Raptores) has not yet been repealed or modified, it should 
be done so as quickly as possible. 

Birds should be studied as a part of the total ecology of 
an arc:... For example, let us take the Cattle Egret. 
Formerly it was uncommon in the Langs, but in recent years 
its numbers have greatly increased. Perhaps this facts 
has eerie correlation with the increase of the number of 
milk cows in the Dangs. The climate, flora,& fauna (including 
man) greatly influence such changes in an area. The number 



of cattle, cattle parasites, cattle egrets, large carnivores 
(tigers, panthers, etc.), the acreage of forests vs. pasture 
and cultivated lands, and other factors help to determine 
the extent of bird life in an area. Birdwatchers should 
study the behavioral patterns of birds in their respective 
ecosystems • 

In addition to listing the species observed, it would be 
helpful to count the number of each species of birds in a • 
prescribed area. In America, this is partially accomplished 
by the annual Audubon Christmas Count. One day each year, 
December 25th, groups of birdwatchers attempt to count all 
the birds they can find iviohin a 15-mile diameter' circle for 
each counting group. This is a dawn-to-dark effort. The 
tabulated results give a better idea of the kind and number 
of each species found within a Plate on a specified day. 
This same method of counting biz^ds is used in many states 
during the month of May when bird migration reaches its peak 
It is variously called the "May Run," the "Grim Grind" or 
the "Big Day". As stated in the TIME magazine, June 2, l r >6? 
"Its object is to identify, by sight or song, as many specie 
of birds as possible in a 2/f-hour period." In America, some 
eight million people annually engage in this interesting 
form of recreation and hobby. Some small groups of bird- 
watchers record over one hundred species on the "Big Day." 
In the Dangs, eighty species would" probably be sc .le'cbing of 
a record, ''would this method of counting have any merit for 
Indian birdwatchers? Could August 15 (independence Day) or 
January 26 (Republic Day) become the "Big Day" in India? 

When in the Dangs, we held youth camps at Mahal for the 
school children ana for other interested young people of 
the District. Bird study was a part of our regular camp 
program. Early morning bird hikes and nature study classes 
were scheduled daily. In addition to the splendid books 
written by Dr. Saliro Ali, we used the Glimpses of Nature 
Series published by the Bombay Natural History Society- 
This Series, which is published in English, Hindi, Gujarati, 
and Marathi, should be greatly expanded to include- many more 
of the common birds and a few of the rare and unusual birds. 
India is greatly in need of more nature teaching aids: 
coloured bird charts, bird calendars, area check- .List s , 
migratory flyway maps, pocket field guides, inexpensive 
binoculars, etc. Perhaps the Government and interested 
individuals could help our schools, camps, clubs, and other 
organisations to upgrade nature study teaching by giving 
them -financial aid. 

If you want to see some of India's most interesting birds - 
Malabar Trogan, paradise Flycatcher, Malabar whistling 
Thrush, Orange Minivet, Malabar Black "Woodpecker, Vigor's 
Yellow-backed Sunbird, Large Wood Shrike, Indian Peafowl, 
Malherbe's Golden-backed Woodpecker, Verditer flycatcher, 
Forest Wagtail, Racket- tailed Drongo, Brown -headed Stork- 
billed Kingfisher, Indian Pitta, and many other rare and 
fascinating species - plan to do some of your birdwatching 
in the Dangs. It has the most unique avifauna of 
India. I'm just sorry that I am no longer living in the 
Dangs to enjoy a bird hike with you. 



* * # 



A VISIT TO PERIYAR 

By 

Shama Futehally 

Periyar lake is about three thousand feet above sea level. 
The mainland is thick with forested mountains, the jungle 
comprising mainly 'Southern Evergreen' trees such as 
Pterocarpus aarsupiuta , Bvodia roxburgiana , Largerstroemia 
lanceolata , and Term in alia panlculata . The trees of-course 
extended as tall as a couple o±' hundred feet in the thicker 
jungle. 

The abundance of bird life inside the sanctuary was over- 
whelming: we conscientious birdwatchers felt no need to 
tramp up and down in the sun with binoculars all day, and 
could see scores of exciting species all round merely by 
sitting quiefcly for some time in the forest. It was also 
worthwhile to scan all the tree trunks very carefully, because 
they harboured a continual stream of nuthatches and leaf 
warblers and even babblers : and like all the other birds 
these overwhelmed by sheer numbers. 

One of the commonest birds was the Grackle or Hill myna,the 
large and odd-looking myna with an orange flesh projection 
on the cheek. The birds were often in large groups, and I 
thought I noticed that unlike other mynas they remained 
mainly in the tree tops. Other common birds were the Racket- 
tailed and the Black Drongoes, though they were oftener 
heard than seen. The Malabar Black Hornbill was evasive 
rather than uncommon, and not as conspicuous as the Malabar 
Grey Hornbill. 

An intriguing bird was the Southern Rufous Woodpecker, a 
small brown woodpecker with paler streaks all over the body. 
We were lucky enough to see two or three pairs courting on 
the tree trunks, which was a Kind of adroit and elaborate 
peek-a-boo done like a dance going down the trunk on oppo- 
site sides. On one occasion I came across a small olive 
green flowerpecker with yellowish undersides pecking at a 
bunch of wild berries. At first sight it looked like an 
unimaginative Tickell's. At second sight it had a white 
eyestripe and curved black beak, and so it became a Nilgiri 
Flowerpecker. This is described as being found in all the 
South Vjest ranges up to about 4,000'. 

Malherbe's Golden backed woodpeckers were very abundant. 
These are different from the common Goldenbacked in their 
less bright golden-yellow back and crimson instead of black 
rump. However their call - a questioning trrrr - is indis- 
tinguishable from that of the latter; the sound became 
familiar in Periyar. We saw both the Common and the 
Southern Treepie, which latter is a larger and more imposing 
bird, 'chestnut-bay above, white below', with pied wings and 
a long grey and white tail. Another interesting bird was 
the Yellowbrowed Bulbul. I saw a pair in a large Ixora 
shrub - crestless, with olive-green heads, light-brown wings, 
yellow breast and yellow streaks down the back. 

The jungle of-course abounded in parakeets but we were only 
able to identify one pair, xvhich was the Bluewinged. The 
birds flew down about three yards away to a small Santalum 
Album shrub in a clearing, and after some wing-fluttering 
they were gone again. I wonder if that was the only species 
in the area. I have already mentioned the nuthatches; these 
were the Velvet fronted and probably the Chestnut bellied. 



a ^tft bxurii^aii.ioso vertically probinr for in^-nt* t+ 
later I saw another unmistakable nu?fat°h sl?2tiv 
doffinl ^Xi^ V ^ tf ™nced, but silhouetSd^n Lch 
"-r^i^^ - Chestnutblllied 

The commonest species of babbler was one siiirhtlv -nii.r 

co? e up to'- 50§t r t S '^ c ass ? c ^ed ranges around Tranvan- 
hll* wL-^ -■.'^ 9'-. However I missea the slaty blue fore- 
head wnicn should have been decisive in its identiXcaUw. 

During a walk in the forest we neard two n>~ th-rc,* i.th-i e +n« 
Schoolboys at intervals out thev c^ouldn°t L ?^?Lh ng 

though this patch of forest S cSmpa?atively oa?e' %? 
fcrols a^locf oT^f^^ Ul ° ng tL ro * d *° Thelkadyf came 
by Saiim All : 'a -'--all "orpqt qw-f ft mJi tt JMtri^a 

Shu!!tJ? * - c3 - Laont but »-Ot common amonr the 

South-western ranges and [.est Mysore'. 

Two mammals which shar 
the avifauna must b 
L angurs , ( presb yt i s 
( Rat ufa inclica j: f. 
rather too tame. Ti 

£LrJ?°^ Jwaras c«^jg^ »•* 

Out on the lake itself there were a few Darters sunning 

iSTt ~t ?" the SeVeral iead tree trunk s sticking out of 

the water two or three Pied Kingfishers, and on one occa- 
sion a Whitenecked Stork flying high over the V ake Once ' 
indfan^i^ 13 ^^ J als ° <» sight Jf a solitary " 06 

iSatSr i th1%^lo«, a W VGr ' ; llk£ rhe Lar S e Pied but 
w.ua_xer - tnis was probablv the Madras POar»lr S 9( rtani t-.- 

was single, and its^light' andcaS^re ?he stS as'that 



►£ avT?;.n a , 1C . f harti th ° tr ^topa - and trunks - with 

■sSl ?° lan ? urs were abundant and noisy and 
ame. rue squirrels were of the race Maxima, 



of the.5om.on Grey l^Sl, ; Tlcwjerky flight a? c^mpSied 

lL? 5 n ° rt Sh ^ P tweet -™^t- JncidenLlI^hen on tn^ 
la^e we were fortunate with the mammals as* weU seeing 
large herds of wild eienhant . sombai pZ* Tnri'an St*L 
on the island-hills circling the water, * *" BlS ° n 

was h ?K ainnft* t0 effi P haiI ^ *«**" that what was exciting 
was the almost oppressive number of birds, even when the 
species xvas familiar. At the same time tner- e va« no ln% 
oi completely ne;v species, and in fact in this article I 
catLns Utl ° USly su PP ress * d ou r more ambitious iKntlfi- 1 



>!< 



A LINNAEAN ALPHABET 

(Continued ) 



By 
R.A. Stewart Melluish 



ORIOLUS, Oriole, is from the Latin aureolu s, golden or of a 
golden colour, aurum is Latin for gold - : 

ORTHOTONUS, tailor-bird. Prom orthos, straight or true 
^ o |s^2; to cut. Not an appropriate name for a tailor 
wnose distinctive skill is stitching. 

PANDION, used of the osprey genus. The original Pandion 
Was ^ Athenian king, but it is not- clear how or why hi^ 
memory is preserved in the name of the fish-hawk, in Greek 
mycology he certainly had close connexions with birds 
however and possibly he, like his offspring, was turned 

Phil™ ^ rd * D He had two da V£ hters ' Procne, or Progne, and 
Philomela. Procne was married to Pandion »s ally Tereus 
King of Thrace, and they had a child called itys. men 

herSfhTL^ Th f a °f 1° Visit her Sister ' Tereus seduc ed 
ner and then chopped cut her tongue to stop her telling. 

According to the Oxford Classical D ictionary, however 
'she contrived to send her sister a piece oT embroidery on 
^J* sne ? ad woven her story.' Procne thus came to know 
oi Philomela's suffering, ana avenged her. she slew Itys 
roastea him, and gave him to Tereus for supper. Tereus ' 
thereupon tried to destroy both the sisters, but at this 
point the gods intervened to forestall any further nastiness, 
and ^ rr ? ed Tereus into a hoopoe, Procne into a nightingale, 
ana Philomela into a swallow, though in some Latin authors 
tne latter are reversed. Another authority converts Tereus 
into an owl, and restores Itys to life as a pheasant. 

Of this sorry group only Procne finds her way into the 
Indian list, in the form HYDROPROGNL, an aquatic swallow 
(tnough of all terns the Caspian is surely the least 
hirundmesque) and HEMIPROGNE, the Crested Swift. 

PHOENICOPTERUS, the Great Flamingo, phoinix , crimson; 
pteron, wing. Homer says that the first people to discover 
and use phoinix -coloured dye were the Phoenicians. The 
word includes all dark reds, from crimson to purple- The 
colour of its fruit has given the name to the fa*lly and a 
genus of date palms. The word also appears in the scienti- 
fic names for the redstarts and the whitcbreasted V;aterhen, 
PHOENICURUS ( our a means tail), and C..RRULAX PH03NICEUS is 
the Crimsonwinged Laughing Thrush. The mythological Phoenix 
was probably so-called because it burned on a funeral-pyre 
and hence was depicted as the colour of flame or the sky at 
sundown. 

In PHOENICONAIAS, the name given to the Lesser Flamingo, 
Naias is a water-nymph: strictly, a river-nymph ( nao , to 
TTowT as opposed to a sea-nymph ( Nereis ) . 

RUBER and ROSEUS (notice that the vowels in both words are 
all short j are variously applied to the race or species of 
the Great Flamingo which is resident in India, and the 
former _ to a number of other species with roseate plumage. 
r u ^ r is Latin for red, and like its close relative rufus 
occurs in many compound specific names. Cp. Sanskrit 
rudhira,_blooa; the_;reek e ruth r us , red, as in TRINGA 
ERYTHROPUS, where PUS is from pous , foot; and the English 



oicuna, ruady 



t n e s ane re o t , e.g. ruf c u = , rue ri c , 



>C o 



RHOPOCICHLA is an appropriate name for the genus of black - 
heaaed babblers. The word literally means bush-thrush. 
rho os (genitive rhopos ) is a bush or a shrub, used in the 
plural by Homer ior under growth, kichle is .a thrush. This 
gives rise to the verb kichlizo , to cnirp like a thrush, 
hence to titter or giggle. It is tempting to think that 
the English giggle has its origin in thrushy chortlings in 
the underbrush, but the dictionaries offer no encouragement 
to this notion. Incidentally, kichlizo can also mean to 
eat thrushes, i.e. to live luxuriously. 

The greenbilled malkoha, RHOPODYTSS, creeps (or plunges) 
into bushes . 

(To be continued) 



'•• =P sp >,- s,< >i< s\< >£ ;|: 

MORE ABOUT MOONDAIDAPPU 

By 

K.K. Meelakantan 

In the August 1964 issue of Uio NEWSLETTER Mrs. Usha Ganguly 
wrote about her visit to the village of .Moondaidappu., bet-' ' 
ween Tirunelvely and Nagercoil. She went there on the 2lat 
of May, 1964. On the 21st of May this year Mr. P.K. Padma- 
nabhan and I also reached i-ioondaidappu rather unexpectedly. 
Though we had hoped to see a few pelican nests, the only 
pelican we saw appeared for a few minutes, soaring over a 
clump of palmyra trees furlongs away from the village. 
The only birds we found nesting at Mood aid appu v.-ere Painted 
Storks and Little Cormorants. There were no egrets at all 
this year anywhere near the village. 

The villagers' pride in their birds makes them exaggerate - 
the ^iory of their heronry. When we asked them about 
pelicans thoy swore that hundreds were actually breeding 
there though 'just then' they were all away feeding. , 
Unless the local pelicans carried their n>..sts and young 
with them when they went out foraging, this could not have 
been true. One villager, on being told that we were keen 
on knowing the truth, confessed that no pelican had built 
there this season. Ho seemed to feel like a traitor. 

The nests this year were on 4 tamarind trees west of the 
road, and on 2 tamarinds and a neem on the eastern side 
inside the 'sathram' (choultry) compound. Almost all the 
Painted Storks and all the Little Cormorants had fully 
fledged young, many already flying. One _ young cormorant 
had found its way into a square well inside the choultry 
and appeared to bo incapable of flying out. 



X 



'here were two or three nests of the Painted Stork contain- 
ing downy young which were being protected from the sun by 
one of their parents. The adult bird stood between the 
sun and the squabs with its wings half open, the tips 
touching the body. Fro;., a distance it looked like an 



d ag with huge handles. 



House and Jungle Crows were in attendance ar.d seemed to give 
a lot of trouble to the storks anj corr.orants. !Jo kites 
were sten at this heronry. 

we did not attempt to count the nests, but a rough estimate 
is that there must have been 200-250 Painted Stork nests and 
about 80-100 of the Little Cormorant. 

The villagers gather the 'guano' and use it as a manure for 
chilli plants (capsicum). 

The local names of the birds mentioned above are:- 

Pelican - 'koozhakkada' 

Pointed Stork - 'sengaal naarai' (= redlegged stork) 

Cormorant - 'neer .Kaakkai' (water crow). 

A native of Koondakulam informed us that a number of Pelicans 
had nests at Koondakulam this year. • Koondakulam appears to 
be a very much larger heronry where various other water birds 
also breed. We saw some 30 Open bill Storks soaring and 
- : -if ting over Moondaidappu at noon. 

There seem, to be quite a few heronries in this area whioh 
is full of shallow irrigation tanks. A systematic survey of 
the place may prove very fruitful. 

In the "HINDU" dated 5-8-66 there was a short account of one 
such heronry at Kanjirarnkulam, a village 3 miles from Mudu- 
kulathur in Ramnad district. Here too the villagers seem to 
provide excellent protection to the breeding birds. To 
quote from the article, here "scores of pelicans, herons 
etc. can be seen walking side by side with domesticated 
animals. .. Even dogs in the village do not attack the 
birds even if they pass very close." The author includes 
"white cranes", "whooping cranes" and sea gulls among the 
birds 'usually seen' there between September and April. It 
is to be hoped that some bird-watcher will visit these 
places and publish true and detailed accounts of the birds ■ 
breeding there. 

# * * # # * * 



RAJKOT ON 10 TH JUNE 
By 
K.S. Lavkumar 

At this moment, Rajkot is dessicated. The water in the 
taps, when it does come, smells, as the reservoir, I am 
told, is almost a puddle filled with dead and dying fish. 
I hooe to go over and see, as there must be quite a few 
ithioohagous birds around having a mighty gettogether. 
However we, like the fish, are all praying for the monsoon 
to arrive. As I write the temperature is rising. It is 
noon and the mercury stanas at 35 C in my room. Outside 
there is a slight breeze stirring the trees, this after days 
of blasting winds from the sea. The humidity is high and 
perspiration makes wearing clothes horrid. If this con- 
tinues a couple of days more there will be thunder storms. 

The trees and the few dessicated gardens in the city are 
an attraction to birds from the surrounding areas. Right 
in the middle of the town, in ray back-garden, there is 



a congregation of Bayas, all males In their yellow caps 
and shirt-fronts. Two pairs of Red-vented Bulbuls art 
welcome inmates of what is left of the gardens and thev 
have nests in thick shrubs which are bolSy defying the 
dessicauon. Sparrows have just completed the firft round 
of brood-rearing and are now thinking of starting all o^er 
again. So are the Tailors, but these charming little 
creatures are a little hesitant and would rather wait for 
the first showers. The Furple Sunoirds have completed 
ti^l ff 1 jjy: rai sing task and the cocks are showing abra- 
sions in their glistening suits. Coppersmiths are also 
\ ree ^tfeir family chores and are" less vocal than 

Parakeets have completed tr.eir house-warming celebrations 
and several pairs now have growing families to cater for. 

Black Ibis regularly breed in the tree in our garden and 
they have selected a tall neem to build in thif year. If 

gold deal. n0t COir ' e in tiKe ' they are £0in e ^ suffer a 

Irift ^everywhere and their Koo-oo, Koo-oo, hoo-oos 
ada a pleasant dreaminess to the languid summer davs 

to hfv^S^^^^f • ? ust have been truel y cantankerous 
to have found the Kokila's call irksome). The KoeJ's 

pleasure can be understood when one sees coy lookine 

crows picking sticks and behaving in a circumspent manner. 

Tne implications are obvious. 

A homely Little Brown Dove has a twiggy plaform in tangles 
ol a huge and unproductive grape-vine outside my window." 
cradled on tms flimsy structure are two blobs of life 
wnich only a mother dove can be proud of. 

^ ?m Jceepingmy ears coc.-ced for the liquid call of a pitta 
which drops in every year at this time "on its way to 
snadey nuilahs in the Gir forest to breed. I understand 
one is hopping around in the shade of our orchard at 
Jasdan. 

We in the school are justifiably proud of our drove of 
peaiowl. Every summer tne proud cocks stride onto the 
lawns (or what is left of them) to unfurl their gorgeous 
trains to be admired by t.ieir harems as well as us humans 
wno nappen to be around. Here is something to be said for 
sentiments as factors in nature conservation. Wat chine 
these half domesticated birds, I am reminded of the Delhi 
zoo. How unimaginative beurocrats can be when they olace 
tnese line creatures behind wire instead of allowing them 
to roam the wide lawns and display themselves at an 
aavant?gel 



* 



NOTES AND COMMENTS 
THE TULSI FOREST 

A delegation of the Bombay Natural History Society, Friends 
of Trees, and the Birdwatchers Field Club of India called 
en tne minister of Forests on the 27th June, 1967, and pre- 
sented .lira with the following memorandum. 



"The forest forms part of a vital catchment area bordering 
the lakes of vihar and Tulsi. The deciduous and evergreen 
trees, the shrubs and grass form a natural complex which can 
hold its own only if there is no wood cutting and destruction 
by m e n and cattle. The forest prevents soil erosion, silting 
of the lake, helps in precipitating rainfall, and is the only 
area within 50 miles of Bombay where people can come in con- 
tact with nature. 

It is also a place of study for naturalists, and can become 
a valuable out door laboratory for botanists, biologists and 
others. A paper published in the Journal of the Bombay 
Natural History Society could be followed' up to cover the 
whole area. 

There has been a steady increase in wood cutting and destru- 
ction over the last ten years. Headloads of wood are removed 
without any check whatsoever, and large branches of living 
trees are hacked down with impunity as these photographs will 
show. Quarrying operations inside the forest are destroying 
the habitats, and large herd of cattle ana goats browse and 
graze without any restriction. If denudation goes on at this 
pace, there will be no forest left in a few years. 

S uggestions ; 

1) Two forest guards must be on permanent duty in this area. 

2) There s.iould be no departmental or other fplliriF; nporationu 
at least for three years. 

?) Fresh indigenous trees, particularly Bomb ax, Erythrina, 
Palas and Ilahwa should be planted immediately. 

4) Notices warning against cutting and indicating that this 
is a protected area should be put up, at least one in 
every mile. 

5) An attempt s.iould be made to restock the forest with 
birds and animals originally existing here. A beginning 
could be made by introducing a few chita]s which are 
available at the Powai park. 

6) No grazing by cattle and goats." 

The Minister explained that Government has decided to 
convert the whole area into a National Park, and there- 
after the preservation^ the forest could be effectively /of 
enforced. Meanwhile he passed immediate orders that there 
should be no departmental felling in Tulsi in the future. 
This is a very encouraging step. 

$ $ $ $ # * * * 



CORRESPONDENCE 
A rrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo in Ahmed a bad 

Although Mr. E.W- n«-»i>le f s request for the dates of arrival 
of the Pip'" 5 g* «sted Cuckoo in various parts of India had a 
poor --oponse last year, I hope he will get more informa- 
tion from readers of the 'Newsletter' this year. 

In June last year I had given dates of arrival and depar- 
ture in and from Bhubaneewar of the Pied Crested Cuckoo 
(Clcmator jacobinus ) . 



hold xts own only if there is no wood cutting and destruction 
by men and cattle. The forest prevents soil erosion, silting 
of the lake, helps in precipitating rainfall, and is the only- 
area within 50 miles of Bombay where people can come in con- 
tact with nature. 

It is also a place of study for naturalists, and can become 
a valuable out door laboratory for botanists, biologists and 
others. A paper published in the Journal of the Bombay 
Natural History Society could be followed 'up to cover the 
whole area. 

There has been a steady increase in wood cutting and destru- 
ction over the last ten years. Headloads of wood are removed 
without any check whatsoever, and large branches of living 
trees are hacked down with impunity as these photographs will 
show. Quarrying operations inside the forest are destroying 
the habitats, and large herd of cattle ana goats browse and 
graze without any restriction. If denudation goes on at this 
pace, there will be no forest left in a few years. 

S uggestions : 

1) Two forest guards must be on permanent duty in this area. 

2) There should be no departmental or other felling operation^ 
at least for three years. 

?) Fresh indigenous trees, particularly Bombax, Erythrina, 
Palas and liahwa should be planted immediately. 

4) Notices warning against cutting and indicating that this 
is a protected area should be put up, at least one in 
every mile. 

5) An attempt should be made to restock the forest with 
birds and animals originally existing here. A beginning 
could be made by introducing a few chitaHs which are 
available at the Powai park. 

6) No grazing by cattle and goats." 

The Minister explained that Government has decided to 
convert the whole area into a National Park, and there- 
after the preservation/^ the forest could be effectively /of 
enforced. Meanwhile he passed immediate orders that there 
should be no departmental felling in Tulsi in the future. 
This is a very encouraging step. 

^ # $ 5|s >i< * >!< >;< 



CORRESPONDENCE 

A rrival of the Pied Crested Cuckoo in Ahmed a bad 

Although Mr. E.W- ^"^le's request for the dates of arrival 
of the Pif"- J <**«sted Cuckoo in various parts of India had a 
poor >--^ponse last year, I hope he will get more informa- 
tion from readers of the 'Newsletter 1 this year. 

in June last year 1 had given dates of arrival and depar- 
ture in and from Bhubaneswar of the Pied Crested Cuckoo 
( Cl creator jacoblnus ) . 

Th:o year I happen to be in Ahmedabad during this part of 
t^e year. I arrived in Ahmed abad on June 8. On June 14, 
i h^arri thr-> Pi nd ("".rested fiuckno call r<=>neat,fidlv in t.ho 



morning. On June 15, i.e. today, I again heard it call 

repeatedly and I also saw a pair of birds. Had the birds 

been present in the area between June & and 14, 1 think I 
would not have missed then., 

Ahmedabad also experienced a fairly heavy shower on the 
afternoon of June -4. 



S.D. Jayakar, 
Bhubaneswar. 

* v * * V 



Indian Reef Heron observed in Poon-i . 

According to Salim Ali the Indian Reet Heron is essentia*-^ 
a bird of the coast, never found far inlar.a a bow- '-■^al 
influence. On 20 March 1967, I saw an Indian Reef Heron v». 
a rock in the middle of the stream of Mutha river near uatw 
Vadi. The colour was bluish slaty all over with a wnite 
patch on throat. The feot were distintly yellow as seen 
through the binoculars. It also had a crest of two narrow 
plumes, which is supposed to be acquired in the breeding 
season. Is there any possibility of my having mistaken ™e 
identity of the bird? 

V.N. Kelkar 

(Dr. Salim Ali adds that the birds are occasionally blown in 
far in land from the coasts - Ed.) 

* * * * * * * * 

Miscellaneous Observations 

Last November I noticed Redvented Bulbuls, Common Mynas, 
Tailor birds, and Ashy wren Warblers suck dew regularly 
from the leaves of flowering plants in the mornings, j. 
wonder if the dew was mere refreshment orif it contained 
any insects which were palatable to the birds. 

Four years back a pair of house sparrows first nested in 
one of our verandah 'chicks'. We have since changed our 
house twice, but every year, not only the pair of sparrows 
but mynas, pigeons and turtle doves build on tne same 
chick, though there are several others in the house, I 
wonder why this is so . I also remember a case a few years 
back of an aggressive Common myna ousting a pigeon irom 
its nest and then occupying the nest itself. 

Two Goldenbacked Woodpeckers and one Yellowfronted Pied 
woodpecker was seen plucking insects, possibly termites, 
from the lawn of a golf course. Though Salim J}i in his 
Book of Indian Birds has mentioned this.k^u oi thing this 
is the first time I have seen it r,=FP«ning myself. 

I have been watching a male shoveller regularly in the 
backwaters of the jtmuna near the ^zirabad headquarters. 
Apparently it is healthy and there is nothing wrong with 
its flight, but its shows no intention of migrating 
though it is late for a shoveller to ce arouna. 

Lt. Col. A David 



-: 12 :- 



Nests made of wire by the Common Crow 

While cleaning the steel trusses and. purlins of a factory- 
roof structure with asbestos sheet covering, no less than 
one dozen nests of the common crow were knocked down. All 
these nests were 'fabricated' from mild steel galvanized 
ar.d black wire in thickness varying from 1/8" to 1/20". 

T-ie wires were cleverly woven around the corner of steel 
purlins and built up to form a perfect dish in the centre 
of about 8 to 10 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 inches deep. 
The outer dimension of the nest varied between 14 to IB 
inches. 

I examined two ne"sts very carefully and found that in the 
dish, vires were interwoven with others and loose ends were 
neatly -ucked in. In one nest there was a 3 ft. long wire 
going round and also interwoven with others. The dish was 
lined wi~h feathers an; droppings. 

One month after knocking down the nests, I find that two 
more wire nests have appeared in different corners of the 
factory roof. 



A.S. Gilam 



* 



* 



* 



* 



2.afar Futehally, 

Editor, Nevslette- for Birdwatchers, 

32-A, Juhu Lane, 

An a her i, 

Bombay - 58' AS). ' 



IEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 

Volume 7 -No. 8-1967 August 



J 




I 



NEWSLETTER 
FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 



Vol. 7, No. 8 



August 1967 



CONTENTS 

A Terai Tea Garden in March by Maureen Thorn ... X 

Our Magpie-Robins by Leela Nilakanta [ 3 

A. .climb up the Rohtang Pass by K.S. Lavkurnar 4 

Bird watching on Elephanta Island by n.M. Mistry 6 

Brown Flycatcher in Gir Forest by Lalsinh M. Rael g 

A Linnaean Alphabet by R. A.S. Melluish 3 

Bird-watching in Bombay by V. Ravi # lc 

Correspondence: 

Eleven species of birds feeding at a single source of 

PrsinTh ;"-^^^- 1 ^^ Pied Jrested Cufkoo^ylLefhwar 
?« Si S P\ h Foster Parents by A David (p. 11 ) Flamingoes 
in Tamaraikulam by L.E. Thomas (p. 12 ): Reef Heron /in Sf 
Khadakwasla Lake by Sudhir Vyas (p. 13 . " the 



A TERAI TEA GARDEN IN MARCH 
By . 

i Maureen Thorn 

Bare shade trees. and well-pruned tea bushes are a perfect 
background for tirdwatching at present, though tnVlack of 
shade ana cover must be anything but a joy to the birds 
themselves. Fortunately for them, some of the sections are 

I 1:L Shtly pruned and they make full use of this. Alreadv 
on March lSth, I saw a Common Mynah carrving caterpillars Y ' 
busily into a particularly thick patch, and the Magpie Robins 
who built last year in the tea to the east of She bungalow 
are hard at it again, m these still leafy sections, a few 
winter visitors still linger. Brown Shrikes, and Red-breasted 
Flycatchers are still with us, and Collared Bushchlts we?e, 
up to about the 9th. There were at least 2 parties of Tree 
pipits around this month, who, disturbed from their investi- 
gations under the tea, fly up into the shade trees with their 
plaintive "peeping", there to wag their tails slowly until 
an is quiet again, when they drop straight down into the 
a +u I u have not seen Grey-headed Flycatchers at all this 
month, but the sound of hedge- clipping still indicates the 
presence of xBlyth's Reed -Warbler in the heart of a tea bush 
and a little patience will be rewarded by seeing it emerge 
at the top, "clipping" and jerking its tail. to 

Owls dominated the bird orchestra most of this month, both 
by day and night - particularly the long lovely rippline and 
»pu put" of the Barred Owlet. This year I have been able ^0 
improve- my acquaintance with them, as they sit in daylight 
in the bare trees. I heard the Common Hawk-cuckoo in full] 
voice in January in a garden near the Bhutan border but ours 



OlllV St.art.pri in t.ha mirlrllci r> -f - f n K»>i 



. J r. 



■•■--*«» *^ .4- i_i x X xlAlL 

FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 

V01 - 7 ' H °- 8 August 1967 



CONTENTS 

A Terai Tea Garden in March by Maureen Thorn . . . i 

Our Magpie-Robins by Leela Niiakanta ] # 3 

A .climb up the Rohtang Pass by K.S. Lavkumar 4 

Bird watching on Elephant a Island by N.M. Mistry 6 

Brown Flycatcher in Gir Forest by Lalsinh M. Rael 3 

A Linnaean Alphabet by R. A.S. Melluish 3 

Bird-watching in Bombay by V. Ravi 10 

Correspondence: 

Eleven species of birds feeding at a single source of 

pTsinV^ lf^ e ? ( f a °p }; Pied J re£ted Cutkoo^KLefhwar 
Pd Singh p. 11 ) Foster Parents by A David (p. 11 ) Flamingoes 

KaSkEJlHS h l L A E ^ Thoraas <?- 1 ? )J ReefHerons in thf 
Knadakwasia Lake by Sudhir Vyas (p. 13 ). 



A TERAI TEA GARDEN IN MARCH 

By 
| Maureen Thorn 

Bare shade trees .and well-pruned tea bushes are a perfect 
cackground for birdwatching at present, though tnVlack of 
shade ana cover must be anything but a joy to the birds 
themselves. Fortunately for them, some of the sections are 
only lightly pruned and they make full use of this. Alreadv, 
on March 18th, I saw a Common Mynah carrying caterpillars 
Sh^ 7 -^? a P articularl >- thick patch, and the Magpie Robins 
who built last year in the tea to the east of the bungalow 
are hard _ at it again. In these still leafy sections, a few 

FlvcltrhP? 1 ^ 3 8 J^ li ?g er> **?" shrikes > a nd Red-breasted 
flycatchers are still with us, and Collared Bushchats were, 

up to about the 9th. There were at least 2 parties of Tree 
Pipits around this month, who, disturbed from their investi- 
gations under the tea, fly up into the shade trees with the"' r 
plaintive "peeping", there to wag their tails slo-.vly until 
all is quiet again, when they drop straight down into the 
*u I u nave not seen Grey-headed Flycatchers at all this 
month, but the sound of hedge-clipping still indicates the 
presence of vBlyth's Reed .Warbler in the heart of a tea bush 
and a little patience will be rewarded by seeing it emerge 
at the top, "clipping" and jerking its tail. 

Owls dominated the bird orchestra „ost of this month, both 
by day and night - particularly the long lovely rippling and 
"pu put" of the 3arred Owlet. This year I have been able to 
improve- my acquaintance with them, as they sit in daylight 
in ^ the bare trees. I heard the Common Hawk-cuckoo in full 
voice in January in a garden near the Bhutan border but ours 
onxy started in the middle of February and can still scarcely 



-: 2 :- 

be said to dominate. I heard no koels at all last year, but 
on the 10th March i heard the first "who are you"? coming 
tentatively from the direction of the labour lines. There, 
there are a few crows but they seldom make themselves heard 
here, so we can enjoy the gentle background music of the 
Spotted and Red Turtle Doves. Parakeets seem to have ceased 
their swift noisy excursions through the trees in large 
flocks this month, though they are far from silent. Other 
occupations are more interesting now - though I have not 
spotted any home-making, love-making has begun. The sweetest 
sounds come from the huge flocks of Red-whiskered Bulbuls who 
spread themselves over the garden during the day and assemble 
for roosting with such a delightful crescendo of sound towards 
dusk, - and of course the daylong warsongs of Magpie Robins 
and Purple Sunbirds. 1 have not been able to discover why we 
have no Blue-throated Barbets to join the chorus. Their calls 
are an outstanding feature of the neighbouring forest and up 
into the nearby foothills, but this garden only seems to 
support a few Lineated Barbets and, of course, many Copper- 
smiths. 

I find the bare trees particularly useful when identifying 
birds flying overhead, as I've been able, really satisfacto- 
rily, to link the sight of Crested Serpent Eagles and 
Crested Hawk Eagles with their very distinctive calls. One 
can also examine every incredible antic of Grey-headed 
Mynahs hunting through shade trees, with their attendant 
Bronze Drongos and Pied Woodpeckers, and note how bold piracy 
on _ the part of the drongos is so good-naturedly tolerated. 
This is a good garden for Woodpeckers, for I've seen plenty 
of Golden-backed, as well as Little Scaly-bellied and Yellow- 
naped, and I examine every ant's nest I see hopefully just 
now, for the Rufous Woodpeckers I feel sure must be here. 
I have often wondered if there is something edible in the 
bark of the shade trees, apart from the insects. They do 
exude gum. Not only Mynahs of all sorts, but Parakeets 
too, seem to gnaw at it. Perhaps this accounts for our large 
populations of the latter, which includes Large, Rose-ringed, 
Red-brested and possibly Slaty-headed Parakeets. 1 have 
seen no birds eating the seeds, which seems a pity as they 
are so abundant just now, making a pleasing dry rustling in 
the wind, - a sound that could be mistaken for rushing water- 
the rarest sound of all during our celibrated droughts. 

At these times I fill shallow "gumlahs" with water and have 
been richly rewarded. A Himalayan Whistling Thrush bathed 
and drank morning and evening all through the cold weather 
up to 12th March, when he disappeared. Jungle Babblers 
were most amusing to watch. They did not seem to know the 
techniques at first - they hopped round the bowl discussing 
it shrilly and for so long that a waiting mynah impatiently 
took possession, The Babblers looked on with interest, and 
in due course each ventured to have a "lick and a promise" - 
that timel They are confirmed and practised bathers nowl 
Rufous Treepies are still nervous. After each tentative 
dip they spring straight out and even sometimes straight into 
a branch, frantically fluffed out, only to return a few 
minutes later to scatter any birds who thought it was their 
turn. Of the Grey-headed Mynahs, one always seems to "hog" 
the bowl, gazing round fiercely and splashing vigorously, 
while the others wait none too patiently, trying to snatch 
a quick drink or profit from the wilder splashes I Many 
other birds use the baths, but I wonder how the others exist-* 
on the dew, which is so meagre now? - or do they fly to the 
nearest watercourse, -wnich is a mere trickle in March? 



We have had one really severe dust-storm that tragically- 
demolished a Purple SunbircPs nest earlier- this month. As it 
was in the bougainvillea near the house, I was especially- 
disappointed. The Hoopoe's home should fare better, in a 
natural hole about 10 feet up a shade tree. I hope to spot 
a few more nests this month and next. It is blissfully easy 
to settle down in amongst the tea bushes to watch, temporary 
unseen by both birds and passers-by - even if it does give 
me the reputation of being quite the maddest memsahib ever 
to live in New ChumtaJ 



* * 



OUR MAGPIE-ROBINS 

By 
Leela Nilakanta 

Last year, in July, my son had written about the birdhouse 
nest in our garden. This birdhouse, made of cement asbestos 
board was attractive to the Magpie-Robins only when the house 
started disintegrating. In fact it has been such an attra- 
ction that again this year it is being used. 

Last year the pair of Magpie-Robins that my son wrote about, 
successfully raised thred fledglings. We watched them being 
taught to fly and to get their own food. 

Unfortunately, the male, which had been ringed by us, was 
shot by one of the neighbourhood boys. My son rescued it but 
evidently it died as we never saw it again. 

The mother bird lamented for a while but continued to be busy 
with the bringing up of its babies. . One of these was ringed 
by us. 

During the course of the year this ringed baby grew up and 
we realised that it was a male. It paired off with its , 
mother. 

On June 9th this year I noticed the female Magpie-Robin 
flying into the birdhouse with nesting material. So it is 
the female which chooses its nesting place J 

Soon there was hectic activity by both the parents in nest- 
building. Then occasionally the father bird used to feed 
the mother when she was brooding. 

In the first week of July there was a faint "cheep, cheep" 
from the nest, As days went by this "cheep, cheep" became 
louder and more demanding. I got so accustomed to this back- 
ground noise that I didn't understand when a friend asked me 
one day "Have you got rats in your roof?" I thought this 
was a variation of "Have you got bats in your belfry?". 

The parents fed the babies with small worms in the beginning . 
but as days went by they took larger worms and even small 
lizards to their offspring. One day they were tearing to 
bits what looked like a whote toadstool. On closer inspe- 
ction this turned out to be a piece of tender coconut. So 
even vegetatarian fare is welcome to the fledglings at this 
stage! 






-: 4 :- 

On 13th July, in the afternoon there was a commotion near 
the drumstick tree where the nest is, with the sparrows 
chirping'and both the Magpie-Robins "chirr-chirr "-mg. I 
did note take any notice thinking a cat or a snake to be 
the cause. But after some time I heard the "cheep, 
cheep" of the baby birds from the tamarind tree in a diffe- 
rent part of our garden. I went to investigate, but could 
find only the parent birds giving the alarm- cry. 

It took me over an hour to find where the babies were. I 
had to sit quietly but even then the parent birds were vary. 
At last the father lost patience or else the hungry cries • 
became too plaintive for him to ignore. He brought some food 
and did a swift landing and take-off. Even then the babies 
were so well hidcen that I couldn't spot them. 

But by the evening they became bolder. One baby flew onto 
our dining-room window and after hopping about from latch to 
sill to top of door managed to fly onto our neighbour's 
terrace. This one was quite bold and we could watch it from 
very near. 

Meanwhile the other baby flew into our Rangoon-Jasmine bush 
which is only a few feet off from the ground. We had to 
watch carefully lest it fall a prey to the prowling '•at. This 
baby was obviously the more nervous of the two. It hesitated 
for a long time before gathering courage to attempt a flight 
of a few yards to another bush. But even then it was so 
clumsy that it fell plonk onto the ground and had to hop into 
the hedge for safety. The poor thing needed a lot oi coaxing 
from the mother-bird to try any more attempts at £ly±ag. 
Finally it landed on a banana tree and that was the last time 
I saw it. 

We did not hear their: the next day or the following few days. 
We were speculating about their safety when one day the 
parents were back in their familiar haunts but with _ only one 
baby. After another day they have disappeared again thougn 
I see flashes of white and black flitting by occasionally. 
We are hoping that this disappearance is only temporary. 

Anyhow because of this nesting activity of the Magpie-Robins 
in summer we have had a dearth of bird Hie in our garden. 
They do not look kindly on any intruder, be it a squirrel or 
a bird. 

******** 
A CLIMB UP THE ROHTANG PASS 

By 

K.S. Lavkumar 

The Cuckoos are here, and one has alighted in the tree 
above my tent and is melodiously calling, the soft up-up- 
ud-up of a Hoopoe can be heard from the forest, and a flight 
S! Minivets has alighted on a tall Spruce, the males glowing 
with unbelievable intensity against the deep blue of the 
sky. 

Last night was clear and the stars shone with great lustre. 
A scops Owl calls Woo-hoo and Woo-hoo again. 



We started the climb at 7.00 a.m. The sky was clear and the 
upper slopes of the mountains where bathed in warm, golden 
morning light. We were in shadow of the great bulk of the 
pass and a cold wind was blowing down from it. On every occa- 
sion I have done this pass, wind has been troublesome. The 
track starts climbing suddenly behind the last teahouse of 
Rhalla. It goes up a narrow gully flanked on the left by a 
sheer cliff rising to perpetual snow. Trees have been cut 
over the centuries for fire by wayfarers, but high up in 

inaccessable places oak and pine grow . The sunlight is 

on us and in its warm rays we sit for a rest and look down 
at Rhalla; we have come high but are still below tree-line 
and at about 11,000'. A pair of White-capped Redstarts are 
picking insects— there seem to be lots of these for they are 
kept very busy indeed. All the i'ood is on the ground and in 
the sogging wet soil. Small plants are putting out first 
tentative shoots, and some snow still lies in gullies and in 
shelter of rocks. The wind is tyrranical, but birds are 
taking shelter from its blasts behind the many boulders. 
The Redstarts are very tame and sense like all high altitude 
birds a warm kinship of life with us. They apraise us with 
keen eyes and CLbaxtle a merry tune which is the first I have 
heard. Along the raging torrents besides which one normally 
comes across theu, this private conversation is not heard, 
/of A large rabble/Hodgson's Pipits flashes up from below and 
after wheeling around settles down a little way off on the 
sogging tundra vegetation. Their warmly pinkflushed breasts 
give a handsome touch to their otherwise drab brown plumage. 
A Kestrel skims down and the Redstarts Seattle under a large 
rockslab and the pipits are off. We continue, our ascent 

against the gusty wind. We are now close to the snow. 

The treeline is well below us, though on the opposite side 
of the infant Beas a few starkly leafless Birch stand out 
white against the deep blue sky. They make a wonderful scene; 
a flight of six Snow Pigeon flash past and several Yellow- 
billed Choughs glide over to take a closer look at us. They 
are graceful, sleek and soft voiced. Two Red-billed Choughs 
also fly over. They have longer primaries and are less inte- 
rested in- us. They wheel round and settle on a patch of _ warm 
bog free of snow and start probing the wet soil with their 
long, downcurved, coral-red bills. Three starling-sized 
birds alight alongside and start hopping around in a manner 
of outsized chats. In favourable light their almost black 
colour reveals a glist ening, satin blue body with black tail 
and wings. These are male Grandalas. There are no females 
around. Clouds are rapidly forming on the pass, and we press 
on. There is' snow all around and the path is trampled through 
it'which becomes deeoer and deeper. The incline continues and 
the going become wearisome. The clouds are thickening and it 
is getting chilly. Two sparrow-sized birds fly past and 
alight on a rock protruding from the snow. I halt awhile to 
glance at them. They are • dark brown all over with darker 
streaks and their faces are a deep glistening crimson, 
(males of Red-breasted Rosef inch? ) . Lower down on some other 
rocks was perched a little bird wnich bobbed _ on seeing me 
and flew away across the snow, I recognised it as a cock 
Blue-fronted Redstart which is quite common along the 
Himalayas above the treeline. Its chestnut tail has a biacK 
terminal band a diagnostic feature from the Black Redstart 
which it resembles superficially. 

It was 4.30 P.M. when the top of the pass was reached. The 
clouds had thickened and it was snowing hard. Visibility 
was cut to a few yards and the pass was desolate and without 
colour. Suddenly from the vapours around me a large flock 
of Swifts (Eastern Swifts?) sped low overhead towards Lahoul, 
then I was left to myself to plod on into the soft snow, 
only the beaten footprints of earlier travellers showed the 



There were many birds around, Yellow-billed Choughs, scavenging 
for food, hesitant Carrion Crows, less pushing then their bre- 
theren across the Rohtang in Manali. Red-billed Choughs which 
are very plentiful in Lahoul and kept to the fields were bris- 
kly probing the warn soil. Birds were every where. In pairs, 
Eastern Meadow Buntings gleaned seeds under cover of rocks, a 
habit reminding one of the Grey-necked Buntings which visit 
Saurashtra in winter, Their warn tones blend easily into the 
dark colours of the open patches left by the melting snow. 
Flocks of Mountain Finches flew noisily around, and there was 
a lot of _ commotion and bickering all the tine. These are re- 
stless birds and moved around in great flocks. Black Redstarts 
were staking territories and even the females were singing and 
it was curious to see a cock and a hen Redstart fiercely 
fighting. Black Redstarts have an interesting distribution in 
sunnier. They seen to cross the main snow range of the Hima- 
layas and once the traveller enters the drier trans Himalayan 
valleys, this little bird is his constant companion through 
Lahoul into Tibet. They have a peculiar weezy song which is 
interspersed with a paper- rustling sound. They are as con- 
fiding in their arid summer habitat as they are during winter 

in shady garder.s and groves in India. On a patch of 

flat ground^ below the rest house young willows have been 
planted in beds enclosed by low bunds. These were flooded 
by clear eirater from the melting snow and I saw a couple of 
Grey Wagtails, several brightly attired Yellow-headed 
Wagtails (Black-backed variety). A Couple of Indian Tree 
Pipits quietly fed alongside the pools and flocks of Hodg- 
sons ran over the swampy wet turf. Sicie by side they were 
easy to compare. A pair of white-capped Redstarts flitted 
around among the drab pipits. Whistling Thrushes were ch^p- 
ing each other and singing vigorously. Going down oo the 
river, I strolled over the shingle banks hoping to see a 
Kashmir Dipper, but instead noted a Little Forktail which 
flew from one boulder to another in midstream. Plumbeous 
Redstarts were conspicious by their absence. There were 
many Snow Pigeons flighting along the sheer cliffs across 
the river and pairs often flew over to glean among the flats 
beside the river; they were very confiding. A Chuckoor set 
up a loud clatter among screes on the other side. Walking 
up to the Gompa, I was surprised to come across a Rufous- 
backed Shrike. It was being scolded by Black Redstarts and 
Mountain Finches all perched atop the great rocks. The 
shrike paid no heed to their abuses. Sunbathing in the 
glowing noon sun after a pair of Lammer geyers effortlessly 
gliding along the immense crags. The effort of crossing 
the vicious Rohtang was worth all the weariness. 



LIRE WATCHING ON ELIPHANIA ISLAND 

By 

N.M. Mis try 

When, recently, I visited Elephanta island, Bombay, I came 
away thrilled, not only by the exquisite sculptures of a 
bygone age, but also by the variegated bird life on this 
tiny island which has an area of hardly two square miles. 
On my earlier visits to the island, which were all on 
holidays, I had hardly noticed any bird life. Evidently, 
the birds retreat to remoter nooks or desert the island 
completely when it is invaded by the picnickers from 
Bombay . 



Even as the launch beared the pier I saw both brown and 
black-headed gulls hovering in the sky. The pier on the west 
side of the island is fairly long and passes by a mangrove 
swamp. Here were our usual friends, the little waders, - 
the Spotted Sandpiper, the Little Ringed-Plover and the 
Little Stint i A Night Heron which was resting in a tree some 
distance away, took alarm and flew away. 

At the end of the pier there is a steep climb to the caves. 
On both sides there are a number of large trees, especially 
banyans, silk-cotton trees and Indian coral trees. There is 
also a small private orchard to the left of the path. This 
area seemed to be a great favourite with birds. Before I 
had reached the caves, hardly a furlong away from the pier, 
I had spotted a pair of Indian Robins, a pair of Small 
Minivets and a pair of Common Ioras, not to mention Copper- 
smiths, ?>';ynahs, Magpie -Robins, Common Green Bee-Eaters, 
Black Drongos, Bulbuls (Red-vented and Red-whiskered), a 
Tailor Bird and a Spotted Dove. Surprisingly, the birds 
showed no signs of fear and even the Spotted Dove, which 
seems to _ consider man as its traditional enemy, showed no 
inclination to fly away to a safer distance. The colourings 
of the Hale Iora and the Male Small Minivet was a feast for 
the eye, while the Ioras were singing delightfully. There 
was also a not uncommon display of ferocity by a pair of 
Black Drongos which mercilessly attacked a red-vented Bulbul 
intruding near their nest.* These lion-hearted birds attack 
any other birds that come near their nest, irrespective of 
their size, and I have seen a pair of Black Drongos chasing 
a frightened Crow-Pheasant away from their nest. 

After I had seen the caves I took a stroll to the top of the 
smaller of the two hills and was suitably rewarded by the 
sight of a Purple Sunbird and a Purple-rumped Sunbird, a 
White-breasted Kingfisher and a number of White-backed 
vultures. Near the top where there is a huge canon I saw. a 
solitary Yellow-fronted Pied or Mahratta Woodpecker (Dryobates 
Kahrattensis) working its way slowly up the trunk of a tree 
in typical Woodpecker fashion. In the valley below, I also 
heard a long drawn Ki-ree-ree-ree-ree-ree of a Goldenbacked 
Woodpecker. I also saw the rather rare sight of a crow 
sipping nectar from the flowers of an Indian Coral tree. We 
are so accustomed to see this bird feeding on garbage and 
refuse that it is rather amusing to see it derive its food 
from flowers. As I finally descended to the pier a Brahminy 
Kite came gliding majestically overhead. 

There is nothing uncommon about the birds I saw on Elephanta 
island. As a matter of fact, common jungle birds like the 
Racket-Tailed Drongo, the Green Barbet, the Barred Jungle 
Owlet, Babblers and Shrikes, were concpi.cuous by their 
absence. However, the noteworthy feature la t.he abundance of 
bird life there. I saw so many species, in such a small area 
and in such a short time, that I am sure that any otn^r 
amateur bird-watcher 'will not be disappointed, if he goes 
there on a working day and not a holiday. 



[Ed Note: The reference to drongos attacking a Redvented 
Bulbul is surprising. Usually Drongos protect this 
species from being attacked by crows when the Bulbuls 
nest happens to be near their own. Crows sipping nectar 
from a Coral tree is in -fact quite a common sight in 
Bombay. )' ■' ■ 



********** 



R •- 



BROwN flycatcher in c-ir forest 
3y 
Lalsinh M. Raol 

Early last May I was birdwatching in the Sason Game 
Sanctuary with the Yuvraj Shri Shivrajkumar of Jasdan, in a 
particular area of the Kapuriagala which we had selected. 
This is about four miles from the Sason guest house. The 
rainfall of the previous monsoon having been very poor, 
nearly all the nullahs were dry, except for a small puddle 
in the otherwise dry bed of the Kapuria rivulet, which was. 
surrounded by a grcve. Though it was hardly ten to twelve 
square feet, the area attracted a variety of bird life, 
possibly because of the insects it harboured. 

From twentyfive to thirty feet away, we watched paradise 
Flycatchers, Magpie Robins, Tickell's Blue Flycatchers, 
white-eyes, and 'white-browed Fantail Flycatchers, to mention 
only a few. A little later a brown inconspicuous bird came 
in, settled on a boulder near the water, and began hawking 
insects from the air. ?he Yuvraj Saheb identified it as the 
Brown Flycatcher, adding that it was a rare bird and in fact 
that this might be the first record for Gir forest. 



* # * * * * * * 



A LINNAEAK ALPHABET 
( Continued) 

B7 

R.A. Stewart Melluish 



SAXICOLA, the bush-chat. Literally a cultivator of, and 
therefore one who dwells au-.ong, rocks. So also we have 
AGRICOLA, L1MIC0LA, MONTI CCLA, NEMORICOLA, and PRATINCOLA, 
which dwell in the fields, in the mud, on the mountains, 
in woods, and in meadows. 

STREPTOPELIA DECAOCTO is the Collared Dove^ The generic 
name is easily explained, but why deka-okto , ten-eight? 
peleia is a Homeric and Sopho clean word for the wild pigeon 
or stock-dove, evidently fr;>m pelos, dusky, ash-coloured. 
streptos is a collar, properly one of twisted or linked 
metal, because all the cognate streph - and strob - words 
have the sense of twisting or turning, strobilos , for 
example, is a top, or a whirlpool, or a whirlwind, or a 
pirouette. 

SC0L0"PAX, the woodcock, skolops is a stake or pale, and 
the reference can only be to the bird's long straight beak. 

STAGIIATILIS, the Marsh Sandpiper, is a Latin word meaning 
»of or belonging to ponds'; stagnum is a pond, swamp or 
fen, essentially a piece of standing, or stagnant, water. 

THRESKIORNIS , ibis, threskos is used in the New Testament 
to mean religious, and in Herodotus threskeia is religious 
worship. The name thus relates to the ibis's sanctity in 
ancient Egypt, 'tohoso slayeth an ibis or an hawk', wrote 
Herodotus in his description of Egypt, 'whether wittingly 
,-,„ , m ,.,^f^,iT, mi.ct nooHq Hio.t Hp tells us that the 



ibis earned its inviolable status by delivering Egypt from 
the swanas of winged serpents which used to fly out of 
Arabia cowards Egypt in the spring. The ibises gathered 
together at a certain pass through which the serpents 
migrated and 'suffered not the serpents to enter in, but 
slayed them all.' Herodotus says he actually visited the 
pass and saw 'serpents' backbones in multitudes not to be 
described'. There were bom-s in 'great heaps and- lesser 
heaps and yet smaller still; and there were many of these 
last'. 

The only Indian species of this genus is melanocephala, 
the Vvhite Ibis ( melano - means black, and kephale , head). 
But the word THRESKI0RN1THTDAE is applied to the whole 
family of ibises and spoonbills. 

TEPHRODORNIS , the wood-shrike, and other TEPHRO- words denote 
the colour of aehes, from tephra , ashes. On the analogy of 
Terpsichore, the Muse who delighted in dancing, the word 
TERPSIPHONE, used of the paradise flycatcher, means one who 
delights in speech. I have never heard a sound from a para- 
dise flycatcher myself, but must evidently listen more care- 
fully in future. Of other well known T-words, TINNUNCULUS, 
the kestrel, and the generic TRINCA haven't yet made sense 
to me. Mr. Macleod traces TOTANUS to the Italian totano, 
redshank. TRERuN, the green pigeons, probably comes straight 
from treroh, meaning timorous or shy. treo is to flee, irorc 
fear. — TRTOilLGIDES, the specific name lor the Dull Green 
Leaf-Warbler, can only come from trechem trechp- , to run 
about, trochos is anything that runs round, hence a wheel, 
and trochilos, though now the Leaf warbler, is in its GreeK 
form the bird which Herodotus describes picking leeches out 
of the throats of the crocodiles in the Nile and generally, 
though not necessarily correctly, translated as a sandpiper. 
The name TROGLODYTES, for the wren genus, is the well known 
creature which creeps into holes, trogle is a hole formed 
bv gnawing, like a mouse's hole, from trogS, to gnaw or_ 
nibble, and dutes is one who creeps or^Tves into sometmg. 
The classic Troglodytes were a tribe of Ethiopian cave-men. 
TROGON sounds like a Greek word, but I am doubtful of its 
real origin. Could it be a mistake for trugon, which is 
Aristotle's word for the turtle-dove, formed irom the verb 
t rugo , to coo, or make a low murmuring sound? 

UPUPA, hoopoe. Latin, and (obviously) imitative of the 
bird's call. Being trisyllabic, it is a more accurate 
rendering than the English name. 

XIPHIRHYNCHUS, the slender-billed scimitar babbler. The 
word means sword-beaked, from xiphos , sword, and rhunchos , 
snout, muzzle, beak or, of an elephant, trunk. Cp. 
RFYNCKOPS, the skimmer or 'beak-face'; and PLATYRHYKCHUS, 
the Mallard, whose bill is pi at us , broad or flat. 

All but three of the entries under X in the Synopsis 
begin with XANTHG-, wnich means yellow, though Homer uses 
it- of bay or chestnut horses too. 

ZOSTERCPS, white-eye. zoster is a girdle or belt; op_s, • 
eye, face or countenance. Hence 'eye with a girdle or ring 
round it'» 

( concluded) 
* * ******* 



BIRDWATCHING IN BOMBAY 

By 

V. Ravi 

?n?%° f T W ! re ^Bombay this May for the summer vacation 
£> t«Tt ? ? ay ° ff f °f, bi ^watching near Aarey Milk Slony. 
Ue took a_ leisurely walk to the Vihar Lake area from the 
Colony - m all, a trek of some 5 miles. Two furlonVs awav 
from the Milk Colony we met birds for the f£st tSef S 
T;ZL a Pa t r ° f T ? il0r 3irds ' which secies, in fact? kept us 
ca t?e y fnin°f ^f?^ ^ our "**: At a place where waste 
pa .tie fodder, full of aung, was piled in mounds, a party of 
O&t.le Egrets was probing for insects. 

SLV"! 6 ,"' 3 ^" 6 Were ? lease d to catch a glimpse of a 
Red-vented Bulbul. Moving a little further we came across 
Sen S S h2' ? ff-f "kered Bulbul, perched on a Peepal t?ee. 
fnfmrt *h h J S wa r b l er - 1: - k e cal ls from a prickly bush, and 
louna .hat they beiongec to a trio of Thick-billed Flo we r- 

flittf^ ?v Ca T a 4^ ittckell), active little c?eLur e s 
Uittmg rrom brancFTo branch uttering noisy tweets all the 
time. One of them appeared immature. ■ 

f,o *£! „?!? P °f^ on the wa y t0 the Kanheri National Park 

JSrJif? "v S J? S ° f " uhe 3reen Barbet and the Indian Wren 
warmer, tfe then came to a Tamarind tree where w e promptlv 

mistook a Jungle Crow for some sort of Cuckoo. Later from 
i-iSf" 9 ? pat?b T °£ trees on a hill -side* there came what sounded 
-J5u+ f Ca ^ P f a Cuckoo. However, we were surprised bv the 
sight ->f a Racket-tailed Drongo shooting out of the grove. 
Appare.tly ~he Drongo had been imitating the Cuckoo's call. 

In a snull valley dotted with thick clumps of trees we 
heard the. chirrups of a group of Ioras,, and found them 
among th< foliage. A Yellow- throated Sparrow appeared 
amongst swie tell bare trees up the hill. Some time later 
we took afoot-path into the forest which is the ideal 
habitat oi the Rufous Woodpecker. We found many nests of 
tree-ants \hich the Woodpeckers usually share, but we 
failed to s>e the birds. 

Near Vihar Lake we watched a Large Egret and a few Cattle 
Egrets at the edjje of the water for some s.lme and on our 
way back in seme marshy land alongside the water-pipes of 
the Tulsi Lake we saw a pair of "Did-he-do-its", Red- 
vented bulbils drinking from a leakage in the pipe lines, 
and one of the beautiful Jerdon's Chloropses as it dashed 
.across from cne tre^ anto another. In a grassy swampy 
patch of grouid we sighted what looked like a Moorhen. 

¥ # # * * * * * * * 



CORRESPONDENCE ' 

Eleven species of birds feeding at a single source of food . 

On l?th July at 9-30 a.m. a couple of Jungle Babblers 
starred calling loudly from a garbage-pit in our compound 
at \alladikkod Village, Palghat District. This village 
lies at the foot of the range of hills which separate 
Coimcatore District from Malabar, and has a rich avifauna. 
The pit is about 4 feet deep and as long and held all 
sorts of decaying refuse. On this morning it was a veri- 
table fountain of the instar of termites. When T first. 



BIRDWATCHING IN BOMBAY 
By 

V. Ravi 
U.t,le Egrets was probing for insects. P JI ^y 01 

g-^Kd-SSJSir MoTinf f ??? t L° ss&s g*32 - ro%s 

wp ^L? S ? Po ?? ° n the wa ^ to the Kanheri National Park 
JSrtW " he ^ 11S ° f " uhe 3reen Barbet and ^e Indian Wren 
iSSnk'p ' Ue **«» can V° a Tanarind tree where we promptly 
1 * jS^J f ow for some sort of cuckoo. Later from 

lik he P ca r i f !' r\° n S ^ i:L1 - side ' ^ere ca,e what sounded 
sight?? r U IVft ; However, we were surprised by the 
ApSreflv ?^ k ^-tailedDrongo_ shooting out of the grove. 
Apparently .he Drongo had been imitating the Cuckoo's call, 

h^H^i! 1167 dotted with thick clumps of trees we 
anon^ fh ? 1 1 - rupS of a ? r °up of Ioras,, and found them 
X55f«it !*£?$?•, A Yellow-throated Sparrow appeared 
S? ?ook rT J £l1 ° are trees up the hill. Some time later 
we took afoot-path into the forest which is the ideal 
naoitat 01 the Rufous Woodpecker. We found many nests of 
tree-ants vhich -.he Woodpeckers usually share, but we 
failed to s>e the birds. 

Near Vihar Lake we watched a Large Egret and a few Cattle 
Egrets at _ the ed^e of the water for some i.ime and on our 
way back in some marshy land alongside the water-pipes of 
the Tulsi Lake we saw a pair of "Did-hc-do-its" Red- 
vented bulbils drinking from a leakage in the pipe "lines 
.and one of the beautiful Jerdon's Chloropses as it dashed 
.across from cne tree into another. In a grassy swampy 
patch of grouid we sighted what looked like a Moorhen. 

********** 

CORRESPONDENCE 

Eleven species of birds feeding at a single source of food . 

On li*Gh July at 9-30 a.m. a couple of Jungle Babblers 
started calling loudly from a garbage-pit in our compound 
at \alladikkod Village, Palghat District. This village 
lies at the foot of the range of hills which separate 
Coimbatore District from Malabar, and has a rich avifauna. 
The pit is about 4 feet deep and as long and held all 
sorts of decaying refuse. On this morning it was a veri- 
table fountain of the instar of termites. When I first 
noticed it 4 Jungle babblers and a magpie Robin were ' 



feeding. A Black Drongo perched on a mango tree nearby and 
in the course of a number of neatly executed sallies caught 
many instars. Four Jungle crows joined in and the babblers 
and magpie Robin moved away. The crows appeared to be in 
two minds whether to catch insects from the air like the 
Drongo or from the ground. After a few clumsey leaps the 
crows settled on the ground ana caught instars as they 
emerge:-: from the pit. Four Treepies ana two House Crows 
joined the fray all feeding from the ground. As the tree- 
pies appeared the Black Drongo left the scene but a Racket- 
tailed Drongo joined in. This latter bird operated from a 
lower trajectory and unlike the black drongo did not return 
to a branch each time it had caught an instar. Three other 
species operated only in the air. These were, a redvented 
bulbul, and two each of the tailor bird and gold-fronted 
chloropsis. The Treepies fed on the ground but repeatedly 
returned to a tree. 

For about 20 minutes an area of about 10 feet square around 
the pit was seething with activity of about 20 birds of 
different species each reaping a good harvest in its own 
style. At about 10.00 a.m. the Jungle Crows left the scene 
temporarily and the magpie Robin and babblers were once 
again seen in action. At 10.15 a pair of Scarlet minivets 
visited the area, but only the female caught termites. 
The gold-fronted chloropsis and tailorbirds operated 
together for a few minutes and when I visited the place at 
12.00 a.m. a Jungle Crow alone was present. 

Thus for a space of half-an-hour about twenty birds of 
eleven different species fed from the same source of food 
irrespective of their exact ecological niche. 

D.N. Mathew 
Bombay 

* * * * * * 

pied Crested Cuckoo 

In the July issue of the Newsletter there is a discussion 
about dates of arrival of Pied crested Cuckoo in various 
parts of the country. In this connection I have to mention 
that in last summer vacation I was at Village Keotgama in 
the Samastipur subdivision of Darbhanga District of Bihar. 
There 1 observed one pied crested Cuckoo on 1st of June 
this year. This I think is very early date for arrival of 
pied crested Cuckoo. There was cyclonic rain after two 
days. 

Kameshwar Pd Singh 
Barh 

****** * 

Foster Parents 

On the top of an electric ceiling fan 2 sparrows persi- 
stently ana repeatedly made nest throughout the breeding 
season onlv to be disappointed every time. A week back, 
they managed to hatch a chick on their precarious perch 
but day before yesterday both the parents were slaughtered, 
one after another, by the blade of the fan as they tried 
to feed the chick. 



-: 12 :- 



There was another pair of sparows who were always fighting 
with che late pair for the right of the same place to nest 
in. When they heard the petious cry of the young chick for 
food, they started hovering round it for a time and then I 
saw them bringing food to it. Since then they are doing 
their ardous duty religiously. 

This is the first instance I have seen of sparrows or for 
that matter any other birds taking over parentual duties 
from dead parents. I wonder if any of your reader has seen 
this happen . 



A. David 
Delhi. 



* ****** 



F lair, in goes in Tamaraikulam 

Although Mr. R.A. Steward Melluish's series on 'A Linnaean 
Alphabet' deals exclusively with etymology I feel that it 
would not have been inappropriate if he had mentioned the 
source of pigment for Phoenicopterus . I say this since I was 
blissfully ignorant of" lacts until I read Mr. J. Cyril 
Daniel's review on 'The Mature of Animal Colour by H. I-iunro 
Fox' in the J.B.N.H.S-, vol.61 No«l and gathered more infor- 
mation from Mr. Humayun Abdulali's article in the same 
issue. I still remember how, ever twenty years ago, as a 
boy, I was fascinated by the first flock of flamingoes that 
I ever saw,. Seeing the flock alight near the 'Tamaraikulam' 
(= 'Water-lily pond' in Tamil) in Palamcottah* I ran towards 
the side and then crawled on my belly along the paddy field 
bunds until I got as close as 30 T tc the nearest bird. The 
stilt-like legs, serpent ile neck and 'ugly' beak were strange 
to n-e despite my earlier visits to the Colombo 200. As it 
generally happened whenever I saw any bird for jthe first 
time, I forgot the catapult with which I was artaed, and 
simply lay there watching the birds Lake off in the fashion 
of airplanes running several yards before getting air-borne. 
The next day I visited the same site at the same time only 
to be disappointed at not finding them again. A helpful 
farmer to whom I explained with axcitecsent the -purpose of my 
visit told me that what I had seen the earlier day were 
'Koozhakkada' , evidently surmising that I had just been 
giving him a fanciful description of pelicans. However, I 
have little doubt that what I saw on that glorious day was 
a flock of flamingoes and I no longer wonder any I did not 
notice anything 'rosy' in the plumage. The pigment could 
have been lost during the migratory flight. 

Lancelot E. Thomas 
Calicut 

* palamoottah and Tirunelveli are contiguous municipalities 



* * * * 



I J 



ef Herons in the Khadakwasla Lake 



t« th« mlv icsue of the "Newsletter", Shri V.N. Kelkar 
tK"oL^ a \oS^ er H :Tha^re g ularl y be| .observing Ree 

fcf r as^ »it A a s ss ^ffS.^ 

otnex ue-i-ut, ".,.... f thpir being resident here? 
there any possibility 01 unexj ^-"b 



Sudhir Vyas 
Khadakwasla 



* 



* * * * * - '" 

,.„ M«e.+ mario nf wire bv the Common Crow 
Further observations on Nest maa- 01 wire oy ^jg y 

It was with ax.use,.ent that I read Mr A.S Gilani.^ncte^on 

KYntvefaSow tl £5St« *£&*£%*%%?£ " 

nnf a hirdlover but because crows msis« on the area to 
n t he,.selvesT OV Once they lay eggs -latching proceeds they 
refuse to allow anybody to walk undei tne "« s - 

nrce a couple of years ago a crow nestling had fallen on 
unce, ex ouupj-t. vjx 2 a np t0 pi c lc it up and 

the ground and in good ^n /ad S everV peck on the head 
restore it to its r^st. it udw s»eve*« * t had entered 
that drew blood that surprised me ana till I had enter ea 
the verandah for shelter on. or th e other of the crow 
parents swooped down to peck nard at <■ head and fly up 
again to let the other have a 50. Not only was I unaoie 
tl pick up the nestling but I . waa no* even allowed to 
stroll in the compound without oeing PJCKea 10 1 yo 

^il^A^ fA "-arden^ainf ',£*» Tenl they 
stfrt M nest n ing e i ask *y mall to go up the tree and^pull « 

^"resulted -^no^row^fo.crc population in ny compound 
at least and more than anything else, no terror 01 Deing 
pecked unawares. 

Arum Banerji 

I tf Note- The editor has bad the same experience in his 
garden in the breeding season walking in the garden 
without a hat is quioe a hazard. ) 

Apologies to Mr. Cilani for referring to him a s Gilam in 
the last issue. 



Zafar Futehally, , 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 

3 2- A, Juhu Lane, 

Andheri, 

Bombay - 58 (AS). 



NEWSLETTER 

FOR BIRDWATCHERS 

Volume 7- No 9-1967 September 



N 





FOR 
BIRDWATCHERS 

Vol. 7, No. 9. September 1967. 



CONTENTS 

Elephanta. by Dr. Salim All. , 1 

Birdwatching on a Simla-Kulu trek by N.M. Mistry 2 

Notes on a Weaver Bird Colony by Sarah Jameson 4 

Birds and their Intuition fcy S . V. Nilakanta 5 

Rotes and Comments ■ 6 

Heronry at Samanatham by I. P&runal •?»'.,.«..« *...»..»« 7 

Birdwatching at Dehra Dun and Hardwar by V. Parikh 8 

Correspondence 9 

ELEPHANTA 

Salim Ali 

ta 
I was glad to see Mr, Mistry' s note on Birdwatching on Elephan^Island in 
J ;he August (1967) Newsletter because it reminded me of a useful co-operative 
project started with great enthusiasm in 1942 by the short-lived and long 
defunct 'Indian Ecological Society'. The plan was to make ecological observa- 
tions as often and regularly as possible throughout one complete year at 
least, end preferably longer, on the fauna and flora of Elephanta Is., and 
if successful to extend the work to other offshore islands on the West Coast. 
The study was intended to cover plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, 
and animals of as many other groups as competent enthusiasts could be,, found 
for. On our first prospecting visit to Elephanta the Ecological Society was 
m a force fuller than ever seen again during its transitory existence! The 
occasion had all the characteristics of an 'Inauguration' with which we have 
become so familiar in recent years. In fact it was largely in the nature of 
a grand picnic, and a very gond time was had by all. Unfortunately very few 
of the persons who had loudly undertaken to study this group or that ever 
seriously got down to business. Except for a number of trips off and on by 
the botanists, few others (if any) visited the island more than once or twice 
(if that) during the next two years. Soon afterwards with the hotting up of 
•;he War Elephanta became a prohibited area; military barracks and defence 
works sprang up to take possession of the island and of course all roaming 
about, particularly with binoculars, came to an end. However, I see from the 
record of our 13 months of activity that the largest number of visits to the 
island was made by myself, accompanied or solo, either as day trips or over- 
night stays mostly on week-days when picnickers and tourists ware happily 
absent - 19 visits in all. All the birds seen on each visit were recorded. 
The total number of species observed on the island over the entire period, 
including resident birds and migrants came to 121. Due to the manageable size 
of the island, the whole of it could be controlled on each visit and it can - 
be safely claimed that perhaps not more than one or two species were missed 
out on each occasion. One could be almost certain of noting every new arrival 
or departure of migrants since the previous visit. Apart from the bare listing 
.nd checking of species, observations were recorded on nesting, food and feed- 
ing habits, and abundance, as well as changes in the weather and vegetation 
(ilowering and fruiting of plants, etc.). It is a pity that similarly complete 
lists and notes were not available for the other groups of animals to enable 



BIRDWATCHERS 
Vol. 7, No. 9. September 1967. 



CONTENTS 

Elephanta. by Dr. Salim Ali. 1 

Birdwatching on a Simla-Kulu trek by N.M. Mistry 2 

Notes on a Weaver Bird Colony by Sarah Jameson 4 






Birds and their Intuition fcy S.V. Nilakanta 5 

Notes and Connents ■ 6 

* 

Heronry at Samanatham by I. Peruml .,'.... «..t ....»...» 7 

Birdwatching at Dehra Dun and Hardwar by V. Bariih 8 

Correspondence 9 



EEEPHANTA 

Salim Ali 

ta 
I was glad to see Mr. Mistry 1 s note on Birdwatching on Elephan/Island in 
the August (1967) Newsletter because it reminded me of a useful co-operative 
project started with great enthusiasm in 1942 by the short-lived and long 
defunct 'Indian Ecological Society'. The plan was to make ecological observa- 
tions as often and regularly as possible throughout one complete year at 
"•east, and preferably longer, on the fauna and flora of Elephanta Is., and 
if successful to extend the work to other offshore islands on the West Coast. 
The study was intended to cover plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, 
and animals of as many other groups as competent enthusiasts could be., found 
for. On our first prospecting visit to Elephanta the Ecological Society was 
m a force fuller than ever seen again during its transitory existence^ The 
occasion had all the characteristics of an 'Inauguration' with which we have 
become so familiar in recent years. In fact it was largely in the nature of 
a grand picnic, and a very good time was had by all. Unfortunately very few 
of the persons who had loudly undertaken to study this group or that ever 
seriously got down to business. Except for a number of trips off and on by 
the botanists, few others (if any) visited the island more than once or twice 
(if that) during the next two years. Soon afterwards with the hotting up of 
ihe War Elephanta became a prohibited area; military barracks and defence 
works sprang up to take possession of the island and of course all roaming 
about, particularly with binoculars, came to an end. However, I see from the 
record of our 13 months of activity that the largest number of visits to the 
island was made by myself, accompanied or solo, either as day trips or over- 
night stays mostly on week-days when picnickers and tourists were happily 
absent - 19 visits in all. All the birds seen on each visit were recorded. 
The total number of species observed on the island over the entire period, 
including resident birds and migrants came to 121. Due to the manageable size 
of the island, the whole of it could be controlled on each visit and it can 
be safely claimed that perhaps not more than one or two species were missed 
out on each occasion. One could be almost certain of noting every new arrival 
or departure of migrants since the previous visit. Apart from the bare listing 
rnd checking of species, observations were recorded on nesting, food and feed- 
ing habits, and abundance, as well as changes in the weather and vegetation 
(flowering and fruiting of plants, etc.). It is a pity that similarly complete 
lists and notes were not available for the other groups of animals to enable 
3. co-ordinated ecological study as originally planned. However, at least as 



- .-"-5s bi-ds, re have this fairly complete all-year list made over 25 years 
ago, and it would be most interesting to compare it with one prepared under 
r.eiazlar conditions today. Will some of our enthusiastic birdwatchers take up 
the challenge? 

Among the species seen on the island only once or twice during the entire 
period, and chiefly as pairs or solitary birds, were Desert and Collared 
Bushchats (C enanthe deserti and Saxicola torquata ), Brown Flycatcher 
( Kuscicapa latirostris ), Blackheaded Cuckoo-Shrike ( lalage sykesi ), and 
Mottled Wood Owl ( Strix ocellata ) probably resident on the island, parts 
of which were thickly wooded with large mango and other trees. A Buzzard 
( Bjteo sp. ) and a Grey Quail (Coturnix coturnix ) were also recorded. In 
these days there was still a small population of peafowl living on the 
island (probably introduced). The birds may still be there unless eaten 
up by the military. A pair or two of Little Grebes turned up in the monsoon 
and nested on the ephemeral rain-filled ponds. 

A notable absentee throughout the year was the Bombay Babbler ( Turdoides s. 
somervillei ) in spite of the country to all appearances being so eminently 
suitable. 

# -x- -:;- # * # # # #«#*** * * * * * # 

BIRDWATCHING OH A SIMLA-KULU TREK 

N.M. Mistry. 

Trekking in the Himalayas is a thrilling experience especially for a bird 
watcher. However, when one is carrying a rucksack weighing nearly 15 to 20 
kgms. and walking anything between 20 to 50 kms. a day, one's enthusiasm 
for birdwatching is apt to be dampened a little. 

In fey, this year, I was on a trek from Simla to Kulu. I reached Simla 
late in the afternoon and that evening I saw only some Indian Grey Tits 
and West Hirralayan Spotted Porktails in a deodar wood near Dhali. Early 
next morning between Fagu and Theog I saw some Eastern Meadow Buntings. 
They were easily identified by their black and white zebra-striped heads. 
At .heog, I spotted a Dark Grey Bushchat sitting on a telegraph wire. I 
took out my binoculars to view it closely, but I soon became aware that 
while I was observing the bird's antics, a small group of people were 
observing my own.- '•:, . I returned the binoculars to their case and walked 
on. Outside Theog, I halted for lunch in a spruce and deodar grove. Here 
I saw some Scarlet Mini vets and Simla Black Tits. One of the mini vets came 
and sat so close to me that I could see the scarlet spots on the secondaries. 
Beyond Sandhu, I heard the sweet 'Kuk-koo' call of a male cuckoo. This call 
had baffled me- in Mussoorie the previous year ( Birdwatching in Mussoorie, 
Vol. 6 No. 7 - July 1S66). However, this year I was able to observe the 
bird at close quarters a number of times. In the evening, near Matiana, 
a Gilgit Laughing Thrush hopped en to the path in front of me. 

Ecxt morning, it was again Wordsworth's 'Darling of the Spring' that woke me 
up. later, on the road, I once again saw a Gilgit laughing Thrush and then 
n pair of glossy black Starlings. In a forest, near Kodiali, I heard the 
'.lard metallic call of a Racket-tailed Drongo. Surprisingly, that v/as the 
crjTy time I heard the master-mimic of the Himalyan jungles. When I halted 
for ivnch, a Black and Yellow Grosbeak entertained me with its pleasant 
call:;, while ■nome Rufous Turtle Doves flitted about in the branches over- 
head. One of the birds came and 3at on a low branch and I could see the 
-jhess -board patch on its neck clearly. That evening, near Narkanda, I 
saw a Mountain Thrush. 

i ?xt day, some friends arrived from Simla and together we visited the 
Hatu peak, 10,300' high. On the slopes of the ccuntr.in I saw a Himalyan- 

-.-..._ un.j ~„ Ainine qj-| 011£ ,kcj. Tndian Grey Tits, 



■• 



The following day, on our way down to Luri, I saw a Pied Himalyan Wood- 
pecker near Odi. The call of the Cuckoo was heard very often. Beyond 
Kumarsain, the altitude dropped to less than 5,000' and there was a marked 
change in both the flora and the avifauna. Now for the first time I saw 
Hoopoes, Spotted Doves, Golden Orioles and White-cheeked Bulbuls. I also 
saw a Iammergier gliding majestically in the sky. 

Spotted doves were cooing, in the garden at Luri when we woke up early next 
morning. I took a stroll round the garden and saw a Purple Sunbird in an 
apple tree. Over the river Sutlej Alpine Swifts moved in unending circles. 
On way to Ani, near a place called Nigam, I saw a pair of Plumbeous Redstarts* 
sitting on- a rock near a cascade. Mynahs, both brown and grey, and Black 
Drongos were extremely common. That evening, in the garden of the dak bungalow 
at Ani, I saw a few female Paradise Flycatchers, Golden Orioles and again a 
Pied Himalyan Woodpecker. 

Koklas or Wedge-tailed Green Pigeons come to the Himalayas in early summer. 
Their beautiful calls, consisting of a large number of mellow whistling notes, 
resound through the leafy glades till about the end of July. Next morning I 
spotted the Koklas, a pair, sitting high up in the branches of a eucalyptus 
tree. I also saw some more female Paradise Flycatchers and then a beautiful 
adult male specimen,- its silver white streamers trailing in the air as' it 
flitted through the trees. The track to Khanag followed the banks of a stream 
and wound up steeply through a beautiful pine and rhododendron forest. About 
two kms. outside Ani, at an altitude of about 5,000' I saw two Alpine Choughs. 
I was surprised to see these birds at such a low altitude because in summer 
they rarely descend below 10,000'. (An interesting point in this connection 
is mentioned by Dr. Salim Aii in his book 'The Indian Hill Birds', viz. that 
this bird was seen by the Fverest expedition of 1924, at a height of 27,000')- 
However, the field characters of a Chough are so distinct, that it cannot be 
misidentified. Later, in the Kulu valley, I again saw Yellow-billed or Alpine 
Choughs at an altitude of even less than 4,000'. I wonder if readers have 
any comment about this. 

Near Khanag, I saw that gaudy-coloured, fierce -looking bird - the Great Hima- 
lyan Barbet, perhaps the biggest barbet found in India. Late in the afternoon 
we crossed the 10,280' high Jalori pass, and here, near a torrent, I 

saw a White-capped Redstart. This bird is also a resident of very high altitu',^ 

Next day, beyond Shojo, we saw a Yellow-billed Blue Himalyan Magpie. 
This bird Icoks beautiful, _ , as it comes winging across a str°:.:. 

flowing through a dense pine and rhododendron forest. Near Jibi, a flock of 
Blossom-headed Parakeets flew out from a tree, and betv/een Jibi .and Banjar 
we saw, for the first time, a Himalyan Golden Eagle. Beyond Banjar, the alti- 
tude again dropped below 5,000', and in place of pine and rhododendron forestrj 
there were now rocky barren mountains, with narrow strips of cultivated land 
on either side of the river. Here, Hoopoes, Golden Orioles and Rufous-backed 
Shrikes were very commonly seen, while Swifts moved in circles over the river 
Tirthan. Occasionally, a Chukor would bo heard calling in a wheat field. 

At Aut, next morning, I was again separated from my companions and the first 
bird I saw on entering the Kulu valley was a young male Paradise Flycatcher, 
its streamers and body still chestnut brown. It was building a nest in the 
fork of a tree. Every now and then it would dart to the ground and return 
to the nest holding a twig or a fibre in its bill. Later, I saw a Brown Hill 
Warbler and then near the river some Red-Wattled lapwings. Further on, I saw 
some Plumbeous Redstarts, Eastern Grey Wagtails and then once again two Aljine 
Choughs. This time the altitude was even less than 4,000'. The Choughs were 
engaged in a game of chasing each other along the bank of the stream and flew 
past me a number of times. Near Nagwain, I saw a White Wagtail, a bird rareiy 
seen in summer, and I spent considerable time observing it through the bino- 
culars, as it fed on the ground. Late in the afternoon I reached Jhiri, where 
I saw a White -breasted Kingfisher. In the orchards, apples and cherries were 
ripening, and Golden Orioles, Hoopoes, Black Drongos, Rufous-backed Shrikes, 
Ring Doves, Spotted Doves, Magpie Robins and Mynahs were having a grand feast. 
In the wheat fields Chukors were gorging on the ripening corn. 



: 4 : 

That erening, at Bajaura, I saw, near a temple, a West Himalyan Barred Owlet, 
It resented my approach, and when I persisted in going closer, it flew away 
towards the river, shrieking with rage. When I returned to the dak bungalow 
I heard a Koel calling. That was the only time I heard the Koel on the touj:. 

Next morning on the road, near Kalhauli, I saw a thrilling jungle drama. A 
Jungle Crow, which was chased by a Pariah Kite, flew desperately into a t?ee. 
He must have disturbed a nest of Blue Magpies, for immediately two furiou/J 
Magpies flew out and attacked him, screeching wildly. At Ehuntar, I saw some 
White-backed Vultures sitting in a tree right in the centre of the market 
place. A little later, I heard a trilling whistle and was surprised to see 
that it came from a White -breasted Kingfisher. I had often heard the harsh 
cackling of the bird, but I had never heard it whistling. Before I reached 
Kulu, I saw some Brahminy Mynahs, near a place called Shamsi. 

In the evening, at Kulu, I saw a little Himalyan Goldfinch in the garden of 
the Tourist Bungalow, and later, when I was bathing in the Beas, I again saw 
the unforgettable spectacle of a Blue Magpie winging its way across the stream 
towards me. 

We spent- the next day in Manali and on the following day we crossed the Rohtang 
pess into the Iohoul valley. In snow-bound Lahoul, at altitudes ranging from 
10,500' to 13,500', we saw Plumbeous and White-capped Redstarts, Eastern 
Meadow Buntings, Alpine Choughs, a Blue Rook Pigeon, a Mountain Sparrow, 
a Iammergier (and some Himalyan Mouse-Hares). 

Two of my observations deserve special mention: - 

1 ) All the Choughs I saw were of the Yellow-billed or Alpine 
type and not the Red-billed type which are supposed to be 
more commonly found. Again, on two occasions, I saw the 
Choughs at fairly low altitudes. 

2) All the Blue Magpies I saw were also Yellow-billed not 
Red-billed. 

NOTES ON A WEAVER BIRD COLONY 

Sarah Jameson 

At one end of our compound there was a small tank, now drained, overlooked 
by two tall palmyra palms which have probably been used by colonies of 
weaver birds over many years. At the moment we have five birds together, 
two of which look not unlike hen sparrows, and three with bright yellow 
crowns. However, the illustration and description of these cock Bayas 
in Salim Ali's 'Book of India Birds' do not tally with the birds we have 
here, nor do those of the Striated Weaver Birds. The throat and breast 
are fulvous, shading into a l-:ght creamy beige over the abdomen and vent. 
There is no hint of yellow, or any striations. I have studied Whistler's 
descriptions of weaver birds, but these also do not tally with what we 
have seen here. 

In Fletcher and Inglis* 'Birds of an Indian Garden' there is a fuller 
account of the various weaver birds, and I am wondering if our birds 
could be the Eastern Baya (Plocous infortunatus burmanicus )t This bird 
is quoted together with the ]"alay Baya as having a fulvous breast. The 
range given covers the Lower Himalayas from Nepal to Assam, as also East- 
ern Bengal and Burma. We are on the extreme Western edge of West Bengal, 
two miles from the Bihar border. 



It is fascinating watching the birds at work, and the nests are slowly pro- 
grossing. Many times I have seen a bird sitting on the bar across the middle 
of the bowl. I twice saw a bird close its wings and shoot vertically upward 
through the entrance tunnel of the completed nest at lightning speed. It was 
marvellous how it was able- to stop quickly enough to avoid going through the 
top of the nest, of even shaking it. One evening I saw a cock sitting on an 
obviously very old nest, apparently doing its best to demolish it by system- 
atically pulling out pieces of grass pnd letting them drop to the ground. 
I wonder what this means. Yesterday I saw a cock bring something round in 
its bill, and daub it on the outside of the nest, and when some of it fell 
down I saw it was damp earth. There is an interesting account in Fletcher and 
Inglis 1 'Birds of an Indian Garden' about the use of mud. 'There is still one 
point to be mentioned about these nests and that concerns the lumps of clay 
which are stuck on to them at odd places. Jerdon notes that he found in one 
nest about three ounces of clay in six different places, but this is an abnormal 
amount, the average quantity not exceeding one ounce, and some nests containing 
none at all. Many theories have been advanced in explanation, a very popular one 
in India being that the bird uses these jlay petche.3 p.n 'Points d'appui' on 
which to stick glow-worms to illuminate the interior of the nest. A more probable 
explanation is that the clay is applied to balance the nest more correctly, 
to prevent it being blown about by every gust of wind, and to keep it steady 
whilst the birds are entering or leaving it," It is sad to think that the 
charming idea of using lamps as glow-worms is not likely to be the right * 
explanation] 

*But even this has the forehead, crown and nape golden 
yellow in breeding males — Ed. 

BIRDS AMD THEIR INTUITION 
ly 
S.V. Nilakanta. 

There are many things which I do not know but take for granted. It is not essen- 
tial to know much to make birdwatching such a pleasurable occupation. 

Some two years back circumstances forced me to go to Visakhapatnam at the time 
of the Indo-Bakistan conflict. Air and train communications being disorgainised 
I was much delayed in the flight from Bombay to Hyderabad where I missed the 
Express and had to go by passenger train. 

The monsoon had ended but there was water everywhere. The railway embankments 
were breached in many places and the train was greatly delayed. There was nothing 
to do but bird-watch. from the railway carriage windows. There were plenty of 
insects in the grass and rice fields on both sides of the railway embanments. 
A great many black and white birds were carrying grasshoppers to feed their 
young which appeared to be housed in palm trees. I had never seen them before 
and took some time to recognize them as Pied Mynas. 

I confess to a partiality for the larger animals and birds and so was greatly 
thrilled to see an Adjutant Stork gliding down majestically in circles to alight 
in a rice field between other Adjutant Storks, which I had mistaken for uninter- 
esting cultivators.* 

Also, my partiality for seeing birds in large numbers was satisfied by the 
Common Swallows which had obviously arrived in the much hotter Eastern coast 
of Peninsular India before arriving in Bombay. My first thought was that the 
winter must have arrived early where the Swallows came from. The prevailing 
cold with the paucity of small flying insects had probably driven the Swallows 
southwards. 



I did not notice other winter visitors, such as snail waders, either on the 
fringes of rice fields and wet grasslands of the Godavari or on the v^st 
tidal basins of Visakhapatnam. Probably the waders and swallows arrivTfrom 
different parts of Northern Asia where climatic conditions may dSerT 

SfSL"**?" ^ ° f September 1966 J was required to make a trip to Visakha- 

Sad nl?^ co ^otion Early morning, I searched the outskirts of a 
pond near Begumpet airport and saw a few Common Swallows although I had 

thousands 6 5 ££* T ^T m "« ° ±n W**"**-- but^therf were 
the Sndu^nn S wa f r * in the salt marshes between Visakhapatnam and 
the Hindustan Shipyard. Obviously the waders had plenty of food. 

These observations set me thinking. Are birds like human regugees" If living 
conditions become impossible, do they migrate? A human refugff is led to 

T^TotL^JriT^ r^ f h£ -* gCt a n0re Citable deception 
at the other end. A bird does not have this reasoning abilitv, nor does it 

Zl W w reP + °^ S n ° r lnforaation * s ^0 the abundance of focd at the other 
end. However, it does, in vast hordes, at the right time. 

? "^iT 1 ? at ±tS destina tion, there is no uncertainty. Pood has to be in 

S!,^!! r + f e Winter in WeStem ^^ was a »lld one. Even by the ^nd of 
2d^Z SI : Wer ?. S ^ ns of s P rin * «* by the first week of irch spring 
had come to stay. Bird activity could be seen everywhere. Blackbirds wort 
singing and proclaiming their territory, ducks werTflying in paiS across 

f™: xielTS ottr.^ "" ^^ *«« « -^T^K: 

h^ff hQd StGrte<J buildin g nGsts i« holes of large trees in Germany 
but they were in very large flocks feeding on the ground in LonCon^rLrt 
Generally the birds suggested furious activity as if there vi no tS'tf* 
lose. Even small waders were splashing about Forth of Tynemouth? 

Observation of all this activity made me realize that there had to be some 
kind of guarantee that the weather would not be worse, where the birls w^nt. 

be n J P r ar ^ n0t at aU b ° thered by rain or cold wi^, but there cZll 
flTtf* !L° f prolon S ed snow <* frost which would cut off the birds 
ZT I ?l f^™™ and insects. They went a tout their • -jobs' as though 
they had had prior knowledge of suitable living conditions? ^ 

Inset nf e +\T *"* ^ ***** feBaar8 Wh ° teve SOWn the ^ seeds at the 
onset of the monsoon only to find that the real rains are delayed and the 

SunSS f Pl T tS ^ t0 die ' SuCh liSaSters cannot touch oCr monsoon 

"on wetds ?he ^io" T "J T^ ° f mtW *« Can * erminate * ost °°" 

till the llf ° ? t 10nS , haVG t0 te * USt correct and guaranteed to last 
till the plant completes its li^e cycle. 

iSf would notT* L h H her °? M obserTOti ^ of such plants and bird 

forecast w It M I **** *° l0Cal W6ather condi tions than weather 
lorecasts which at best can cover only the immediate future over a wide 



area 



NOTES Aim COMMENTS 



SiTvsss % s t t:^:^. septemter «* tetote *— ° f *• ■—»- 



The last issue contained a note by Fir. lalsinh Raol about the Brown Flycatcher 
in Gir Forest. Dr. Saliin Ali observes that the species has never been actually 
recorded from Gir itself, but 'collected in similar country in the Surat Dangs 
about 200 kms. to the East across the Gulf of Cambay. It is a resident species 
not particularly rare, and to some extent locally migratory'. We are sorry this 
piece of information could not be published along with the article. 

A news item from the 'Amrita Bazar Patrika" sent by Mr. Louis Werner from 
Bhubaneshwar says 'ADDING CHARM TO NAHDAN KANAN LAKE'. 'The sub-committee for 

development has decided to take up the deweeding of Nandan Kanan Lake 

to make it an attractive tourist spot. An amount of Rr. 58,000/= has been esti- 
mated for dewatering at least half the lake. To lend charm and comfort to 
visitors, the famous colourful umbrellas cade by the master craftsmen of Pipili 
are being bought. The creation of a zoological garden is also proposed in the 

fairy picnic spot. Large flocks of Longnecked Storks (sic) dartar, teals, 

and jakanna (sic) add to the ethereal atmosphere'. 

This kind of thing poses a new problem for conservation in India. The only thing 
we need to do at this stage is to stop the destruction of our natural areas. 
This would seem simple, but then we have not even learnt what destruction means. 
Negative interference with the countryside might be openly checked - if anyone 
tried - but where is the answer to well-meaning attempts at 'beautifying' it, 
which is very nearly synonymous with destroying it? For instance Ajanta has a 
very impressive natural setting but under the Fourth Plan it was given addi- 
tional 'charm* by the construction of blue and yellow railings across the hill- 
side, protecting insignificant plots of crctons where there used to be natural 
forest. 

*#■**#**####**##*■#*# 

With reference to Mrs. Jameson's article, readers are reminded of the monograph .. 
on Weaver Birds by V.C. Ambedkar (Reviewed in a former issue of the Newsletter). 
This is a very complete study of the life history of the species, published by 
the University of Bombay and priced at ^.7/=. 



HERONRY AT SAMANATHAM 

I . Perumal 

Early in March this year I met a professional Shikari at Madurai, who was 
returning from his daily shooting trip to collect birds for the market. I 
asked if he knew of any nesting places of water birds, in the vicinity, which 
were suitable for bird photography. He directed me to the Heronry at Samanathan, 
a small village about 5|? miles from Madurai town. 

Next day, I visited the heronry which is in the middle of the village and sur- 
rounded by paddy fields. Two separate clusters of banyan trees and one pipal 
tree form the heronry. It is regarded as sacred and the villagers take suffi- 
cient care to see that the birds are not molested in any way. There is a small 
temple nearby which is considered the guardian of the village and heronry. 
I was told that the birds are not harmed even on the tanks or nearby paddy 
fields. 

Grey Herons - Saamba Naarai - Little egrets (Karumooku Kokku in Tamil) - Ardea 
cinerea (Linnaeus) and (Egretta garzetta - Linnaeus) were the only two species 
nesting in March. About 50 nests of grey herons and about 12 of little egrets 
were in the cluster of trees. Villagers told me thr.t the number was very small 



in fifl^r T f? ^ 0t l by lJT ' IfllS:Lnh Bao1 atout the B«™ Flycatcher 
£L25 J S s*« ?r. Salm AH observes that the species has never been actually 

III f tnnZ m G f ^ S6lf ' ^ ' collec - 6ed in «**"«• country in the Surat SSgs 

not particularly rare, and to some extent locally migratory'. We are sorry this 
piece of information could not be published along wi^thfarticleT 



******* 



*********** 



A news item from the •Amrita Bazar Patrika' sent by Mr. Louis Werner from 
Bhubaneshwar says 'ADDING CHARM TO NANDAR KANAN LAKE'. 'The sub-committee for 

development has decided to take up the deweeding of Nandan Kanan Lake 

to make it an attractive tourist spot. An amount of R s 58,000/= has been esti- 
mated for dewatering at least half the lake. To lend charm and comfort to 
visitors, the famous colourful umbrellas made by the master craftsmen of Pipili 
are being bought. The creation of a zoological garden is also proposed in the 

fairy picnic spot. Large flocks of Longnecked Storks (sic) dartar, teals 

and jakanna (sic) add to the ethereal atmosphere'. 

This kind of thing poses a new problem for conservation in India. The only thing 
we need to do at this stage is to stop the destruction of our natural areas. 
This would seem simple, but then we have not even learnt what destruction means. 
Negative interference with the countryside might be openly checked - if anyone 
tried - but where is the answer to well-meaning attempts at 'beautifying' it, 
which is very nearly synonymous with destroying it? For instance Ajanta has a 
very impressive natural setting but under the Fourth Plan it was given addi- 
tional 'charm' by the construction of blue and yellow railings across the hill- 
side, protecting insignificant plots of crctons where there used to be natural 
forest. 

******#******* # * # .,f..£ 

With reference to Mrs. Jameson's article, readers are reminded of the monograph • 
on Weaver Birds by V.C. Ambedkar (Reviewed in a former issue of the Newsletter). 
This is a very complete study of the life history of the species, published by 
the University of Bombay and priced at R*7/=. 

******************** 



HERONRY AT SAMANATHAM 

By 
I. Perumal 

Early in March this year I met a proffessional Shikari at Madurai, who was 
returning from his daily shooting trip to collect birds for the market. I 
asked if he knew of any nesting places of water birds, in the vicinity, which 
were suitable for bird photography. He directed me to the Heronry at Samanathan, 
a small village about 5-§- miles from Madurai town. 

Next day, I visited the heronry which is in the middle of the village and sur- 
rounded by paddy fields. Two separate clusters of banyan trees and one pipal 
tree form the heronry. It is regarded as sacred and the villagers take suffi- 
cient care to see that the birds are not molested in any way. There is a small 
temple nearby which is considered the guardian of the village and heronry. 
I was told that the birds are not harmed even on the tanks or nearby paddy 
fields. 

Grey Herons - Saamba Raarai - Little egrets (Karumooku Kokku in Tamil) - Ardea 
cinerea (Linnaeus) and (Egretta garzetta - Linnaeus) were the only two species 
nesting in March. About 50 nests of grey herons and about 12 of little egrets 
were in the cluster of trees. Villagers told me that the number was very small 
as many had already left with young ones. The herons are said to arrive by 
October-November, commence their nesting and leave the place with their young by mid april 



Most of the nests of the herons had half and full fledged young ones. Many- 
were trying their wings. little egrets had fledglings of varied sizes. Soiae w 
were running about the ground, being fed outside their nests. 

The nests of herons were neat shallow baskets approximately 3 feet wide 
built in the forks of the top branches with dry thorny sticks and were 
lined with fine grass and egret feathers. None of the nests had more than 
two young ones. Parent birds were in breeding plumage. The exchange of sticks 
at the nest was observed. One particular bird was very conspicuous as it 
had red legs instead of the usual greenish brown or yellow-brown legs. The 
parent birds were feeding the young with fish of all sizes. Occasionally 
some fish dropped to the ground and the fallen tit-bits were picked up by 
the village urchins. I picked up a large-sized fish from the ground and 
found yet another smaller fish 'sticking out of its mouth! 

Though the birds often dropped their food from the nest they did not make 
any attempt to retrieve it but always flew away to bring fresh food. Feed- 
ing times were few and brief. The nests of little egrets were shallow cups 
of sticks lined with grass built lower then that cf the heron nests. The 
snow white birds still wore their nuptial plumes. It was fascinating watch- 
ing the chicks thrust their beaks into the beaks of the parents to feed, 
flapping their wings and pumping their necks, accompanied by the typical 
noise. 

I found the photography of the grey herons a most trying and difficult 
task. They were very shy and had built their nests 45 feet high from the 
ground. At the end of a whole week of patient watching and work I managed 
to take photographs of one nest with a young bird and a parent, by using 
the remote control method, 

******** x- ************ 



BIRDWATCHING AT DEHRA DUN AND HARDWAR 

Vipin Parikh 

Before reaching Dahra Dun we watched birds near Delhi on the banks of the 
Jumna where we found a host of water birds, some of which we saw for the 
first time. There was the stilt, out winter visitor with its long red legs, 
and there were also the Avocets with their long curved black bills, apart 
from stints and Grey and White Wagtails. We also spotted, for the first 
time, Pharoah's Chicken (the Scavenger Vulture). Later at Rajghat we spot- 
ted Crested Larks, camouflaged against the earth, babblers, shrikes, Red- 
Whiskered Bulbuls, Green Bee-eaters, Wagtails and Hoopoes dominated the 
scene. 

At Eardwar we saw little Stints, Grey Wagtails, the Pied Mynah, the Indian 
Courser, and the Redshank and Greenshank. Climbing up to the Mansadevi 
temple we came across of White -Cheeked Bulbuls but nothing else. Near the 
canal, not far from HarkL Pedhi, we saw the Common and Whitebreasted King- 
fishers. At Rishikesh we saw cormorants and Purple Sun birds mainly. Near 
Dehra Dun at Shahstraduhra we spotted a black and chestnut robin-like 
bird which we could not find in the 'Common Birds' of Salim Ali. At Hardwar 
we came across a similar bird, but without the white patch. On coming back 
to Bombay and going through the 'Hill Birds ' of Salim Ali we recognised 
them' as the Whitecapped and Plumbeous Redstarts. We could not identify a 
•jype of sparrow, similar to but slightly bigger than the house sparrow, but 
with prominent grey patches on its wings. 

******* .c * * ********** 



: 9 : 



CORRESPONDENCE 

Black-throated Weaver-bird observed at Bhubaneswar, Orissa ; 

It may be worth noting that on April 22, in the morning and again in the 
evening, I saw a small flock of the Black-throated Weave r-birl on the edge 
of a paddy-field that is about a mile due south of the Biubaneswar train- 
station. Ordinarily I would have visited this paddy-field several times 
in the weeks before and after April 22, and would have been able to say 
whether or not the birds stayed for more than a few days, but because of 
ill health I have done almost no bird-watching since mid-April. I regret 
that ill health has also prevented me from making this report before now. 



Louis Werner 
Bhubaneswar. 



Zafar Putehally, 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers, 

32-A, Juhu lane, 

Andheri, 

BOMBAY 58-AS. 



NEWSLETTER 
FOR 

BIRDWATCHERS 
Vol. 7, No.U November 1967 

CONTENTS 

Two visits to Nepal by Louis Wernei? 1 

Third International Short Course on Management of National 

Parks and Equivalent Reserves by Zafar Futehally 4 

Redstarts in Dehra Dun by H. Mathur 7 

A week in Bharatpur by Shama Futehally 7 

Notes and Comments ". n 

Correspondence: 

(Blackbellied Finch larks by M.R. Ray pp. 12; Discipline among 
Blackwinged Vultures by M.P. Mukherjee pp. 13; Birds attacking 
reflections by Lancelot Thomas pp. 13 ; Redstarts in Dehra Dun 

by Vipin C. Parikh pp.13) 



,1 



I 



TWO VISITS TO NEPAL 
By 
Louis Werner 



A trek of 10 days from the Kathmandw Valley due rorth into the Helambu 
district and back gave a chance to see quite a few species previously 
unknown to me. 

Alone with two Sherpas I set off early one morning by Land Rover from 
Kathmandu to the edge of its valley at Sunderijal from where we started 
to climb steadily upwards for about 3 hours to reach the rim of the 
encircling hills at about 8,000 ft. 

The swallows in abundance hawking low across the valley floor, looking 
exactly like the European swallow, but with white spots at the end of 
the tail feathers, puzzled me at first, I realised later they were the 
eastern subspecies 'gutteralis' of Mirunda rustica. 

On the climb up to the rim of the valley the Blue Throated Flycatcher 
(Muscicapula rubecoloides) was one of the commonest and certainly th? 
loveliest of birds. Verditer and Grey Headed Flycatchers were also 
frequently seen. 

■' 



- 4. - 



The monotonous call of the Blue Throated Barbets was heard but nothing 
like as strong or as numerous as when I came back to Nepal again 
briefly in late May. The Himalayan Barbet with his wilier almost 
raptores-like cry seems to keep more to the thicker forests. 

From 7, COO ft onwards up to about 9,000 ft. the red blossomed Rhododen- 
dron forests were in their full glory. Here the Black Bulbuls were 
around in noisy parties and the Black Headed Sibias were calling 
their fluted notes; here too I started to see the dainty little Red 
Headed Tit in mixed group with the Black Tit (Lophophanes rufonuchalis 
beavani). The Green Backed Tit and the Yellow Checked Tit seemed to 
stay at lower levels, as did the White Eyes, where as the Brown Crested 
Tit (Lophophanes dichrous) I saw occasionally at the higher levels » 

around 9, COO ft. 

The little leaf warblers, as always, were difficult to identify and I 
needed much more time than was available to sit still and study them. 
The one that was abundant at all levels in suitable habitat up to 
9,000 ft was, I feel sure, the Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus 
trochiloides viridanus) of chiff chaff colouring, distinct wing bar 
and faint eye-stripe - some could well have been 'p.nitidus', which I 
understand is almost identical in the field. The very large numbers 
between 6 and 9,000 ft suggested migration northwards. A very similar 
'Phylloscopus', seen with but not as numerous as 'trochiloides', had a 
faint wing bar and eye-stripe but a most noticeable yellow rump, almost 

like the palaearctic Bonelli's Warbler. I could not place this one 
at all. The Grey Headed Flycatcher Warbler was easily identified and 

quite numerous at the lower levels - 6 and 7,000 'ft. while higher 
were a few Yellow Bellied Willow Warblers (Fhylloscopus affinis), but 
.not- as many as I had expected to see. Another Phylloscopus I noted 
with a double wing bar. Could these have been F. inornatus' tte 
Yellow Browed or '?. proregulus', Pallas' s? The former certainly 
winters south into India and could well have been on migration at that 
time. 

The bird life seemed at its busiest in the Rhodendron forests around 
the 8,000 ft contour: Sibias, Black and White Checked Bulbuls, the 
endless enerty of the industrious little, tits and leaf warblers. 
Whistling Thrushes and Blackbirds in song, nuthatches and tree-creepers 
not specifically identified, up and down the tree trunks, and the 
Short billed .winivets whose males were lost in the riot of red rhododen- 
drons. The Woodpeckers were there too : Fulvous Breasted Pied Wood- 
pecker (Dryobates macei) with the lovely warm orange ochre breast; 
Brown Fronted Pied, (D. avriceps); and the Himalayan Pied, (D.himala- 
yensis). Higher up I came upon the Scaly-Bellied Green Woodpecker, 
(Picus squanatus). 

Here and higher I frequently saw small parties of about 15-20 rosefinches 
which were later identified as the Nepal Dark Rosefinch, (Carpodacus 
nipalensis). They were not in the denser forests, but rather where it 
thinned out into isolated trees or bushes and so into the open alpine 
pastures. It was here on the grass slopes, still brown after the 
recently retreated snow that I came on large flocks, well over 100 in 
each, of brown- streaked nondescript looking finches, with slight white 
wing patches, who fed and rose and circled and alighted again all 
together, recalling the general behaviour of Snow Finches. They turned 
out to be the Mountain Finch, j(Leucosticte nemoricola). 

From these open alpine pastures I had some splendid views of the Black 
Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis) from above as well as below. The rough 
sketches I did on the spot give the white rump as more prominent than 
Salim Ali's descriptions and the flight view from below shows a most 
marked light or even whitish grey line all along the trailing edge of the 
wirgs. Only one Golden Eagle was seen and far fewer Lammergeiers than 
I'd expected. 






- 



Other birds in this region of scrub and alpine pasture, but still zonally 
in the temperate mixed forest belt of rhododendron and conifers, were 
various thrushes. The Blue Headed Rock Thrush and the Chestnut Bellied 
Hock Thrush were easily identified, but a large and noisy flock of birds 
closely resembling in looks and behavious the European Mistle Thrush, 
(Turdus viscivous), I could* nt place. I had anticipated Black Throated 
Thrushes but there were no signs of such markings in these, and their be- 
havio" r was totally unlike the Mountain Thrush, seen rarely in the 
nearby forests. Of the occasional skulking babblers and laughing 
thrushes, none of which were yet singing by March 20, I could only be 
certain of the Striated Laughing Thrush. Here were also seen several 
large migrating flocks of Red Rumped Swallows, (Hirundo daurica), and 
the Nepal House Martin, (Delichon nipalensis), which differs from 
'D. urbica' in having a black throat and squarer tail. 

Beside the torrents foaming down from the melting snows or balancing on 
the rocks in mid stream were invariably a pair of the lovely White 
Capped Redstarts. 

In the snow covered Rhododendron woods above 10,000 ft on the edge of the 
subalpine forest zone of birch, rhododendron, juniper and berberis - the 
snow was lower than usual for that time of the year - were several pairs 
of Yellow Billed Blue Magpies with their magnificent length of tail, and 
a brief sight of a Himalayan Rubythroat (Luscinia pectoralis) in chara- 
cteristic wing drooping, tail cocking position on the pathway ahead. 
Above 9,000 ft onty a few rhododendron trees were out and these were 
mostly the white and pink flowering varieties, whereas below 9,000 ft 
it was exclusively the red blossoms, (Rhododendron arboreunu. A glimpse 
of a pheasant flying was too short for certain identification but 
probably it was a cock Impeyan. 

The most beautiful of all were the Yellow Backed Sunbirds of the genus 
'Aethopyga'. Two were distinguished : 'Aethopyga gouldiae', Mrs. Gould's 
Yellow Backed Sunbird and the very similar 'Aethopyga nipalensis.n. ' the 
Yellow Backed Nepal Sunbird or sometimes sailed the Green Tailed Yellow 
Backed Sunbird. The latter tended to be at slightly higher elevations, 
about 9,000 ft, while the former were between 8,000 and 8,500 ft. Both 
at first sight bring a catch in the breath at the wonder of anything so 
small and so exquisitely fashioned and cr"-- " At first one just enjoys 
emotionally the sight of utter beauty, of colour combinations which no 
artist would dare - they would be certain to clash. But nature cannot 
go wrong, and the red and crimson, the violet and purple, the yellow and 
orange, the green and turquoise are all perfectly blended. Of the 
•gouldiae' I saw, only one had a flush of orange rather than crimson, as 
described by Salim Ali, on the yellow breast. The 'nipalensis', when 
seen in perfect light, was if possible even lovelier and the colours of 
the back graduated down from the blue green head through crimson red to 
a metallic red copper colour on the middle back above the yellow rump, 
while the crown, upper tail-coverts and tapering tail were glistening 
turquoise rather than green. 

This trek was not done specifically to see birds. £ven so, I saw much 
of great beauty and variety and many that I had'nt time to pursue and 
identify - the buntings, for instance, on the open hillsides and many 
more forest birds. 

Nepal is an ornithologist's dream with its altitudinal variations and 
consequent extremes of climatic aid vegetational zones. 

But much can be seen in a short stay even if you have to confine yourself 
to the valley, for splended day trips can be done from Kathnandu. Up 
from Dacca on a long week end at the end of May we got up one morning at 
3.30 a.m., off by 4.00 bumping along a rough track in the dark to the 
base of one of the highest encircling hills, Phulchawki, just over 
9,000 ft. By 4.45 we started up through the lower tropical mixed forests 
(pipal, chestnut, pine) where at first li<,ht and before sunrise the 



- 4 - 



laughing thrushes were hilariously living up to their name and filling 
the forest with every imaginable shriek, whoop, chortle and 
chuckle - "you know who, who, who" seemed the first to greet us. I've 
never before heard such a cacophony of bird noises but the very 'discords 
were intensely exciting and jubilant and one caught their mood of pul- 
sating exuberant love of life. Such moments of place and time should 
be crystallised and kept for ever so that we can extract them from a 
pocket of the mind when imprisoned in large cities or the monotonous 
conversation of certain other people. 

The East Himalayan White Crested Laughing Thrush (Garrulax leucolophus 
hardwickii) was probably the most raucous and noisiest and that morning 
the Striated Laughing Thrush (Grammatort.i la striata) the most jubilant 
with its fluted calls. The monotonous but rather lovely wild cry of 
the Great Himalayan Barbet rang out everywhere loud and echoing over the 
valleys. 

Where the forest thinned to scrubby hillside there were the startled notes 
of the male and female Rusty - Cheeked Scimiter Babbler (Fomatorhinus 
erythrogenys) calling and answering as one bird. In a clearing in the 
forest where ws rested at S, 500 ft -. amongst the rhododendron and mixed 
broad leaved trees - we watched the lovely Yellow Bellied Fantail Fly- 
catcher (Chelidorhynx hypoxanvhum) commonly heard displaying with fannod 
tail to his mate j am heard, on the Indian side of the Mahabharat Lek, ' 
the Ha^ Cuckoo (species ' s par verio ides ' ) up to the top at 9, COO ft 
The height for the latter seemed remarkable as it does not come down into 
the Vale of Kathmandu where 'micropterus' is commonly heard. 

In Kathmandu itself in the grounds of the Royal Hotel in early June was 
the most colourful colony of Buff Backed Herons (or Cattle Egrets) and 
a few Little Egrets that I've ever seen. Sixty nests I counted in one 
large tree; the white birds peeping out of the great purple mass of 
Bourgamvillea which covered it all over. Night Herons kept quite 
separate and were only just building. 

Svch fire some of the sights and sounds in Nepal to tingle the ornitho- 
logists blood on short walks or long treks. 



•K- *• # -* -A- * # -;;- * 



THIRD INTERNATIONAL SHORT COURSE ON MANAGjiMaNT OF 
NATIONAL PARKS AND EQUIVALENT RESERVES 

(Your Editor has recently participated in this course and the following 
article reproduced from the Times of India of 23-10-1967 gives a broad 
picture of this course) 

Three yeare ago, a group cf international institutions devoted to the 
conservation of nature decided to sponsor a course for the benefit of 
active^ conservationists and persons connected with the administration 
of National Farks. The scheme appears to have been successful, for the 
third international short course in administration of national parks 
and equivalent reserves was held this year *• +-he United States and 
it has been decided to hold the fourth one next -ear. The main sponsors 
are the Department of the Interior and the Na *ial Parks Service of the 
USA, the Conservation Foundation, the University of i4ichigan and the 
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. 



- y - 



This year the course was organised as a travelling sentixiar, CGBuiieficinf 
at the Grand Teton Mati anal Park on August 27 and ending at Grand Canyon 
in Arizona on September 22. There were 35 participants from 25 countries, 
and I had the privilege of representing the Bombay Natural History 
Society. The cost of travel and other expenses were in many cases paid 
by the sponsoring institutions or by others like the Smithsonian 
In sti tiit ion. 

To live intimately with so many other conservationists from all over the 
world is in itself an education; it is quite unlike any other political 
or economic conference, for among conservationists the words mine or 
thine have no meaning. The natural assets of the earth, its scenery, 
wild life and historical monuments belong to everyone, and destruction 
or erosion of any of these anywhere is felt to be a common loss of 
the human race. The barriers of language were fortunately minimised 
because most participants knew English well, 

NATIONAL PARKS: 

The first strong impression we received of the National Park system 
of the USA was of the tremendous number of people who visit the parks. 
Last year 2.7 million people visited the Grand Teton National Park and 
at any one time there are as many as 6,000 persons lodged there for 
the night. This tremendous pressure on the park is due to the fact 
that the visitor season is extremely short being restricted to only 
about 68 days between June and September. Even so it must be remembered 
that the Grand Teton park is about 125 sq. miles in area, which is 
almost the same size as our Corbett National Park. The Corbett Park 
has far more to offer in the way of wild life than the Grand Teton 
area. But it is unlikely that there are more than 50 visitors at any 
one time in the Park. 

In the Grand Teton various types of boarding and lod ing facilities 
are offered, ranging from rooms with attached baths and toilets at 
# 1A per day, to camp sites with a com;.ion bath and other facilities 
where one can establish a caravan. The total visitor use (to use an 
American expression) of all the national parks last year was 2C0 
million persons, and the projections for the future are in a steeply 
upward direction. 

One great problem which park concessionaries face in the United States 
because of the short season is that they cannot have a permanent staff. 
They, therefore, rely en college students during the vacation period 
to work in the lodges, cafetarias, laundries and other establishments 
of the Park during the busy season. College students get a dollar 
per hour for the work, and also get the opportunity to visit the most 
scenic places in their country. Training the students quickly to 
perform well in these various spheres is one of the most important 
tasks which the park concessionar has to undertake. From what we 
saw it was quite evident that Ph.Ds can become extremely efficient 
in serving meals in cafetarias and handling linen in hotels. 

CONFLICT 

There is always a conflict between the pure conservationist who hates 
the sight of another human being like himself in a natural environment 
and others with more fellow feeling who want the beauty of nature to 
be enjoyed by as many people as possible. I remember the conversation 
I had with a student of the School of Natural Re sources, Logan, Utah 
State, who was doing a graduate thesis on the economics of recreation 
areas. It was almost with a passion that he said. "You and I lifc© to 
be alone in the forest. But is it not our duty to open the eyes of 
millions of our countrymen to the beauty which they are missing?" I 
wish I could confira that my sentiments were as generous as his. 



- 6 - 

national product of America is ascribed to touKsn gP °^ 

places; to know in advance what to expect io^ P i£U J t °. S6e neW 

many such) can drive to a -scenic overlook" ana en fey t L SiTV* 6 ,- 
car. Others can fish, or climb, or hike and^ee the hirl^ 'V** 
or water ski, or go on horseback With guides alone I fj f f?""*", 
Since 99 per cent, people use only one^r cent ? SltnS* 1 - •„ 

5£.°L t'a ST kf thG T ^ ^ *° " nfve th : XVJSEf 
nature get a large area to themselves. e J-ooKat 

An important lessen which America ha<s t^ t a «.K * * 

is the necessity of a suitSle^™^^ -^ 

Though the Yellow Stone National Park was crr-fTT , te ? entre ' 
was really the National Parks Act of 1«? a£ t £ n 2^ ** 1S72 ' i1i 
interior whose Secretary virtually playftnf ^ Jtt*!l* ^ 
Conservation th*t has given such a strong Saf to the 2£T** 
ment of the country. ; v ich the D^DarfaW w. conservation move- 

the whole land, priorities" Z^^c^TS^T^^l ^T 
and aiter taking a total view of He landsca** i *£ deeded t«« *' * 
an area as a National Park, a National or Historic!] taS ?J* ^ 3 ignate 
ness Area, a National Forest or a State LwSSTtolS^ * Wlidei *" 

PRICELESS LOSS : 

Such a ministry is vitally necessary in Indi- whe^ tte n ««« 
Utxon subjects every bit of land for use by a variet of fnT °f ^ 
and wh.re unthinking action often lead, to a 4 ^ W ^ 
forever. The National Parks Act of 1916 s^thatV It.iit treasures 
duty of the Government "to conserve the scenfrV ^ t he nat^? 2? 
his toric ob.ects^and the wild life therein, and ^^ fTtnf 

the enjo 4n? rf ^T^i^^^ ^T ****** *r 
tution which canes cJoaa^o^^tto^. ^^^ 1 ^ - C ° nSti - 

m 1969, the scheme could be discussed in its final fern. 



* 



* 



*- 



■«• 



REDSTARTS IN DEHRA DUN 

by 

Joseph George 

HJJ. laathur has asked for information on Redstarts in Dehra Dun 
(Newsletter, October 1967) . My observations in the 1950s were we 
follows : 

The Black Redstart was seen in the Tons River valley near the Forest 
Research Institute in the last week of September. The Flumbeous and 
the White capped Redstarts also came down to this elevation in the last 
days of September or the first week of October. The Whitecapped pene- 
trated New Forest estate of t he Fcreji Research institute along irriga- 
tion channels in the first week of October but the plumbeous usually 
did this in the third or fourth week . 

The Plumbeous Redstart was always found near water but the Whitecapped 
had a liking for buildings, sometimes staying for several days on the 
shady damp northern side. One bird moulted its tail feathers in March 
and was usually quiet while new tail feathers were growing. It did not 
even call for several minutes at a time. 

The Plumbeous was the first Redstart to leave the area, staying no later 
than the second week of March. The Whitecapped usually stayed till the 
first or second week of April but one year a bird was reported seen 
in New Forest:- on 29th April. 

The Black f;edstart was seen about hedges and dry bushy areas holding 
solitary territories. Females were usually more abundant than males. 
The last birds left the area by aid-May. 



•a- # * * # * * * # * * 

A WEEK IN BHARATtUR 

By 
Shama Futehally 

The main feature of Bharatpur is a large ghana or lake which is full of 
Acacia trees standing out of the water, overflowing with the nests of 
Painted Storks, Openbilled Storks, White Ibises, Spoonbills, Grey Herons, 
and Large Egrets. One gets an impression of millions of water birds for 
'miles around', and where this exhibition ground ends - there are two or 
three heavily concentrated areas - tl ... lake abounds in duck, particularly 
from September to March. A punt can be taken up right to the nests them- 
selves, and, now that the nests had eggs and young, it was interesting to 
compare the appearance ofthe chicks with that of the adults. We were 
lucky to be able to remain for two or three hours together on a machan in 
the water well in the middle of thick activity. 

Openbilled Stork chicks are grey and fluffy with short, thick, open 
beaks. The young of White Ibis are also grey and fluffy but with 
orangish bills; cormorant babies are black, with enormous red bag- like 
beaks. The young ofthe Painted Storks had not hatched, and neither 
had those ofthe Spoonbills, which, however, had plenty of large starched- 
white eggs. There were flocks of Darters on the water, and quite often 
a Whitenecked Stork. We watched a couple of Rails - my first - skimming 
over the water, but it was quite impossible to locate them after they had 
subsided into the rushes. From the machan we also spotted a number of 




better forested areas compris^ Salvador^ *?*** I' speci ^ ra - The 
and riitrigonia parviflom ThrSS oroides, Adina cordifolia 

the lake/and hT^ltiT^Z^TtoT i^ 3 '^^ 5 lead int ° 
and Jackal, and even if ™7 - Y e Nll e ai > Chital Blackbuck 



There were two pairs of Sarus Cranes in the area, of which we found • 
the nest of one pair. It was on an 'island' in a patch of flooded 
forest; about 2£ feet in diameter, quite neat and very flat, made of 
loose rushes aid twigs. No attentat all had been made to conceal it. 
Two eggs had been laid, which, contrary to the books, were pure white. 
We were able to watch the nest from a hide about 20' away, but unforl 
tunately didn't get a chance to see the birds sitting. There was 
another nest of Blacknecked Storks not far away, with two eggs, but the 
birds, frightened off by too eager ornithologists, deserted it! The 
ghana has three types of Kingfishers, Whitebreasted, Common, aid Pied, 
and sometimes we saw the gorgeous sight of a Pied or a Common Kins- 
fisher 'hovering'. Spotted Owlets were very frequently seen at night, 
perched on odd stumps or telegraph wires; on one occasion we heard a 
Brown Fishing Owl calling from across water, presumably from one of tte 
trees in the lake. The call is a low-pitched, rather devilish 



crescendo . 




Numerous and nondescript warblers were as frustrating as always and tte 

only one I could identify with any certainty was the Blythe's Reed 

Warbler which was rather common - 0n several occasions other people 

sawSyte's Tree Warblers and I did not. 

I did see another plumpish warbler which I have described as 'Grey 

with black head, black-and white striped edges to wing and tail, pale 

buff underparts; this just may have been the Orphean Warbler which Km has be- 

seen before, and once in fact caught for ringing. Blackbellied or 

tishycrowned Finch- larks and Crested Larks lined the sugar cane fields 

outside the ghana. 1 only once saw a group of Whitecheeked Bulbuls on 

an Acacia near the main road: plenty of occupied Weaver bird colonies 

and coveys of Grey partridges. There were two or three solitary Pied* 

Crested Cuckoos, many Rufous-tailed Finch- larks, and, as the migrant 

birds were arriving, male and female Redstarts, Grey Wagtails, and 

flocks of European swallows, though there were Redrumped swallows as 

well. Walking along the bundhs during the late afternoons one became 

used to continual 'Whoosh' sounds overhead as wave after wave of duck 

mainly Nukta and Cotton Teal, on sometimes Night Herons, flew to their 

feeding areas. 

It was on one of these occasions that a friend and I saw a family of 
Purple Moorhens, the parents with two chicks. . Later tte hen sat down 
among the reeds, probably on a nest which we couldn't see. In about 
the same sort of habitat in another part of the sanctuary we also 
noticed a family of Indian Moorhens, but that was with more chicks 
five or six. Another, n^st we saw on the lake was that of a Little 
Grebe. It was recognisable as a nest, but had neither eg£s nor young 
just then. One of the members of t he camp saw a pair of Cotton 
Teals emerging at different times from a hole in a tree, where they 
probably had a nest, but it was too high to be reached. 

'-'nee a Short-toed Eagle flew quite low over where the banding was, from 
underneath, looking .like a squat white eagle with black edges to the 
wings and- under the chin, oddly enough we only saw a Shikra once. On 
one occasion some-one else came across a i alias' Fishing Eagle badly/ 
mauling a Garganey Teal whidi had been ringed only that morning: this ' 



was sane distance away from the band ing. Finally the eagle abandoned 
the dead teal and the ring was destroyed. 



"5 




ft I 1 

Chc& - 

I saw my first Stone Curlew in a patch of scrub, its colour blending 
perfectly with the straw-coloured grass behind, and conspicuous only 
because of the white eye-stripes. I was very happy to see two or three 
Blue-tailed Bee-eaters together with the larger bodies, bluish tails, 
and chestnut throats; I missed the black stripe across the cheeks, but 
am r.ot prepared to take that into consideration. Red-wattled Lapwings 
were very cannon: one or two I^djai Pittas, and, in tte thicker woods 
Goldsn backed Woodpeckers and Treepies. Spotted and Common Sandpipers 
were found near patches of water in fai-ly well forested areas. 
Hoopoes, Indian Robins, Rufous Turtle Doves, Purple and Purple- rumped 
Sunbiras, Tickells Flower peckers, aid Peafowl were found at every 
turn of -whs road, and there were a number of Whitebrowed Bulbuls. Bay 
backed Shrikes and Racket- tailed Drongoes were not very common, but 
seen once or twice, and once we saw a solitary Grey Shrike guarding a 
freshly killed mouse suspended on an Acacia thorn. Co. anon Ioras and 
Fiec P,*sh '^hats were easily seen from the main road. A pair of White- 
browed Fantail Flycatchers were probably breeding near the Rest House. 

I was at Bharatpur for about the first ten days cf October with the 
Bombay Natural History Society bird.- binding ca^p, and during that time 
150 to 20C birds were ringed every day, ,jrid half the number were ticked. 
The dtick were caught at night by 'Kir Shikaris' from Bihar by an 
intriguing method using lanterns and nets on moonless nights. 




little Stint- 



The majority of the waders ringed were Ruff and Reeve, Spotted Sand- 
pipers, Little and Temmink's Stints, Blackwinged Stilts, Fantail 
Snipes, Jack snipes, once a Large Pratincole, Painted Snipe, and 
Little Ri-ged Plovers. No ticks were found on any of them. The 
duck were mainly Pintail, Spotbill, Garganey Teal, Nukta, Coimion 
Teal, and a few Coot. All the duck were bled so that the blood 
discs can be sent, to Siberian laboratories and tested for evidence 
of blood diseases which these duck may be transmitting to human 
beings: Of course all these birds were commonly found on the water 
as well, particularly Ruff and Reeve. 




Ruff*- 






# tt # * # # 



# * 



#*•«■* 



NOTES AND COMMENTS 



TREES: 

The speeches that are made on the occasion of VAN MAHOTSAV are cheering, 
but what is more important is the necessity of careful follow up action 
to preserve the saplings which are ceremonially planted every year. We 
might follow the example of U.K., and insist on detenent penalties on 
persons who are negligent about looking after trees. The following 
quotation from HABITAT Vol 3 No. 9 of September 1967 indicates the 
position. 

" Trees and the Civic Amenities Act 1967 - new powers 

The Minister of Housing and Local Governmert and the Secretary of State 
for Wales have drawn tte attention of all local authorities in England 
and Wales to the new powers given to them by the Civic Amenities Act. 
A circular issued on 8 August which deals, among other things, with the 
effects of the Act in respect of trees and tree preservation (Part II 
of the Act), states: 'Trees are often destroyed unnecessarily in the 
course of development. The developer may have no interest in preserving 
them, while the planning permission may not have takai account of the 
desirability of protecting them. The Act requires local planning 
authorities when granting planning permission to make sure (wherever 
appropriate; that adequate conditions are imposed for the protection of 
existing trees on the site or for the planting of new ones. The 
Ministers urge them to pay careful attention to this new obligation, 
to take all steps to inform themselves about existing trees on building 
sites and to see that proper conditions, preferably reinforced by tree 
preservation orders are attached to their permissions.' 

Section 13 of the Act requires that trees covered by preservation 
orders be replaced if they die or are removed and that the original 
orders should continue to protect new trees. Maximurt penalties for 
serious contraventions are increased. Fines of up to £250 crtwice the 
value of the tree, whichever is greater, may be imposed. The 
Ministers hope that local authorities will take full advantage of 
these new powers. They believe that at least in seme parts of the 
country there is scope for more vigorous action. Although the number 
of tree preservation ordtrs has grown in the last few years are some 
areas where none at all have been made but where there is certainly 
preservation work to be done. 



The Ministers are concerned also about the steady disappearance of 
hedgerow trees in some parts of the country. Modern agriculture needs 
larger fields and there must be seme losses in hedges, but the effect 
could be greatly reduced by a readier use of tree preservation orders 
to preserve or replace trees that are too often involved in these 
operations and whose disappearance is such a loss to landscape' » 

-X * -X- it # ii- -Jf- -x- -;;- -;;- # # # 

The President's letter from the Interactional Council for Bird Preser- 
vation contains the following extract: 

Feeding ground for Flamingoes - India 

'Kumar Shree Dharmakumarsinhji writes that he finds the salt compart- 
ments of the salt pans m some parts of Saurastra offer better feeding 
grounds for Flamingoes and are a source of extra food supply. There 
are innumerable salt works in the Saurashtra Peninsula and it is possible 
that they have attracted more Flamingoes than would otherwise have been 
the case. When the compartments dry, large numbers of birds seek other 
feeding grounds on the coastline and in inland waters.' 

*r * * * -* -;;- # # #. * -;;- #■*### 

Sir Landsborough Thompson, known to the ornithological world for his 
phenomenal editing of A NEW DICTIONS OF BIRDS, was in Bombay in the 
third week of October. During this time he gave an address at the 
Bombay Natural History Soci ty about the Dictionary. Sir Landsborough 
said that over 200 persons collaborated, and it was remarkable that 
there were no more than two "defaulters". Sir Landsborough has been 
recently appointed Chairman of the British Museum (Natural History) 



# •«■ -z # -;<- # # -;<• -;{. # # -;:• #■«■■## 

CORRESPONDENCE 

Black-bellied Finch larks 

The following observations of mine may be of some interest to others. 

We live on the left Bank of the rfahanadi River a mile downstream of the 
Hirakud main dam. 

A few pairs of Black-bellied Finch- larks 

have been visiting cur weekly lice "Haat" every Sunday. They have been 
observed by me gleaning rice around the bullock-carts every haat day for 
the past 6 months. But on no other daps, have I been able to locate 
them anywhere around. They have been located on the roadsides about 4 
to 5 miles away from our colony. 

I wonder how they time their visit to this place j whether they do it 
by instinct or follow the bullock-carts coming in, is a mystery 

to me. 

M.R. Ray 
Hirakud 

-a* ->c -X- -*c #■ -X- # -jf 



■» 



Discipline among Black -winged Bengal Vultures 

thing 
In the Calcutta suburbs, one/has drawn ray attention: the 'team spirit' 

and discipline among the Blackwingtd Bengal Vultures. 

Several times I have observed these vultures waiting keenly for the 
carcase of some dead domestic animals which people leave in one parti- 
cular place near the railway track. Some/ are usually on the ground/vultures 
and some others in the sky. As soon as a dead animal is dumped there, 
the group on the ground approaches it and waits fort he winging birds. 

Then one of the vultures which I presume to be the leader, tears off 
a piece of the flesh majestically while the rest watch. The leader 
then leaves his share on the ground a little way away and flies off, 
while the rest commence to feed. 

iVt.P. Mukherjee 
Calcutta 



Birds attacking their Reflections 

Surely, many readers would respond to your call for information on 
this topic. Here is my contribution. 

Two dressing mirrors in our house at Palamcottah were covered with 
lace curtains to avoid damage from house- sparrows which pecked violently 
at their own images. When the elders were away we used to unveil the 
mirrors and enjoy tic farce. Ovr entertainment was augmented by plant- 
ing hand mirrors in boughs frequented by bulbuxs and inducing similar 
reactions. All these birds were aggressive only during the nesting 
period and they appeared to be incapable of perceiving the real nature 
of the 'intruders*. One feels that serious students cf animal 
behaviour might already have made detailed investigations in this 
field and published their findings in scientific journals. 

In passing, 1 am amused to recall that at one time I believed that 
king-fishers dive headlong into calm waters attacking their own images] 
Who can say? The pond heron contemplating for hours over his image 
in halcyon waters is the real Narcissus and not the flower that bears 
his name today, 

Lancelot E. Thomas 
Calicut . 

Redstarts at Dehra Dun 

Shri M.N. Mathur's conjecture in October 1967 issue regarding our 
visit to Hardwar-Dehra Dun is correct. We visited Dehra Dun in the 
last week of December, 1%6 when we spotted the Redstarts there. I 
am sorry I do not have the exact date of our stay. 

V.C. Parikh 
Bombay 



Zafar Futehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

3 2- A, Juhu Lane, 

Andheri, Bombay 58- AS. 



MWSLETTER 

mTr b i r d w a t c h~eTs 

Volume 7 -No. 12-1967 December 



i • k 





K)H 

BIRDWATCHERS 



Vol. 7, No. 12. December 1967 



CONTENTS 

The House Sparrow by V. Ravi, President, Nature Study- 
Club, Guntur. 1 

RLrdwatching at Sayla by Lalsinh M. Raol. 4 

Bird Names by S.V. Nilakanta. 5 

On the food of the White backed Munia by N.G. Pillai. 6 

The Himalayan Pied Kingfisher by Dr. J. Allison and 

E.W. Ramble. 7 

Correspondence : .... ...... 9 



THE HOUSE SPARROW 

By 

V. Ravi, President, Nature Study Club, Guntur. 

(in this note we are giving an outline, in a general way, of the nesting 
behaviour of the House Sparrow. Dr. Salim Ali's appeal for a thorough 
study of this very common and important bird of the human environment, 
as well as D. Summers -Smith's interesting monograph on it, stimulated 
us to make suoh an attempt. The latter book helped us generalize some 
statements by comparing our rather meagre observations with the substan- 
tial ones made by the author. Thus, though our knowledge of how a pair 
begins nesting is not very wide, we could form an idea cf its general 
nature. Most of our study concerns a few established pairs, all nesting 
in one house. In this note we deal with the period from nest construction 
onward to the feeding of the young. We also give an account of the bird's 
other social activities). 

NESTING ; 

(a) Construction ; An experienced cck bird begins by looking into every 
possible hole and corner in tfas house till it finds a suitable site. 
Ready-made sites, such as rest boxes, are rea.dily adopted. A hen is 
attracted to the site, usually in two or three days. Once the hen approves 
of the site rhosen by the cock, the construction of the nest commences. 
A cock with two or more sites under consideration seems unable to decide 
which is the more suitable, and fails to have a nest built at' all. One 



jmticulsr rxxs Dird v.iuf-. an unsuixacie sixe was unacxe to secure a 
mate for a long time. Again there are pairs which leave half -built 
nests, not being satisfied with them, and then change their site to 
begin, again. They may remain unsuccessful for years together. 

•The- nest" "is' made oT' grass, straw, coir, coconut fibre, ribs of pin- 
nate leaves, etc., depending on what is readily available. The inside 
is lined with softer fibres; feathers, cotton and string. Wherever 
possible, domed nests are built, as mentioned in Summers-Smith's book 
"The House Sparrow". 

Generally it takes two or three weeks for a pair to complete the nest. 
Pairs have been known to build it in less than a week, and even start 
laying within that time. Birds which do not fully attain breeding con- 
dition in time, we think, delay the work for days or even mcnths. An 
•old' pair, rather too old to breed, collects material and takes it to 
the nests 'of other breeding birds. A senile pair which has an earlier 
nest of its own uses it for regular roosting. 

The cock 'has an important role in the collection of the building 
material. In the first few days the work goes on at a rapid pace as 
the builders merely fill the chosen site with material in large quan- 
tities. Sometimes a sparrow builds a nest en the mere support of an 
electric wire pinned to the corner between two walls! In such places 
the birds work hard and stuff large masses in the corner in order to 
make a stable base to build on. 

(b) Mating ; When the nest is nearly completed, mating begins. Birds 
with old nests re-line their nests and at the same time indulge in 
coition. This activity is seen at_ the nest and away from it, too. 
Sometimes the hen avoids the cock if it keeps trying to mount her. 
Ordinarily, though, it is she who invites the cock bird to do this. 
The sight of one pair indulging in this activity seems to tempt the 
neighbouring ones to make attempts (often premature and unsuccessful). 

(c) Bgg-laying ; It is normally within a week or ten days of the mating 
that the eggs are laid. The hen bird sleeps continually in the nest for 
a few days before laying. The usual clutch consists of four eggs, ap- 
parently laid at the rate of an egg per day. We noted no nest with 
five eggs. The incubation period is fourteen days from the day the 
first egg is laid. While the hen does most of the incubating, some- 
times the cock sits on the eggs for a couple of minutes, considerately 
giving the hen a break. 

(d) Feeding the chicks ; luring the first few days the chicks are sup- 
ported on insect-food consisting of caterpillars, mealworks, flies 
and ants. This is gradually replaced by an entirely vegetarian diet,.. 
and the nestlings are later fed largely with kitchen scraps. Cooked 
rice and pulse3 seem to be favourite foods. When there is adequate 
light (as from an electric lamp) night-feeding is also done by the hen. 

Two or three chicks survive out of the four. One chick usually dies in 
the naked stage, and the dead bedy is carried out and dropped by the 
parents. We noticed sometimes young birds did fall off alive, but when 
they were returned to the nest they were accepted by the parents. 

3y the tenth day the pin feathers are well opened and cover the naked 
chick. The young birds stay in the nest for 15 tc 18 days, and some- 
times upto three weeks. 

(e) later days in the nest ; In the last few days of the young bird's 
nest life the cock goes into a feverish display and follows the hen 
noisily, not helping much in feeding the chicks. In his book Summers- 
Smith says that the "purpose of this behaviour is to urge the young 
bir§s t" come cut. However, what we are led to infer is that the 
cock makes advances to the hen for re-mating - for the- next brood. 
Finally the parents guide the chicks out by stages to some nearby 
bush. Young birds that leave the nest at the regular time are not 



as strong fliers as those which linger a few days more. The parents 
take care of the fledglings for another 2 weeks, or possibly three; 
only one of the parents appears to attend to them, not both. 

(f) The next brood ; As soon as one brood is raised, the pair prepares 
for the next, and in this way it is capable of raising as many as 7 
boords a year. As a pair ages the capacity for raising broods possibly 
decreases. If a brood fails, with the young dying either in the nest " . 
or after fledging, another clutch is laid to make up for the loss. 
Once, in such a case, only a single egg was laid. 

(g) Breeding season : The breeding season appears to be very long, 
extending from July to May of the following year. During the short 
period in which the breeding ceases the birds go through an "annual 
moult ". 

(h) Partnership : Usually a pair remains together from the beginning 
unless one of the birds dies. If this happens while there are chicks 
in the nest (and it was usually the hens we saw die at this stage) the 
other ordinarily carries on with its duty, and takes a new mate later 
on. But there is a case where the cock took on a new mate at once, 
leaving the chicks to their fate. One particular cock changed 4 or 5 
hens in the course of 3 years, while another, in just as long a period, 
changed none. 

We also noted a tendency among the birds towards bigamy. This has usually 
happened when the hen of a neighbouring nest lost her first mate. Only 
after some dispute with the two hens did the cock secure the second mate. 
Of the four cases we had occasion to observe, only one cock was able to 
breed successfully with both hens and raise two broods simultaneously. 
The cock helped neither of them much but left each to take care rf its 
own brood. 

It was by a curious circumstance that this cock became bigamous; as 
another cock with two mates died, this bird adopted one of the dead 
cock's mates. This bird now wanders about with its two mates following it. 

OTHBR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES : 

We have recently been making some interesting observations on the social 
behaviour of the bird. The most important perhaps is its roosting habit, 
many birds roosing together in a suitable tree. At first this appeared 
to be an irregular habit, the roosts appearing at no definite times of 
the year, and the sites changing. Later we realised that a regular com- 
munal roost is formed in winter. We learnt from Summers-Smith that small 
roosts are also found in summer; but this is not remarkable, as the 
sites are shifted. We have big winter roosts near our house where hundreds 
of sparrows from a large area gather. 

There is a certain procedure by which the birds move to the roosting tree. 
The birds first collect (usually at about 5 p.m. ) in small groups at 
various points, on various trees in the nesting area, the Amla tree 
(Emblica officinalis) being the "collecting point" for the birds from 
our house; they then pour into the main tree from all directions. They 
do not at once settle down, but keep flying in and out for about an hour, 
accompanied by deafening twitterings. Some birds move away from the tree 
somehow. Hen birds also share the roost except when they are breeding. 

There is a common display amongst sparrows which D. Summers-Smith terms 
"communal display". This consists of three or four cocks courting a 
single hen in an extravagant manner. They suddenly burst out from some- 
where amidst noisy twitterings and drop down on to the ground. The cocks 
circle around the hen and go mad with self display while the hen tries 
to get rid of them. She pecks any cock which approaches too near, and 
sometimes seizes the bird by its head feathers. The Newsletter once pub- 
lished a report from the U.S.A. of a similar instance in which the hen 



as strong fliers as those which linger a few days more. The parents 
take care of the fledglings for another 2 weeks, or possibly three; 
only one of the parents appears to attend to them, not both. 

(f ) The next brood : As soon as one brood is raised, the pair prepares 
for the next, and in this way it is capable of raising as many as 7 
boords a year. As a pair ages the capacity' for raising broods possibly 
decreases. If a brood fails, with the young dying either in the nest 
or after fledging, another clutch is laid to make up for the loss. 
Once, in such a case, only a single egg was laid. 

(g) Breeding season ; The breeding season appears to be very long, 
extending from July to fey of the following year. During the short 
period in which the breeding ceases the birds go through an "annual 
moult ". 

(h) Partnership : Usually a pair remains together from the beginning 
unless one of the birds dies. If this happens while there are chicks 
in the nest (and it was usually the hens we saw die at this stage ) the 
other ordinarily carries on with its duty, and takes a new mate later 
on. But there is a case where the cock took on a new mate at once, 
leaving the chicks to their fate. One particular cock changed 4 or 5 
hens in the course of 3 years, while another, in just as long a period, 
changed none. 

We also noted a tendency among the birds towards bigamy. This has usually 
happened v/hen the hen of a neighbouring nest lost her first mate. Only 
after some dispute with the two hens did the cock secure the second mate. 
Of the four cases we had occasion to observe, only one cock was able to 
breed successfully with both hens and raise two broods simultaneously. 
The cock heljbed neither of them much but left each to take care of its 
own brood. 

It was by a curious circumstance that this cock became bigamous; as 
another cock with two mates died, this bird adopted one of the dead 
cock's mates. This bird now wanders about with its two mates following it. 

OTHRR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES : 

We have recently been making some interesting observations on the social 
behaviour of the bird. The most important perhaps is its roosting habit, 
many birds roosing together in a suitable tree. At first this appeared 
to be an irregular habit, the roosts appearing at no definite times of 
the year, and the sites changing. Later we realised that a regular com- 
munal roost is formed in winter. We learnt from Summers-Smith that small 
roosts are also found in summer; but this is not remarkable, as the 
sites are shifted. We have big winter roosts near our house where hundreds 
of sparrows from a large area gather. 

There is a certain procedure by which the birds move to the roosting tree. 
The birds first collect (usually at about 5 p.m. ) in small groups at 
various points, on various trees in the nesting area, the Amla tree 
(Emblica officinalis) being the "collecting point" for the birds from 
our house; they then pour into the main tree from all directions. They 
do not at once settle down, but keep flying in and out for about an hour, 
accompanied by deafening twitterings. Some birds move away from the tree 
somehow. Hen birds also share the roost except when they are breeding. 

There is a common display amongst sparrows which D. Summers-Smith terms 
"communal display". This consists of three or four cocks courting a 
single hen in an extravagant manner. They suddenly burst out from some- 
where amidst noisy twitterings and drop down on to the ground. The cocks 
circle around the hen and go mad with self display while the hen tries 
to get rid of them. She pecks any cock which approaches toe near, and 
sometimes seizes the bird by its head feathers. The Newsletter once pub- 
lished a report from the U.S.A. of a similar instance in which the hen 
held the cock dangling from her bill. The communal display usually occurs 



me ivoBing ciras m winter. miring early summer this year (1966; we 
did not observe any such activity. But from the beginning of July 
we could see it again. Now (at the end of July) this has become fre- 
quent. June-July is also a good time for observing their social be- 
haviovr as the breeding ceases and the birds are free. At that time 
we noted how the sparrows (about half-a-dozen or more pairs) colonis- 
ing in our house- formed a single group and foraged in the compound. 
If one bird stops feeding and becomes busy preening itself the rest 
follow suit, as they do when one lerding pair stops and return to 
its nest. 

N.B.:- THE NATURE STUDY CLUE, CrUNTUR INVITES, AND WILL BB 
GRATEFUL FOR, COKMENTS OK THE OBSERVATIONS RECORDED 
HERE, 

• *xxx #■*•** *- a w:-h- ###* *##* 

3IIOTATCLIFG AT 3AY7A 

Ialsirh !.:. ?->ol. 

It is surprising to see bow ci:.fidir-g zv.ch kit:/ birds as Cranes can 
become. As is well-known. Ccrmcii and Uc ot^lle Cranes are cautious 
birds. But I saw hundreds of Dc-mr-isello Cranes resting quite unpur- 
turbed hardly thirty foot awav from vro^en washing their clothes, on 
a lake in the outskirts of Sayla, a email town in Surendranagar List, 
Though there were about a thousand T>eL.n-_s^lle Cranes resting in 
groups, I could hot find even -?. single Cor con Crane there during my 
birdwatching of two days on the 10xh &. xhe ',1th Farch 1967. 

It was my long pendirg desire of wavchrin,- birds on that lake. I there- 
fore seized the eppertur..ity of doing so Li l r :rch this year. But I was 
a little late for it, I rhoold have gene therein January, for the 
number of migratory bird-j or. ths lake had dxreased considerably, 
paitiou'Ldr^ mis year, as reported by my ocasin who practises there. 

The lake at Sayla is an old one and much of ics area is now shallow 
due to years of silting, This xrovidos a favourable feeding ground 
for many of our surface feeding ducks, migratory as well as resident. 
There is.no such other lake nearry, Sj ; many species of migratory 
birds are attracted by it. As the lake 5s right on the outskirts of 
the town, only a dare-devil could afford to shoot the game birds and 
thus to incur the wrath of the predorcinently vegitarian population 
of the area. Hence birds en;joy comparative protection from the so 
called trigger-happy sportsmen. As a result, birds were not scared 
by the hustle and bv.-tlo of the buoy little town* 

I could see Spotlills and Car-one yc ^'.','inm;.ng leisurely only twenty 
feet away from where I wfi? watoh'cg "hen. Sunlight being favourable, 
it was a pleasure to w d tch cr^.., and Sucks of various species from 
such a short distance with tho halp of a pair cf field glasses. Fine 
details of their markings and delicate chade~ of their colours were 
really captivating. Equally attractive was their apparently effortless 
gliding in the water. Somehow, -'iio sight of ducks swimming in water 
has great attraction for me,, 

Dabchicks •vere conspicuously absent. Not a single one was found on the 
la«B where they were in good numbers son" days back as was reported by 
my cousin, 

T.ie difference in food -ge Sting habits among the ducks was strikingly 
apparent. Diving ducks like Pochards & Tufted Pochards were frequent- 
ing the comparatively deeper portion?; of the lake, which Pintails, 
Spotbir^s, Common Teols, Garganeys 5 Shovellers, Wigeons and Cotton 
Teal wore spread over the shallower portions. 



Sripe and Purple Moorhens were c**mmon but the Moorhens could n«t be 
sighted there by me. I was delighted to see Spotted Redshanks, as 
that species was a new addition to my list. Ruddy Shellducks have been 
reported on that lake but were not seen on my visit. 

Among the birds of prey I saw a Short-toed Eagle and a female Marsh 
Harrier* Another eagle I saw there could not be identified as it was 
sitting on the dried up portion of the lake far away from me. 

One dead Demoiselle Crane, floating on the water, was dragged out by 
two local boys. It had received injuries on the nape. As reported by 
those boys it was killed by an eagle on the very morning some time 
before my arrival. 

This lake at Sayla is really a very good place for observing ducks, 
waders and other waterbirds at close quarters. 

* * * * ***** **** 



BIRD NAMES 

By 

S.V. ITilakanta. 

It is, of course, accepted that each species of bird should have its own 
distinctive name so that we-can" identify them in speaking or writing 
about them. This seems to have been achieved with some difficulty in the 
English language. When it comes to various Indian languages, several birds 
go by the same name and a vast number of birds which are strangers to the 
region are not named at all. 

However, this need not bother us as each species and sub-species has been 
given an international latin name by experts on the subject. One would 
expect these names to have been chosen with great care, so that the very 
name would immediately suggest the bird. Unfortunately this is not so. 
For instance the 'Purple Sunbird' is more suggestive than Nectarinia 
asiatica. The distribution of this bird seems tc be over such a vast area 
that a reference to it seems to have no particular significance. On the 
other hand, 'the Purplerumped Sunbird', which is again a good English name 
is known as N. zeylonlca as though it is confined to that island. The worst 
of all is IMen's Sunbird ( H. lotenia ) which is named after a person when 
its distinguishing feature is its bill which appears to bo so dispropor- 
tionately large. The epithet macrorhynchos , (used for the Jungle Crow), 
although coarse soundir.g, would perhaps be more descriptive. 

In fact, so many of these scientific names are anyhow meaningless to a 
person like me unless a scholar like Mr. Mclluish explains them. One just 
has to memorize the names like memorizing numbers. Perhaps each bird has 
been given a number so that computers can c-asily accept them. Once again 
these numbers while providing positive identity will be a very dry and 
non-descriptive way of naming and as such either never learnt or quickly 
forgotten by an average person. 

In the end it is found that it is more convenient to remember the English 
names which are often extremely apt and conjure a vision of the birds so 
named. Consider, for instance, ELackbellied Pinch-lark and Pied Crested 
Cuckoo. In other cases we are a little misled, especially when we are 
prone to jump to conclusions. 

A few weeks back we had paid our first visit to the nearly hill stations 
of Matheran. One evening an all black bird flew up and sat on the gate 
post of our compound. At first it appeared to be a dimunitive male Koel 
as its entire attitude was rather furtive. The bird did not appear to 
be bothered by us but by something else which soon came around the gate 
post in the shape of a cat. Even in the poor light it was noticed that 



v_*,»,3 V- a — .. 



o^jioeu u» n pyce. i was aeiignted to see Spotted Redshanks, as 
that species was a new addition to my list. Ruddy Shellducks have been 
reported on that lake but were not seen on my visit. 

Among the birds of prey I saw a Short-toed Eagle and a female Marsh 
Harrier* Another eagle I saw there could not be identified as it was 
sitting on the dried up portion of the lake far away from me. 

One dead Demoiselle Crane, floating on the water, was dragged out by 
two local boys. It had rrceived injuries on the nape. As reported by 
those boys it was killed by an eagle on the very morning some time * 
before my arrival. 

This lake at Sayla is really a very good place for observing ducks, 
waders and other waterbirds at close quarters. 

***** #•*■** 

BIRD HAMES 

By 

S.V. IJilakanta. 

although coarae aoundirg, would perhaps ET more descriptive. ' 

xorgotten by an average person. vt"x«-«.j.y 

the bird had a red eye, again, similar to a Koel-s. The bird was nowhere 



near the size of a Koel and flew off with a high pitched screech. Then, 
we suddenly recognized it as the Malabar Whistling Thrush. It was the 
first tine we had seer, this bird but somehow we had made up our mind 
that it belongs to Malabar and such far off places that we were not 
willing to recognize it when seen in Matheran. 

last winter when we were gazing across Juhu swamp we saw vast flocks 
of waders. The shorter legged ones were close to us and the longer 
legged ones like Blackwinged Stilts were far away. We had seen these 
so many' times that we had already made up our' minds as to what we were 
g"ing to see. It is only when somebody else pointed out we were able 
to notice a group of Avocets among the Stilts. 

Coming back to names, I have decided that I will lightly pencil my own 
version of the birds name, where I think it is more apt, on the pages 
of my bird book. The Malabar Whistling Thrush will also be known as 
the Blackbilled Whistling Thrush to distinguish it from the Yellowbilled 
Himalayan one. Such descriptive names, T hope, will enable me to identi- 
fy Sandpipers in the field. 

***** *,* * * * * ***** 

ON THE POOL OP THE WHITEBACKED MUNIA 
Lonchura striata (Linn). 

By 
■ N.G. Pillai. 

Seeds and grains of various kinds form the principal food of munias. 
So it came altogether as a surprise to me to see a party of whitebacked 
munias feeding from a patch of green algae on the bed of a ditch from 
which rain water had nearly dried up. 

On the morning of 9.9.1967, I was crossing a rice field in the eastern 
outskirts of Ernakulam, not far from the Caltex Oil Installations, 
Actually it was no rice field at all, since large quantities of sand 
and earth were being dumped into it to raise its level for conversion 
into a housing site. The ground was all churned up and deeply rutted 
with the wheel-tracks of the wagons which brought the earth and humps 
and ditches and hollows lay everywhere. There was" rain water in these 
depressions and some were drying up exposing a moist bed matted with 
green algae. 

As I came upon one of these hollows, a small party of whitebacked munias, 
suddenly flew down from their perch on the nearest telegraph wire and 
settled en the muddy coze. Just as I froze in my tracks, to disturb 
them as little as possible, I saw then peck at the algal patch and from 
where I stood hardly 6 feet away, I could clearly see a strand of green 
filament going down the beak in the bird nearest to me. The other birds 
hopped about and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. But the sound 
of approaching footsteps soon put a stop to their activities and sent 
them scurrying from their meal. 

My first impression was that the birds had hopped down to the hollow 
to slake their thirst or enjoy a bath on that sunny morning. Had I 
not seen the green scum being pecked at and a green strand actually 
going down the beak of one of the birds I would have taken them to be 
only drinking, even though there was only a trace of water in the hollow. 
Perhaps they were, only the alga was swallowed inadvertent ly, But 
nearby there were also other depressions which still held water, where 
the birds could have had their drink free of the annoying, weed. Or, do 
they have a liking for an algal diet on occasion? 

As I turned homewards with these thoughts in mind, I could not help 



.. c ^"uu C u V iwopazea it; as xne waiaoar Whistling Thrush. It was the 
first tine we had seen this bird but somehow we had made up our mind 
that it belongs to Malabar and such far off places that we were not 
willing to recognize it when seen in Matheran. 

last winter when we were gazing across Juhu swamp we saw vast flocks 
of waders. The shorter legged ones were close to us and the longer 
legged ones like Blackwinged Stilts were far away. We had seen these 
bo many times that we had already made up our' minds as to what we were 
g-ing to see. It is only when somebody else pointed out we were able 
to notice a group of Avocets among the Stilts. 

Coming back to names, I have decided that I will lightly pencil my own 
version of the birds name, where T think it ia more apt, on the pages 
of my bird book. The Malabar Whistling Thrush will also be known as 
the Blackbilled Whistling Thrush to distinguish it from the Yellowbilled 
Himalayan one. Such descriptive names, I hope, will enable me to identi- 
fy Sandpipers in the field. 

***** * # * * * * * ***** 

ON THE POOL OP THE VvHITEEACKED MUMIA 
Lonchura striata (linn). 

By 
N.G. Pillai. ■• 

Seeds and grains of various kinds form the principal food of munias. 
So it came altogether as a surprise to me to see a party of white backed 
munias feeding from a patch of green algae on the bed of a ditch from 
which rain water had nearly dried up. 

On the morning of 9.9.1967, I was crossing a rice field in the eastern 
outskirts of Ernakulam, not far from the Caltcx Oil Installations. 
Actually it was no rice field at all, since large quantities of sand 
and earth were being dumped into it to raise its level for conversion 
into a housing site. The ground was all churned up and deeply rutted 
with the wheel-tracks of the wagons which brought the earth and humps 
and ditches and hollows lay everywhere. There was" rain water in these 
depressions and some were drying up exposing a moist bed matted with 
green algae. 

As I came upon one of these hollows, a small party of whitebacked munias, 
suddenly flew down from their perch on the nearest telegraph wire and 
settled en the muddy ooze. Just as I froze in my tracks, to disturb 
them as little as possible, I saw them peck at the algal patch and from 
where I stood hardly 6 feet away, I could clearly see a strand of green 
filament going down the beak in the bird nearest to me. The other birds 
hopped about and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. Bat the sound 
of approaching footsteps soon put a stop to their activities and sent 
them scurrying from their meal. 

My first impression was that the birds had hopped down to the hollow 
to slake their thirst or enjoy a bath on that sunny morning. Had I 
not seen the green scum being pecked at and a green strand actually 
going down the beak of one of the birds I would have taken them to be 
only drinking, even though there was only a trace of water in the hollow. 
Perhaps they were, only the alga was swallowed inadvertently. But 
nearby there were also other depressions which still held water, where 
the birds could have had their drink free of the annoying, weed. Or, do 
they have a liking for an algal diet on occasion? 

As I turned homewards with these thoughts in mind, I could not help 
recalling how on an earlier occation (21.10. '66), I had come upon a 
nair of Blackheaded Munias, Munia malacca (Linnaeus), on the bed of 



■--'_ ,'X OCVCitiX 



-liaiiucio uia me Buuuem xoresnore wnicn exptied into the 
Cochin Harbour. As it was low-tide then, the stream was no more than a 
trickle and its exposed bed was black and encrusted with mud. The brids 
were on the ground, fairly close to the water's edge and seemed just 
resting. The ideal haunt for a sandpiper or a large pied wagtail, the 
spot looked to me rather unusual for a munia to be in, but I had assumed 
them to have come down for a drink. However, disturbed by my presence, 
they had taken off and flown into a sea-holly patch that stood in a 
swamp by the road farther up. Here were several more of their comrades 
whom they joined and I had watched them for a few minutes before they 
finally disappeared into the depths of the swamp. That the exposed bed 
of the streamlet had a streak of green alga then flashed into my mind. 
Had the munias come in quest of this weed? 

Dr. Salim Ali in his Birds of Travancore & Cochin (P.151) refers to the 
swamp loving nature of this munia which I can confirm, but in the case 
of the whitebacked munia where it is stated that it is not addicted to 
sampy ground, my experience is that it may be met with occasionally in 
this type of terrain too. The Spotted Munia - Lonchura punculata (Linn. ), 
another species occuring in this area, was also noted in the same loca- 
lity as the whitebacked munia - a water-logged place bordered by home- 
steads and the haunts of pond herons and sandpipers. This munia was build- 
ing in the heart of a -screwpine standing on the edge of a pond and on 
3.6. '67, there was a nest abouu 6 feet above the level of water. Has the 
swamp loving nature of these munias anything to do with their fondness 
for an occasional diet of green algae? The algal slime found in the 
puddles was identified as a species of Sprogyra with an admixture of 
diatoms by Professor R.S. Iyer, Head of the Department of Botany, 
Maharaja's College, Ernakulam, to whom my grateful thanks are due. 



* * * * * 



****** ***** 

THE HIMALAYAN PIED KINGFISHER 
(Ceryle lugubris) 

Dr. J. Allison and E.W. Ramble 

Very little appears to have been written about the Himalayan Pied 
Kingfisher in any «f the popular handbooks of Indian Birds. 

Readers w^uld perhaps find our joint observations of some Interest and 
we would be glad if r»ther observers could add to them in the Newsletter. 

The bird c^uld be described as a large, grey kingfisher, the size of a 
rock pigeon generally to be seen sitting on rocks, overhanging trees, roots 
projecting from river banks cr masonry along canals. 

At rest the bird regularly cocks its short square tail and raises its 
crest which is clearly double when fully erect. 

It is normally a silent bird but sometimes utters a single sound ..."KICK" 
accompanied by an upward flick of the tail. 

The flight is very fast and straight, within two feet of the water. They 
splash into the water from this height to catch small fish; then shaking 
themselves they fly to the rocks where they proceed to beat the little 
fish and subsequently swallow it. Occasionally, but not very often, we 
have observed them to hover like the lesser pied kingfisher. Their fish- 
ing generally is straight off a rock, from about two to three feet, or 
from some other convenient perch. 

We have not observed the bird to feed on insects off the land, all food 
being taken from the water. 



L e '2?fr *I° ISSe f thS leSS ' r :r " ed ***»*»* ^ its territory and 
can often be seen harrying its smaller cousins, robbing them of 
thoir prey or merely chasing them about. 

It is not a timid bird and it is possible to approach and watch it 
Irom quite close provided no sudden movement is made. 

While Salim All and Whistler rather infer in their books that the 

il+*t\T ^ f + T" !E ° re ° T 1SSB abC,Ut 23G0 ft *> « is no * uncommon 
m the Doon on the rivers Jumna and Ganges. We have seen them as far 

aown as the western Jumna Canal at Tajewala which mu.t be a good ten 

miles from the Himalayan rang, and four rdles south of the sfwaliks. 

On „he Ganges they have be,n noticed a, far do*n as Raewala and in 

one Iacc.riwala forest bold: rb.\. Hardware 

It can thus be affirmed that the;- -.tv fou-d -s low as 900 ft. 

They nest, like other kingfi.ier^ ir h,ies on the river bank. They 
nave been observed emerging fro- nest holes in March at Khulal where 
the Jumna passes through the Si^likr; , 

There is one point whicn nco- +o be established- Are the-/ resident 
in these areas and at these l~w altitude or are they merely down 
for the colder months? Other river Ur.'r dwellers like the white 
capped redstart and F lurbeou 3 r dstart co:.o dewn fron November to 
April and as our observations h^ve net covered the summer months 
it is possiDle that the Eimalayan Kingfisher ha, similar habits. 

The fact, however, that -hey do nest in the area tends one to believe 
Cfcat vney are resident throughout the y^ar- 

Oculd rny reader kindly throw mrre ligh; or. the subject? 




.J?; 



61 



< "•' YAYw \ A \ v\\ 'A WvA \\\ AW/ 
A \\ \\\\\\ ' \m\\Vv\VA\\\\W 








Ccryle lugubris 
Himalayan Pied Kingfishers, 



t * * * * 



* * * # # 



* * * # 



C0RE3SP0TOEJICE 



Brown Shrike - i^anius cristatus cristatus LINNAEUS: 



Dr. Salim Ali in his Bo*k "The Rird<* n f T™, m „ , „ 

recorded, as the last d-te tht 5*T Tra ™ncore and Cochin" has 
its breeding grouS aslvth L^f ff ^ bef ° re ±ts de P^ture to 
over this Mrfr^ the last t t ! ?*" keeplng a Close «*<* 

the bird after 27th I pri i Srf K \^S^ ^1°°°" n0t SUCCSed in seGin g 
(Kalayaiam) has itrtJT&t a fe^L^lT^ "^V* KeKila 
Henry in his "A Guide to the htrL ^ n T ^ * " 6Ven in ****' **« G -H- 
leaves to its hrij^*^^^!^^^!? 8 I? *" ** 
possibility of some birL being vZh L e ven afSf £th A , f T^ 
•like to have information from the readers on S^T.fT^ f^ * W ° Uld 
seen in Kerala before its departurHf its^eL^^.^ "** "" 



K.N. Nair 
Kerala. 



**^w^******-#****#. 



Wood p4,„s heTf^„rSe "*£££%£ H °"™ r ' l >»« ~"*~ 
been recorded ££ PooS "?o«f °" "* O0mOt md " hether " *» 






: 10: 



Mr. N.M. Mistry writes to say that 'the Victoria Gardens Zoo is 
sorry state' and requires a lot of improvement, particularly in 
birds' section. Name plates at the cages are inaccurate and incc 
plete, and an information board at the entrance gives misleading 
information about several species. Mr. Mistry adds, 'Our Municip 
authorities spend large sums of maoney on acquiring rare birds a 
animals (from other countries). Why then, can a small sum not b 
spent on acquiring interesting Indian birds, which are sadly abf 
in the Zoo? 1 . * * # # # # * 

I have to apologize for two errors in my Eharatpur article in the 
last issue. The Mr Shikaris generally use a kind of hemp torch, 
not 'lanterns'. And the sketch of the Pied Bush Chat should not ha^ 
had a coked tail. Alternatively, readers may interpret it as an 
Indian Robin with a wrong label. - 



Shama Putehally. 



Zafar Putehally 

Editor, Newsletter for Birdwatchers 

32-A, Juhu lane, 

Andheri, Bombay 58 -AS. 



I