Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Movember!!!

As the autumn birding season dies away, thoughts turn to other, more important matters, like checking your balls. To be honest, i've probably spent more time checking my balls than I have birding over the last month anyway, thanks to uni work, being drunk, being hungover and being a lazy git, but that's not the point. The point is that one man dies of prostate cancer EVERY HOUR in the UK, and heaps more from testicular cancer ( I couldn't find a figure). A big reason for this, is that us blokes generally don't like to think about health stuff, cos it sounds horrible, and we don't want some doctor poking around our tackle, so we do our very best to ignore some very serious issues. 

So, over recent years, a campaign called Movember has sprung up to raise awareness of male cancers, and to collect fundage to go towards the fight against the 'orrible things. Basically it involves growing a moustache for the month of November. This provides the perfect reason for blokes to get chatting about why they do it, and hopefully educate the un-informed about the dangers. And of course, the main reason i'm posting this on here: to gather sponsorship money. The Movember website has a far more comprehensive breakdown of where donations go to than I can manage to put on here, so go have a look. There's also a Mens Health section telling you what you should know about keeping your essential parts healthy, so even if you can't throw us some cash, take a look at that for your own sakes.

Obviously, we're trying to make a bit of fun out of a fairly serious situation, otherwise it would be a bit depressing, so there's a bit of friendly competition going, between Mo-bro's (I know, it's an awful term) and between teams so if you can donate I would much appreciate it if you donated to my effort. We've only just set the team page up so its currently looking as sparse as my chin but hopefully we should get plenty of pictures up soon once the group of lads i'm doing this with (all studying Ecology and Wildlife Conservation here at Bournemouth Uni) get themselves signed up.


And as a thank you for your generosity, here's a photo of me looking like an absolute tool after 1 weeks effort.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Malta Photos

A tad belated I know, but here's a few pictures from Birdlife Malta Raptor Camp 2011. Since returning from the camp i've been meaning to write a piece detailing my experiences, but to be honest, it's been a bit of a struggle coming to terms with the contrasting emotions over the fortnight. I'm not the most fluid of writers at the best of times and writing a report of that crazy two weeks has been a series of aborted attempts.
For those of you not familiar with Talking Naturally, you really need to take a listen to this podcast with Ceri Levy, which goes a long way to explaining the situation out there. The quote that sums it up best for me is 'Malta messes with yer head'!






Little Egret, shot down in front of us on the first day of camp



Purple Heron


Mixed heron flock


Dotterel in a cage for use as decoy bird. We called the police but the trapper legged it





HB's




Osprey over Buskett






Bee-eater, during the first few days we saw many hundreds of these cracking birds, often hawking just metres from us. These birds are often shot at.



More Honey Buzzards





This juv Honey Buzzard arrived low over us at Buskett one afternoon. The damaged primary is very typical of shotgun damage, and the wet breast feathers suggest that it may have been shot into the sea recently


To our horror it was then shot down again, it fell into a wooded area before rising flying weakly off. We didn't fancy its chances of survival after such an ordeal but wow, what an effort!




Black Kite
video
Early one morning, this Eleonora's Falcon gave us fantastic views at Girgenti, only the second one the species i've ever seen following a brief flyover 2 days previous

4 days later, a local birder witnessed the same bird being shot out of a tree by a local birder, and he managed to recover the body of the dead bird. Words just can't explain the feeling when something like that happens.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Little Egret shooting video

Check out the video of the Little Egret shooting at Delimara on the first day of raptor camp here

Since then I have also witnessed a Marsh Harrier and a Night Heron being shot down, unfortunately the circumstances didnt make any sort of prosecution possible. More later, maybe.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raptor Camp- day 7

Just a short update here, check my page on the Birdlife Malta for much more photos.
http://www.birdlifemalta.org/Content/hunting/rc2011dailyupdates/joesphotos/1112/

2 Pallid Harries have been the best birds for me so far, this juvenile flew past us the other afternoon and an adult male was part of a great display of migrant raptors over Buskett, photos from that afternoon are on the page linkd above.










Saturday, September 17, 2011

Raptor Camp day 2 onwards

My plan to update the blog daily has failed already!! Birdlife Malta have given me the opportunity to do some media work for them and this includes creating a page on their website with plenty of photographs, basically to be updated whenever I see something worth seeing. Here is that page.

For updates of all the latest news, check the main updates page of the website here.

I'll bring more news when I can, it's all a little bit mental busy here. I was up for 25 hours yesterday/today including a shift watching over 2 roosting Black Storks from 8.30pm to 5am last night. The birds apparently left safely to Africa this morning. Main bird sightings for me have been my lifer Eleonora's Falcon, a Booted Eagle, nearly 1000 Bee-eaters in an afternoon and a spectacualr flock of 140 Grey Herons (and 1 Great White Egret)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Raptor Camp Day 1

Picture the scene; a quiet clifftop overlooking a tranquil bay, a handful of pleasure boats rocking gently from the onshore breeze that is taking a welcome edge off the afternoons heat. A few Swallows pass twittering overhead as they migrate south and a Sardinian Warbler chatters from the scrub behind. Suddenly the peace is shattered as two gunshots ring out and everyone is reminded that this is Malta. Turning to the direction of the shots, we see a Little Egret tumbling from the sky into the azure waters, foundering for a while, then agonisingly slowly hauling itself onto the rocks at the bottom of the cliff. Welcome to Raptor Camp!
We call the ALE, the police branch responsible for wildlife crime, who manage to communicate with a local group in a boat who are attempting to rescue the bird from the rocks. It flaps feebly out to sea but soon drops again into the water in the middle of the bay, where, clearly exhausted it allows itself to be plucked to the relative safety of the boat. They pull alongside at a basic jetty for fishing vessels where we take it off their hands, grateful that most Maltese are an infinitely better bunch than the hunters who tar the name of these islands. On inspection, the bird is found to have several wounds to its body, wings and legs. It is whisked away to the vet, but its chances of survival appear slim. We continue our watch and hold our breaths as two juvenile Night Herons approach the same bay after a journey over the sea from Sicily. To our relief, they appear to sense that all is not well at the site, and turn sharply before heading purposefully South, next stop: Africa.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back on the Levels, back in the game

The lack of bloggage this summer has been a sad reflection of my birding effort lately, I won't whinge about it though, cos its my own bloody fault. I did manage another a few days birding on the Somerset Levels at the end of August. This was typically brilliant for this fantastic area and produced the following goodies:


Great White Egret, The resident colour ringed bird from the Loire-Atlantique



Spotted Crake at the back of the drained lagoon, far too distant for a photo, use your imagination!

Osprey on Noah's Lake, possibly the annually returning bird.




The highlight of the week. A Pectoral Sandpiper that flew in to the drained lagoon early one morning, a much appreciated self-found tick for minimal effort



I'm currently back in Bournemouth and soon to start my 3rd and final year of uni, but laziness and hangovers have prevented any birding.



Shit gets real later this week however as I return to Malta to join Birdlife Malta for 2 weeks of their annual raptor camp. After witnessing for myself some of the horrors inflicted on migrating birds back in the spring I knew I had to go back and do what I could to help. This time i'll be taking my laptop and will be writing a daily blog describing the events, the work of the Birdlife Malta staff and volunteers, birds, birding and life on camp, primarily with the goal of persuading other people to join future camps. Hopefully i'll be able to get some nicer photos of birds than the 'images' shown in this blog post.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Raptor Camp dates announced!!



Birdlife Malta have announced the dates and opened bookings for this years Raptor Camp. It will be running between 14th September and 2nd October. For more details and to apply, click here

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harry, Luke and Joe's london Bird Race!!

The last few weeks have been pretty dire for me, revision and exams have totally taken over and i've been unable to spare any time for birding, despite some promising conditions at one of the best times of year, how rotten!!
Some of you may be aware of the challenge set to Harry Boorman by his girlfriend Hara to see 100 species in London over a course of weekend. I met Harry in Malta and he's asked if I would like to join him and his cousin Luke on this adventure. I'm always up for trying something new and having never birded London before, or even taken part in a bird race, this was too good an opportunity to turn down. So next weekend, thanks to a convenient break in exam schedule, i'll be joining Harry and Luke in what promises to be a mental weekend haring around the capital birding like hell.
Of course, i'm not just telling you this because I think you might be interested, but because I want your money, or more accurately, I want the RSPB to have your money. As with most challenges, this is an ideal opportunity to raise a bit of cash for a good cause, so if your feeling altruistic, pop over to our page at Justgiving and whack a donation our way. Of course, if your not sure we deserve a donation, you could wait and see if we reach the target and be particualrly generous if/when we do. Either way, any donation, however small would be much appreciated, and will go towards the conservation of Britain's birds, you know, those small feathery things without which your life would be utterly dull and miserable. Yeh, thats got you reaching for the hyperlink above to chuck a fiver in the pot hasnt it, good on ya!!!
Anyway, wish us luck, and if you're birding in London next weekend and see us about (apparently we have some snazzy t-shirts made up and waiting) come over and say hi, and point us in the direction of anything cool you may have seen, I think we're going to need all the help we can get!



Thursday, May 19, 2011

White Storks shot in Malta

I am literally shaking with rage as I write this and finding it very hard not to resort to profanities, capital letters and exclamation marks. Yesterday evening a record sized flock of 200 White Storks arrived on Malta. In most countries this would be a fantastic sight for birders and 'normal people' alike to witness. Not in Malta. The birds were shot at as they tried to roost, and again when they left the roost this morning. It appears that they may also have been shot at overnight whils roosting, utterly appalling behaviour. For the full story, check out the Birdlife Malta news page.
White Storks hold such an important place in European folklore. Historically then were common across the mainland but farming practices led to their near extinction in many countries by the early 1900's. Re-introduction programmes and provision of nesting platforms, involving thousands of hours of dedicated work by volunteers managed to restore populations in many parts of Europe and now they can be enjoyed across the continent. An incident like this is a crime comitted against the whole of Europe, and I can only hope that it stimualtes a serious public outrage and forces the Maltese Government to do more to prevent illegal hunting. Please pass this on to anyone who may be interested, and also those who probably aren't. People need to know just how bad things are out there.
You can show your support for preventing this sort of behaviuor by joining Birdlife Malta here.



Sunday, May 08, 2011

Levelling

After getting back from Malta it was back to the Somerset Levels for a few days birding with my Dad, which yet again produced the goods. After being picked up from the airport early afternoon, conventional logic would have suggested having a nap, as an average of 5 hours sleep a night on Springwatch had left me totally drained. However, it just felt a bit 'birdy' so after a quick lunch we headed down to Shapwick, the journey down being hurried by breaking news that a Wood Sandpiper that had been on the drained pool for the last few days had been re-identified as a Lesser Yellowlegs, a mega bird for Somerset. Sure enough, when we arrived this leggy transatlantic vagrant was pottering around the pool already with a decent sized crowd of admirers. It never came very close and this was the best shot I managed in several visits over a few days.



Rare as it was, the 'legs couldn't quite compete with this absolute stunner of a bird. I've never seen Great White Egret in breeding plumage, so it awesome to see this colourful beast fishing and flying about the same pool, check out the colours on the tibia and the lores, it's frickin glowing!!


Come at me bro'!!

The place was alive with birds as ever, and very noisy too. Cuckoos were flying around all over the place, phyllosc, sylvia and acro warblers singing from every bush, Bitterns booming and Hobbies and Marsh Harriers constantly overhead, excellent birding.


That evening I was in the mood for finding a Night Heron (we've all been there at some point) so after dinner we were just picking up our stuff to head back for a quick look when the news came through that a Gull-billed Tern was over Noah's Lake. I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't best happy. When a bird as good as that gets found at a site that you're just on your way over too, it's difficult to not feel a bit 'gazumped', especially after almost the same scenario with the Yellowlegs earlier in the day. Still, it was another great bird for Somerset so we hastened on down and got good views of the bird hawking for c20 minutes before it naffed off high to the South, never to be seen again. It was a bit dark for photography but the following just about qualify as 'record shots'.


It was back down to Shapwick first thing the next morning to see if the previous days stars were still around and if anything else new had arrived. The Leeser Yellowlegs was still showing nicely in the same spot, and the drained pool also attractd in a drake Garganey, and briefly resting Whimbrel, Ruff and Little-ringed Plover alongside the constantly turning over squabbling flock of Black-tailed Godwits.





If you're not seeing the sun like this then you need to man up and get out of bed earlier





One of the ubiquitous singing Blackcaps


It'll be a sad day when I can walk past one of these bad boys without taking a photo



After the horrors of Malta it was a delight to see Marsh Harriers safely going about their business


The next day morning was just as good, with a majical highlight being two Bitterns circling high over the reedbeds just as the dawn broke. With the crisp, still air, the soft sunlight starting to break through a light mist and the cuckoos and all the warblers singing in the background, this was a really evocative moment, and for me summed what The Levels are all about. I took a few photos but they don't do the moment justice at all, so I won't post them here, you'll just have to go experience it for yourself.



I dont like to end on a sour note but you really should check out the latest awful news from Malta here. Frickin Pallid Harrier!! Where does this shit end!!


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Springwatch Malta 2011



From 10th-20th April I took part in the Birdlife Malta Springwatch 2011 camp. The situation in Malta and the purpose of Springwatch has been covered by many pieces with much more depth, accuracy and eloquence than I could hope to achieve here ( This page gives the best overview of the situation, and be sure to listen to the podcast linked in at the bottom of the page)so for this trip report, I will focus instead on what YOU can do to help.

I’m sure that many of you previously aware of the hunting problem have already donated to Birdlife Malta, signed petitions, and written to MP’s, and I implore you to keep doing so. This has clearly had the effect of applying external pressure to the EU and the Maltese Government, encouraging such actions as not opening a Spring hunting season in 2008 or 2009, which had the immediate effect of allowing a fantastic breeding season for the birds of Malta, as well as providing a certain level of protection to countless migrants on their journey North. However, despite this pressure, the Maltese Government defied the European Union by opening Spring Hunting again in 2010 and 2011. Given the dismal lack of resources allocated to the Maltese Police to ensure that the conditions of the hunting season are followed, it is necessary for Birdlife Malta teams to act as observers, and as you may have guessed, this is what this post is about.

Birdlife teams of 3-5 people spread out across the island during the ‘danger’ periods of dawn and dusk, armed with optics and video cameras and a direct line to mobile police units. During previous camps, teams have managed to obtain footage of illegalities being committed, which has led to several convictions. This has had the predicted effect of making hunters very wary of breaking the law whilst in view of a Birdlife team. During the 10 days that I was on the camp I saw just one raptor being killed. A Marsh Harrier leaving a roost at dawn was shot down as it was gaining height to continue its journey North to its breeding grounds. This was a horrible moment for me. We were on site to protect that bird and we failed, the moment I saw it hit, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, it was sickening. What made matters worse was that it was too dark to be using the video cameras, and we didn’t see where the bird fell, basically, we had no evidence that the incident ever happened. Still, we called the police immediately, and they responded admirably, with 2 patrol cars on site within 10 minutes. By this time, the hunters in the area had become aware of our presence, and 4 more birds left the roost safely. I think it is fair to say that had we not been on site that morning, it would have been more than that 1 bird that died. This was the general feel throughout the camp, that the hunters knew where we were (they had ‘spotters’, and were in radio contact alerting each other to our presence), and so, were unwilling to shoot protected birds in front of us, in case they got caught.



A fine case of 'Malta moult' on this Marsh Harrier

Of course, this is far from an ideal scenario. Birdlife teams can only cover a certain, small proportion of Malta, limited as they are by the number of volunteers attending the camp. This is where you come in. By coming on a future camp you can make up the numbers to allow Birdlife Malta to send extra teams out into the field, thus covering more areas, and providing a good deal of protection to any birds passing through those areas. The next camp is the Raptor Camp 2011, running during the last two weeks of September. This is a plea for you to be there.

So, what is the camp actually like? Well, I absolutely loved it. Aside from the expected low points upon seeing a bird getting shot, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. The hotel was comfortable and clean, with decent, plentiful food. The general atmosphere was great, with plenty of banter keeping spirits up despite witnessing some terrible things. It was a privilege to work alongside some fantastic inspirational people, both from Birdlife Malta Staff and camp attendees.

The surveillance sessions themselves were quite variable. A few times the fine weather meant that migrants were simply not present, and so there was no hunting activity to record. Generally though, we were kept busy, with illegalities taking place almost constantly. Most frequently, it was a case of shots being fired outside of legal hours, recording sightings of birds bearing gunshot injuries, hunters not wearing the compulsory orange armbands, use of illegally modified shotguns firing more than 3 shots, and of course, the occasional instance of shooting at protected species. As well as recording all of this and alerting the police if necessary, the major work involved was using the video cameras to film any large bird constantly while it was in view, so that if it was shot, we would have proof of the incident. Also recording numbers of all migrants passing through is a key role for teams, as Malta is on a major migration route, and as such deserves monitoring . Standard watches are run from shortly before dawn until about 8am, and then from 3pm until dark. If there are roosts or movements of birds deemed to be at risk outside of these hours then volunteers can go and watch over these birds (this is optional, as obviously people need rest). I did a few night watches over Harrier roosts, which turned out to be fairly uneventful, though still exciting!

I know that personal safety is an issue that deters many birders from visiting Malta. It is true that there have been some shocking incidents in the past. Local birders have been threatened, verbally abused, beaten-up and had vehicles and optics destroyed. However, the bad publicity caused by such aggression has seriously tarnished the hunters reputation in Malta, and they are aware of this. During my time in the camp, ¬one team received 30 minutes of abuse, and bit of chest-shoving from 2 particularly aggrieved hunters, but this was the only incident of any note. Personally, I only had one face-to-face encounter with hunters, and that was a very civilised, quiet debate, and at the end we simply agreed to disagree. I never felt threatened in any way, and I don’t think anyone else on the camp did either. Bear in mind though, that being treated to verbal abuse is a strong possibility, and if you’re the kind of person who would be overly upset by this, then maybe the camp isn’t for you.

The birding was good, with a daily passage of Common and Lesser Kestrels, Hobbies, Marsh and Montagu’s Harriers, and a few Pallid Harriers and Black Kites. Herons featured too, with some big flocks of Purple, Squacco and Night Herons. Other typical Mediterranean species were also easily seen, mainly Golden Oriole, Bee-eater, Black-eared Wheatear Red-rumped Swallow, Pallid Swift, Woodchat Shrike and Blue Rock Thrush. We did have one session that ranks as one of my best birding moments ever. On our afternoon shift at Mosta Gardens, strengthening North-easterlies and some heavy rain forced in a spectacular arrival of 110 Marsh Harriers, 40 Montagu’s Harriers, 1 Pallid Harrier and 60 Lesser Kestrels!! Add to this 2 male Golden Orioles and 42 Bee-eaters hanging around us and I was left pretty gobsmacked. It was apparently a slow spring for passerines and I was quite disappointed with just a few Wood Warblers, Pied Flycatchers and a single Eastern Subalpine Warbler. These are just my personal sightings mind, and such crackers as Roller, Red-footed and Eleonoras Falcons, Collared Flycatcher, Little Crake, and Little Bittern were recorded by other teams. I should also mention that Autumn passage is much bigger than in Spring on Malta, and I have heard some gripping tales of flocks of Short-toed Eagles and Black Storks battling through hordes of Honey Buzzards on their way South, so I can’t imagine anyone being bored by the birding in September.





I expect Birdlife Malta to announce details and dates of Raptor Camp 2011 on the website before the end of May, and I will post again on here when they do, until then, watch a few videos, read some articles and convince yourself to go.

Finally, all I can say is that I would definitely recommend attending a camp. I will be back for as many as I can in the future, including almost certainly the Raptor Camp this Autumn. It may at times be tough, but you will have some great birding, meet legendary people, and most of all, play a major part in protecting Europes finest birdlife. If any further encouragement is needed, watch this, and see what we’re working to prevent. Thankyou.



Oh yeh, and if you're thinking about it, feel free to ask me any questions, as a comment on here, by e-mail or stop me for a chat if you have the misfortune to bump into me in the field.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Karma Strikes Early

This time yesterday I was roundly cursing the birding gods for forsaking me by producing a Red-flanked Bluetail at Durlston, just down the road from my student house in Bournemouth, a mere 18 hours after I had left Dorset for the Easter holidays. I had made what was looking like a shocking decision to head up to Somerset for a few days birding on the Levels with my Dad, before a starting a weeks work tomorrow, and the Dorset departure was looking like a bad move: I still 'need' RFB for Britain, and indeed the world if they're split from the Himalyan birds. There's not many things that i'll twitch these days, but that would certainly have been on the cards, being so close to 'home'. Still, it wasnt going to stop us birding the levels and this morning had been most pleasant, with a whole heap of migrant year ticks; LRP, Ruff, Willow Warblers, Sand Martins, and best of all 2 Swallows, my favourite of all our native birds. Just five minutes from getting back to the car for the last time before departing for East Somerset, we noticed a large bird passing distantly through a gap in the trees, clearly wasn't a heron, bins up and another glimpse before disappearing behind the trees again- BLACK STORK!!!!!! SHIIIIIT!!!!! (wholly accurate representation of the ensuing conservation). The bird looked to be simply heading away behind more trees when it decided to turn around, circle twice and then carry on drifting low North-east, giving us just enough time to get some nice views and blast off a few record shots. Unfortunately my camera, unused for several weeks had switched itself to some horrendous setting and my first shots, of the bird at its closest were overblown something rotten. Luckily, a bird that big manages to burn itself onto a sensor despite the photographers ineptitude and I got the following 'souvenirs':
 
And what's all that about Karma? I hear you cry. Well, on the 10th April i'm off volunteering in Malta with Birdlife at their Springwatch Camp to do my very best to protect migrant birds from being shot indiscriminately. Anyone who watches 'My Name is Earl'-one of the few watchable programs on E4, will know that if you do good things, good things happen back to you. I like to see this as Nature's reward for my upcoming trip. The moral of the story, if you want to find as many good birds as I do (smug much?) do you some volunteering, not neccessarily in Malta, try the RSPB, or your local Wildlife Trust, you never know, it could pay off!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Twitchers in Poole Park

Two posts in two days, that is unprecedented productivity for this blog. Anyway, I have this amzing little gadget that tells me how people arrived at this blog, and over the past few days i've had a fair few hits from people googling 'Twitchers in Poole Park'. Now, being a birder living in Poole, the words twitcher, poole and park appear frequently throughout the blog, just not in relation to these queries, ironically really, as I happen to have been one of the twitchers in question.
And this is why, a Long-billed Dowitcher, a vagrant from North America, hatched up in the Arctic tundra last summer, accidentally flew East over the Atlantic on it's migration South last autumn, and after a winter dithering around Western Europe has somehow ended up in Poole Park, and finds it very much to its likeing, feeding just metres away from an admiring crowd of birders and curious passer-bys.
Astonishingly, over the last two days there has also been a Ring-billed Gull, another American vagrant, but I haven't seen it yet so can't share any photos, there are a few here if you're interested though, grotty looking thig if you ask me.

POLITICAL INTERLUDE!!While you're here, take some time to whip over to the 38 degrees site and sign the petition to save our forests if you haven't already, cheers!
Then check this witty (though a little rude, you have been warned!!) song by Frank Turner, who i've wangled tickets to go see in the Students Union in a few weeks. Hits home a little too hard given the current government 'firesale' eh!!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Nepal photos

About a month ago I returned from a family christmas to the fantastic country that is Nepal. I had a few interesting sightings, so in the near future I should get around to writing up a proper trip report, but in the mean time, here's a brief taster of how it went.

After a few days settling into Kathmandu and seeing the usual touristy sights, we set off on a trek up the Langtang Valley. Seeing as how I was leading the family, it was difficult to do much full on birding, but I managed a few lifers, including some birds of top-class quality, and as expected, a glittering supporting cast of local goodies.


Long-billed Thrush- Lama Hotel




White-capped Water Redstart- Ubiquitous along the river



Hoary-throated Barwing-Rimche


Golden Eagle and Lammergeier above Kyanjin Gompa. Truly awesome sight


The same Lammergeier as above


Ashy-throated Warbler- Rimche


Appalling photo of the bird of the trip- Himalayan Monal, just above Langtang village. Watching the morning sun glittering off this stunning National Bird of Nepal as it fed on the mountainside was one of the highlights of my birding life so far.


Peregrine Falcon (peregrinator?) taking a breather from chasing Snow Pigeons around Mundu
Snow Pigeons taking a breather from being chased around Mundu by a Peregrine Falcon

Other highlights of the trek included Little and Spotted Forktail, Rufous-fronted Tit, White-throated, Guldenstadts and Blue-capped Redstart, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Spotted Laughingthrush and Black-faced Warbler.
Immediately after returning to Kathmandu we headed down to Chitwan National Park for the remainder of the trip. Unsurprisingly, highlight of our time here was an astonishingly close encounter with 2 Asian Rhinocerous (from the safety of the back of an elephant, unlike my previous visit to Chitwan). The only lifer for me in the park was White-rumped Needletail, but again, there were plenty of commoner local birds to enjoy, frequently at close range.
Grey-backed Shrike
Indian Pond Heron

Pied Kingfisher


Great Hornbill- the sight (and sound) of these beasts passing over a rainforest canopy is one of the many experiences that make Oriental birding so special.
Taiga Flycatcher

For more typical holiday photos, this link should take you to my Facebook album of the trip