Trip report: Sultanpur National Park, 2010-06-12

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2010-06-12

This is a brief report of a visit to Sultanpur and Basai this morning. We (Ramit, Ammu, and I) did not spend much time there, because it became very hot by 0830.

Basai

Highlights included a dozen or so Whiskered Terns assuming breeding plumage, seen hawking over the water and perched on wires overhead, next to many Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters. A solitary Temminck's Stint was feeding with a loose flock of Black-winged Stilts; and we saw a few Green Sandpipers in flight later. We also saw several Pheasant-tailed Jacanas and a single Shaheen Falcon.

Other notable sightings included huge flocks of Glossy Ibis, a few Black-headed Ibis, and one Black Ibis. There were several Cattle Egrets, and Pond Herons in breeding plumage, and a few larger Egrets in the distance. Oriental Skylarks were, as usual, seen everywhere in the fields, and Grey and Black Francolins were heard calling incessantly. Many Pied Starlings were seen collecting nesting material.

I also saw my first Small Pratincole here.

Sultanpur

Unfortunately, the lake in Sultanpur is completely dry. Park officials claim (contradicting each other) that this is either due to a shortage of canal water to flood the (once seasonal, now artificial) wetland, or an intentional measure to "control" the large, predatory fish that were eating all the smaller fish and had become too big for the birds to eat. Whatever the reason, there are hardly any birds there at the moment. We saw a pair of Golden Orioles near the entrance.

The flats behind the park had several Red-wattled Lapwings with chicks in various stages of development, and a few Yellow-wattled Lapwings. We did not see any Coursers today. There were the usual few Crested Larks and Paddyfield Pipits near the puddles in the grass, and Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks in the dry fields.

As we drove up to the flats, I started to tell a story about how, on a trip to Sultanpur last winter, I told a friend that I had once seen a solitary Red-collared Dove in a huge flock of Collared Doves on the flats; and when my friend looked out of the window, he saw exactly the same thing. While I was telling this story, Ramit glanced out of the window… and what should he see but a flock of Collared Doves with a single Red-collared Dove in their midst.