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.
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.
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.