Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rosy Starlings

After being skunked on a species that was listed as common on the site checklist for the past four weeks, I finally found Rosy Starlings at Karaivetti today. As a matter of fact, I found three flocks today totaling 78 birds. Apparently the old adage “when it rains it pours” holds true here in south India! The opening photo was taken this past weekend near Calimere where Rosy Starlings were quite numerous. This was the 176th species that I’ve observed here at the sanctuary of the 208 species that have ever been recorded.

Relton’s son, Alan who is a first year Zoology student at Bishop Heber College in Trichy has decided to skip classes for several days and accompany me on the survey. Today he took great pleasure in the close-up looks we got of a Baillon’s Crake that had eluded his dad last week. We also saw over 380 Bar-headed Geese today, but I was unable to locate the wayward greylag among them. The rest of our count was rather uneventful, we did have more flocks of shorebirds depart and give us flybys than normal (11 Marsh Sandpipers, 25 Common Greenshanks, 9 Black-tailed Godwits, and 5 Little Stints). While investigating the edge of several reedbeds I noticed a nest in the nearby scrub with two eggs whose tenants were given away by the agitated pair of Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks (male below) that were nearby. I haven’t found that many nests thus far, but I’ve seen a fair number of young birds and adults carrying food or nesting material.

On the return trip to Pullambadi I was amused to watch in my rearview mirror as Alan attempted to overtake a gravel truck that I had already passed only to have his moped max out at the same speed the truck was going. His moped also doesn’t have rearview mirrors, so he hadn’t realized that a bus had been rapidly closing in on him! He definitely looked like a small fish in a big pond sandwiched between those two large vehicles! He safely was able to get back to the left and allowed the bus to pass, no worries.

The children at the school here have become sufficiently accustomed to my presence that they are now calling out my name every chance that they get. My name is typically pronounced here as ‘shohn’ – lacking the ‘w’ that isn’t represented in the spelling, hence confusing for most here. Whenever I respond to my name being called it is 9/10 to get only a “hi” as they aren’t confident enough in their English to say more than this. But they definitely want me to know that they know my name!

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