Yewoor - Airforce station
Mohina, Cdr. Sreeram and I reached the Airforce
station near Yewoor village for birding early on
Sunday morning. We were joined there for our bird walk
towards the technical facility at the top of the hill
by two very enthusiastic Airforce Officers, Sqn.
Leaders Sreenidhi and Hemant.
The daylight was yet to develop when we reached the
campus and the early morning visibility was further
spoiled by a low mist hanging in the air. Waiting for
the light to improve we busied ourselves with enjoying
the antics of the birds feeding on the nearby silk
cotton tree in bloom.
The day began with a bang when, amongst the other
birds in the tree caopy, we saw a flock of thrushes
feeding on the flowers of the silk cotton tree. As it
was difficult to notice the features in poor light at
that time, so I id-ed them to be the Eurasian
Blackbird by the jizz and darker appearance. Later
however the flock flew in to the canopy of nearby
shrubberry where we had a better look at closer range
and noticed their smaller size and more uniform grey
colours compared to the Eurasian Blackbirds. One
individual, nearest to us, was seen particularly well.
It was uniformly brown on the upperparts with an
orangish bill. Thrush like in manner, no doubt, it was
comaparitively slimmer and smaller than a Eurasian
Blackbird. It was a female Tickell's Thrush.
Tickell's Thrush are rare winter visitors to our
region. I have seen them a few times in Oct/Nov 2002
at Lonavla and Khandala. Outside their breeding season
which coincides with monsoons, Eurasian Blackbirds are
shy and found generally singly in undergrowth (I refer
to ssp. nigropileus here which are found here and I
know them very well from my years at Lonavla, where
they are extremely common during monsoons). In
contrast, my own observations are that the Tickell's
Thrush are observed to associate in flocks feeding on
canopy and medium sized shrubbery .The present
observation also follows the same pattern.
This patch of shrubbery growing over a small ravine
has been very rewarding to me. Earlier, about 02 years
ago, I have seen here a pair of White-bellied Blue
Flycatchers and a Baybanded Cuckoo as also Forest
Wagtails rightnext to it!
The start being so nice, things continued go rather
well after that. As the light began to develop and we
began the walk, we were immediatly rewarded by the
sight of a brilliant male of Blue-capped Rock Thrush.
The forest here is one of the finest in the National
Park. At this time of the year the leaves have fallen
and the undergrowth dried up giving good views all
around. During the scenic walk which winds up through
lovely forest to the the top of the hill we saw
Greater Racket-tailed, Ashy, White-bellied and Bronzed
Drongoes, Golden & Black-hooded Orioles, many Common
Ioras, Gold-fronted Chloropsis, Jungle Owlets,
Pale-billed Flowerpeckers, Greenish Warblers, a big
party of Rufous Treepies, Large Cuckooshrikes,
Grey-breasted Prinias, Common Woodshrikes, Red
spurfowls amongst many others. In fact, with many of
the resident birds beginning to sing, its a magical
experience in the forest these days!
Amongst the raptors we were lucky to spot a Eurasian
Sparrohawk, Shikra, Black Eagle, a couple of Crested
Serpent Eagles, a Steppe Eagle high up in the air, a
pale phase Booted Eagle, Black-eared Kite and later,
near Chembur, a Marsh Harrier.
There is a BNHS walk scheduled towards Yewoor the
coming Sunday. So all those attending please do keep a
look out for the Tickell's Thrushes in the area. Its a
very interesting record for Bombay region.
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