Hyderabad Birding Pal’s 159th birdwalk at Manjeera Wildlife Sanctuary 9th July 2017

The team from left: Avinash Subramanya, Manjula Desai, Ajinkya Supekar, Abhishek Ravindra, Manoj Kumar Vittapu, Raghavarao Suryadevara, Sidhu Varma and Phani Krishna Raavi.

Manjeera Wildlife Sanctuary is a riverine wetland 50 km northwest of Hyderabad in Medak district. It is a place with a good number of resident and migratory birds, in addition to being home for the Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris. It is recognized internationally as an Important Bird Area (IBA), due to its rich bird diversity and its high preference by migratory birds.

Every season brings with it unique sightings of birds and this was HBP’s motive to organize its 159th birdwalk here. Monsoon is the time for Bitterns, Crakes, Cuckoos and Watercock. Also, it is nice to see the place turn lush green and know about the change in habitat. Eight members participated. It was nice to have Manjula Desai and Avinash Subramanya for their first HBP birdwalk.

Morning Five thirty was the meeting time at Alwyn cross roads, Miyapur. We started for the location at quarter to six and met others on the way. The weather was cloudy and humid.

We reached Sangareddy and took a left turn towards the sanctuary, there are crop fields lining the road. Here, there was good activity of Scaly-breasted Munia, Tricoloured Munia and three species of weavers- Baya, Bengal and Streak Throated. Many were in a mixed flock foraging on the tender seeds of paddy. The light was excellent for good shots and the birds were also quiet close. Monsoon is a great time to see weavers, they are in excellent colors and actively building their nests. In a bush along the road, Tawny bellied Babblers dashed through it, keenly looking for insects. White-breasted Waterhen, Yellow-eyed Babblers, Asian Pied Starlings, Ashy Prinias and Indian Robins were also seen.

Further ahead, you see a crossroad with a board of the sanctuary. Here we parked the vehicles and looked for Red necked Falcons on the dead tree and the three telephone towers, they were not there. On the right side, there is a mud road leading to a pond. This is where we had seen a large number of migratory birds last winter. This is not the season but was worth checking as many reeds had grown and water had accumulated from recent rains in puddles- perfect for Bitterns and Crakes. On the banks and in water we could see many Gray-headed Swamphens and Eurasian Coot. From the grassland along the pond, Rain Quails were constantly calling. Locating the source of these calls is a tough task as these are camouflaging small birds. Abhishek and Manoj spotted the quails and got id shots. Meanwhile, a Barred Buttonquail flew for cover when I was a few feet from it. These are also expert in dodging our eye. It didn’t fly far, went in a depression in the ploughed field, tucking down in an attempt to hide. Though the verb ‘to quail’ means to show fear and apprehension, the birds on the contrary are very confident of their ability to hide in the surroundings. You’ll almost step on them and not see anything. It flew away as we approached for a photograph. After all this “Quailing” we retired and came back to the bund of the pond. A big flock of Black-tailed Godwits zipped passed us. In the reeds there were three Ruddy-breasted Crakes mostly preferring the cover and occasionally coming out to inspect the open ground. A Intermediate Egrets were in good numbers, all singly busy looking for fish. Lesser Whistling-Ducks, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Oriental Darter, Glossy Ibis, Red-naped Ibis, Bronze-winged Jacana, Asian Openbill, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Indian Roller, Red-rumped Swallows, Red Avadavat, Indian Silverbill and River Tern were also seen here.

The green patch around habitat orientation center and abandoned houses near the dam yielded Tickell’s Blue-Flycatcher, Brahminy Kite, Pied Cuckoo, Little Swift, nesting building Baya Weavers, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Gray-breasted Prinia, White-browed Bulbul, Cotton Pigmy Goose, Wire-tailed Swallow, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Kingfisher and Indian Gray Hornbill. The forest was quiet silent. Over the reservoir we saw hundreds of Painted Storks flying high in the sky.

It was a decent bird-walk with nice sightings typical of monsoon. A total of 98 species were reported.


Photographs
Common Kingfisher by Manjula Desai
Bengal Weaver (Black-breasted Weaver) by Abhishek Ravindra
Tricoloured Munia by Manoj Kumar Vittapu
Intermediate Egret with fish catch by Manjula Desai
Cattle Egret with Toad kill by Sidhu Varma
Baya Weaver by Sidhu Varma. See the mud lined on the inner wall, it has a specific function still unclear. Perhaps to give stability to the nest on a windy day.
Ruddy-breasted Crake and Yellow-eyed Babbler by Abhishek Ravindra
Black-tailed Godwit by Manjula Desai
Foraging flock of Tricoloured Munia and Weavers by Manoj Kumar Vittapu
Cotton Pigmy Goose and Grey-headed Swamphen by Abhishek Ravindra
Rain Quail by Abhishek Ravindra and Manoj Kumar Vittapu
Pied Cuckoo by Abhishek Ravindra

Complete Checklist of the birdwalk

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