sparse winter visitor

Northern Shoveler

Broad, long beak diagnostic. Male: metallic-green head and neck; in flight, dark head, back-centre, rump and uppertail-coverts contrast with white of back and tail; also, dull-blue upperwing-coverts against dark flight feathers; metallic-green speculum and white wing bar; in overhead flight, dark head, thick white neck, dark chestnut belly and flanks. Female: mottled brown, but blue-grey shoulders (wing-coverts) and dull green speculum distinctive. Pairs or small flocks, often amidst other ducks; swims slowly, with the beak held very close to water; sometimes up-ends.

Eurasian Wigeon

Medium-sized, stocky, short-necked duck. Chestnut-brown head, yellow forehead, pinkish grey breast of breeding male distinctive; also, grey upper body, black stern, white forewing. Female and eclipse male have plain grey-brown plumage, though male more russet. Both sexes have pale grey black-tipped bills. In flight, all plumages show white belly, pointed wing, pointed tail, dark specula. Gregarious; often in mixed flocks.

Tree Pipit

Similar to Olive-backed, but plain greyish brown above, usually with dark streaking on mantle and crown, less bold streaking on flanks; breast usually heavily streaked, but variable; less well-defined facial pattern, with weaker supercilium; does not usually show any white spot or ‘teardrop’ behind eye; pale legs and bill; like Olive-backed, in small flocks; takes to trees when flushed; walks along branches; also terrestrial; feeds on ground and fans tail frequently, but not vigourously.

Olive-backed Pipit

Sexes alike. Olive-brown above, streaked dark brown; dull-white supercilium, two wing-bars and in outer-tail feathers; pale buff-white below, profusely streaked dark brown on entire breast and flanks. The Tree Pipit A. trivialis is brown above, without olive wash. Gregarious in winter; spends most time on ground, running briskly; if approached close, flies with tseep… call into trees; descends in a few minutes.

White Wagtail

Very variable, black, white and/or grey wagtail; for purposes of ID, races characterized as black-backed or greybacked; all the several races of White have white foreheads; breeding birds have extensive black on throat and/or breast; non-breeding birds generally have white throats; variable wing pattern; singly, or in pairs when breeding; sometimes in loose, scattered flocks; communal rooster; forages on ground; sits prominently on exposed perches; calls while perched, in  flight, or on ground.

Grey Wagtail

Br Male: grey above; white supercilium; brownish wings, with yellowwhite band; yellow-green at base of tail (rump); blackish tail with white outer feathers; black throat and white malar stripe; yellow below. Wintering male and female: whitish throat (sometimes mottled black in breeding female); paler yellow below. Mostly solitary or in pairs; typical wagtail, feeding on ground, incessantly wagging tail; settles on house roofs and overhead wires.

Citrine Wagtail

Grey back; diagnostic yellow head, sides of face, complete underbody; white in dark wings. The race calcarata has a deep-black back and rump; yellow of head may be paler in female; plumage of races often confusing. Sociable, often with other wagtails; shows marked preference for damp areas; sometimes moves on floating vegetation on pond surfaces; either walks cautiously or makes short dashes.

Ruddy Shelduck

Whitish-buff head; orange-brown plumage; in flight, orangish body, white wing-coverts, green speculum and blackish flight feathers distinctive; black tail and  ring around neck (breeding). Female has a whiter head and lacks neck-ring. Young birds look like female and have some grey in wings. Pairs or small parties, rather wary; rests during day on river banks, sandbars, edges of jheels; prefers clear, open water.

Greylag Goose

Sexes alike. Grey-brown plumage; pink bill, legs and feet; white uppertailcoverts, lower belly and tip to dark tail; in flight, pale leading edge of wings and white
uppertail-coverts distinctive. Gregarious and wary; flocks on jheels and winter cultivation; rests for most of day and feeds during night, on water and on agricultural land, especially freshly sown fields. The Bar-headed Goose A. indicus breeds in Ladakh and winters in subcontinent.

Barn Swallow

Bright blue and red long-tailed swallow; upperparts deep glossy blue, with bluish brown wings; chestnutred forehead and throat, with blueblack breast band below; underparts highly variable, depending on race – from white to rufous; long, deeply forked tail, with row of broad white subterminal spots and tail streamers; distinguished from other swallows by dark breast band; in flight, by unbroken dark upperparts, except for forehead; gregarious; often huge flocks in passage; communal rooster; skilled flier; hawks insects low over ground, water.