Hawks Bay's Star - The Oriental White-Eye

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 Heba Moeen 3 Comments

The beauty of Hawks Bay - Oriental White-Eye

Well, hello there! We found a gem at Hawks Bay and although I planned to write about it during the holiday of February 5, I was taken aback by quite a huge mishap; my beautiful sun conure took off, never to return. It may mean nothing to people but only a pet lover would understand the magnitude of my loss. Someone, asked me, 'Was the parrot expensive?' Well my answer to him was, 'All my parrots are expensive, it's actually the emotional bond that you develop over a period of time that matters ...'

So that day, as painful as it sounds, rendered all efforts of trying to find my bird, futile. What later followed was solitude and coffee ... and well some chocolate as well. I believe solitude is a great healer, though it takes its sweet time. And that wasn't just enough, I ended up working as well, my concentration level amidst sorrow was intense or perhaps I needed some outlet to think of something else. The shop keepers around my place, including Zaidi's Studio were kind enough to paste posters of my lost bird though to no avail, unfortunately. It really is the gesture that matters so I'm very grateful to everyone who tried to help regardless of the outcome. 

The next day was a working day which required going towards the waves yet again, and there's something very serene and calming about the waves as they approach the shore, eventually soothing wounds that are not physical yet quite palpable. And despite the work trip, I found myself looking around for birds at a point in time. Sandspit and Hawks Bay are blessed with nature's beauty yet polluted by us, humans ... you will still find some persevering birds that haven't lost hope in us, at least not yet.

The weekend after that was long too: I ended up spending both days at home ... more solitude and lots of reading! And I don't know why I had a feeling  that this gorgeous pet of mine will return! But let's be realistic, shall we? Still, I hope whoever finds it in our concrete jungle is kind enough to return my bird, provided it's still alive ... This is what it looks like:

Anyway let's cut my sob story short and talk about the new discovery - the oriental white-eye of Hawks Bay! We went last Sunday and explored the shrubs that housed these teeny tiny beauties. The trick of birding is that you go as early in the morning as possible because once it gets late, say afternoon, most of the birds disappear and go into their resting phase.

That Sunday, like most (some enthusiastic few wake up earlier), I woke up at 6 a.m., a few minutes before routine to get ready to leave. It was still dark, however, getting out of bed usually triggers a reflex action at the corner of my room, a voice echoed, 'ASSALAAM ALAIKUUUUM!' to which I replied ina very accustomed tone. After a while, the same voice kept repeatedly saying, 'good night!' perhaps because it was still dark and Coco still can't tell the difference as yet. I washed all water bowls of my parrots, gave them breakfast and headed out to meet the like-minded boys and girls of our wildlife photography group. And oh, forgot to water those plants ...

After gathering at the meet-up location, we headed towards Hawks Bay which we reached around 830ish and went straight to that patch of shrub of wild berries where the oriental white-eyes were having a buffet breakfast. Their call is so beautiful and camouflage so apt that you have to focus and remain still for a while until you notice some movement and your eyes dart across for that perfect shot. There were numerous oriental white-eyes singing away and devouring the wild berries. As inquisitive as some of us were, we tried a berry or two; trust me the fruit tasted of perfume yet was very sweet. Not everything is meant for human beings. Period.

Oriental white-eyes (Zosterops palpebrosus) a.k.a Indian white-eyes are small birds, about 3/4th the size of a house sparrow. They appear quite gregarious and forage in small groups while feeding on small insects and nectar, in this case these wild berries that were growing in shrubs spread out on the surface of sand. These birds have a distinctive white eye ring and spectacular brown eyes, to capture all of this you need ... let's say, a good lens. Don't let the images deceive you, these are very, very small birds, though not microscopic either. Oh but ... you will fall in love with nature a little more when you encounter these green beauties. 

Hangin upside down, what a way to make a living! *Dolly Parton's working 9 to 5 style*

As we explored the surrounding areas in search of more and more of these oriental white-eyes, we were awestruck by the vast land and its resident birds while quite disgusted by the pollution around. 

We saw one such oriental bird hopping around, almost diving into a trough of drying water to quench its thirst. That's when we realised the need to fill the nearby clay bowl with water. Hina, one of our brilliant wildlife photographers eagerly turned on the tap to fill it with enough water for the birds. However there was barely any water left but those few millilitres were sufficient for our tiny friends. They came one by one, gathering around the newly discovered water body and it was a sight not to miss but to capture.

One little bird in search of water

Water ... are you there?

Thank you. Hina. This should do!

Later, we followed the road leading to Aqua Beach, God knows wherever that was or whether it even existed. When the senior boys got to know that two of us including me have never been to Mubarak Village before, they suggested we go a bit further to explore this gem of a place. It indeed is amazing but the plastic peril has taken over all of our beaches and there was litter all around, irresponsibly scattered by tourists.  

Below is one breathtaking sight of Mubarak Village.

On our way back, there were some more bird species that we came across, one which would have been a lifer (a bird photographed for the first time) for most of us was not allowed to be captured by a gentleman in uniform, it just wasn't our jurisdiction, we toll tax paying crazy citizens. :)

And yes, the one and only bird greatly despised by our senior boys was there, waiting and smiling ... and had a pose ready. Waqar Mursalin is the guilty person who introduced me to this green bee-eater below, that was anticipating some cool photography. The bird sent its warmest regards to its best friend, Saeed Jamal Tariq who earlier did not let me take a picture of this gorgeous fluff ball ... well not exactly a ball, a bat perhaps.

Looking for me, darling???

"Whatever you do, wherever you go ... I'll be right here waiting for you!" - Green bee-eater

We had lunch at a local restaurant, next to which was a government owned fire control authority with two groups of employees playing cards. Well, these poor guys were on duty on Sunday and it was around 2 p.m. and they could just be availing some time off, not that they would have extinguished any fire with their grounded, rusty vehicle. Don't judge, okay?!?!? Please extinguish your own fire, yourself. Thank you very much!

And this is where I got another lifer, the mighty Brahminy Kite! I likened it with Tiramisu ... oh just look at this coffee coloured bird, layers of coffee and cream, gliding away in the sky!

Brahminy Kite at Hawks Bay

And another lifer, just as we were returning ...

Isabelline Shrike

At the opposite end of Sandspit was this beautiful mosque and the most disgusting vast patch of untreated effluent dump. It's ironic that 500 MDGs (Million Gallons per Day) of untreated effluent from Karachi is dumped into our seas each day and no one is answerable for this crime! Who cares? Will anyone ever will?

Below are some more pictures from our trip ... and folks, this is all until the next birding gathering.

Asian Koel

One more oriental white-eye

Beware! These people go after birds and shoot them with their CAMERAS! Picture Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Did you even know that all such birds existed around the vicinity of Sandspit and Hawks Bay? Well, it's time to observe and reflect, my friends ...

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