We had been looking forward to sitting among the piles of human excrement that is reported to be at the Pitta site at Fort Aguada. However, it wasn't nearly as bad as expected, with only the odd dollop and wandering canine to be wary of. We were lucky - just after the light had become half reasonable, we found the Pitta twice on the left hand side of the path, under cover of bushes. Despite having made ourselves rather comfortable for a return and photo shoot, the Pitta did not appear in the next hour, although Orange-headed Thrush came to within a few feet, Blyth's Reed Warbler did a regular circuit, and Ashy Prinia appeared twice. Just before we were about to leave, we found the Pitta briefly again on the other side of the path. A very nice bird, and perhaps a lot bigger and more rotund than we had expected. There is a possibility that there are actually two birds here!
Before covering Carambolin lake, we tried the small wood nearby that is supposed to hold Brown Hawk-Owl. The wood is bounded on one side by an expanse of open water and muddy fields, and the other by dry farmland with reeded marsh and lagoons behind. The wood itself is owned by an old lady in the first house on the left, and she apparently is the landlady to the few households nearby. The copse area is quite active for birdlife, and the open land around alive with Egrets, waders, and Larks. Many raptors, almost all Kites, are overhead. One of the pair of Hawk Owls died last week, probably an explanation for its partners absence in the last couple of days, although the old lady apparently either heard or saw it the previous evening. No disappointments here, though. A pair of Spotted Owlets were at the nest hole, and one of local boys found a Jungle Owlet roosting on a branch. The wood deserves a little more time than a short Owl watch, and we subsequently found Banded Bay Cuckoo, Black-rumped Flameback, Golden & Black-hooded Oriole, and Tailorbird. We spent a short time on the open fields - the south side held a rash of mainly Great White Egret and other waders, on the north side Malabar Larks, a few Stonechats, and Wooly-necked Stork riding the thermals with the Kites.
Carambolin Lake makes Minsmere look like Teesside on a bad day. It is very large (perhaps 400m across), with lush green paddyfields to the south, bounded by a recently constructed railway to the west, and trees to the east and north. The lagoon itself is much different from those in Britain, being covered in the main by floating vegetation. Even the open areas of water are criss-crossed by grasses and other water plants. The view of the lake from the south side is magnificent, particularly later in the afternoon, when the sun is behind you. Absolutely masses of birds can be seen, with most concentrated on the more open water. Most numerous are Lesser Whistling Duck and Purple Swamphen, which both number in the hundreds, or possibly over a thousand in the case of the ducks. Amongst these are many Egrets and both types of Jacana.
After Naresh had finished his midday nap, we headed through the village to what we thought was a new location, and a possible for Rufous-tailed Lark. After travelling the full length of the very basic village, we eventually found ourselves back at the Owl wood. Onward and upward - we went past the wood and parked the taxi in a small clearing bounded on one side by a bank. On the other side of this was a reeded marsh, with a few houses on the shore. We plonked ourselves beside the first house, and enjoyed the best raptor watch yet. Through a couple of hours mid afternoon, we had a wide variety of species, such as Black-shouldered Kite, Great Spotted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Marsh Harriers, Brahminy & Black Kites, which all added to the single Crested Serpent Eagle that we had seen over Carambolin earlier. Searching the skies also pulled out more Woolly-necked Storks, and even a couple of Lesser Adjutants. If this was not enough, the hirundines which we had at first passed off as Red-rumped Swallows were found to contain Streak-throated Swallows, and a Plain Prinia popped its head up over the waters edge. A group of Woolly-necked Storks was seen to be landing in a nearby clearing, but mud and water prevented us from getting any closer. On the return to the taxi, we were diverted by an Indian Roller on telegraph wires, which then led on to a dozen Hoopoes on the ground, 2 perched Black-shouldered Kites, and a very close calling Coppersmith Barbet.