Tuesday, March 20, 2018

20 March - World Sparrow Day

We observe many days each year - like a day for women, animal life, environment or even health related diseases' days. But today, 20th March marks the day for a small bird that we often see around us and ignore: The House Sparrow.

The day is observed for the protection of House Sparrow and other common birds that we often see in the urban areas. However, due to fast growing and expanding urban areas, the natural habitat of such small birds is shrinking and it is feared that very soon we may not see house sparrows flying around us or sitting on our window panes.

Due to rapid urbanization in the 70s, the decline in population of home sparrow and other common birds started and as per some estimates, as compared to their population in the 60s, we are left with only 10% of such ordinary birds.

The celebration of the day is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation and many other international organisations across the world. So do your best to make habitats for these birds by not destroying trees in urban areas or around your house. Rather grow plants and keep water in open for these creatures specially in summers as scorching days of summers take a heavy toll of sparrows and these die of thirst.

Photo: Mirza Naim Beg | Why celebrate World Sparrow Day
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Friday, February 23, 2018

23 March: From F-104 to JF17 Thunder

23 March is an important national day in the life of Pakistan -   It is the day when on 23 March 1940 the Pakistan Resolution was unanimously put forward in a historic meeting of the All India Muslim League during its annual meeting at Lahore's Manto Park (later renamed as Iqbal Park after Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, who for the first time gave the idea of a separate Muslim state to be carved out of the British India as he could see that Muslims and Hindus could coexist  - something that has now abundantly seen in the present day India where Hindu hardliners are deadly against Muslims and torture them in one way or the other) to demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British India. It is also the day when the first constitution of Pakistan was adopted.

The relevant part of the resolution is as under:
No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
It is also the day in 1956 when Pakistan was declared Islamic Republic of Pakistan from the Dominion of Pakistan and broke away the remnants of the British yoke which it continued even after partition from the British India on 14 August 1947. Initially the day was called the Republic Day but later integrating the two milestone events of same day in 1940 and 1956, it started to be known as Pakistan Day.

To commemorate this memorable day with honour and dignity, a Pakistan Day parade by the armed forces of Pakistan is held.
For me, this day has a tinge of nostalgia as it was this day in 1964 when I witnessed the armed forces parade for the first time at Fortress Stadium Lahore. And the hallmark of the day was the fly past of the supersonic Lockheed F-104 jets, known as the Starfighter, which had then been recently acquired from USA through Jordan. In fact at that time, Pakistan was the only country outside NATO which had been supplied with this modern aircraft of its time. The whole crowd of spectators applauded with a thunderous clap when the Starfighters flew past over our heads.

Later it was the same aircraft, which broke the sound barrier around 11 AM on 6 September 1965 - a thunderous noise that announced the breaking out of war between India and Pakistan. I was in school when the sound barrier was broken and it was soon after that our school was closed and we were all sent home.

That was 1964 - but as the 23 March 2018 dawns in Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force proudly flies its indigenously produced JF-17 Thunder lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft, which has been developed as a joint venture by Pakistan and China, and inducted in Pakistan Air Force in 2010.  So far about 100 of block I and Ii versions of JF-17 Thunder have entered in active service of the Pakistan Air Force. 
And plans are afoot to work on the block-III with many advancements in avionics, ordnance carrying capability and cruising range. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 after burning turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6 and is equipped with  air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel auto-cannon.

And that is not all - in the meantime Pakistan Army and Navy too have undergone substantial changes and news weapons and platforms have been added. Thus today's parade shows up a huge weapon show in the parade ground outside Islamabad with lush green Margalla hills in the back ground.

The entire nation stand behind its gallant armed forces which are not only the single largest contributor the UN Peace Keeping Missions across the world, but is also one of the logest embattled army with the terroists and miscreants mostly coming from Afghanistan, targetting and falling back. The effective check and ruthless elimination of terrorists' havens has afforded much needed peace to Pakistan to concentrate on its developenmtal plans for present and future. Though it is sad to see USA and other world powers still not acknowledging sacrifices of some 70,000 and still press on Pakistan to do more. 

Our Armed Forces would continue to fight back terrorism in any form and one day God willing will be successful in its efforts.

Read my previous post on F-104s: 23 March and the F-104 Starfighters
Photos: PAF
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - 7

Like the undersea marine life, the bids dominate the sky above us with their abode on trees and even marshland sand heavily vegetated areas. They in fact fill the sky with their presence and eye pleasing chirping sounds - except perhaps the crow which for some is less pleasing. 

Birds are as small as the Humming Birds with only a 5 centimeter presence or as large as the eagles which may have sizes up to 220 centimeters - but if you wish to include the Ostriches, the lesser birds as they cannot soar to the sky and have a small flights, then we are taking of birds as large as 2.75 meters.
Greater Egrets

I have been sharing birds as watched by a number of bird watchers in Pakistan - but mostly these are small birds which are very common to places near cities or in the fields. Today it is my seventh post based on spotting and shooting skills of Mirza Naim Baig, an avid bird watcher, nature lover and of course with a sharp eye to spot a bird and shoot it - not by his gun but his camera for us to admire the Nature and its man creations.

Kingfisher is a beautiful bird known for its longer beak and rather vivid colours despite its small size of 10 centimeters to maximum of 40+ centimeters. I love this bird and intend dedicating a separate post on it in days to come. For now here some beautiful kingfishers: 
 Common Kingfisher
 A pair of Pied Kingfishers
White breasted Kingfisher

Some other birds that adorn the skies and wetlands of Pakistan are:
  Common Teals (above) and Northern Shovelers (below) spotted in Lugh Lake
 Beautiful Swamp Hen with its unique blue and red colour combination (below)
 Pallid Harrier (above) and Marsh Harrier in flight (below)
  The long legged Pond Heron
The beautiful, unique and rare Yellow footed Green Pigeon

About the Bird Watcher and Photographer
Mirza Naim Baig is a freelancer member WWF who takes part inn the preservation of wildlife, beside being a wildlife tour operator. He is from Karachi and studied Bachelor of Arts at Edwards College, Peshawar and lives in Karachi. He is the owner of Dream Merchants.

His birding experiences and photos can be seen on FacebookAll photos above are the property of Mirza Naim Baig and have been shared here with his exclusive permission. In time more of his birding photos will be posted to share his hard work and love for these little flying birds.

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15 Real Facts of Coffee you must know before it vanishes

Coffee is one of the most favoured and most drank drink all over the globe. Its aromatic smell and strong taste takes away one's tiredness in seconds beside refreshing one's energies after a hard day's overload. But there are bad news in the air that coffee may not be available after a few decades as the temperature in areas where coffee beans are harvested are on the rise which will make it difficult harvest it any more.

If that happens, as has already been forewarned, millions of coffee lovers will go dry and perhaps the future generations may never know that there one existed a heavenly drink known as coffee.

However drinking coffee is one of the most controversial issue facing the researchers, doctors and coffee lovers. While the lovers are not prepared to leave this steamy strong flavoured drink, some researchers warn of its side effects while many advocate its strong health benefits. I too am an avid coffee lover, but owing to my sensitive stomach and high blood pressure, I drink it with extreme care in modest quantity - a cup a day and no more.

So do read the info graphic herein under that lists 15 Mesmerizing benefits of Coffee in case you are not a coffee lover and facts you must know before it is too late to start drinking coffee everyday before its fades away into the history.
The 15 Real Facts You Should Know About Coffee
Source: Words I Seek

However, drinking coffee comes with many health cautions beside health benefits. Those suffering from heart ailments, stomach disorders and some other diseases, should be careful in drinking excessive coffee. In fact one must read about coffee before drinking it in excess of of more than one or two cups a day.
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - 6

This is my sixth post on beautiful birds as seen and photographed in Pakistan. And it is really heartening to see that more and more bird watchers are now sharing their experiences and beautifully shot photos of bird in Pakistan and sharing these on various groups on bird watching in social media. 

Mohsan Raza Ali is one of such bird lovers who shares his extensive shoots wherever he happens to be while traveling Pakistan. The photos being shared are those shot in the coital city Islamabad, the Margalla Hills and the Lake View Park near Islamabad and even Kahror Pakka in the Souther Punjab province of Pakistan where Mohsan shot the Black Drongo as seen in the caption photo and the five photos below:
 Blue Throat
 Indian Robbin male
 Indian Robbin female
Plain Prinia in yellow
White throated kingfisher
Common Kingfisher - Lake View Park Islamabad 

Kingfisher is one of may favourite birds for its vivid colours and extended peak which allows it to be recognized from long distance.
 Common babbler
Western Yellow Wagtail 

Common babbler and Western Yellow Wagtail are from the central Punjab province city of Muzaffargarh.

The birds in photos below are as seen in various parts of Pakistan's capital city Islamabad:
 Cinereous tit -Islamabad
 Crimson sun bird-Islamabad
 Long tailed shrike-Lake View Park-Islamabad
 Pied bush chat-Islamabad
 Red-billed Leiothrix-Margalla Hills
 -Rufous bellied Niltalva (female)-Margalla Hills
White throat fantail -Islamabad

About the Photographer:

Mohsan Raza Ali hails from city of Multan and is now settled in Islamabad. Besides his wonderful hobby of bird watching and photography, he is computer science graduate from Islamic University, Islamabad and has been a senior Software Engineer at Bentley Systems, Development Manager at Aspose, Development Manager at Data Focal Innovations and an Application Architect at LMKR.

All photos above are the property of Mohsan Raza Ali and have been shared with his due permission. His photos can be seen on Facebook | Caption Photos: Crimson Sunbird

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - 5

This is my fifth post on birds of Pakistan and may continue for many more posts in days to come for the birds are countless and there are numerous bird watchers who contribute their hobby on social media net work. Although, there are thousands and thousands of species of these beautiful birds, I am for the time being only restricting my posts to birds found and spotted in Pakistan.

Birds like flowers are always eye catching for their wonderful colours and attractive features  beautifully found and captured on camera by the bird watchers - perhaps a great tribute by these people to admire nature.

The Brahminy kite , or the Haliastur indus, as shown above is a majestic bird found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia. In Australia is known as the red-backed sea-eagle. This medium-sized bird of prey falls in the Accipitridae family, which also includes many other diurnal raptors, such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers. The Brahminy kite above was sighted in Karachi.
 Asian Paradise Flycatcher (male)
 Black Bulbul - Azad Kashmir
 Blue Capped Stone Trush- Margalla Hills, Islamabad
 Common Kingfisher - AS seen in Rawalpindi/Islamabad
 Common Teals (above) and Gadwall sighted in Larkana, Sind Province
The gadwall, a bird of open wetlands, is a common and widespread dabbling duck in the family Anatidae. Male gadwalls are intricately patterned with gray, brown, and black; females resemble female Mallards. The gadwall breeds in the northern areas of Europe and Asia, and central North America.

 European Roller
 Greater Spotted Eagle as spotted in Tando Mohammad Khan, Sind Province

Greater Spotted Eagle is classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). As of 2000, the world population of this eagle was estimated at less than 4,000 breeding pairs. The primary threats are habit degradation and habitat loss, as well as human disturbance during the mating season.
 Indian Robin male
Indian Roller are found widely across tropical Asia from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. 
Jacobin Cuckoo, pied cuckoo, or pied crested cuckoo is a member of the cuckoo order of birds that is found in Africa and Asia.
 Oriental Magpie Robin found in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir
 Plum Headed Parakeet spotted in the Margalla Hills, Islamabad
 Scaly Breasted Munia or spotted munia is a sparrow-sized estrildid finch native to tropical Asia
 Beautiful spotted dove - The spotted dove is a small and somewhat long-tailed pigeon that is a common resident breeding bird across its native range on the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
Yellow Throated Sparrow spotted in Rawalpindi

Yellow Throated Sparrow is found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, dry savanna, and subtropical or tropical dry shrub land.

About the Bird Watcher and Photographer
Mirza Naim Baig is a freelancer member WWF who takes part inn the preservation of wildlife, beside being a wildlife tour operator. He is from Karachi and studied Bachelor of Arts at Edwards College, Peshawar and lives in Karachi. He is the owner of Dream Merchants.

His birding experiences and photos can be seen on FacebookAll photos above are the property of Mirza Naim Baig and have been shared here with his exclusive permission. In time more of his birding photos will be posted to share his hard work and love for these little flying birds.

References/Bird history and details: Wikipedia
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