Thursday, 9 October 2014

Indian Grey Hornbill - Ocyceros Birostris

Was a pleasant surprise to spot the Indian Grey Hornbill at Jaipur (especially when not on a bird-watching tour)! During early morning, it was their call that made me search for the birds. There was a pair; they flew and hid among thick lush branches. Their heavy flight with the grey-black-white wings was worth watching. Quietly observed them till my neck hurt, and then moved away.

Indian Grey Hornbill at Jaipur

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Birds of Bhutan September 2014

During my visit to Bhutan, I managed to photograph a few birds. I couldn't photograph some birds or some of the photos aren't clear. There were several birds that only my eyes captured. I have video (no sufficient light) plus audio recording of chirping of birds. The last photo (on which copyright printed) is Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler; supposed to be rare to sight. Well, I'm happy that I have secret birding places to go back to, at Bhutan. 

Birds of Bhutan
The birds of Bhutan sighted during my visit are as follows:
  1. Red-Billed Chough
  2. House Crow
  3. Pigeon
  4. Grey-backed Shrike
  5. Oriental Turtle Dove
  6. White-capped Water Restart
  7. Drongo
  8. Black Kite
  9. House Swift
  10. Common Kestrel 
  11. Russet Sparrow
  12. Eurasian Tree Sparrow 
  13. Red-Vented Bulbul
  14. River Lapwing
  15. Common Myna
  16. Eurasian Hoopoe
  17. White Wagtail
  18. White-throated Kingfisher
  19. Grey Treepie
  20. Rufous Treepie
  21. Long-tailed Shrike
  22. Sandpiper
  23. Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler 
  24. Oriental Skylark/Yellow-browed Tit?
  25. Green-backed Tit
  26. Yellow Billed Blue Magpie 
  27. Spotted Dove


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus Himantopus

Early morning we went for a walk at the Jal Mahal lake, Jaipur. The sunrise was beautiful; the Jal Mahal looked splendid. The Black-winged Stilt were one of the birds that we saw at the lake. The two stilts were a little away from one another. After a while, they moved closer to each other, and moved in one direction. The entire scene was serene. Easy to recognize these birds with their characteristic Red/Pink legs and slender long beaks.
Black-winged stilts

Sunday, 15 June 2014

White-browed Bulbul - Pycnonotus Luteolus

A friend and I went on a drive to Devrayanadurga on one of the Saturdays. Was fun to sight a lot of birds! One such bird was the White-browed Bulbul. As we descended the hill, we sighted this bird, sitting on a tree for a while. I mistook the bird to be Yellow-browed but my friend provided the bird's correct ID.

Wikipedia description helps in distinguishing between the White-browed and Yellow-browed bulbuls.

"This species is identifiable by the white supercilium, white crescent below the eye, and dark eyestripe and moustachial stripe. The vent is yellowish and there is some yellow on the chin and moustache. The throat is however largely whitish unlike in the similar looking and sounding Yellow-throated Bulbul which is found in rockier habitats. Three or four hair-like filoplumes are present on the nape."

White-browed bulbul

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Spot-billed Pelican - Pelecanus Philippensis

The Spot-billed Pelicans can be seen breeding and nesting at Kokkare Bellur village. The birds coexist with the villagers, and nest on trees in and around the village. The bird droppings are rich in phosphorus and potassium; good manure for the agricultural lands.

The season is during September-October to May-June. The village has sign boards indicating the direction to the parking lot. Pay a nominal amount to the caretaker. You will be flocked by young boys on their bi-cycles, promising to show you birds. They can pester you till you yield! Please kindly ignore them. You don't need a guide because, as you enter the village, you can see colonies of birds nesting on trees (fig, tamarind, and so on). The call of birds will direct you to the trees, if you are unable to sight them. You can freely roam around the village but ensure to respect privacy and culture. Do not harm the natural habitat. Do not, please, try to touch the birds or nest or eggs or even fallen chicks. Do NOT pay money to anyone!

The Karnataka Forest Department works with the villagers to protect birds visiting the village. The department provides a compensation (a fixed amount of money) for each tree that the birds use for nestling. This scheme is in place to compensate the loss of benefits from not harvesting tamarind (from trees) and the land below the trees.

For list of birds we sighted, see My eBird Checklist.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Painted Stork - Mycteria Leucocephala

We've grown up seeing these birds at Ranganathittu bird sanctuary (at Mandya district, on way to Mysore). The season happens to be from November to June. We can also see this bird nesting at Kokkarebelluru. This is a small sleepy village; villagers protect the birds during nesting period. In fact, they have a protection area for the young ones that fall off the trees or those that are abandoned by parents. Will talk more about these two places later.

The Painted Stork is an amazingly beautiful bird; widespread resident in plains. The down-curved yellow bill, orange head, pink legs, long wings,white-black wings, and pink tertial feathers are distinctive of the bird. The juvenile is greyish-white and has greyish-brown feathers. The adult birds look stunning when in flight.

Painted Stock collecting nesting material
Adult Storks with chicks

Thursday, 17 April 2014

White-bellied Treepie - Dendrocitta Leucogastra

Our trip to Kerala was eventful; we sighted a lot of birds. One among the birds was White-bellied Treepie, which is endemic to the forests of southern India. The bird visited the Flame of the Forest Tree, to suck nectar. We sight the bird also in a wooded area, flying from one tree to another. Was a delightful sight!

The White-bellied Treepie belongs to the crow family, and can be found with Rufous Treepies. The White-bellied Treepie has White underparts, rump, and nape, and White flash at base of primaries; back and scapulars orange brown. For more description, see Avis Indian Bio Diversity.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Long-tailed Shrike or Rufous-backed Shrike - Lanius Schach

The evening sun was flaunting splendid hues. After a day's work, birds were returning home. They sat on branches of trees to have one look of their neighbourhood, and then they disappeared in to their homes. One such bird that we sighted at Munnar was the Long-tailed Shrike.

We found the Long-tailed Shrike perched on a broken branch of a tree. This bird has a long and narrow tail (usually Black), a Black patch around the eyes, rufous rump and flanks, and grey mantle and back. These birds can be sighted at open habitats. They feed on insects, small birds, and rodents. Both sexes are alike in plumage.

Please see the list of birds sighted during our Kerala trip.
Long-tailed Shrike

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - Dicrurus Paradiseus

During our recent visit to Thekkady, we saw a variety of birds. The list of birds is available in the article, Thekkady-Munnar Trip Report, March 2014.

One of the birds that interested us was the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. We saw more than 7 of these birds at a time. Population seems good! How they manage to fly or sit with that beautiful tail is worth watching. :-)

The Racket-tailed Drongo has a distinctive tail rackets, and the crest of curled feather that begin in front of the face above the beak and extends till the crown. The entire bird is Black in color. These birds eat insects and also feed on fruits and nectar. We saw them sucking nectar from the flowers. These birds have varied calls; they can mimic other birds. One can hear their calls early in the morning, throughout day during mating season, and early evenings.

Racket-tailed Drongo sitting on 'Flame of the Forest' tree.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Rosy Starlings or Rose-coloured Pastor

As I have already mentioned, flocks of Chestnut-tailed Starlings and Rosy Starlings have been visiting our garden and neighbourhood. Watching the Starlings fly from one tree to another (as a group) is awesome. These birds seem to be bullying the other resident birds such as pigeons, parakeets, barbets, common mynas, and so on.

The Rosy Starlings migrate to India during winter. The body is Pink in color, the legs and bill are pale Orange, and the head, wings, and tail are Black. The juvenile birds have a paler plumage and short yellow bill. These birds can be found in open agricultural lands or grasslands, feasting on grasshoppers and locusts. There's an article in Indian Express titled, Fighters in Flight.

Rosy Starling sitting on our Mango tree
Rosy Starlings
A flock of Rosy Starlings

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Chestnut-tailed Starling or Grey-headed Myna - Sturnia Malabarica

Today, our garden saw a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings (and Rosy Starlings). This is the first time in several years that we have sighted these birds at our house/neighbourhood. Their repeated collective calls forced me to go to our terrace garden, and oh, what do I see! The pretty birds flying from one tree to another, at our garden and at our neighbourhood. Growing and nurturing a garden has its own benefits, I guess.

The Chestnut-tailed Starling visits South India during winters; they fly in flocks and are said to change directions. Some websites mention that the bird's movements are poorly understood. I'm not sure about its visit during this time - summer - of the year. Whatever may be the reason for its late visit, we heartily welcome the birds.

This bird has a Yellow beak with a pale Blue base. The White eye-ring is distinctive. The underparts of the body are Grey. The under-tail may be rufous. The plumage depends on the subspecies the bird belongs to. Both sexes look alike. However, juveniles have Whitish underparts and chestnut tips to the tail feathers.

I secretly prayed that the Chestnut-tailed Starling birds stay at our garden/neighbourhood, build nests, have chicks, and then (if they desire) fly away. Stood watching these pretty birds and listened to their calls almost all the morning and afternoon. I've also recorded their calls (along with traffic noise). The birds sat along with Rosy Starlings. The other birds (Common Mynas, Crows, White-cheeked Barbets, Asian Koels, Common Tailor bird, Pigeons) at our garden were curious, and flew near them and sat with them. They seemed comfortable with each other.

My stomach was growling, and I stepped inside the house to have lunch. Oh, what a waste of time! When I returned to the garden, could see the birds for a while. Later they flew away somewhere else. Not a trace of the birds. No calls. Nothing.

Tomorrow being our New Year - Ugadi - the birds visiting us has been the best gift!

Chestnut-tailed Starling sitting on our Mango tree

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Thekkady-Munnar Trip Report, March 2014

Please read our travelogue about Thekkady-Munnar.

Trip: Drive from Bangalore to Thekkady and to Munnar, 5 days during third week of March, 2014
Bird Watching: Self-planned; Ram (my spouse) and I
Camera and Lens: Nikon d90, Nikkor 70-300mm

We drove out of Bangalore early morning. At Hosur, the highway road is under expansion work. Due to noise and to traffic commotion, we didn't find birds at the lake. We continued our drive towards Krishnagiri. One can sight several Drongos, Indian Rollers, Green Bee-eaters, and Kingfishers at Tamil Nadu. After a point, I stopped counting the number of birds we saw.

When we reached Thekkady, we enquired at the resort's travel desk if they had bird watching tours or a guide. They had none, and therefore, we decided to walk around the place to sight birds. And we did! Our dear guide was a book about birds; whenever we sighted a bird, we clicked a photo (even if the photo was blur), and later referred to the book to identify the bird. We hadn't see most of these birds in the wild; some being endemics. We were thrilled to see them. 

List of birds sighted during the trip:

1) Indian Roller
2) Black Drongo
3) Paddyfield Pipit
4) Black Kite
5) Spot-billed Duck
6) Little Egret
7) Indian Pond Heron
8) Common Kingfisher
9) White-bellied Kingfisher
10) House Crow
11) Jungle Crow
12) Rock Pigeon
13) Nilgiri Wood Pigeon
14) Spotted Dove
15) Mountain Imperial Pigeon
16) Vernal Hanging Parrot
17) Malabar Blue-winged Parakeet
18) Asian Koel
19) Greater Coucal
20) Blue-bearded Bee-eater
21) Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
22) Green Bee-eater
23) Malabar Grey Hornbill
24) White-cheeked Barbet
25) Heart-spotted Woodpecker
26) Common Flameback
27) Lesser Golden-backed Woodpecker
28) Dusky Crag Martin
29) House Swallow
30) White Wagtail 
31) Grey Wagtail
32) Orange Minivet
33) Common Tailorbird
34) Asian Paradise Flycatcher
35) Red-whiskered Bulbul
36) Yellow-browed Bulbul
37) Black Bulbul
38) Jerdon's Leafbird
39) Golden-fronted Leafbird
40) Rufous-backed Shrike
41) Blue Rock Thrush
42) Malabar Whistling Thrush
43) Nilgiri Blue Robin
44) Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher
45) Common Moorhen
46) Nilgiri Flycatcher
47) Pied Bush Chat
48) Kerala Laughingthrush
49) Indian Rufous Babbler
50) Jungle Babbler
51) Quaker Babbler
52) Little Spiderhunter
53) Oriental White-eye
54) Indian Golden Oriole
55) Asian Fairy-bluebird
56) Racket-tailed Drongo
57) Rufous Treepie
58) White-bellied Treepie
59) Jungle Myna
60) Common Myna
61) Southern Hill Myna
62) House Sparrow
63) Grey Jungle Fowl
64) Cormorant
65) Great Tit
66) Long-tailed Shrike
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 1
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 2
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 3
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 4
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 5
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 6
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 7
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 8
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 9
Kerala March Trip - Bird Collage 10

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Golden-fronted Leafbird - Chloropsis Aurifrons

Coorg hosts several birds. I'm yet to prepare a list of the birds that we saw at Coorg.
Yes, I get lazy at times. :-)
Among all the photos that I clicked, I couldn't identify one bird. The bird and its similar friends showed only their backs. When I was flipping through a book about Indian birds, I observed the similarity of the bird in the photo to a leafbird.
And then I was confused whether the bird was Golden-fronted Leafbird or Jerdon's Leafbird. Read and understood the differences between the two species, and then compared with the photo. Came to the conclusion that the birds were Golden-fronted Leafbird because the bluish moustachial patch did not cover the throat; if it covered, then the birds were Jerdon's Leafbird. I posted the photos on Indian Birds Facebook page, and requested experts to help me get the correct ID.
That's the beauty of birds! They mesmerize you as well as confuse you about their identify. ;-)
A few photos of these birds...


Sunday, 2 March 2014

Next set of birds that visit our garden

The next set of birds that visit our garden are the White-cheeked Barbets and Asian Koels (male and female).

We wake up to the calls of the Asian Koels. During mating season, their calls are sharper and can be heard throughout the day.


Friday, 28 February 2014

White-cheeked Barbet or Small Green Barbet - Megalaima Viridis

We hear the calls of White-Cheeked Barbet throughout the day. The Barbets flew from one tree to another at our garden and our neighbourhood. Sometimes these birds sit on buildings for a brief while. They live with other birds such as Bulbuls, Mynas, Pigeons, Crows, Parakeets, Kites, and so on. It's fun to quietly observe the White-Cheeked Barbets. I've had difficulty in getting a good photo of a still Barbet. Oh, they are active birds, refusing to sit tight at one place!

During afternoons, say by 3.30ish pm (IST), when I sit out at our terrace, I can see the White-Cheeked Barbets explore our Neem tree, Mango tree, and Christmas tree. I've counted about eight White-Cheeked Barbets; not sure if they are unique ones. I've to learn to identify uniquely the Barbets.

Yes, the White-Cheeked Barbets can be loud. Their pucock/kutroo call goes on the entire day. Well, they can also be quiet especially when exploring something. Slightest disturbance can cause these birds to take flight. Oh, the Barbets observe my cats-kitten and me when we sit out on terrace or play!

Happy weekend!


Friday, 21 February 2014

A few birds that visit our garden

Photo collage of a few birds that visit/reside at our garden/neighborhood :)
Top row: Barn Owl, Red-Whiskered Bulbul, Black Kite
Bottom row: Indian Golden Oriole, Rose-Ringed Parakeet (Female), and Spotted Dove

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Indian Golden Oriole - Oriolus Kundoo

Our garden attracts a lot of birds. These birds have become a part of our lives, and they tend to be comfortable with us around. When I work at our gardens (terrace and land), the birds don't mind me; they continue their business. Our mornings and evenings are filled with melodies from different birds. During Spring, throughout the day, we can hear their melodies. I enjoy capturing them through my eyes, and most of the times, I put my camera away.
Today, there was a surprise in store for me. I was photographing our little kitten, and oh, I see birds sitting close to our porch. Silently, I opened the door, and went out to get a closer look of the bird. Ah, it was the Indian Golden Oriole! Oh my God, what a Saturday Surprise! I clicked a photo of this lovely bird.
The bird neatly camouflaged with the dried leaves of our Neem tree. The lovely golden color of the dried Neem leaves and the golden color of the bird were amazing. The pale Red bill and the Black eye stripe (looks like eyeliner) made the bird look glamorous. I think this bird is a female; please correct me if wrong.

Growing a garden and nurturing it has benefits beyond imagination. Isn't it?
I am a happy person, indeed!
Indian Golden Oriole sitting on Neem tree

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Small Minivet - Pericrocotus Cinnamomeus

The story of Coorg continues. That day too I woke up before sunrise, and sat on a stone to watch the dawn. Was a beautiful sunrise! After a while, the birds started flying out of their homes, shaking off their laziness, and calling their friends.

A small group of Small Minivet birds occupied the trees, calling out swee-swee-swee. They hopped from one branch to another. Such active birds! The male birds looked stunning in the Orange-Yellow color of their belly (underparts) and a stroke of Orange on their wings. Their head and throat colored Black-Grey. The female birds have pale Grey upperparts, and Orange-Yellow to White underparts. These birds reside at woody areas, and are supposed to be widespread resident.


Monday, 20 January 2014

Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla Flava

It's been a while since updated this blog. Today being a beautiful Monday, I decided to write about a colorful bird and share a photo of it. :-)
Well, well, what did we (camera and I) get to admire? A graceful Yellow Wagtail! I happened to follow the bird's call - a high note of jeet. When I saw the bird, oh I was thrilled. I wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere or be anywhere; sat down on the ground to observe this bird. It sat on a wire, and then flew to a bush, and then flew on to the ground. The bird walked pretty with its tail wagging. The bird was scouting for insects, I guess.
What amazed me was that the bird seemed to tolerate human activities around it. People were walking and talking, kids running, and youngsters laughing. The bird went on with its business of finding something to eat. After a while, I bid goodbye to the bird, and headed home.

I enjoyed my serene moment with Mother Nature's elements today. Did you?
Yellow Wagtail

Friday, 10 January 2014

Wasp/Hornet Nest

Thank God, it's Friday! And thank Mother Nature for all the elements that She has beautifully created for a purpose.
Walking is a great habit. Gives an opportunity to stop for a while to admire the surroundings. During one such stroll, I found the wasp's nest on a Ficus tree. The wasps were busy flying in and out of the nest. The nest itself was a marvel; such an architecture!
The wasps make these nests from wood fibers, using their saliva to mix the fibers to form a paper-like material. The queen initiates the construction of the nest, and then let's the sterile female wasp workers to take over the construction. The size of the nest can approximately indicate how many females workers form the colony.
For more information, read Wasp (Wikipedia).


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Bicolored Frog - Clinotarsus Curtipes

Once when we returned home from work, we heard a frog croaking at our terrace garden. How the frog came to the terrace is a mystery. May be the water-bodies on the terrace had attracted the frog. We let the frog be, but after a while my in-laws could no longer take the continuous croaking of the frog. I caught it, and then let it wander at our land garden.
Remembered this incident when we saw a Bicolored Frog at the coffee estate at Coorg. One can easily miss to observe this frog. It camouflages well with the surroundings - mud and dried leaves. The adult frogs may play dead to escape predators.
Another interesting fact that Wikipedia mentions is - "The spot patterns on the backs are often distinctive enough to use for population estimation using capture and recapture techniques. Use of this technique in the Bisale Reserve Forest in Kodagu during January 1999 – July 2001 gave a population density estimate of 0.08–0.1 frogs per square metre." (Kodagu = Coorg)
The population of frogs has reduced at Bangalore. During our childhood, we would find so many frogs at our courtyards. We would make holes in piles of sand for the frogs to stay, called it frog house!

Though I've a lot of words, I shared the link of this write-up on Wordless Wednesday! What's wordless is the thought that ebbs in our minds about how to protect the frog population. :)
Bicolor frog at Coorg

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Giant Wood Spider or Golden Silk Orb-Weaver - Nephila Pilipes Jalorensis

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us with Her creations!
As we walked silently inside a coffee estate at Coorg, we saw several insects, birds, and small animals, and were able to absorb the positive energy from the surroundings.
When we saw the Giant Wood Spider, we had to stop, and awe the spider and its impressive web. The web was a large one, and delicately woven. The spider itself was big, bold, and colorful. The spider had covered the catch with its saliva, resembling a cocoon in the making.  Read more about the web spinning (by this spider) at Wikipedia.
This spider's venom may not be lethal to humans, but may cause irritation/allergic reactions. Please ensure that you stay safe, don't touch the insect or disturb it from its natural habitat.
Giant Wood Spider/Golden Silk Orb-Weaver/Nephila Pilipes Jalorensis


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Ashy Woodswallow - Artamus Fuscus

Wishing all of you a happy and a prosperous new year, 2014! If you thought I went missing from the virtual world, well, you are correct. :)
Our cat littered four healthy and lovely kittens, and that has kept me busy. Today, as I sat browsing through my photo albums, I found photos of this beautiful bird - Ashy Woodswallow - and decided that I must share the photo with you.
Sighted this bird at Coorg, on a cloudly morning. I walked around hoping I could spot birds, and voila, on a bare tree sat the Ashy Woodswallow. Wikipedia mentions that this bird is usually found in groups; however, I saw a lone one. I stood for a while to enjoy the sighting. I returned to the view-spot again that day and on the next day, but didn't sight this bird or its family/friends.
Well, I was lucky to spot at least one Ashy Woodswallow! Went back, made notes, and referred to online material/books to know about this bird. The bird has grey underparts, darker shade head, a silver colored beak, and short legs. Both sexes may resemble each other; however, it seems that the color of the mouth may be different. Both parents take part in building nest, incubating, and nurturing the chicks. The bird feeds on insects. The bird has special feathers called powder down; read more about it at the Wikipedia link that I have mentioned.
Each living being is beautiful and has a story about it. Joy engulfs us, when we modestly surrender to the creations of Mother Nature and swear not to disturb it.