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.