An evening with Asian openbill

It was an average monsoon evening,I was returning from my work via Mapusa market with my husband who picked me up from the bus stand. We took the route with less crowd to get to the main road after finishing vegetable shopping. [Info: Mapusa market is the biggest vegetable and fish market in North Goa and hence always crowded]. While crossing this beautiful lane divided by paddy fields, I spotted some storks feasting in the field under an almost clear sky. I first mistook them as Wooly necked stork with naked eyes and couldn’t stop myself from taking a few clicks from my mobile which of course didn’t turn out AT-ALL beautiful and the big storks looked like munias in the landscape. I some-how convinced my husband to come back the very same evening with the camera to get some nice shots. It was already cloudy when we were about to leave with the gears from home. Well, you in Goa its like sun and clouds are having love affair, they can’t stay away from each-other for long. ūüėČ We took the precautions on how to protect the camera and us as we don’t own a car yet. Anyways, we reached the field in 5 minutes only to find them gone. It was the only fear I had ,else-wise I would have come early morning the next day. I looked everywhere disappointingly when Mr.husband called out ” Hey, they are there”. They flew and changed the field on the other side of the road. Well, my happy eyes went big as I got my cam ready to shoot. Apperture, Iso, metering were all set and I was looking for a place to sit and track them, as they were kind a hiding behind the grasses in search of food in the mud. I found two of them first and then two more in the same field. They were 4 of them who made my evening ,a very beautiful one.

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Smooth flight.   EXIF:   f/6.3  SS:1250   ISO:2000  @600mm

Asian open bill stork

Asian open bill or Asian open billed stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. 

Scientific name : Anastomus oscitans

Why openbill? The name openbill is derived from the distinctive gap formed between the recurved lower and arched upper mandible of the beak in adult birds. The gap can be easily seen with a closer look. Their upper and lower beak touches each other at just the tip. Young birds do not have this gap. The cutting edges of the mandible have a fine brush like structure that is thought to give them better grip on the shells of snails (their main diet).

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Asian open bill.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2500  @600mm

Appearance: The body is greyish in non-breeding season which turns white in breeding season with glossy black wings and tail. They have short pink legs which turn reddish prior to breeding. The mantle is black and the bill is horn-grey. Juveniles are brownish grey and have brownish mantle.

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Take off.    exif:  f/6.3   SS:1/1250  ISO:2000   @600mm  .cropped image.

The Asian Openbill Stork is a broad-winged soaring bird, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained flight.

It is one of the smallest storks with their height standing at 68cm (81cm long) and wingspan of 149cm. Like all other storks, they fly with their neck outstretched. they are usually found in flocks but sometimes you may spot a single one usually in search of prey.

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About to land.   EXIF:  f/6.3   SS:1/640    ISO:1250   @403mm

Habitat: Their usual wetland would be inland wetlands. On agricultural landscapes, openbills forage in crop fields, irrigation canals, and in seasonal marshes. They may move widely in response to habitat conditions. They are named Asian as they are widespread and common in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand.

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Close up.    EXIF:  f/6.3   SS:1/320   ISO:1000   @600mm

Breeding and nesting: They breed near inland wetlands and build stick nest in trees, typically laying 2-6 eggs. They nest in colonies, with numerous nests in the same tree, up to 40 and more. Long courtship displays occur at the beginning of breeding season.

Incubation lasts about 27 to 30 days, and young fledge at 35 to 36 days after hatching.
Young birds stand and wait for adults. Parents approach the nest cautiously, and regurgitate the food.

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Habitat.    EXIF:   f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2500  @600mm

Fun fact: Adults shade their young in the nest, to protect them from sun. One of the parents stands in the nest with semi-open wings above the chicks.

Voice:¬†Asian Open bills are very noisy while flying in flocks.¬†Call is a mournful ‚Äúhoo-hoo‚ÄĚ.

Diet: Asian Openbill feeds mainly on molluscs, and particularly freshwater snails living in rice-fields and swamps. Prey is located by touch and sight. The gap in the bill allows good grasp of the snail’s shell. Asian Openbill walks slowly in shallow water, searching for prey. It extracts snail from the shell, with pointed lower mandible. They also consume frogs, crabs and large insects, and other small aquatic animals.

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Prey.    EXIF:  f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2000  @403mm

Flight: As said earlier they use warm air streams for rising in the air, and flies high in the sky. Then, it glides to destination. Landing is spectacular. Asian Openbill drops from the air with dangling legs, and lands just as a parachute.

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In th flight.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250   ISO:2000 @600mm

Asian open bills are one of the social birds and hence not so hard to get photographs. They fly too often and lands into the same wetland as mentioned above, giving beautiful opportunities to click.

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The flight.     EXIF:  f/6.3    SS:1/1250  ISO:2000  @600mm

I had an amazing time spent with these beautiful large wings and in the process gained some knowledge. I hope you have liked my article on Asian Open bill Stork.

My other blogs from About the bird series :

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Red Whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

White throated kingfisher (Halcyon pileata)

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Take off.    EXIF: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:2000   @600mm handheld

Untill next time, Keep birding and keep spreading love ūüôā

Much love,

Riya

 

 

Parra – A birding hour

Parra, as the name must be known to most of the Indians by now who watch bollywood movies as this beautiful location has been shown in the movie Dear Zindagi featuring Shahrukh Khan and Alia Bhatt. And also the movie poster featured beautiful parra. Parra is indeed a beautiful location to shoot and make videos. I have visited this parra panchayat area quite a few times in my 2 years stay in Goa but it only became my favorite when I saw the mesmerising sunrise there one lovely morning. Scooty ride is a must in that road while in a Goa stay. I don’t know why but I feel attached to this place. And now that I know its a wonderful place for birding as well, I have made it a special space in my heart. I couldn’t make it to the place at dawn again but whenever I visit, it reminds me of the glowing sun peaking out from the bushes while I sat on my scooty, my back facing the beautiful tiny, smooth road with long palm trees on both the sides [worth reason for its popularity]. It looks amazing on the screen but you have to be there to feel the essence of nature so close to you.

Talking of videos, we recently shot a video in this particular location for Ankit’s new original tune called “LIFE” which is now live on youtube. This music takes me to some unheard realizations of life,that Life is a mere journey in circles. You walk around in search of answers which are never found anywhere. But what you gotta do is keep moving. Moving on, moving up or moving away¬† but just keep moving. That is all LIFE is about. Isn’t it? I have tried to show it in the end of the video. Watch it in full HD and tell me what you liked more, the music or the location. Do come back in 3 minutes (plus buffering time :P) Here it is

Now enough about Life, lets get back to what I have come here for. Bird photographing. Well after shooting the video there, we went twice to have some getaway time with birds twice in this monsoon. We literally have to be mentally prepared for running away any moment as rain showers in Goa are so unpredictable. I leave this duty to my husband all the time (he is a good weather forecast for me), I simply listens to him when he says ‘time for pack-up’. So here I will show all the birds that I have spotted at anytime in Parra in my two wonderful short visits.

Birds are usually scattered here and there. You can see more than usual numbers of White throated kingfishers and bee-eaters on wires and branches.¬† But I always go somewhere to see something unusual, something that I haven’t seen before. New wings,new habits. Nature is very creative with its creations. The best examples are the birds. We cant imagine how many different varieties and colorful birds are there in this whole planet. lets see, what all I got to see in Parra till now.

I will start with the majestic beauty. Indian national bird. Indian peafoul

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A habitat shot of national beauty. Exif:: f/6.3 SS: 1/1000  ISO:400  @600mm

They were three of them that we chased that day until they vanished in the big bushes.Its always a pleasure to watch the national bird in its own habitat. Often heard a saying that they along with some other large birds destroy a lot of crops in Goa, and are hated by most of the farmers. But whatever it is, it just makes my mood whenever I watch them in the green grasslands, that is too often in rainy days ūüôā Yet to capture their rain dance though.

A landing egret. [I chose here one of the many images of each species that I clicked there, else wise it would have been a very long post with too many pictures of each species. For more images of a particular bird, I will give a link to my detailed post about that bird whenever and wherever available. I will keep on posting blogs about my new bird shots]

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About to land. Exif :: f/8.0    SS-1/1000   Iso-360   handheld  @ 360mm

Post on Egret: Egret

Oriental magpie Robin -juvenile

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Close-up.   Exif :: f/6.3   SS:1/1250    ISO:1250   @600m

I selected the closeup shot here as I liked the details on the young bird’s body against the natural green¬† background. I will use the bokeh background shots in my upcoming blogs. so stay updated with me.

Detailed post of Oriental Magpie robin: Oriental Magpie robin (Copsychus saularis)

A commoner White throated kingfisher

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Close up. EXIF:: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:800 @600mm

This is a close up image of white throated kingfisher I made,that took a perch on a high cemented post against a very dull sky. Check out full detailed post of White throated kingfisher here.

My favorite image from Parra session ,1st day, is of a very common water bird. Indian pond heron.

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Spreading the wings. EXIF:: f/6.3 SS:1/1600  ISO:640  @600mm

I loved how it showed its big wings with white underparts. Detailed post on Indian pond heron here.

A very fluffy green bee eater/ or may be Indian version of little bee eater.

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Look at me.  Exif:: f/6.3  SS: 1/800 ISO:1000 @600MM

Bee eaters usually perch on high wires and have been found hungry catching bees most of the time. This one for a change was having its own time alone with no intention to hunt. Have a look at a juvenile below.

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Juvenile green bee eater. EXIF::  f/6.3   SS:1/1250   ISO:800  @600MM

Here is one Red wattled lapwing image for you all.

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Red wattled lapwing. EXIF:: f/6.3   SS:1/1250   ISO:500 @600mm

A habitat shot of Red wattled lapwing. Rule of thirds works so well in habitat shots when your subject is in tact focus.

Lapwings are ground birds that cannot perch on a tree or wire, hence always a ground level image unless its flying which makes a beautiful composition because of its color against the lush green grasslands.


Now lets have a look at the small passerine birds that often went unseen by most of the people. But birders go hunt for their one sight. The little munias, weavers and finches are delight to watch. They are almost always together in quite a few number creating a chui-chui-chui sounds ūüôā

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House sparrow with nesting material. EXIF:: f/6.3  SS:1/1250  ISO:400 @600MM

House sparrows were too common when I was a child and was the only bird that was seen everyday in a big numbers except crows. North Indian people often consider sparrows when they use the word ‘chidiya‘ (hindi word for BIRD actually). So much known bird, but only decreasing in number day by day due to lack of habitat. They are hardly now seen in urban areas and hence a delight for¬† photographer to take some good shots before they go risk in the¬†extinction meter. (Wishfully they don’t).

Scaly beasted munia

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Scaly breasted munias feasting.

A large number of scaly breasted munias can be seen in Parra feasting at the ground with a few white rumped munias and baya weavers. I wish I could go ground level to get their better shot. But I had to do my job from the road while they enjoyed on the muddy field.

White rumped munia. Chose the close up one for better details.

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White rumped munia. EXIF::  f/6.3  SS: 1/1000  ISO:800  600MM

A bunch of them visited my house one rainy day. wait for my upcoming balcony birding posts.

One of my favorite weavers, BAYA WEAVER.

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Ms. Baya weaver .EXIF: f/6.3   SS:1/800sec   ISO:400 , spot metering  , no flash, hand held @600mm

I absolutely love how this close up image turned out and I thank the individual for perching close enough for a few seconds. Sadly I haven’t came across any baya weaver nest by now and I am eagerly waiting for that, and once I get that I won’t wait for a second to share with you all as they are known as the most intelligent birds with architectural qualities for their immensely brilliant nests they make.

An ashy prinia.

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Ashy prinia. EXIF::  f6.3  SS:1/1250sec  ISO=250  handheld @600mm

Again used rule of thirds to create this image of Ashy prinia which I often see these days from my balcony as well as they seem comfortable with me now. Knowing about new birds is always so fascinating but knowing new facts about the birds that were always around you is even more fascinating.

Learning and gaining knowledge has no end. So for me,its everyday that I learn something new. I am ending up my parra birding session with this beautiful shot of a common butterfly.

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Beautiful butterfly . EXIF::¬† f/6.3¬† SS:1/1250¬† ¬†ISO:640¬† @267mm¬† ūüėõ

Hope you all have enjoyed as I always do while creating up my post. And if you have any queries or you visit this place, don’t forget to leave a comment for me ūüôā

Some more images in my next post.:)

Until next time,

Much love,

Riya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chopdem birding continues…

Hey you peeps, having a cozy saturday? Cool! Don’t even have to get up from the couch. Its raining cats and dogs here and staying in is the best thing to do on a holiday. No raincoats,umbrellas and wet legs for a single makes me enjoy the rain even more. Its not that I complain on other days as I love monsoon. Everything is so green and fresh. Earth seems much more beautiful and lively.

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A tree full of black headed Ibis

Beautiful. Isnt it? Let the monsoon come everywhere. Plant trees and stop cutting trees in the name of development. What will the world do with the development if there will be no air to breathe and no water to drink? Spread the word!

In¬† my last birding post (Birding in Chopdem,Goa) I was in this beautiful spot clicking birds on a beautiful morning. Today’s post can be concluded as its continuation as I went on to this nearby spot to click some beautiful cattle egrets in full plumage colour. I see them often these days from vehicle’s window while traveling but hardly get to click them. So I wanted to give some special time to shoot them in complete silence. So it was the day.

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Plumage colours on an egret’s feathers

In my last post, I promised I would start with Swallows¬†, So this is it. While leaving Chopdem birding area, we ran into some swallows on a wire.I got so carried away clicking them , I was about to lean on a 2000 Volt electric poll. [ Thank god, I was accompanied by a responsible person to alert me soon enough, phew]. Keep exploring and clicking but with an active mind. Keeping yourself safe is the basic necessity. Isn’t?

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Wire tailed swallows
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Close up of a wire tailed swallow

As soon as we reached the farming space almost full of egrets and pond herons, I spotted a huge black crowned night heron.

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Black crowned night heron.

He was huge and calm, giving me time to get closer and get a few shots of him. I already knew I was going to have a great time there though Mr. Sun came up on us really fast making it hot and uncomfortable. Oh wait! Uncomfortable for whom? Not me when I am birding ūüėÄ

While my husband was setting up the tripod on a steady flat space near this crucifix, I was already into the mud and almost sat on the ground to be away as well as close (through my lens) to these feathered creatures. So here are few of the images that I got of the very pretty Cattle egret in breeding plumage.

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This is one of my favorite shots and had been my mobile wallpaper for all this time.

 

Different moods, different shots. First one with a little prey.

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In my opinion, this made a nice frame with wings half open and the egret being walking away with pride.

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Portrait, Cattle  egret.

And the mesmerizing portrait of this lovely egret.

while I was busy clicking the colours, my husband spotted a non breeding one in another mood variable.

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Though I wasn’t satisfied with clicking them, I went on and on.

 

Lets introduce their acompanies.

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face to face: Cattle egret and Pond heron

Stupid me, I couldn’t focus on both their eyes at the same time ūüė¶ as the heron was a little behind. Anyways, lets have a look at some Indian Pond Heron clicks with extended flexible necks.

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Indian pond heron

I found it very enchanting to click these really tall and thin ones as I usually come across the bulky and short pond herons who usually don’t stretch their necks a lot. But to my surprise these ones here did and looked really pretty I must say.

 

Different moods, different shots. Second one with little prey.

And finally a portrait with extended long neck.

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Portrait: cattle egret

All these shots were taken handheld with my Sigma 150-600mm contemporary OS lens and hardly been edited or post processed as they were naturally very pretty and full of colours. I really enjoyed watching their behaviors and activities in the morning time with some searching for breakfast, some flying here and there. So I got clicked myself at the end ūüėÄ

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Happy me ūüôā

A long ago, I had posted a blog on Egret (great egrets mainly), have a look if you want. ~ Egret

That was a beautiful sunday and so tomorrow should be. Make everyday beautiful by doing at least one thing that makes you happy. Every day is a special day as we got to live that one. On this note I will take your bid to see you soon again on my new post.

My other birding activities.

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Crab plovers taking off.

Until next time, Keep birding, keep smiling, spreading love ūüôā

Much love,

Riya

Birding in Chopdem,Goa

Hey beautiful people, I hope you all are having a great weekend as I am having. Well I am quite excited today about sharing my experience of birding in one of my favourite places in North Goa which doesn’t have a particular name(none that I know of). It’s just a beautiful sitting area along the smoothest road dividing a big lake into two halves, decorated with eye-catching street lights. I had first visited this place last year while being deputed in one of the banks nearby. This location can be termed as Parcem or chopdem as it occurs in between parcem and pednem in North-goa. Have a look at the location to soothe your eyes.

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Isn’t a painting.

We have also recorded two videos for my husband‚Äôs you-tube channel in this particular place. Now you know how much I love the way it has been decorated and maintained by the Goa govt. in recent years. You may also watch the videos if you love music or interested in fingerstyle guitar or just for the location as I loved filming and editing them afterwards. Do come back ūüėÄ

While shooting for the last video called ‚ÄúRight here waiting‚ÄĚ I spotted a few black-headed Ibis, the hovering kings‚Äô Pied kingfishers (high level of excitement) and a few others like cormorants and egrets and that is when I decided I will be back here again soon for birding with my sigma 150-600mm contemporary OS and my poddy (Osaka vct 100 tripod). And finally on 30.05.2018, that beautiful day arrived. Packing my camera bag, we reached the area by 8am at earliest as it was a cloudy day with very low light (early monsoons in Goa you see). As soon as we reached, I spotted two Indian Cormorants with fish kill too nearby. I jumped from the vehicle and unloaded my bag to get my camera ready only to find them flew away with their breakfasts. Couldn‚Äôt get a single shot but my optimism didn‚Äôt leave my side for once. Cormorant was first to show up so I will start with him.

Indian cormorant perched on its favorite stone in the middle of lake. I have quite a lot of mood variation images in my memory card that I loved clicking .

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Another individual drying up his wings (the most famous pose for cormorants). I have quite a few pictures of this individual in different poses,may be leave them for other time ūüėČ Stay put for my upcoming blogs.

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Great egret.

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The very pretty Little Egret in its dense habitat. Little egrets are my favorite egrets among I came across till date. This one looked amazingly pretty showing off her breeding feathers.

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Black headed Ibis. I am yet to get close enough to this one to get the details of its face and neck. Their eyes are jet black and hardly noticeable to focus from a long range. Yet I adore its beauty.

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Putting up another image of black headed Ibis having a breakfast snack( some snake). I intentionally didn’t clean up the messy background which I could have clearly because I want to convey this message that ‘ This is our mother land and animals are its children just as we humans are. Kindly don’t throw your garbage in your mother’s lap as you don’t do it with your biological mother.’ PS: people in Goa drinks more than they eat. Drink as much as you want, simply throw the cans and bottles into the garbage bins.

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Greater sand plover (breeding).You cant miss the waders when you are near a wet land.

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Lesser sand plover.

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Spotted Redshanks 

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Crab plover

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You can hardly miss out on an Indian pond heron (breeding these days)

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Now some of my favorites (KINGFISHERS of Goa)

The small or Common kingfisher. Thanks to my bird spotter for spotting this cutie as she perched on one of the most flowing branch)

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The very fast and loud Stork billed kingfisher. They can never go unnoticed if they are calling)

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The black and white Pied Kingfisher (I call them hover kings as they come and stay in the air for quite a sometime hovering while they look for prey in water or nearby, I guess they start their engine for diving in :D)

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Kites are the nature’s proof that everything is going good and well. Brahminy kite in flight.

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A cattle egret in flight.

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When we were about to leave this insanely favorite place of ours, we spotted some Wire tailed swallows as usual playing on a wire.

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I will start with this one in my next weekend’s continuation blog on bird watching in Chopdem. Do come back for even more eye shooting images of the beautiful cattle egret and more.

My gear- Canon + sigma

Follow me on social media for updates and more clicks.

Facebook page–¬†https://www.facebook.com/Riyasownspace/

Insta handle for more images and updates –¬†https://www.instagram.com/riya_insideout/

More birding activities if you are new to my space.:-

Birds of Panchgani

Mighty mahabaleshwar and birding

Carambolim lake bird watching -part 2

Carambolim lake bird watching (Part 1)

Agonda backwaters- bird watching in tranquility 

I will see you all in my next post.Till then happy birding. Keep clicking. keep smiling and spreading love.

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Good Night

Much love

Riya

Mighty mahabaleshwar and birding

So in my last blog, you have seen the birds that I have spotted in peaceful Panchgani. Yes I call it peaceful ,because peace means to find yourself, to explore your soul. And as per me, oceans and mountains have the capability to do that. You can listen to yourself along with the waves in silent nights and let the wings of your soul fly in the mighty mountains with the dawn. I found peace in Panchgani in the voice of birds. Nothing is more peaceful to me other than the chirping of the feathered creatures. Today I am going to explore the location more with beautiful landscapes,some portraits which looked automatically amazing in the environment and of course some more birds from our short trip to Mahabaleshwar.

If you missed my last post on “Birds of panchgani”, the link is here-¬†Birds of Panchgani

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So when you travel to some new place, what all things rush to your mind? Expectations about the beauty of nature, some leisure time, gateway from routine life and to have some family time. Isn’t it? For me,this trip was different. Some fresh air to breathe and no one else was my need,of course other than my other half. Where would I leave him anyways :D. I wanted to listen to my mind that needed a definite break from continuous process of regularity, learning and performing in life. Sometimes you should, you know. There is no one else on this planet who can listen to you better than yourself. I do that usually by spending some time alone in early morning or near a beach listening to the waves. Mountains ,though cant be any worse.

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Those high peaks far away, what does they say to you? They ask you to keep your head high and keep moving ahead until there is no more stairs to climb. Exactly like birds, they keep on trying reaching the top till the last. I have seen birds trying hard to cross the barrier of heavy wind and fly across. Many a times, they loose but then they wont stop trying. I feel like I have wings sometimes, when I ride my scooty alone in the deserted roads and in the locations with views like this. Let me tell you, the best feeling of freedom ever is to fly.

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Panchgani has peace and soul searching power where as Mahabaleshwar has enthusiasm and ecstasy, the spirit of living in the moment. Live it and love it. No reasons will ever justify your tears anyways.

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Pratapgarh Fort

I particularly find all the hills to be similar,then again I don’t stop travelling. You never know what is waiting for you. Keep exploring until you find the best version of you.

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I love  creating sunstars.

Now lets see some birds again from my 18-135mm usm lens.

#birdingwith135mm

Lets start with the cutest pair of my favorite lifer from the trip. Oriental white eyes. When you expect for least,this happens.

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Loved watching these cuties through my lens. Moving on to the next lifer. Brown cheeked fulvetta ,¬†couldn’t manage a better picture though ūüė¶

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Spending a whole evening in a park leaves you with some beautiful images and memories of experiences. Indian black lored tit with grasshoper kill. Watched this beauty taking its own time to finish the lunch on a very high perch.

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The very silent and beautifully perched Oriental turtle dove gave me enough time to capture him from different angles.

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And yes I never miss a chance to click our very own Red whiskered bulbul no matter how common they are.

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Also clicked a few eye catching flora from the gardens of maharashtra.

 

 

Let me take your bid and leave you with the most soothing view that everyone loves. The sunset from sunset/bombay point.

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I will see you all in my next blog. Till then happy birding , keep smiling and spreading love.

Much love

Riya

Birds of Panchgani

So, in the last weekend of April, we went to one of the nearby hill stations from Goa to celebrate one of our anniversaries. Luckily, it falls on the international labor day and we get a holiday every year. Taking one day-leave on monday making it a long weekend we opted for Mahabaleshwar in South Maharashtra which is around 360 km from north-Goa. It was about to be a leisure trip and being very excited about clicking a lot of landscapes and portraits, I took along my favorite Canon 18-135mm lens only. Unaware of bio-diversity of the area, we had planned one-day stay in panchgani on the way to mahabaleshwar to explore the most of it in least time. Only didn’t we know that that its going to be the best decision of the whole trip. After completing our journey from mapusa by bus and then cab, we landed in panchgani early morning (5am). As soon as we deboarded the cab to step towards our hotel, I already fell in love with this place. Only thing that could fall on my ears was the¬†bird chirp. Staring at the not-so-high trees and birds calling loud on them, we reached our hotel which has a beautiful valley view. I could say one of the bests in panchgani or even in mahabaleshwar if you want to feel the nature close-by.

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It was the best possible time and I couldn’t keep my feet inside anymore. Taking my cam and lens which could max go upto 135mm,I went down the valleys near our room. So this post is going to be the birds I spotted and clicked with my landscape/video lens in panchgani and to be continued till my next blog about mahabaleshwar.

#birdingwith135mm

Some pigeons were nesting on the top of the balcony, but I hardly click them. All my attention were grabbed by bulbuls and their loud chirps. I have enough encounters with red-whishkered bulbuls at my place, but they were the red-vented ones that caught me. Turn you face any where and there is one.

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Then these oriental magpie robins who looked stunning perching on wires against the beautiful mountains.

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Clicking quite a few , I went down a little in hope of getting some nice and close shots. A few house-sparrows on a tree.

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The most I could see and not hear were the jungle babblers. The hopping bird I call them.

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They were every where, on the roads, on the trees, roofs , hopping around every here and there carrying breakfast.

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Being wandering around the place, I couldn’t miss this view of the house-pigeons and the mountains.

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When I returned room, I had a home visitor. Red whiskered bulbul (who I guess ,missed me being away a little while ;))

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After having breakfast , we finally left for the tour which basically started and ended in the Table-land which was huge and showcases many view points from a single land. One could easily take a horse ride but we preferred walking as we wanted to explore on our own and take a lot of pictures, ofcourse :P. While walking on the table land I got my first lifer there, Oriental Skylark.

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The lark family member took the best possible perch and posed for us. But I loved him more in its habitat.

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Moving on, we came across another very small bird that almost camouflaged with the dirt and soil. Oriental Pipit 

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There are always some beautiful wings to watch in the air. Brahminy kite.

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There were a few more around our hotel area that were unreachable for me. I wished for a moment, I had my zoom lens but then again there is some positivity in everything around you. Its just been 2 months , I have been using 150-600mm lens and yet not capable of holding it for a long time. So for a trip (not birding trip at least)I would prefer to carry lighter lens with me and enjoy the freshness of nature more.

Indian black bird.

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The unreachable starling.

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I am going to continue birding and photographing untill my next blog about the mighty mountains of Mahabaleshwar. I don’t know how much I am capable of writing about the nature’s majestic beauty, but then I am a human being and I can only try.

My other birding activities-

Carambolim lake bird watching (Part 1)

Carambolim lake bird watching -part 2

Agonda backwaters- bird watching in tranquility 

Birding in Assonora, Goa

Birding from home

There is no end to one’s imagination and creativity, similarly there is no end to one’s passion and activities. I will see you all in my next blog. Untill then have a beautiful time.

Much love

Riya

Carambolim lake bird watching -part 2

Hello and welcome to the second part of the Carambolim lake bird watching. You have already seen the picturesque location in my last blog. If you haven’t read it yet ,its here for you, read it and come back ūüôā ->¬†Carambolim lake bird watching (Part 1)

So now that you have already seen the variety of birds that can be found in this amazing place, I am gonna share with you few more exquisite images of the birds that I have captured on the same day i.e. 31st of March 2018. Carambolim is one of those bird hubs in Goa that any amateur or professional wildlife enthusiast from Goa or nearby states should visit at least once or may be every year in winter. Most of the migratory birds can be seen in winters mainly november to february. But you may also visit in till April or may. And obviously the best time for birding would be sunrise till 8am and evening before sunset. The lake spreads so wide with numerous waders and water birds flying here and there is such a beautiful scenery to watch. Even if you are not an avid birder or photographer, just carry a pair of binoculars to have an amazing time with nature’s own creation.

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Carambolim lake.

Now that we have known about the place and location lets get into what we call ‘bird watching’. I am again starting with¬†Grey headed swamphen here as this place is known for these wetland birds with a board of their pictures saying “Carambolim lake-Important bird area”.

 Into the wetland:

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Greyheaded swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)

As you move more through the narrow pathway you will be bombarded with opportunities to click a lot but don’t forget to carry your patience.

Black tailed Godwit

 

 

I was lucky to found some in their breeding plumage. They look amazingly pretty.

 

 

Common greenshank

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The common greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Indian pond heron

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Indian pond heron (Ardeola grayii)

Little Egret

 

 

Paddyfield pipit or oriental pipit

 

 

Glossy Ibis (in breeding plumage)

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The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Moving forward towards some wild birds sitting on a very high wire with prey. Blue tailed bee-eaters

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Blue tailed bee eaters

Admiring the beauties of the lake we moved a little further in search of one of the migratory birds “Pied Avocet”¬†(the only individual left in Goa by april)¬†. Though it was really far away under the raising sun , I managed to get an okay shot just for the identification along with a lot of stilts and godwits.

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The pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

It was farthest we could reach, after that we returned to have a look around the carambolim¬† where some famous ‘lesser whistling ducks’ were residing who decided to flew away together as soon as we reached. So no lesser whistling ducks this time. :(. We stopped at this beside lake with pillars area to watch a few Ibis and swamphens.

Indian pond heron

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The Indian pond heron  (Ardeola grayii)

Moving forward to the left side of the road, there were a bunch of swamphens residing. Spent a few moments there to admire the Ibis’s.

Glossy Ibis

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The glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

Black headed Ibis or Oriental white ibis 

 

 

I had a great time in and around carambolim lake and anytime ready to spend some more hours there. Will definitely visit again in winter to spot some more migratory birds. I take your bid this time till my next blog. Have a great time you all. happy birding.

Much love,

Riya.

Carambolim lake bird watching (Part 1)

Carambolim lake is one of the most hyped bird watching stations in Goa. Just a few kilometers to the south-east of the old Goa, this lake exist in Tiswadi taluka in the surrounding of country side Carmali. It is a man made irrigation plot of rice fields which turned into an exclusive habitat for the migratory waders and waterfowl.

True to the facts, this picturesque place is very rich in biodiversity. Being heard about this place ,I traveled once with my partner while in Old Goa fest one fine afternoon. It was a very hot day and couldn’t spend much time to spot as many birds this lake offers. Hence I wanted to visit again. I made an on-line friend through bird watching groups in facebook and luckily she resides in the carambolim lake area. No one could stop me this time. On 31st march 2018, I along with my all time partner packed my gear backpack and left for the bird watching site. It took around 40 mins to reach and she was already there to show me places which I missed last time. I was carrying my gears along with my Osaka VCT 880 tripod which I love from the core of my heart to not miss any perfect shot.

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This is just a part of the carmbolim lake

There are 2-3 sites/locations in the carambolim lake area which one can explore for bird watching. Started from the watch tower, we were accompanied by another bird enthusiast who is very good with bird names and their breeding plumages (happy to have meet him).

I still did not count the number of species that I spotted there because it was many. Hence I am dividing my blog into 2 parts to cover all the beautiful wings and lifers (Some are residents so one can see them anytime of the year). This is the part 1.
From the bird watching tower:

The most common resident of carambolim lake is the Grey headed Swamphen or purple swamphen. As soon as you reach the tower, you will see a few of them

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Grey headed swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)

Along with them there were some bronze winged jacanas enjoying their wetland habitat.

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Bronze winged jacana (Metopidius indicus)

Taking their few shots, I climbed up to the tower to spot some wild birds. Except of Cormorants and darters in a distant dense tree(which is their home), I could find nothing on the trees nearby irrespective of the various bird calls.

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Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Oriental darter

As soon as we were about to leave the tower area to go to the widespread wetland ,our birder accompany spotted a Indian Grey Hornbill.


Into the wetlands:

I semi packed my lens and hopped onto my partner’s scooty to discover the very rural roads that led us to the beautiful ,huge open-land, a little paradise for bird lovers. A narrow walk-worthy pathway scattering the wetlands in two halves. Move your eyeballs anywhere and you will see water birds everywhere- Stilts,pipits,stints,godwits, swamphens,egrets etc. in big bunches. I picked up some of my favorite shots.

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Grey headed swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus)

Little stint

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The little stint (Calidris minuta) (or Erolia minuta) ~ This picture got recognized in top 25 birds in national geographic blog by wild bird trust published on 13.04.2018

It is a really cute little wader I loved watching. You have to see it through your eyes to believe how little they are. Few more captures of one of my favorite waders.


Marsh sandpiper

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The marsh sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)

Black winged stilt

There are few more birds that I spotted and captured that day like egrets,godwits,avocet,herons,bee eaters,ibis,etc. that I will continue in my next blog “Carambolim lake part 2” next week. Untill then happy birding.

My gear- Canon + Sigma

Location- Carabolim lake, Goa ( highly recommended- early morning will be pleasurable)

Much love

Riya

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Hey all the beautiful bird lovers, today is the 3rd episode of the series I have started naming “About the bird“. Though I am two days late to my weekly schedule of the series blog post due to some sudden official tour we had to make. So I am in one of those small and unknown places of our country where google also cant finds you out. ūüėÄ So the best thing I can do here is to pack myself inside the hotel room and spend some time alone with my wordpress family. Its 38 degrees scorching heat outside and no point in going anywhere in search of wings because I am gonna get nothing here.Being staying here for already two days made me realize that what I have there in Goa,in our rented appartment, my balcony,beautiful mornings and silent nights. I miss waking up to bird chirps (especially my kingo’s alarm call and bubbly bulbul songs -I guess I have gained a beautiful habit in here).

PS- I call white throated kingfisher as my Kingo¬† (named actually by my bird enthusiast friend Leena, I stole it from her). I love calling him that. ūüėÄ

So lets get into today’s session .

[ HIGH BRIGHTNESS RECOMMENDED FOR BETTER IMAGE RESULTS ]

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Indian Pond herons , commonly known as paddybird due to its occurrence in almost all the paddy fields and wetlands in India and east Asia. Scientifically called as Ardeola grayii, Pond herons are considered to be small in heron family. Sized almost medium and can be seen near water areas and also in urban areas now a days.

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Taking a usual perch and stays for sometime on the   same perch.                                                                      Exif:  f/6.3 |exposure: 1/100 sec |ISO:800 |   @500mm

One of the most widespread herons in India, they are known to be co-existing with humans as they choose to make their habitats(nests) along with urbanization (in cities and towns) though their wide variety of habitats includes rivers, lakes, marshes, mangroves, streams and paddy fields. I have seen quite a few of them here and there everywhere like construction buildings,damp houses , nearby busy roads besides natural habitats.They prefer to live in low lands but may also be found in higher altitudes like nilgiri hills which lie more than 2000m above sea level.

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Talking of urban civilization.     Exif:  f/6.3 |exposure: 1/640 sec |ISO:200 |

They weigh around 230 grams and sized around 40-45cm when  adult and large beautiful white wide span ranges around 70-90cm. Unlike their usual grey stripes, their wings looks bright white when they fly. They have short neck, short thick bill and greyish-brown back/feathers with greenish large legs and yellow eyes.

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Beautiful feather.  Exif:  f/6.3 |exposure: 1/60 sec |ISO:800 |

Usually Pond herons are silent in nature but they have a harsh croak when they call.

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Astonished! Exif:  f/6.3 |exposure: 1/160 sec |ISO:100 |   @600mm

Indian pond herons feed on¬†small fish, frogs, crabs, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, bees, fly, baby turtles, leeches and other crustaceans. They are very skilled killer. They silently stalks its prey by walking very slowly and waits for quite a while before they gets the chance to ambush. I like to call them “shatir dimag” in hindi (skilled and trained brain). Their usual feeding habitat is near the marshy wetlands. They usually feed on the edges of the pond/water body but they may sometimes swim to fish or catch fishes diving in while on a flight.

 

This guys are experts in camouflage when they are tracking a prey. They are so silent, one will easily miss one of  these being a real close. One moment you see nothing, the other moment, you see one fly away with a prey in a splash.

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Camouflage in marsh water .Exif:  f/7.1 |exposure: 1/640 sec |ISO:250 |

Their breeding season starts with the onset of monsoon mainly from may to september but they are also found to be breeding before may in southern India and sri lanka. They usually breed in small groups of same species ,sometimes with other herons too. They look admirable when breeding with white -grey plumage. Their feet changes its colour to yellow then red in some individuals.

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Indian Pond heron showing plumage colours.                       Exif:  f/6.3 |exposure: 1/800 sec |ISO:800 |   @600mm

Most nests are built at a height of about 9 to 10 m in large dense trees. The nest material is collected by the male while the female builds the nest like most other bird species.. Three to five eggs are laid that takes around 18 to 24 days to hatch. Both parents feed the young and take part in upbringing. They sometimes reuse old nests that were left untouched since last years.

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Close up of an Indian Pond heron. Exif: f/6.3  exposure: 1/640  ISO:200 @500mm

Recently talking about Indian pond heron with few of the locals I know in Goa, I came to know that few of the villagers in India used to make heron dishes like they have been used as fishes and boiler chickens to feed on. I was disheartened hearing that but was relaxed after knowing that Indian forest department is taking action against those who were hunting pond herons and other water birds.

Location: Goa, India

Gears used: Canon + Sigma

So this is it for today’s bird session people. I will see you all in my next blog. Till then happy birding. Stay blessed and share love.

Much love

Riya

 

Red Whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

Hello lovelies,

First of all, a very happy and warm new year wishes to all my bengali and punjabi friends( I belong to both the communities :D) May your life gets better each year. And for me,may this year brings more and more opportunities for photographing the most beautiful creations of God i.e. birds.

In my last week’s post, I have started a series on “About the bird” with my very first post on White throated kingfisher. If you haven’t read it yet, HERE’s the LINK.

So today’s post is on yet another one of the most beautiful yet common bird in India and outside.

Before we start, I want to share a little, very little, happiness of mine. There is a non profit organization called “Wild bird Trust” who runs a blog on behalf of National Geographic and shares “Top 25 birds of the week” ever week depending on the theme of that particular week. So last week’s theme was “The birds that were saved by MBTA (Migratory birds Treaty Act-1918)” and one of my images was selected in this week’s Top 25 birds. The selected image is of ‘Little Stint‘ that I clicked in Carambolim lake in Goa on 31st of march 2018. Have a look.

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Little Stint . Exif:  f/7.1  exposure-1/320 sec   ISO-100  @484mm

Feel free to have a look at the Top 25 birds by National Geographic for the 2nd week of April 2018. -> https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2018/04/13/top-25-mbta/

By now, you all must be knowing that I use my nick name ‘Riya Roy Pahuja’ as an alias for my photographs.

NOW, lets get back to business ūüėČ Today’s lesson.

Red Whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

Red Whiskered bulbul or crested bulbul¬† (Scientific name –¬†Pycnonotus jocosus) is a passerine bird found in Asia and one of the most common in bulbul (Pycnonotidae)¬†family in western ghats (where I live). I can say this because I meet them every morning ūüôā

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The beautiful perch.  Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/800sec   ISO-100  @600mm

Bulbul family has around 150 species ,out of which a very few are residents of India. Red whiskered bulbul sized around 20cm in length and considered as a medium sized bird. Not easily recognized from a very far distance but quite easily distinguishable from a little closer.

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 Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/640sec   ISO-320  @435mm

Unlike Yellow throated bulbul, which is the state bird of Goa, Red whiskered bulbuls have a beautiful black crown on their head and red face patch makes the beautiful cherry cheeks with white patch on lower ear-coverts bordered below by black moustachial stripe.

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 Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/500sec   ISO-500  @600mm

The upper body parts are almost brown with white under parts with a dark patch running onto the breast at shoulder level. They have not-so-curvy beaks, long tails (with terminal feather tips )and sharp feet that rolls around the tree branches making it easier for them to perch on almost everywhere and anywhere.

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The portrait.  Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/800sec   ISO-100  @600mm

They live for around 11 years. But they make sure they are heard till they die. Their very distinctive 3-4 note call “kink-a-joo”¬†can be heard almost all the time when there is a red whiskered bulbul nearby. Their call has been described as “nice to meet you” at some places and their song is called the scolding chatter.

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Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/800sec   ISO-250  @600mm

They are mostly seen in groups of 2-4 and love to sit on the top of tree branches and call loud in the mornings(sometimes with other bulbul species too). They love to fly and change perch frequently but seems like never wanting to break the bond.

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The pair .   Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/800sec   ISO-800  @484mm

Red whiskered bulbuls feed on fruits, flower nectars and insects.

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Breakfast. Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/500sec   ISO-500  @600mm

This active species resides in lightly wooded areas, open forest, gardens, orchards, bushes around villages and cultivation. This particular bulbul is known to be a famous cage bird ( ūüė• ) in south east Asia, once in India too ,but thankfully not any more.

[ My personal view : I don’t support caging of birds as they belong to wild and had been created by nature in such a way that they can adjust with the wildness of their habitat. Human interference only disturbs them. ]

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Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/800sec   ISO-320  @361mm

They breed once or twice in a year. Season includes december to may in southern India and march to october in northern India. Males usually bow their head, spread the tail and droop their wings as courtship display.

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Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/200sec   ISO-100  @600mm

I often get chance to photograph these little beauties and I call them my friends/sisters as I see them having their breakfast and singing. My husband has started calling me ‘bulbul ‘ so you may understand the relationship between bulbuls and I ūüėÄ

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Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/500sec   ISO-500  @600mm

While they fly, they display their white under parts and shades of brown and white through their wings. Currently they are my alarm clock. I love to wake up with their songs ūüôā

 

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Exif:  f/6.3     exposure-1/320sec   ISO-500  @600mm

My gear- CANON + SIGMA

Location-Goa,India

So this is it for today’s birding session nature loving people. I hope you have gained some knowledge as I did while documenting all about Red Whiskered bulbul. I will see you all on next birding session. Till then happy birding. Be blessed.

Much Love,

Riya