Zuari river ride ~ Birding in Goa

A warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrate animal distinguished by the possession of feathers, wings, a beak and typically by being able to fly“- that is how a ‘bird’ has been defined in dictionary. And when you want to photograph these splendiferous creatures, you have to be a part of the silence. You have to be voiceless and blend in with the nature’s quietness. Whenever I am out there in nature, I automatically hush myself no matter how much I
want to shout with excitement when I get to see a lifer or a very beautiful perch or some behavioral enactment by the birds.

Kamat crocodile station

And if you want to experience silence with fresh earthy feeling and chirps falling on your eardrums, a river cannot be the last place you think off . One such tranquilizing experience one can get at this beautiful river boat ride. This
experience is exlusively provided by ‘Kamat Crocodile Station’ below the zuari river bridge in south Goa,India by Dr. Varsha Kamat, A very heart warming lady who has two very talented boat riders and bird guides Frankie and Royson working with her helping out tourists and photographers (mainly bird enthusiasts) taking beautiful photographs of the rare birds that can hardly be seen with normal people with their naked eyes. Both of them are gifted with bird spotting eyes with amazing skills to get close to the birds without disturbing them at all.

Zuari river

Starting our journey from north Goa, we had plans to reach Agonda beach which was our stay for two days to cover Netravali Wildlife sanctuary , Cotigao WLS and few very less visited and less crowded beaches of south Goa in the first week of February 2019. I thought of giving zuari river boat ride (of which I heard a lot about) a try which was on the way to Agonda on this beautiful Saturday morning. I already had a talk with Mrs.Kamat the previous day and she provided me with all the details and when we reached there at around 7am , we found out that we get the 10-12 seater boat all by ourselves as there were no more participants that morning.. yee lottery 😀

As we sat on the boat, I got my gear ready to shoot with probable useful settings. I usually don’t carry tripod on-the-go trips for more flexibility and less hastle. Mr. husband was taking out his binoculars (that’s what he is best at ) while I was a bit conscious/witty and talking to Royson about getting the birds that were on the top of my list for that day. And those were 2-3 types kingfishers (that I havn’t seen yet then), peregrine falcon, sea eagle and other raptors.
And our journey on the Zuari river started..

We were not much far that we spotted a western reef heron. Got pretty good pictures when the heron was waiting on the bottom of one of the pillars of the huge bridge.

Western Reef Heron

We moved a bit and Royson spotted the bird I was waiting for, the peregrine falcon from a good distance. I never knew the fastest bird in the whole wide world is that small for a raptor. We went as close as possible and took some shots but was not amazingly satisfied as it didn’t decide to move from the nut-bolts of the bridge. Wish to get this awing raptor in its wild habitat sometimes.

Peregrine falcon

A big size for a wader was our next sighting. A very pretty Eurasian curlew with a long beak.

Eurasian curlew

The western reef heron was again spotted fishing along with a grey heron , a sandpiper ,a few more water birds and some egrets of course.

Western reef heron

A bold and beautiful brahminy kite roosting here.

Brahminy KIte

 

Time for kingfishers 😀 . A common kingfisher decided to be alone and sat on the wooden stick in the middle of nowhere, all by itself.

Common kingfisher

Next was the time for the very eye catching bright blue colored bird waiting for us from a very far distance. The Black capped kingfisher was spotted and we get nearer to it safely as it changed its perch quite a few times. Finally it was closer sitting idle on the fishing net for a few seconds for me to make images before it flew away in the dense marshlands along with a white throated kingfisher.

black capped kingfisher

A black crowned night heron was spotted from a close distance as our boat moved close to the mangroves. So I took the opportunity to click some closeups of the large beauty.

Black crowned night heron

It was again time for the some kingfishers and this time it was one of my best sighting of any bird in its own personal habitat for a good long time. Can say about 10 mins, that a very very bold and majestically beautiful Collared kingfisher showed off its white collar to us changing just 2-3 perches before it vanished in the marshes. More than just taking shots, I thoroughly enjoyed watching it calling for its mate not annoyed with us being around. That is where you actually listen to the silence.

Collared kingfisher

After spending the good time that we could with the white collared gentleman ,we moved on to see a beautiful couple absolutely blending in with the environment.Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture the female one . So here is a very pretty Orange breasted green pigeon beautifully camouflaging with the tree leaves.

Orange breasted green pigeon

A flock of rosy starlings caught my attention while the bird eyers were looking for some unusual birds.

Rosy starlings

Talking of unusual , here comes the first one. Obviously my lifer and a hard to photograph bird with astonishing features. The blue faced malkoha. I had a hard time while getting to see it only. So only this shot was possible
from the position on the boat. I was happy to at least see the beauty which was not in my expectations list.

Blue faced malkoha

After we struggled with taking pictures of the malkoha was waiting for us the the bird of the day,which absolutely took my heart. A bird of prey- OSPREY. It was visible in the open on the river from quite a long distance. I just hoped it stays put till we reach closer. And it did. It absolutely did and I would thank Frankie for the beautiful 180 degree view of the bird that I am in awe with still, before it took off gracefully right infront of us.

Osprey
Osprey taking off

But with osprey , my hopes for seeing a sea eagle on perch and other eagles flew away too as we couldn’t spot a single one. So we turned our boat to return back to the riverside. As the name of the ride organizers suggest “The Kamat crocodile station”, the tour couldn’t complete without a crocodile right? So here is the one I forgot to talk about all this while.. The Indian mugger or marsh crocodile

Marsh crocodile

I enjoyed watching a lot of herons and egrets along the sides while our boat reached from where we started.

Indian cormorant

After this beautiful memorable river ride ,we took off for our next destination towards South Goa. Lets keep it until next time.

At kamat crocodile station, Zuari

Thanks for reading.

Other bird watching activities :

Ganeshgudi~ A birder’s paradise

Migratory Bird Area, North Goa

Birding in Pilerne lake, North Goa

An evening with Asian openbill

Stay happy , stay beautiful , keep birding. 🙂

Until next time

Much love,

Riya ❤

Migratory Bird Area, North Goa

Hello folks. I am already a week late to wish you all an amazing new year 2019. May all your wishes come true this year and hope you start doing whatever you have planned and failed to start doing till now. Because you know what, its very important to start, to make the first move, because if there is no 1st move, there will never be a second and you can never achieve what you want. Hence, make the FIRST move. Speaking of first, I am here sharing my first post of the year and it had to be a birding one.. So here it is- my another very beautiful experience of birding adventures in North Goa.

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The next sunday after my Pilerne lake bird watching activity , I was looking for some place nearby to bird. My husband suggested borda lake, as he had heard about the lake from some one but did not have much knowledge about birds being there. I started googling the same and what I end up with this amazing place in Donwaddo in Salvador-do mundo. What we understood is that Borda lake must be somewhere closeby to this area or one of the waterbody in here are named as borda. May be next time when we explore more over that lake, we will know the difference (if there is any).

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This migratory bird watching place is very easy to reach. What all you need is a smart phone with GPS on 😀 Just ask google to take you to “ Migratory birds Area in North Goa”. The first search option will take you to Donwaddo. It is a huge marsh/ wetland seperated with a well maintained pitch road. AS soon as my eyes struck the board, I wanted to jump off of the activa, but I waited till it stopped as it was been ridden by my husband who accompanied me to have a beautiful december sunday morning in nature.
The day started off with beautiful sighting of brahminy kites .We had to stop there and then. The whole landscape was worth skipping a breath. There were more than few adult kite taking the most stunning perch on one broken branches each within a circumference.

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Brahminy kite

After spending few moments taking snaps and satisfying eyes, we moved on to my first lifer Siberian stonechat -female.As it was road side, I quickly set up my tripod to have more stable pictures of my lifer.

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Siberian stonechat

I was not quite happy with its perch on wire and that’s when a little big bird came and sat a meter away from the little one. I turned my cam to find out its a long tailed shrike. Another lifer 😀

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Long tailed shrike

I followed the shrike for sometime till it gave me most beautiful natural pose. As a bonus, he was hungry and had a breakfast bite infront of me. After getting close up and eye level shots of the shrike we moved ahead a bit.

 

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Long tailed shrike

There was this very little blue kingfisher flying here and there not letting me capture him even for a second. While I was tracking the little cutie, a spotted dove flew and sat in one of the bushes closeby. It was that close that my zoom couldn’t even capture its whole body. As I was struggling with zooming in-zoom out , it obviously flew away. (PS: I need more practice :P) But a quite ok shot of a lifer is good to go.

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Spotted dove

My next shot was that of a Stork billed kingfisher. A big sized kingfisher with red lipstick beak with  really loud voice. I cropped off the body part to keep the cemented perch out of my frame. So here is a close up of Mr. Stork billed kingfisher.

 

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Stork billed kingfisher

As we moved ahead, we saw a number of egrets, black winged stilts on one side and a few cormorants on another. As we went a little further, there is an offroad on the right side which we took and decided to take the vehicle along. And there I got some of the very beautiful shots.
Common or little kingfisher (finally on a clean perch)

 

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Little blue kingfisher

Indian cormorant (preening)

 

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Indian cormorant ( drying up wings)

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Oriental darter (shining as a star)

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Oriental darter stretching its long neck further

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We rode till we couldn’t ride anymore. I loved that particular village road. It has what we call “PEACE”. I had my moment with serenity (as always) and we turned back to reach the starting point again. I still had hopes to see a few more birds on the go and get some really good frames.
Purple heron (perfectly camouflaged with the dry grasses)

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Egret escape as I call it

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Grey Heron (habitat shot)

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Common sandpiper

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I saw a bunch of black headed Ibis having a gala. So I waited for a few moments to capture some good flight shots. Here are my favorite ones.

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I would end up the blog here today with almost where I had started. A long tailed shrike close up.

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And a frame shot of sandpiper. Good night you amazing people. Be blessed and have a
prosperous year ahead.

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Other birding activities:-

Prey Prey everyday!

Monsoon vibes with birdies

An evening with Asian openbillAn evening with Asian openbill

Parra – A birding hour

Birding in Chopdem,Goa

etc,etc….

Much love,
Riya

 

 

 

Birding in Pilerne lake, North Goa

With a hope of not having a too hot day, I pulled up my camo pants , hung up my gear bag on shoulders, started my Activa and followed the lady on google maps towards Pilerne lake in Penha de Franca , Alto Porvorim which is hardly 9km from my place in Mapusa but sadly, I had never been there before. But as its said, its never too late. Pilerne lake was my kickoff start to birding this very season after a gap of months. And I am determined this time to not get loose on it. So it was beautiful Sunday morning when I reached this lake at around 7.15am. It has a ‘Bird watching Point board’ showing a few bird images with a small sitting area with 2 benches making it a quite place to sit and relax overlooking the big,beautiful pilerne lake. I parked my Caty ( that’s what I call my Activa 😉 ) beside a bench and stood for a minute. As soon as my eyes struck to a waterhen besides the white flowers I quickly unzip my bag to bring out already set camera and went down the stairs only to never find that waterhen again throughout the morning. Waterhen didn’t show up, no issues, I had my other lifers for the day.

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Pilerne lake, North Goa

To start the day, I had this close encounter with the little blue kingfisher or the common kingfisher which is actually not very common anywhere in Goa. It perched for me on tree branch ,then on the stair railing and then on this beautiful stone with background full of flowers.

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Common kingfisher or river kingfisher

 

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Common kingfisher in pilerne lake

Pond herons are everywhere near any kind of water stream in the konkan state. I quickly made a few frames as nothing is more natural and beautiful than the combination of flower,water and wader.

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Indian Pond Heron

Then I turned my camera towards a non-water tree branch where two red whiskered bulbuls came to have breakfast. It is one of the most common birds in the area but I still don’t miss a chance to capture them feeding. They appear very pretty with the crown.

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Red whiskered bulbul

And there comes my first lifer of the day. White browed bulbul. Supposedly it replaced the red whiskered bulbuls and took the perch. It quite gave me a few moments to capture him satisfying myself. Aah, it is a pretty bulbul.

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White browed bulbul

There were this couple on a scooter that disturbed me while clicking this beauty to
show me a bird taking a high perch across the lake. I quickly told them, its a white throated kingfisher and way too far and turned to found out the bulbul was gone. I was quite okay as I had already made my shots.

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White browed bulbul

Talking of WTKF ( white throated kingfisher), there has to be atleast one WTKF for me everywhere I go. My kingo never leaves my back :D. Here I got this individual on natural perch with a fresh seafood for breakfast.

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White throated kingfisher with fish kill

Again I made a few more captures on this one. As close I go to them, I feel delighted with their details.. Sparkling feathers I say..

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white breasted kingfisher

My next target was to capture the snake birds (Oriental darter) that were flying in a circular manner over the lake for some time. It was my bad day for flight shots and I got a good shot only in water.

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Oriental darter

I waited for them to feed but they weren’t hungry I guess.
Made a few take off shots I wanted to share with you people.

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Oriental darter taking off

While the beautiful butterflies surrounded me as I sat on the lowest stair to get the water level shots of the darter, my eyes got glued to a very pretty duck who seemed alone on the whole water body. I zoomed in to 600mm, make my mind to have a reflection shot as it came a little closer. It was a stunning “Little Grebe”. My first of its kind. I was greatly pleased from inside to have captured my another very beautiful lifer of the day.

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Little grebe , pilerne lake

Also happen to spot a group of lesser whistling ducks moving away from my side of the lake. One leading the others way. Love to watch their landings all together.

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Lesser whistling ducks

There was this constant bird call that I couldn’t recognize coming from within the marshlands that made me try to look and overhear. But alas I had to satisfy myself with a female Asian koel playing hide and seek with the sun-rays.

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female asian koel

As it was more than 2 hours then, the couple on the scooty had come back to find me in the same state and get amazed 😀 Aah, it was a beautiful morning to start the day off. An absolutely stunning place for a morning birding session.

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Butterflies in pilerne lake

The only thing that bite me a little is that, this lake being a bird watching location also served as Ganesha idol visarjan ( immersion) place, that is in process of making the beautiful lake dirty in coming days. If people in the area can understand the importance of the place in our eco-system and stop throwing puja garbage,plastic bags and immersion of idols by making eco-friendly idols in festivals, then the nature can be remained as it is for coming lots and lots of years.

Well, it was my time to go back home and make some sunday breakfast, I again spotted the WTKF with a kill that made me unbag my gear again and take a shot. 😀

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White throated kingfisher

Pilerne lake is a strong recommendation to bird watchers and photo fanatics like me.

Gears I use :

Canon 80D with Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary OS lens.

Tell me which image is your favorite among these and I will be happy to share the Camera settings (EXIF) details.

Also find me on Instagram as @riya_wingstofly for regular updates.

Until next time

Much love,

Riya

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. 😉 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 “hoo-hoo”.

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂

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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  😛

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 🙂

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 😀

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 😦 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 😀

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Happy me 🙂

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 🙂

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’s 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 😀

While shooting for the last video called “Right here waiting” I spotted a few black-headed Ibis, the hovering kings’ 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’t get a single shot but my optimism didn’t 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 😉 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 IbisI 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 kingfisherThanks 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 kingfisherThey 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

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 🙂 -> 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. 😀 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. 😀

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