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 ❤

Ganeshgudi~ A birder’s paradise

What Can I say more about Old Magazine House that hasn’t been already said by the bird
watchers since ages. A birder’s paradise is what we all know this place being called. And its true to its word. You will loose your mind to reach up little close to your soul in the nature that this resort provides. I had very high expectations (I know one shouldn’t have when it comes to our avian friends who have full freedom to fly away wherever they want) when I booked room in here and let me tell you, I wasn’t at all disappointed even for a minute, not only because it was my first birding trip outside Goa but also because you will be so busy listening to the chirps and watching their tantrums on the bird bathes, that you will be forced to forget everything else in the world and just live in the moment. And these moments aren’t limited there. You just need to grab your camera or binoculars(if) and jump into the moment.
In my last post I have already discussed every keen details about the resort including stay options, activities, staff, food etc. You can always go through it from here– Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

In today’s session I would be concentrating on the variety of birds that I got to see in the first day of my 2 day trip, mainly that is what we want to know right? Lets jump in then.


We left Goa early in the morning but it took time on the way due to deforestation after entering Karnataka. When we reached at around 1pm, we checked in within minutes, settled in for a few minutes, freshened up took my camera ,binocular, tripod and went straight to explore the place. Just outside our building with rooms, a few old people from England were having their silent time watching birds sitting on the edge on chairs, with whom later I made good of friends and shared some nice evening time. I felt calm looking at this view. Moving on amidst the beautiful jungle resort, we reached where we needed to be. The hide and the food court. As soon as I set up my tripod and camera, it was time to feed our starved stomachs.

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Malabar giant squirrel

By the time I went to have lunch, we had an awesome session by two Malabar giant squirrels. I was immensely happy looking at their activities. They are so naughty and cute that I wanted to bring one of them home 😀

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After having an amazing home cooked veg/non-veg buffet, we were back to the hide by
2.30pm that is when the most activities can be seen. If your are there, don’t miss the evening birding session in the hide between 2.30pm to 5pm or till dusk. There were just a few other birders beside me as it was mid week that we went to avoid the weekend rush, who waited patiently for the birds to come and take bath one by one or all at once sometimes 😀

The first bird that came for me was a yellow browed bulbul and a few oriental white eyes. White eyes are quite common there and gives you poses every now and than. The maximum number I could capture in one frame is 6.

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yellow browed bulbul

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The next bird I would like to talk about is a stunning yellow body with black head and red throat is the flame throated bulbul,the state bird of Goa that I saw for the first time in Ganeshgudi. It was quite the show stopper for the day that I personally loved capturing.

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Flame throated bulbul

The Indian yellow tits were also there peeping once in a while on the bird baths along with other yellow feathered species.

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Indian yellow tit

The dark fronted babblers took their positions on the perches to stare at us and giving angry looks. I say this because whenever I go through the images I clicked of this babbler are all with the almost the same look. They depicts the perfect ‘angry bird image’.

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Dark fronted babbler

Another stunning bird that caught everyones attention was the Indian black bird. It should be named as the ‘Indian black beauty’ with its sharp features and eyes. Here is the image of one such rare moments where the Indian black bird is posing for me on the bath while the background was being designed by the very beautiful and colorful Emerald dove.

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Indian black bird

Here is the close up of Indian black bird after a quick bath.

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Indian black bird

How can I miss the color popping bird out of all. The definition of cuteness Black naped
Monarch who is also a known attraction of OMH.

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Black naped monarch

The monarch came quite a many times to attract our attention but failed to when the majestic Emerald doves arrived. It is said that a maximum of 4 emerald doves come there and I was lucky enough to witness them all together.

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Emerald dove

Now its time for some very pretty flycatchers as they are the highlights this season. The white bellied blue flycatcher to get started with. Here is one pretty male.

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White bellied blue flycatcher-male

Here comes the female with no blue patches on it. She became quite common in sometime for the next two days just like the flame throated bulbul.

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White bellied blue flycatcher-female

When we get to click frames like this with 3 species on a single perch 🙂

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Oriental white eye, black naped monarch,Yellow browed bulbul

Another stunning bird without which  my OMH would not have been accomplished. When I planned for this trip,this bird was on the top of my list which I only got to see in the 3rd day morning before leaving that amazing stay. White rumped shama for you all. I will talk to you about the next two days in my upcoming blogs. So stay connected. Lots of beautiful bird images on the way 🙂

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White rumped shama

We were talking about flycathers, so here is one cute migratory flycatcher. Taiga flycatcher

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Taiga or red breasted flycatcher-female

Other birds that we got to see in the campus but did not give us a perch in light were, racket tailed drongo, leafbirds,munias, a few more flycatchers and the great of all- the trogan couple.( wait for my next post )

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One or many, A dandeli related blog cannot end wihout a hornbill photograph. So here is one Malabar Pied hornbill couple roosting under the sun.

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Malabar Pied horbill couple

A few more images from the same hornbill sighting that we got to witness when we were taken on the jeep by the OMH bird guide to the exact place-the bridge where they come to roost everyday after taking dips in the river kali.

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Malabar Pied hornbill pair
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Malabar pied hornbill in flight (low light evening shot)

So, this was almost all about my first day in Old Magazine house. Hope you have enjoyed reading the blog as much I have while curating . Stay connected. Be healthy. Spread love and happiness 🙂

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Me with husband on the River kali bridge after hornbill session

Tell me in comments if you would like to know details of any particular photograph and I would be happy to share 🙂

Until next time

Much love

Riya ❤

 

Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

“And into the forest I go, to loose my mind and find my soul”

                                                                            – Charles Baudelaire

Said so beautifully and rightfully by Charles Baudelaire. Forest makes you feel viable, forest let you listen to your heartbeat, forest let you comprehend your existence, forest lets you find your soul. To find my soul a little more, I headed towards this amazing forest resort situated in a small place called Ganeshgudi in Karnataka State of India. As I am bird-o-holic in nature, I cant stay away from forest, desert, wetland for longer. So to make the new year most special, I chose to visit and stay in Old Magazine House in the month of January itself. Being around a handful of bird lovers, I have heard enough about this paradise that fall in Ganeshgudi. Dandeli is another place in Karnataka around 20km away from Ganeshgudi. You may hear people saying that they visited Old magazine house in Dandeli or they have visited dandeli for birding when they have actually just stayed in OMH.But that is geographically incorrect. OMH (Old Magazine House) is in Ganeshgudi and not in Dandeli and is one of the BEST places to be.

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I have not been to too many places to be honest, but this surely was the best experience till date. It made a little place in my heart that is going to be like that for long, if not ever….

If I go on and on about this place, this blog will never end and you will feel exaggerated when it is actually not. So not stretching it too much, I will come straight to the point.
We started our journey from North Goa to ganeshgudi via chorla ghat road. It was an amazing  journey till we entered karnataka. We had witnessed that the karnataka government is doing a mass deforestation on the connecting highway to make the lane  much bigger., which is obviously against our eco system. Lots of wild animals and birds are loosing their habitat. And by seeing at it helplessly, my heart ached. Crossing too many road blocks, we reached our destination, OMH, Ganeshgudi on the londa-dandeli road. Old Magazine house is a property owned by Jungle lodges and resorts ltd, govt of karnataka.

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Not a very large area, but this resort is a simple paradise of avian-lovers. They offer one
forest-wodden hut, a few rooms and a dormitory as stay options. We took one of the rooms as the wooden house was not-available, which by-the-way was our first preference. The rooms are real big, clean and well maintained by a superbly friendly and helpful staff.
Manager- Mohan sir
Bird guide- Vinay (bhaiya)
coracle ride bird guide- Pundalik (bhaiya)
Cook- Manju
Jeep driver- Gururaj

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These are the people we conversed with, in our 2 day stay and can’t thank them enough for their cordial and homely service. The whole team of OMH is just awe-inspiring. As I said the rooms are spacious with double beds, sofa with center table, one work table, electric jugs and tea/coffee essentials. A television in the common hall room is also available. They provide buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dinner hall along with morning tea and evening snacks, all included in the room rent that you have already paid. Dormitory is just below the dining hall with bunk beds (mostly preferred by single guys who travel just for birding and photographing).

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There is no wi-fi connection and you will hardly be getting network on your phone too and moreover you are there to connect with forest, so you don’t need one. In simple words, forget about your phone and wallet and enjoy your time in peace and bird chirps. I being a talkative person besides an avid birder, I made quite a few friends from different parts of the world. Some were there to bird like me, and some were just having
a day away from city chaos.

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Once upon a time, someone put a tub of water for the birds to quest their thirst in hot and humid weather. He never knew it would grow into OMH one day. There is this mind blowing hide organized by the property for the birders to set up their tripods and take photographs of birds taking bath and drying up in little branches, just beside the dormitory building where they would organize a bonfire every evening with snacks and soup bowls.

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Timings:
7-7.30 Am- tea biscuit
8.30am onwards-breakfast
1.30pm onwards- lunch
6.30pm- snacks/soup with bonfire
8.30pm onwards- dinner
The food team are cordial enough to call you from your room each time when the food is
ready to be served. The other services that they provide are:
1) Nature walk: After having your morning tea, You can accompany Mr. Vinay, the bird guide for a nature walk just outside the resort, where he would spot birds for you.

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2) Coracle ride: After having your breakfast, you can go for a coracle ride on the kali river, where Mr. pundalik, the bird guide will join you for riding the coracle as well as spotting birds and the Muger.. Coracle is a small, rounded, lightweight boat that floats on water and quite difficult to ride comparing a regular boat.

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3) An evening trek for a sunset view form some point up hill which non of us were interested in as we were all busy birding till late evening until it was completely dark.
Overall the stay is just amazing with delicious home cooked recipes by Mr. Manju.

Overall Highly recommended!! I loved it.

Make your bookings before hand and be ready to loose yourself in nature in order to getting closer to your soul..The only thing that will keep you up is the bird chips-day and night.

Don’t forget to pack your warm clothes along with photography gears and binoculars 🙂
You can book your rooms in http://www.junglelodges.com

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Stay put for my incoming blogs where you will get to see the amazing photograph of the lifers (birds) that I got there in my two-day stay in the Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi.
Till then, hog on to my other birding blogs:

Migratory Bird Area, North Goa

Birding in Pilerne lake, North Goa

An evening with Asian openbill

Parra – A birding hour

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

Prey Prey everyday!

When I write this, consider me in that mode, where your eyes are open but all you can see are some random faded lines and lights that cannot form a shape, when you can’t hear to the person speaking right beside you, but all you can hear is your inner voice, talking to yourself in your own world of thoughts…

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White throated kingfisher

When I think of birds, all I can think about them is their simplicity towards life. Might not be easy but such a simple life they have. They have their goals fixed and they need to accomplish  them before the end of the day. To feed themselves and their young ones. Unlike us, with so many duties and responsibilities to carry on your shoulders with mind being visiting some other world.

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Green bee eater with fly kill

Life can be easy if we want it to be. But no! we are human, we have an intelligent brain and a stupid heart. Most of the time what we do is, listen to our brain and think with heart. I call us stupid as we are not satisfied with tonight’s meal, we are hoping better in tomorrow’s breakfast.

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White cheeked barbet with preying mantis kill

Like birds, we don’t leave our children to choose their own prey and live on their own after a certain while. But unlike birds, we make noise in the night and sleep in the early morning. The day we all start waking up with birds and sleep with them, our lives will be half sorted. (oh ya, without a materialistic alarm clock)

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Greater coucal with snake kill.  (such a grainy picture, very late evening high ISO image. I didn’t want to miss out on my early prey shots. )
We all nature loving people love to watch birds. But whats more exciting is to watch them in their original form without any kind of disturbance to them in their habitat. Birds perch, they preen, they call, they sing, they mate, they kill, they feed just like humans. But we humans are civilized and we usually don’t have to find and kill prey to feed ourselves. But they need to maintain the cycle and be alive. And by now you all must be guessing my new obsession which is watching and capturing predators and prey. Yum 😛

 

 

 

 

 

 

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White throated kingfisher tossing its meal. Timing matters

I will keep this post really short with the pictures I could manage to click of birds hunting and having their meal. Basically, when I go out for birding and I get to capture any with prey in their beak, its a trophy for me. I get super excited and it just makes my day. Though I have not got enough opportunities to click a lot of different species with prey but I am optimistic about my future endeavors. 🙂 Hope you enjoy too 🙂

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Baya weaver- female (All they like are high perches when it comes to having meal and having a prey is a delight to watch)
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Black headed Ibis with snake kill. ( This shot was taken from a wetland near the road and it was impossible for me to go any lower, hence the output)
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Indian pond heron catching pair of fishes in a pretty wetland.
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The heron and I ,both were settled with one fish by the time.
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My first kingo prey shot, that too with a lizard. My happiness had no boundaries, only didn’t I know was that it was just the beginning.
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Kingo (White throated kingfisher) with cockroach kill ,one evening.
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Another day, another kill. Kingo again with fly
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From my very recent captures. Kingo never disappoints me when I want a good click.
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With a bug this time 🙂
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Indian lored tit with its big meal. We were in mahabaleshwar park roaming with a 18-135mm in hand. This tit took all its time kill and finish its meal in one of the high branches of a tree. Though I couldn’t get a better zoom but I was a little satisfied watching it.
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Green bee eater. One of my favorite birds when it comes to prey. Such a delight they are to watch. All their activities are pretty to my eyes.  This particular view made my very morning the other day after having a very unsatisfying birding out.
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I am not perfect but may I will be someday.

Hope you have enjoyed my predator-prey sum up. I will keep on updating as I get more opportunities and learn in the process. There is no end to learning as I always say.

My other birding posts:

Monsoon vibes with birdies

An evening with Asian openbill

Parra – A birding hour

Birding in Chopdem,Goa

etc.etc.

Keep birding, keep spreading love 🙂

Much love

RIYA.

 

 

Oriental Magpie robin (Copsychus saularis)

So this is a post on one of my favorite sections where I collect and gain knowledge about the beautiful creations surrounding us. Yes, as always I am talking about my favorite creatures on this planet. ‘BIRD’ and this is that part where I share everything possible “about the bird” from Internet ,books, friends or personal experiences. I took really long time to create a post on Oriental Magpie Robin which is happen to be the most common bird that I see on a regular basis, like everyday (well of course, besides crow :P) So why late? Just to get the best possible shot possible. But you know what, a photographer is never satisfied with his/her work, there is always something more that we want to get. The better lighting, the better perch, the glory eye focus, the magnificent flying shot, shots with prey etc etc. There is no end to it. No matter how close I get to them, its just not enough for me. I want to see them all day from a close encounter. Well, thats just not a possibly practical thing to do. We have to mind our own businesses as they do mind theirs. So here is the detailed “about the bird” post on our very own Oriental Magpie Robin.

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In the bed of bokeh.. EXIF: f/5.6  ss:1/1000  iso:1250  @313mm

ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN

Oriental magpie Robin is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old World flycatcher.

Scientific name: Copsychus saularis

Also known as doyel (in bengali and other regionals languages in India)

Appearance:

They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. They are about 17-20 centimetres (7.5 in) in length, including the long tail. The male has glossy black upperparts, head and throat apart from a white shoulder patch. The underparts and the sides of the long tail are white. Bill is black. Eyes are dark. Legs and feet are blackish.  Females are greyish black instead of glossy black  and greyish white instead of white. Young birds have scaly brown upperparts and head.

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Habitat:

The Oriental Magpie Robin is found in open woodland, cultivated areas often close to human habitations. They prefer open areas such as mangroves, gardens, cultivated areas. They are not found in the deep forest.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/800sec  iso:1000  @562mm

Behaviour:

In the non-breeding season it is shy and quiet, skulking about in undergrowth. The Oriental Magpie Robin is a common and tame bird. It is terrestrial, hopping along the ground with cocked tail.

They are often active late at dusk. They sometimes bathe in rainwater collected on the leaves of a tree.

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Pride.. Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/125sec  iso:200  @546mm

Distribution:

This magpie-robin is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, interior India, Sri Lanka and eastern Pakistan east to Indonesia, Thailand, south China, Malaysia, and Singapore.[3] They have been introduced to Australia.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/400sec  iso:320  @600mm

Breeding and nesting:

Magpie robins breed mainly from March to July in India and January to June in south-east Asia. Males sing from high perches during courtship. The display of the male involves puffing up the feathers, raising the bill, fanning the tail and strutting .

They build their nests almost anywhere from thick shrubs, in the fork of branches of small trees, palms, hollow trees and even near human habitation, under a veranda, in a hole in the wall, in an old tin can, and in stables. They line the cavity with grass. The female is involved in most of the nest building, which happens about a week before the eggs are laid. 4-5 eggs are laid at intervals of 24 hours and these are oval and usually pale blue green with brownish speckles that match the color of hay. The eggs are incubated by the female (sometimes males too) for 8 to 15 days.

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Colors in bg… Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/250sec  iso:640  @600mm

Diet:

The diet of magpie robins includes mainly insects and other invertebrates. Although mainly insectivorous (mainly caught insects on ground), they are known to occasionally take flower nectar, geckos, leeches, centipedes and even fish.

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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/1250sec  iso:1250  @600mm

Voice: 

Oriental magpie robins are mostly known for their sweetest songs.The Oriental Magpie Robins have a delightful varied song and are said to be able to imitate the calls of other birds while singing.

Males sing from high perches during courtship. Females may sing briefly in the presence of a male.Apart from their song, they use a range of calls including territorial calls, emergence and roosting calls, threat calls, submissive calls, begging calls and distress calls. The typical mobbing calls is a harsh hissing krshhh.

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Call……Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/800sec  iso:800  @600mm

Interesting fact: 

  1. Oriental Magpie robin is the national bird of Bangladesh.
  2. While searching on youtube for more information and videos on the species, what I happen to see is the caged videos of magpie robin singing. Magpie robins were widely kept as cagebirds for their singing abilities and for fighting in India in the past. It makes me feel the worst to see the beautiful avians inside a tiny cage in my own country.They continue to be in the pet trade in parts of Southeast Asia.
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Exif:  f/6.3  exposure:1/125sec  iso:200  @600mm

Concern:

This species is considered as one of “little concern” globally but in some areas the species is on the decline. This species has a few avian predators too.

I will keep on updating more as I gain ore knowledge. You know, gaining knowledge is very much more important tan just collecting information. Untill next time, keep birding and loving nature. I will see you all in my next blog.

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

 

 

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 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