In February this year we had taken a road trip which included almost all kind of destinations starting with spiritual destinations such as Shirdi , Maheshwar and Ujjain. Our trip also included historic places such as Chittorgarh, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Orchha and Ajanta Ellora caves . The destinations also included bird and wildlife sanctuary such as Beed Bird Sanctuary near Bikaner and Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary near Agra. We also visited wildlife destinations such as Bandhavgarh National park and Kanha National Park which are famous for tigers.
We visited Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary on 08 February 2018. We had only one afternoon available but that turned out to be quite an interesting afternoon.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is very famous and during winter large number of migratory birds come over to Bharatpur to winter here. I had made a number of visits to this sanctuary earlier and my main quest had always been the Sarus Crane and the Black Necked Crane but I had not managed to spot them. This time around I was lucky and we got to see both from quite close.
You got to venture out into Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in cycle rickshaws. The rickshaw pullers have really become expert at spotting birds and they also have good knowledge about the bird species. When you spot a bird you need to stop the rickshaw, get down and find a good spot to observe and take photos.
We did manage few nice shots of the avian creatures which flock around here. Sharing these with you.
Come year end and migratory birds start arriving at wetlands around Pune at Kavadi (about 15 kilometers from Pune) and Bhigwan (about 100 kilometers from Pune). This is the time to do some bird watching to see these beautiful creatures. This year towards end of December 2017 I made trips to Bhigwan and Pune and managed to get some nice photos, sharing these with you.
Bhigwan has a large wetland formed from back waters of Ujanni Dam. Here you can see many kinds of ducks, egrets and storks. Flamingos can also be seen here. The best months to do bird watching here is from November to March.
Arrive early at Bhigwan to catch the sun rise and to capture some candid silhouettes of fishermen in their boats.
About 230 species of birds have been spotted at Bhigwan over a period, around 100 of these are migratory which come here to winter during the months of November and March.
Black Winged Stilts
Another place to do some birding is at Kavadi Path about 15 Kilometers from Pune.
White Browed Wag Tail
Northern Shoveler (female)
Black Winged Stilt
Do take your camera and visit these places, you will be happy that you did it.
Each year we visit various bird sanctuaries towards the end of December as this is the best period to sight both migratory and resident birds. In the last week of December 2017 we visited the Western Ghats to include Dandeli in Karnataka and Tamdi Surla and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary in North Goa. The trip was rewarding as we saw many species of birds from close quarters.
In Dandeli we stayed at The Old Magazine House, a resort run by Karnataka Tourism. This place is a favorite with birders as they have put some bird baths in this area which attracts birds. The birds keep coming through out the day to have a bath and have a sip of water.
Grey Headed Fulvetta
The Old Magazine House has few good rooms and cottages which can be hired online from www.junglelodges.com
This is a place where you can literally do arm chair bird watching and photography.
Oriental White Eye
Grey Headed Fulvetta
Yellow Cheeked Black Lored Tit
You can also observe the Giant Malabar Squirrel feeding and playing around on the trees in this area.
I saw many Blacked Necked Munia here through out my stay.
Also this is place is full of Black Headed Warblers
Asian Paradise Fly Catcher – These are winter visitors to this place.
Grey Horn Bill
The Emerald Dove is a regular visitor here.
Grey Headed Fulvetta
Play this video to see an orange thrush enjoying the bath.
White Bellied Blue Fly Catcher
We spotted this Rock Thrush at the timber depot at Dandeli. The timber depot is about half an hours drive from the Old Magazine House.
A Leaf Bird at the timber depot
We saw many Malabar Pied Horn bills at the timber depot.
An orange minivet (female) at timber depot. While at the timber depot take a walk around and you will get to see many species of birds.
Nut Hatch at timber depot
We also saw many Hill Myna’s
An Oriental Magpie at Ganeshgudi
Black Naped Monarch
Tickell’s Blue Fly Catcher
Oriental White Eye
Emerald Dove (female)
Puff Throated Warbler
Orange Breasted Fly Catcher
Asian Paradise Fly Catcher (female)
White Bellied Blue Fly Catcher
White Rumped Shama at Old Magazine House
For the next phase of our birding we moved on to North Goa. We stayed at Natures Nest Resort near Tambdi Surla.
Mahadev Temple at Tambdi Surla. Most of the birding is done in and around here. We heard the call of Malabar Trogan but could not site it. Next day we went to the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary and did manage few snaps.
Asian Koel (female)
Bay Backed Shryke
Shikra (female) – We spotted this at Bondla Wildlife Sanctury.
Ruby Throated Bulbul – State bird of Goa
White Cheeked Bulbul
Purple Sun Bird
Brown Winged Green Pigeon
….and yet another year end birding session came to an end. God willing we will be there this year end too, looking for more.
A visit to Kaziranga was on my bucket list for a long time and gods made it happen in first week of December 2017. I had been to Kaziranga a few times earlier but for official purposes, this was the first time that one was there to enjoy the wildlife which Kaziranga is famous for. Kaziranga is world famous for it’s one horned Rhinos which I saw in plenty during my visit. On a visit to Kaziranga you are bound to see the three biggies that is the Rhinos, elephants and the wild water buffaloes but the tiger generally remains elusive, we will talk about these in another blog. You got to have great luck to spot one. Kaziranga also hosts more than 400 species of birds and this post is all about them. The Eastern Range in Kaziranga is the one famous for bird watching. Many species of water and forest birds migrate to this area during winters. I did few safaris in this range and did manage to snap few species which were lifers for me. Sharing the photos taken through my lens.
We spotted this Barred Owl just after few minutes of entering the forest. The owl was perched under the thick canopy were light was minimal. I cranked up the ISO to 1600 and took this shot, had to work on it in Lightroom and Photoshop.
As we ventured deeper we came across few rhinos and wild water buffaloes and then we saw these pelicans perched atop a bald tree, pruning their feathers.
By now we were driving along the banks of the seasonal lake which gets formed due to flooding of the flats during monsoon. We could see many waders, mostly migratory.
The Bar Headed Geese (above) could be seen in large numbers. These migrate from Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Tibet during winters. They fly over the Himalayas and are known to cover about 700 miles in one flight. They are lovely to watch and photograph. Below are few more snaps of these lovely creatures.
By the time we managed to snap these, it was time to leave the forest as you are permitted to be inside the forest for only two hours during a safari. I subsequently made three more safaris in this range and managed to capture few nice shots. Let’s have a look at these.
We spotted these Northern Pintail Ducks, but their population was sparse. They are one of the most beautiful ducks. The pintail or northern pintail (Anas acuta) is a duck with wide geographic distribution that breeds in the northern areas of Europe, Asia and North America. It is migratory and winters south of its breeding range to the equator.The northern pintail is a bird of open wetlands which nests on the ground, often some distance from water. It feeds by dabbling for plant food and adds small invertebrates to its diet during the nesting season. It is highly gregarious when not breeding, forming large mixed flocks with other species of duck.
I snapped this bird at the central range. I think this is a common stone chat (female). Common Stone Chat (male, below).
The Black Necked Stork (above). I went places looking for this bird and finally found it at Kaziranga. Amazing creature to watch. The black-necked stork is a wading bird in the stork family. It is a resident species across the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia with a large population in Australia.
An Osprey (above). We came across many hovering above looking for prey. Look at this one (below), having caught a fish it is rushing away.
…..and then it found a safe spot to nibble at it’s prey.
….and then soon it was soaring again, looking for prey.
Open billed stork. We came across many of these in the seasonal lake and perched atop trees.
I was thrilled to see this Grey Headed Fish Eagle. This was a lifer for me. The grey-headed fish eagle is a striking bird and an impressive hunter, with a relatively small head, longish neck and a powerful, grey beak. The plumage is brownish-grey on the upper parts and white below . It has relatively short legs, a rounded tail, sandy-yellow eyes, and long, black talons.
Alexandarine Parakeets. We saw many flying around and perched on trees.
As we were about to finish our safari in the central range, we saw these Greylag Geese flying past and soon they descended on the near by lake.
A Bar Headed Geese trying to land among the Greylag Geese. And the we spotted these owls.
Mallard (male,above). The mallard is a dabbling duck that breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Eurasia, and North Africa and has been introduced to New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. It is migratory and can be seen in lakes and ponds in India. We came across many of these in Kaziranga.
During the safari you can see occasional Pelicans hovering around.
The lesser whistling ducks were present in thousands. You could see them flying past off and on.
Common Flame back Woodpecker
Jungle Spotted Owlets
Ruddy Shell Duck
Black Hooded Oriole
Adjutant Stork. This was again a lifer for me. This had been evading me for a long time. I finally caught up with it at Kaziranga.
In Assam, the far North-Eastern corner of India, lives one of the the largest and rarest of the storks, the Greater Adjutant Stork, together with it’s smaller cousin, the Lesser Adjutant. These are endangered species; only a thousand Greater Adjutants, and 5000 Lesser Adjutants are left, and the populations are declining.
Darter also called the snake bird
Changeable Hawk Eagle
Woolly Necked Stork
Crested Serpent Eagle (above). While on a safari in Kaziranga keep a watch on the trees as your jeep moves along and you may land with one of these.
Palas Eagle. Caught this when it was just landing to perch.
A flock of cormorants out on a hunt
Shikra. We got this at close quarters. We could have stretched and caught it with our hands.
This week at Kaziranga was a week to remember. Each day had something new to offer. I enjoyed every moment, I will go back again if I can. There was more at Kaziranga then just birds. More about it in the next blog.
While in USA I had few birding opportunities around Chicago and Cincinnati thanks to my lovely daughters Shruti and Ruchi who took me to places in spite of their busy schedule to help me pursue my passion.
There are many nature centers in Ohio and Illinois which are mini bird sanctuaries. A visit to these got me few good bird photos, sharing these with you in this blog.
The Red Cardinal, the state bird of Ohio. I got this at Eagles Creek Park, Indiana.
Crimson fronted Woodpeckers. Spotted them at Catigny Park near Chicago. Was lucky to get this shot. The male caring for the expecting mother.
Indigo Bunting. Spotted this one at Starved Rock State Park, Illinois.
I spotted this Crimson Fronted Woodpecker during our trip to Starved Rock State Park. The park authorities have put feeders in various places which attracts these birds and makes it easy to spot them. I used Olympus OMD EM5 MK II camera mounted with 40 – 150 mm zoom lens to snap this.
This Hairy Woodpecker was also snapped at the Starved Rock State Park.
I snapped this Red Winged Black Bird at Cincinnati Nature Park, Ohio. These are common and can be found almost every where.
We spotted this Wild Turkey at Catigny Park, Ohio. We just about managed to get this shot before it vanished into the thicket.
American Robin – A common bird
I think this one is a House Finch. Captured this at Cincinnati Nature Park.
This one is most probably from the sparrow family.
This one is a Hairy Woodpecker (Male)
Being admonished. Does it ring a bell!!
I was looking for birds and instead found this and I clicked.
American Gold Finch, captured this too at Cincinnati Nature Park.
This one is Blue Jay, an elegant looking bird. Snapped at Eagles Creek Park, Indiana.
Black Capped Chickadee
A pair of Pochards. We saw these at Lily Pond, Rocky Mountains, Colorado.
A Black Bird at Lily Pond, Rocky Mountains, Colorado.
Canada Geese. Snapped during a morning drive at Boulder, Colorado.
Black Billed Magpie. Snapped at Garden of the Gods, Colorado.
This one has a story. I spotted this Red Tailed Hawk?? as I got up in the morning, perched on the fence in my daughters backyard. I couldn’t believe this and I rushed down with my camera. It was drying it’s wing and gave me full opportunity to take few shots.
This Bald Eagle was a sitting duck at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago.
So when you go to US next , don’t forget to carry your birding lens. There is birding opportunity in every town, you just need to google for it.
While bird watching on 18 December 2015 at Bhigwan, we chanced upon a large colony of Bar Headed Geese. This is the first time that I spotted this species at Bhigwan though I have been visiting this place for several years for bird watching and photography.
The bar-headed geese is one of the world’s highest-flying birds,having been heard flying across Mount Makalu – the fifth highest mountain on earth at 8,481 m (27,825 ft) – and reportedly seen flying over Mount Everest – 8,848 m (29,029 ft) . Watch the video below.
The species has been reported to be migrating south from Tibet, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia before crossing the Himalaya with the flight across the Himalaya being undertaken non-stop in as little as seven hours. The bar-headed geese migrate over the Himalayas to spend the winter in parts of South Asia (from Assam to as far south as Tamil Nadu). The modern winter habitat of the species is cultivated fields, where it feeds on barley, rice and wheat, and may damage crops. Birds from Kyrgyzstan have been noted to stopover in western Tibet and southern Tajikistan for 20 to 30 days before migrating further south.
In Maharashtra, India it can be spotted at Bhigwan about 100 km from Pune and Veer Dam around 50 km from Pune. The images below were taken on 18 December 2015 at Diksal Village near Bhigwan.