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Well, that’s not a bird. Yes, we sighted a Jackal on the way to Nandi hills. Saw a few swallows collecting mud for nesting, and stopped the car. But, those birds are calm and patient until they see a photographer. Just then, I saw something get into a field and thought it was a mongoose. Alerted Vineet and Yashpal to watch out for a mongoose. Got ready to photograph as it emerged from the other end of the field as a Jackal!

A fantastic start for the day. Many warblers, and misty covered hilltop crowded with weekend junkies. Didn’t start birding until about 9am. The beautiful Indian Blue Robin made few appearances, but cloudy day and slow shutter speeds got only blurry images. Search for Indian Pitta went in vain.

Caught a surprisingly co-operative Blue Rock Thrush (female) perched on a branch. Few other photographers with 500mm, 400mm and 300mm + 1.4x TC lenses were there. So many photographers didn’t deter the bird. She perched there without a care for the world. But she was not in good light and we faced her back. Meanwhile, few were trying to shoot a Puff Throated Babbler. I joined them. The bird came out and perched on a branch so close that it was closer than the minimum focus distance of my 100-400mm! I missed what would be an excellent image, and realized it i had set MFD to 6.5m.

But the rock thrush had turned around, and make my day.

Ok, you’ve waited enough – click away to glory

Preening herself

On the rocky side we saw Bonelli’s Eagle, Steppe Eagle, and Shaheen Falcon. It was a treat to watch the falcon dive. The Sunday crowd on the hills strengthend towards afternoon, and we left the place.

Caught a juvenile Shikra on the way back, perched on a electric wire. I didn’t complain of un-natural perch bird photographers hate. Made this images with lovely blue winter skies, over head Sun and the partial shadow in the bird’s eye as it looked up.

This trip was on November 24th 2009.

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The biannual flower show at Lalbagh botanical gardens started on 7th August. I did a quick visit today morning. The focus was bird waching and hence reached there by about 6:30am. Walked around the lotus pond, and lake till about 9:30am. Then, went to the glass house.

Crowd had gathered near the Glass house, and barged in as soon as they opened it. Apart from the usual varieties, few exotic species are also at display.

Mermaid, beautifully decorated with orchids, isĀ  impressive

Flower-Mermaid-lalbagh


Dinosaurs crafted out of 50000 flowers (see aircrafts in the background)

Lalbagh-flower-show-dinosaurs

I was keen on spotting owls, but i couldn’t find. A pelican was lazing around in the lake and got to play around with exposure.

Spot-Billed Pelican

Spot-billed-pelican

A Spotted dove near the Glass house

Spotted-dove

Flower show is the main crowd puller. Except for the attractions such as Dinosaurs and Mermaids, nothing changes year on year. Read about last year’s flower show here.

Prem wished he would rather go to Valley school. Prinias, Kites, Mynas, Crows, Cormorants, Pelican, Grebe, Doves, and Moorhen. Where does one find the wood owls and spotted owlets?! Deepa, any inputs?

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I joined Shreeram, Vineet, and Gopal from NTP for a quick trip to GKVK campus for bird watching today morning. Prem also accompanied us. It turned out to be a great outing with some excellent sightings.

Yellow-Wattled-Lapwing

I reached the GKVK/UAS campus by 6:30am, parked my car near Ganesha temple and started looking for birds. All i could hear was the squirrels. I looked around for about half an hour without any good luck, and i was disappointed. Called Vineet and joined them near the Eucalyptus tree patch, and there we saw a Shikra family. Soon, Gopal joined us.

We walked to the uncultivated/forest land hoping for better sightings. We sighted lots of Barbets along the way. A Copper-Smith Barbett was feeding its chick and i could manage to get this shot:

Copper-smith-Barbett-feeding

There was a patch next to the road, and a faint trail. I walked into that and sat down to check the undergrowth wishing for a Pitta to hop by. I was scanning the undergrowth, with squirrels about 2-3ft from me and few Ashy Prinias hopping around, and suddenly a heard a galloping burst and saw some dark thing run past in front of me. Then i hear Shreeram shouting ‘Wild Boar!‘ Some 10mtr to the right, i would have been run over by a Wild boar.

Saw a nest of Oriental Magpie Robin. Heard close calls of Partridges, which at one point got really loud, and then got faint. They must have walked towards us, and then ran away. On to a more open area further, we sighted two pairs of Yellow-Wattled Lapwings, first time for me. There were chicks i suppose since the birds were calling and flying frequently to threaten us away. We didn’t get sight of the chicks.

As we walked back to the parking lot, we sighted a Common Grey Mongoose go past us across the road. As we walked further down, we heard something in the bush and we turned back to see another Mongoose run across. It was a great to watch them, but couldn’t get a shot.

After breakfast, sponsored by Gopal, Vineet, Shreeram, Prem and I went to Jakkur Lake. The lake was a treat to bird watchers. We weren’t expecting to see so many different species. Spot-Billed Pelicans, three types of Cormorants (including the white headed sub-species of Great Cormorant), Coots, Grebs, Purple Moorhens, and Common Moorhens. We were hearing calls of White-throated Kingfiher for some time and finally spotted it. A Pied Kingfisher came hovering into frame as i was focussing on a Brahminy Kite. I got a hovering shot of Pied Kingfisher here after many failed attempts elsewhere.

List of Birds:

  1. Barbet, Coppersmith
  2. Barbet, White cheeked
  3. Bulbul, Red Whiskered
  4. Bulbul, White browed
  5. Coot, Common
  6. Cormorant, Greater
  7. Cormorant, Indian
  8. Cormorant, Little
  9. Coucal, Greater
  10. Crow, House
  11. Crow, Jungle
  12. Dove, Laughing
  13. Dove, Spotted
  14. Drongo, Black
  15. Egret, Little
  16. Egret, Median
  17. Flowerpecker, Pale billed
  18. Flowerpecker, Tickell’s
  19. Grebe, Little
  20. Heron, Grey
  21. Heron, Pond
  22. Heron, Purple
  23. Hoppoe
  24. Iora, Common (heard)
  25. Kingfisher, Pied
  26. Kingfisher, White breasted
  27. Kite, Black
  28. Kite, Brahminy
  29. Koel, Asian
  30. Lapwing, Yellow wattled
  31. Moorhen, Common
  32. Moorhen, Purple
  33. Myna, Brahminy
  34. Myna, Common
  35. Myna, Jungle
  36. Parakeet, Plumheaded
  37. Parakeet, Rose-ringed
  38. Partridge, Grey (heard) (?)
  39. Pelican, Spotbilled
  40. Pigeon, Blue rock
  41. Prinia. Ashy
  42. Robin, Magpie
  43. Shikra
  44. Sunbird, Purple rumped
  45. Tailorbird, Common (heard)
  46. Tit, Grey
  47. White-eye, Oriental

Route to GKVK/UAS campus (courtesy Gopal):

a.. On Bellary road, NH-7, go past Mekhir circle to Hebbal flyover
b.. Go on the flyover without taking any deviations.
c.. 3kms from the flyover you will find L&T Komatsu office on your left, take the service road.
d.. GKVK/UAS campus is next to L&T Komatsu, and has a Mahatma Gandhi statue at the entrance.

Get inside the campus, going past two big playgrounds and a basket ball court to your left. Ample parking space is available. Walk some distance on the right side, going past student hostels, to reach uncultivated land for good bird sightings.

Route to Jakkur Lake:

– Take a right turn on Bellary Road, NH-7, just before Jakkur flying school.

– Go along the fencing of the flying school. Down the road, take the road which takes a natural right. Furthur down, take a left turn. Take right on a small Circle. 1km from there you will see the lake on your left.

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Sunfeast 10k marathon on Sunday morning meant, all roads around Cubbon Park, and MG road blocked for vehicular movement. I had registered for Kalyan Varma‘s workshop in association with National geographic channel at the British Council. Took an auto till Minsk Square and started walking a distance of 2km from Minsk square to British Library. Shot a few images of marathoners on Cubbon road and Kasturba road.

Tabebuia Rosea was on bloom, though not fully, and the clear blue sky provided a nice opportunity to take this image:

sunfeast-marathon-cubbon-park

The enthusiasm of the runners was really exciting. Though many were tired and were just strolling, there were enough people to encourage the runners. There were many groups and organizations running for fun and some causes. There were disabled people, and many who supported their cause for equal opportunity for disabled. There were people running to save trees. There were few who ran to save the Sparrows. :)

It was an exhilarating experience for me as i walked on those roads i’ve traveled million times. I had never seen those roads without motor vehicles.

At Minsk square, i shot this image hand held at 1/6s shutter speed. Did selective coloring on Photoshop to get the image below. I feel, just the desaturated image would have been better after seeing on the blog.

.

As huge fan and admirer of Kalyan’s work, i was a little disappointed with the workshop. I think it would have been lot better if it wasn’t for so much stress on National Geographic photographs, which undoubtedly are top class. Anyway, it was a great opportunity to meet guys like Kalyan, who provide immense inspiration to many aspiring wildlife photographers.

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Caught this lovely kid at Aero show 2009 on Valentine’s Day.

i-love-bangalore

Hope you had a happy Valentine’s day!

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I visited Canon Image Lounge on Monday evening. This lounge showcases all Canon products for the prospective customers to try a hand before they buy.

This is an excellent initiative from Canon. One can try the latest products from Canon, from Cameras to Scanners and all other accessories. This kind of a concept is for the first time in India, and i was really impressed by the service they offered.

I wanted to try 400mm f/5.6L lens. They were more than happy to let me try the lens with any specific camera body i want. I took multiple shots, with and without a 1.4x teleconverter, with and without a tripod. The lens itself is light enough to work hand held without any issues, but adding a teleconverter makes it hard to use hand held, for two reasons. One, it gets heavier and two, manual focus becomes much harder. But the speed of focus is excellent. You’d miss IS if you are used to it, like me.

I also tried the ‘dream lens’, 500mm f/4L. It is huge, and it’s really hard for me to try hand held. The lens is incredible. There’s no need to write more about that lens.

Sudhir Shivram is giving a small presentation on digital photography at the Canon Image Lounge this Sunday (15th Jan) at 3pm. Read about it here. I plan to go there. The Aero show plan looks bleak. Will catch up if any of you are there. Btw, Canon image lounge is at Brigade towers on Brigade road, towards residence road (after eva mall).

That’s all folks!

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I covered the event for Citizen Matters. You can have a look at the brief article with few images here:
http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/762-art-chitra-santhe-2009

Watch out my flickr photostream for more images.

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Chitra Sante is an ‘Art for All’ event organized by Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. The event will be on Kumara Krupa Road (near Chief Minister’s house), where artists from all over India showcase their art works. The event will display affordable art works of all kinds.

This annual event happens every year on last Sunday of the year. But this year it is on 25th January 2009 (coming Sunday). Along with a few guys from a flickr group, BWS, i will be showcasing few of my photographs at this event. This is the first time they are allowing photographs as a part of this event.

If you are in Bangalore this Sunday, do drop in between 9am to 7pm.

Hoping for another Sunday fun, after Bird race last weekend.

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The post event meet of Bangalore Bird Race 2009 personally, for me, was the best place, where i spotted some really rare species. I was overwhelmed to see and meet some great naturalists, and bird watchers like S Karthikeyan and Deepa Mohan, whom i had known only through net, and some of the best wildlife photographers from Bangalore like Sudhir Shivram and Kalyan Varma, also known only through net. I had been ogling at the photographs Sudhir Shivram and Kalyan Varma produce for long time before i started clicking photographs, and i continue to do so even now. These are the people who have inspired me to sustain and improve hobbies like bird watching and photography. It’s hard to describe the joy i had. It was good to associate face to people i have known through the Internet and admired their work for long. This post is dedicated to these wonderful people.

The day of bird race started pretty early. I managed to catch only 2-3 hours of sleep after a hectic Saturday (more about it later), but I still left my home by 4:55am, picked Pandith, Rahul, a young lad who joined our team since his earlier teammates were not willing to bird whole day, and Deepak.

Deepak, Pandith and I had planned, on Saturday evening, to cover South Bangalore starting from Bangalore University campus to Bannerghatta National Park covering Byramangala Lake and Valley School and few other water bodies on Kanakapura road.

We reached Bangalore university before the day break, and were waiting for a good 20-25min for the sun to come out, after walking around to see if we could catch any Owls, but no such luck. University Campus provided good sightings of common birds like Drongos, Flowerpeckers, Babblers, Doves, Parakeets, and Sunbirds. I also spotted 2-3 Peafowls which disappeared just as i alerted my teammates. By the time we moved on from there, it was 7:15am. We had spend half an hour more than we had planned.

Inquisitive dog and pup, Byramangala lake

Inquisitive dog and pup, Byramangala lake

On the way to Byramangala lake, we stopped at a field where we sighted lots of munias, spotted doves, drongos and Indian Silverbills.ext stop, Byramangala lake. Reached this place, after missing a turn and coming back, by about 8:15pm. Many sandpipers were sighted, and also few Red Wattled Lapwings. We also saw a Spot billed Pelican, Black headed Ibis, Grey Wagtail, Ashy Prinia and a Blue rock trush here.

Left Byramangala lake only by 9am. Our plan to reach Valley school by 8:30am was already slipping by a good 1hour, but on the way we sighted many raptors including a Shikra, and Oriental Honey Buzzard.

Butterfly

Couldn't help clicking this butterfly - Twany Coster

Valley school is an incredible place. A heaven for bird watcher in Bangalore. The number of species count was about 35 when we reached Valley school by 10:20am. We still had missed common birds like Laughing dove, Indian Roller and White Throated Kingfisher. Just at the entrance we spotted a bunch of Oriental White Eye. Parked the car and started walking inside the Valley school campus. We spotted many birds within an hour. Common bird like Coppersimth Barbetts, White cheeked barbett, Greater Coucal, Green Bee Eater, Oriental Magpie Robin, Bushchat, and Indian Robin were spotted readily. Also, we spotted Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Common Iora, Kestral, Puff-throated Babbler, White-throated Fantail and White-Browed Fantail.

Asian paradise flycatcher at Valley school

Asian paradise flycatcher at Valley school

We still had not spotted any Kingfishers, and were at a pond/creek. The incredibly beautiful Asian Paradise Flycatcher made itself visible, and i could also manage to get a decent shot of this beauty. We then rested for sometime there, and a Kingfisher came for an early lunch. Was this a Blue-eared Kingfisher or Small Blue Kingfisher (AKA Common Kingfisher)? Rahul was excited and was saying (hoping as well) it was blue eared. I took a good shot, confirming it to be just the Common Kingfisher, and not its the uncommon counterpart. Deepak, meanwhile, had spotted some bird which he said had features similar to the rare White-Rumped Shama, but couldn’t confirm for sure. We spotted couple of more birds which we couldn’t confirm the identity, a Treepie and a Raptor.

oriental-honey-buzzard-flight

Our other teammate, Sri Ram, had not joined till now and we had asked him to come to Valley School directly, but he ended up 15km further to some other place. By 12:30pm we left valley school and were waiting for Sri Ram to join us. We wasted 45 minutes in this. Left towards BNP by 1:30pm. We had signed about 65 species by then, and were hoping to add good number at BNP.

The road to Bannerghatta from Kanakapura road is pathetic. Pathetic is an understatement. In fact for a majority of the distance, there is no road, but a way where road is to be laid. I drove my Swift on ditches, and potholes infested jelly stones laid ‘road’ with 5 people and some luggage. Car took a really bad toll.

Bannerghatta national park area didn’t provide any sightings. We drove towards Ragihalli on Akekal road. The national park area is known to provide wonderful sightings like that of Valley school, but around 2pm there were hardly any activity. Parked the car in a place where we heard some chirps, and ventured out on a pathway which led to a pond. There were bird chrips but nothing to be seen except for few Bulbuls. There we saw Elephant dung at quite a few places and knew that this was not a safe place to stick for long.

The time was still 2:45pm. We didn’t know where to go for more sightings. Ragihalli road was a disappointment. We stood at 69 species. Nearest lake, Madiwala lake would an hour’s drive. Should we go to the lake or Bannerghatta zoo herbivorous enclosure was the dilemma.

Oriental white eye - Valley School

Oriental white eye - Valley School

We went to Madiwala lake, and we weren’t disappointed. Readily we spotted a Large Pied Wagtail. We spotted a aquatic birds, Garganey, Lesser Whistling Duck, and Northern Shovler. We also spotted a Grey Heron, and a Marsh Harrier.

At 4pm we started driving to the city, to report at Royal Orchid at Manipal Center. We visited Cubbon Park for half an hour to see if we could spot any bird that was not on our list already, but no such luck on a crowed Sunday evening. Reached Royal Orchid at 5:30pm to report our sightings of the day, and it stood at mere 78 species.

The team sighting 145 species took the 1st place, followed by 137 species for 2nd place, and 133 species for 3rd place. The catch of the day was Blue-bearded Bee Eater.

The Bird Race was for sighting as many birds as we can, and hence the opportunity for photography was not much. Here is couple of more images that have come out decently, both shot at Valley school campus:

Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher

Tickells-blue-flycatcher

King of Good Times

small-blue-kingfisher-Common-Kingfisher

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I had heard a lot, and I have been waiting long time for this (less than a year of course, otherwise i’d have written about BBR 2008). The time has finally come. HSBC Bangalore Bird Race 2009 is on 18th January 2009, and i am excited to be participate in my first bird race, the 3rd edition of HSBC bird race in Bangalore.

I know many of you are wondering what’s a bird race. Bird race is not an event where birds are bred, and raced (not sure if such race exists, though it happens with grey hounds). Bird Race is a fun even where teams of 4 go bird watching from dawn to dusk on the given day, making a record of all the birds spotted. The team with most sightings wins.

I had to go with individual registration, which closed on January 11th, since i couldn’t manage to form a team with people i already know. Nevertheless, this gives a good opportunity to meet new people. A veteran of 2 bird races, Deepak, is the captain of team Pittas, of which JP Pandith, Kashyap and yours truly are part of.

Haven’t planned out the spots to be covered yet. Deepak prefers North Bangalore, Nandi hill side, but i prefer Valley school and BNP. Will reach a consensus and hopefully decide by today evening, taking inputs from other two teammates.

Given my limited knowledge, i would be glad to correctly identify birds i am already familiar with, hope to learn more about birds and of course take few good images. Expecting a fun-day on Sunday.

Current Mood: Excited

Current Music: Las Ketchup

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