Saturday, September 13, 2008

Little Egret

I featured a post on the little egret last month; but the reflection of the bird in the water in this photograph tempted me to post it again. Clicked with the smallest possible aperture on my Sony H-7 (f/8) inorder to get a clear reflection.
This snow white bird is similar to a cattle egret in its non-breeding plummage, except that it has a black bill and black and yellow feet. In former years, the bird's filamentous ornamental feathers from the posterior and the breasts were used for millinery purposes which is illegal now. The bird is very bright and it has startled me on a number of occasions; when it takes off, it appears as a bright white flash.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Little Whistling Duck

This was one of the most difficult photography assignment for me. I spotted these Whistling ducks in a flooded paddy field and the only way I could come close to them was by wading through knee deep water. As soon as they saw me approaching, they flew off and I had to wait submerged knee deep for the birds to return back.
This Little Whistling duck is pretty easy to recognize as it does not resemble any other duck except for the rare Larger Whistling duck. It rests on flooded waters during daylight and feeds at night, mostly on grain and sometimes, fish and snail. On seeing me, when the birds flew away, they perched on a tree for a while and this was for the first time I saw a duck on a tree and with their webbed feet, they looked pretty clumsy to me.
It is called whistling duck probably because of its call, which sounds like a whistle to me (seesik seesik)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Small Blue Kingfisher

I'm having a kingfisher bonanza for the last few days, this time encountered the Small Blue Kingfisher and the Pied Kingfisher still remains elusive. It was a nice opportunity for me to watch this kingfisher go about hunting. It was scanning around, sitting on the highest available point close to the waterbody, all the time bobbing its head or swaying it accompanied by a jerk with its tail followed by a click sound. At the sight of prey, it flew very low over the water surface, quickly dropped its beak into the water, picked its prey and flew to some other spot to relish on its prey. In about 10 minutes, this bluish-green bird had caught three fishes and then flew off with a 'chichee, chichee' sound.
The third photograph is after a successful hunt but just before devouring the fish.
In the second photograph, the sun was directly opposite the camera and was casting strong shadows on the bird. Inorder to photograph the bird, I had to spot meter the shadow area and use a slower shutter speed, hence the background is completely washed out and reveals no details.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

White Breasted Kingfisher

This is the 150th post on ' Friendly Animals ' and I would like to thank all of you for reading through the posts and certainly the comments which are always welcome.
The last post featured a Pied Kingfisher, but the photograph was not a close up and to get a closer view, I went to the same place again. This time instead of the Pied kingfisher, I saw this White Breasted Kingfisher, munching on a tasty frog.
This is the most familiar of all kingfishers and since it is least dependant on water, it is seen not only near water bodies but also in areas far from them. If not fishing, this turquoise-blue bird preys on lizard, grasshoppers and other similar insects; on rare occasions it has been spotted hunting other smaller birds and mice.
Photographed with Sony H-7; 1.7x telephoto; f/4.5
P.S: For the second photograph, I could not place my tripod in the water, because of the slushy river bed and had to hold the camera, to reduce the camera shake. I deliberately underexposed the photograph by choosing a faster shutter speed and later corrected the image with photoshop.
Post-processing: Levels, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation for blue and red and sharpness.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Lesser Pied Kingfisher

As of now, this is the best photograph that I could manage of the Lesser Pied Kingfisher. The bird generally fishes for food by hovering over the water and this one was lucky to have a power cable passing over the water in its hunting range, making life a bit easier for him. Once the bird has caught a prey, it flies to a nearby rock and batters its prey before swallowing.
Their nests are generally tunnels on the mudbank of streams.
Photographed on Nethravathi River, standing on the Panemangloor bridge.
Sony H-7 ,1.7x telephoto
Please do not miss out on commenting.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gold Fronted Chloropsis

A female Gold Fronted Chloropsis; the male has a bright golden forehead, purple and black, chin and throat. The bird is found throughout the sub-continent and hunts for insects and spiders in foliage where its plummage blends perfectly, and hence I almost missed this bird. It was sheer luck that I spotted it, but could not locate the male. It imitates the call of other birds like bulbul, drongo and shrike and again may get passed over on this account. The bird also imitates migratory birds when they are absent and an avid bird watcher might get confused over how one appeared during the wrong season.
Photographed off NH48 near Bantwal (Mangalore)
Sony h-7 ,1.7x telephoto, f/8, spot metering

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jungle Babbler

This earthy brown untidy looking bird has a tail that seems to be loosely stuck into its body. These birds hunt in groups; generally forage on ground for moths and insects or even feed on figs and berries. They form the nucleus of the mixed hunting parties of birds in a jungle. When attacked by predators like hawks or cats, they group together and chase the predator away.
Hence as a bird watcher, if you see a babbler its good news, because there will be invariably other species of birds around it. Cuckoos also use the nest of the babbler to lay their eggs.
The bird is found all over the subcontinent.
Photographed at Narahari Hill
Sony H-7 camera with 1.7x telephoto

Friday, August 29, 2008

Black Headed Oriole

Photographs of a Black headed 'Juvenile Oriole'. When fully mature, the bird will have a pink bill and jet black head. The bird is pretty easy to spot in a forest because of its bright yellow colour.
It feeds on insects, berries and nectar. Along with other mild birds, it flies in the company of the pugnacious Black Drongo. Like I had mentioned earlier in the Drongo post, Drongo is like the policeman of the forest and guards all the nests around his nest and provides protection from other marauding species.
Photographed at Narahari Hill .
Sony H-7; 1.7x telephoto; f/8

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Common Sandpiper

This bird is found throughout the subcontinent near rivers, tanks and creeks. Generally, hunts alone and feeds on insects, molluscs, worms etc.
It's the second time I am posting a sandpiper; this photograph shows the bird in much more details. I also love the reflection of the bird on the water surface. Photographed it with the smallest aperture possible with my H-7 to get a good reflection.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Indian Pond Heron

This is the third time I am featuring an Indian Pond heron; mainly because this photograph is better and sharper than the previous ones.
Watching this bird hunt is a great lesson in stealth. The heron stands upright at the waters edge, waiting patiently for any kind of movement and when the time is right, it jabs its beak into the prey like a spear. Sometimes, it wades into the shallows, aided by its long legs, moving forward circumspectly, with neck craned and bill poised with readiness.
Photographed near Sultan battery in Mangalore.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oriental Garden Lizard

The last time I posted a photograph of a lizard , the long tail was not visible; this one features this adorable reptile in totality.
Though these lizards can change their colours, they can't do it as rapidly as a chaemeleon. This lizard was comfortably sitting atop a lamp post.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Large Pied Wagtail

Like you rightly guessed, this family of birds gets its name 'Wagtail' because of the constant motion of its tail. The bird has a prominent white eyebrow and are generally found in pairs. The female is the one with duller brown colour. The bird has a pleasant singing note and is pretty comfortable with humans. This one came as close as two feet from me.
Photographed this bird near Sultan Battery in Mangalore.
Camera Sony H-7 ; 1.7x telephoto ; f/8

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ashy Prinia

This sparrow sized bird is generally found in areas with reeds bordering streams and moist grassland. As I was photographing these birds, I realised that they enjoy sitting on a thin reed and swinging about, just like how a kid plays on a swing. The reeds were barely strong enough to carry their weight.
The first photograph was taken in fading light and hence lack details, but posted it to highlight the colour of the bird's posterior.
The bird produces a peculiar 'kit-kit-kit' sound which sounds like electric sparks. The exact way in which it produces this sound is still not fully understood. The bird also builds beautiful nests either of stitched leaves like a tailor bird or of woven fibers, like a weaver bird.
Do let me know your views.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Indian Treepie

This is not a good photograph, but unfortunately was the only one that I could manage to capture of this Indian Treepie. Will try to get a better one in future. Though this bird is generally found in wooded country and scrub jungle, it frequents residential areas, just like this one which perched on a tree next to my house. It is the size of a cuckoo but has a longer tail. It is omnivorous like the crow and is a member of the mixed hunting associations of birds that move about in the forest.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Green Iguana

Iguana's are a family of large lizards with a spiny back, generally found in South America . The photograph is of a green Iguana; these reptiles are green during their younger days and lose colour as they grow older.
The spines on the back grow upto the tail and they use it as a defense mechanism by whipping the tail. The Iguana can make it's tail break off and grow a new one like many other lizards.
The loose skin that you see below the lower jaw is called a 'dewlap', it is similar to the loose skin on many other animals like Cow, Ox( Zebu) or dog (mastiff). It is of different use to different species from cooling, scaring predators to storing fat. For the iguana, it helps in regulating body temperature and also uses it for display during mating.

Indian Palm Squirrel

I was sitting in a park after a tiring session of photography, and from no where, this squirrel came close to me, probably to say a hello. I had posted squirrel's on my blog twice before. Featuring it again, just because I found it cute.
Oh yes; Happy Independence day to all of you! ( It's India's Independence day today)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yacare Caiman

As this species of Caimans (caimans are closely related to alligators and found in South America) grow so does their lower jaw; there may be some caimans whose lower jaw may pass right through the upper jaw and protrude on top of the snout.
This species is considered 'not threatened' by IUCN, because they are found in plentiful in few areas, but the fact is, such ranges are diminishing and soon they may be found in too few pockets before IUCN updates its list.
So people better watch out and don't use any crocodile skin items.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bonnete Macaque

Macaque's are short tailed or tailless monkeys of Africa and Asia with large cheek-pouches. They are the most common species of monkeys found in India. Just a word of caution: In case you find a captive monkey in a circus, zoo or as anyone's pet, please be careful cause about 90% of these captive monkeys carry Hepatitis- B virus. It does not affect the monkey, but humans are susceptible to it and can contract the same through bites, scratches and contact with mucous membrane.
If you see one in the Wild like this, just sit back and enjoy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Indian Leopard

Last year, I put up a post on 'mating leopards', in which the face of the majestic beast was not visible. Last month, I managed to fulfill my long standing desire of capturing a close up. And this leopard was in his sweet dream world.
It is the most successful member of the wild cat family, probably because of its agility, tree climbing habits with the added advantage of being a versatile eater. A leopard will eat anything from a small beetle to a large deer and some times even fish and birds.
Inspite of all this, we should not forget that the leopard population is on a decline. Its our duty to keep the alarm bells from ringing.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


In this photograph, a baby elephant is seen hugging its mother very lovingly. The elephant may not have the intelligence of a human but, it sure has the heart and the emotions.
The elephants have a matriarchal society. The female elephant has a gestation period of 18-22 months and a calf suckles its mother for about 3 years. If a mature calf is female it stays with the herd and if it is a male it is chased away.
The elephant featured here is the Asian elephant whose population is about 60,000, which is 1/10th of its African counterpart. About 13,000 of these are domesticated and in zoo's.
Elephants communicate with low frequency sounds, way below human hearing capacity.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Eye of The Tiger

The first time I saw a tiger in the wild, it was a breathtaking experience for me. He was simply majestic and way bigger than what I expected. So calm, composed and relaxed that it sent a chill down my spine, although I was in the safe confines of a well shielded car.
It had such elegance, poise and an aura of royalty that I wondered if any image I captured could do justice to this magnificent beauty!
Of the scores of snapshots I clicked, these are the ones that I loved the best. All close ups of the majestic face. One of my earlier posts, shows the image of a full sized tiger; this time I got a chance to come much more closer and with the aid of a telephoto lens managed to capture close ups. None of the photographs are a crop. However, the photographs are a bit blurred at the edges; an apparent disadvantage of using a telephoto lens and a large aperture.
I can't help gazing at these photographs and wondering, "How can any person be so ruthless and heartless to even consider hunting this stunning beast down? Will we ever get a chance to see a tiger 10 years hence? And finally, the most important of all is am I doing enough to save him?" These questions keep haunting me all the time ever since I have had the opportunity to encounter a tiger in the wild.
Do let me know you views .

Friday, August 1, 2008

Black Headed Munia

This is the first time that I have clicked a photograph of a bird using flash. The bird was resting under a roof and the sky was overcast. The light was insufficient and hence I had to opt for the flash. Thankfully, the brave bird was not startled by the flash of light and continued perching.
These birds generally prefer wet lands, ill drained areas and become very active especially during paddy cultivation. It's very common in southern India and feeds on seeds and grain.

P.S. : Some sources ( including Wikipedia ) refer to this bird as the 'Tricoloured munia'. But Im following BNHS " Book of Indian birds " by Salim Ali. Scientifically, both of them call it as 'Lonchura malacca'
Any views on this; please comment and let me know if I am on the right track.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Cormorant

In one of my previous posts, I had posted a pictue of Little cormorant; this one is a bigger cousin of the same and called Great Cormorant. The photographed bird is a Juvenile; once they grow up they acquire the glossy black colour and a yellow gular pouch. The black plumage is acquired after the age of 4 years. Like its little cousin, this bird too fishes by diving and swimming under water chasing fish. During courting, they engage in a cute little dance and is a great pleasure to watch.

As and when I get the opportunity I will post the photograph of a adult Cormorant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Little Cormorant

The Cormorant is a glistening black bird with a longish stiff tail. Generally found around inland and brackish water, living on fish. The 3rd and the 4th photograph show the bird attracting the fish by splashing water. Once it spots a fish, it then chases it and captures it under water, being an expert diver and submarine swimmer. The bird stays underwater for at least 10 -15 secs. When satiated, the bird perches itself on a rock or tree and dries its wings by opening them to the sun ( 1st photograph).
Please comment on the photographs.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Grey Heron

This Lanky bird has been featured previously on my blog, but this time I got a closer picture of it. The bird is solitary in nature and found near rivers and marshes. It wades through water somewhat circumspectly or even waits quietly for a fish or frog to come within striking range.
As shown in the second photograph, during flight, the bird has its neck folded back and head drawn towards the shoulder.
Scientific name Ardea Cinera

Friday, July 25, 2008

Common Emigrant Butterfly

This will be my last post for the butterfly week series. Hereafter, I am not sure if I will continue with the birds or start with the animals. Butterflies will always keep popping up now and then, they are too beautiful to let go.
The Photograph is of a common Emigrant Butterfly, scientifically called ' Catopsilia crocale '. It is another commonly found butterfly in India and called Emigrant because of its strong migratory habits.
I have been asked by many, as to what is the difference between a moth and a butterfly. Some would say, butterflies are more colourful than moths or the moths are the less attractive cousins of the butterflies. But, there are many moths which are very attractive and many seemingly dull looking butterflies.
The major differences are : Butterflies are diurnals - daytime fliers, whereas great majority of moths are nocturnal fliers. While resting a butterfly's wings are usually held together upwards towards the back of the body, whereas the moths will fold their wings flat across their body; the hind wing tucked beneath the forewing. The fore and hind wings of a moth are coupled together with special bristles on the hindwing; butterflies lack this. Butterflies have slender antennae clubbed at the ends, moths lack this clubbing capability and may have feathered antannae.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Common Castor Butterfly

In one of the earlier post's, I made a mention that the lemon butterfly got its name because of its love for the citrus plant; now any idea why is this one called 'Common Castor'?
Yes, its because the larvae of this butterfly feed exclusively on Castor leaves. The butterfly closely resembles the 'Angled Castor', with the difference that the former has lighter lines.
Scientifically called ' Ariadne merione '; the wavy brown lines on top appear as broad bands below the underside. It is very graceful and loves to glide through air, a photographer's delight maybe.
What do you have to say ? Please comment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Common Tiger Butterfly

The Common tiger Butterfly, also known as the 'Striped tiger' is one of the most common that you find in India. The butterfly closely resembles the more famous Monarch Butterfly.
To protect themselves from predators, these butterflies have a leathery feel and fake death. Since these butterflies are unpleasant to smell or eat, predators let go off them while these beauties recover quickly and fly away.
Just like the butterfly in the previous post, this one too has toxins acquired from plants on which they feed during the larval stage.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Crimson Rose

This butterfly belongs to the 'Swallowtail' genus and is endemic to India especially the Western Ghats.
Scientifically called "Atrophaneura hector"; the red colour of its wings is a warning to its predators about its toxicity. The butterfly acquires these poisons when it feeds on Aristolochia plants, chiefly aristolochic acid during its larval stage. This butterfly is also found in large numbers in gardens which have Lantana Plants.
One can judge the age of butterfly by the wearing of its wings. Like the one in the above photograph is in its middle ages. The second photograph shows the butterfly in its typical basking position.

Any new facts about any posts are welcome. Do post your comments.