Monday, February 23, 2009

Asian Open Bill Stork

Photographed these birds at Ranganthittu. If you observe closely you will notice that the beak is slightly open when the beak is closed, hence the name. Like other storks, this bird too flies with its neck stretched, like you can see in this Image. These were nesting birds and many nests had just hatched chicks in them.The bird feeds on mollusc's frogs and insects.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Black headed Ibis

I could not get a close photograph of this Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus) and probably will try it again when the chance come in. This bird is a Near threatened species with a ever reducing population. This bird is found in large flocks in wetland and marshes and eats frogs, fish and other insects.
This Photograph was clicked at Sangama the same place as in my previous post. More about the bird when I get a better angle of the bird

Great Cormorant

At Srirangapatna near Mysore is a place called Sangama, where the river Cauvery which had split into two branches a few kilometers earlier meet again. These Large Cormorants were photographed there.
In one of my earlier Posts I had featured a Juvenile Great Cormorant, this time I managed to get a grownup bird. This is a widly distributed species of Cormorant and it's range is so wide that, yesterday I saw this Bird at Hyde Park, in London (I'm on a months holiday here) and was presently surprised to see the same. The british here call it the European Cormorant and seemed to be well adapted to the Cold english weather.
These Cormorants are used by Chinese fishermen (Even some Japanese and Macedonian) to do what is called Cormorant Fishing. The neck of a trained Cormorant is tied with a string, such that it cannot swallow big fish ( it can however swallow smaller fishes) and the cormorant returns back to the Fisherman with the fish stuck in its throat and the fisherman has the bird spit the fish out. The practice is today not done on a commercial scale like before but only done to amuse tourist.
Camera : Sony A-350 , 200mm , f/4.5

Eurasian Spoonbill

On a recent visit to Ranganathittu, I managed to photograph quite a few birds which I have not featured on this blog before. The next few posts will be these birds and today I start with This Eurasian Spoonbill. The birds were nesting as you can see in the first photograph, the crown which you can see in the second photograph is aquired only by breeding birds and non-breeders dont get it.
Camera : Sony A-350, 200mm lense ,f/5.6 , 1/320 sec , iso-100

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Heuglin's Gull - Juvenile

Photographed about 1000Kms off East African coast was this Juvenile Gull, probably Heuglin's Gull. It stayed on board for about one hour. Since I did not see it indulge in fishing may be it was migrating and must have decided to take a break enroute.
The first photograph actually makes a good wallpaper.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Willow Warbler

Is it a Willow Warbler or a Common Chiffchaff, the more I look at it, the more confused I get. This one has dark legs like a Chiffchaff, but the body structure is more streamlined like a Warbler and not rounded like a Chiffchaff. Also the eye colouring looked more like that of a warbler to me.Hence My conclusion, if you feel I am wrong please let me know.
The bird was spotted on my ship off the coast of Oman and probably was so sleepy that it did not notice me sneak very close to it. (Managed to place my camera 4 feet from the bird) You can notice that it actually is taking a siesta in the second picture.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Red footed Booby -day 3

The first photograph on this post was one of the toughest. It shows a Booby chasing a flying fish. This was fast action stuff, the entire sequence happening in seconds.
These birds are nimble enough to snare flying fish from the air and this was their only mode of hunting the entire 3 days that I spent with them. Boobies seemed to be well adapted for diving because of their long bills, lean and aerodynamic body. These birds have closeable nostrils, and long wings which they wrap around their bodies just before entering the water. Once they spot a fish,with their sharp eyes from above they just swoop onto the prey and immediately swallow it. I never saw any of these birds carry a fish in their beak,so photographing it was out of question.
They hunted twice a day early morning just after sunrise and evening about 2 hours prior sunset. Some even hunted at noon. Their hunting session lasted for about 2 hours and rest of the time they spent socialising on board mostly on the ships forward mast.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Red Footed Booby - day 2

The 5th photograph from the top, is of special interest. I Managed to photograph a booby just about making a Guano deposit.
Like I told yesterday, the boobies are mostly white, like featured in the first photograph but they also appear in a variety of color morphs. The colours range from individuals that are all white except for blackish on the wing, to individuals that are entirely dark brown,like the last photograph. Some birds fail to fit neatly into any of the typical colour morph categories and many variations exist. Colour morphs do not segregate these birds reproductively or geographically and individuals representing several morphs breed in a single colony and live together just like what I encountered and have featured in these photographs.
When I referred my dictionary for the etymology of the name for this bird, it said this "It is so called on account of its apparent stupidity -- unafraid of men, it allows itself to be caught by a simple and undisguised approach"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Footed Booby

North of the Comoros, enroute to Kenya our ship was visited by a big flock of these Red footed booby birds. They spent about three days on board, during which they hunted flying fish that popped out of water as the water was disturbed by the ship's bow wave.
The three days gave me so much of an opportunity to photograph them, that I have decided to feature these birds for the next three days on this blog.
The Red footed booby (Sula Sula) is the smallest of the boobies and have brilliant red webbed feet.
In the above photograph there are a few boobies which are white, some are brown and some Intermediate. More about that in tomorrows post.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Flying Fish

In the previous post I had featured red footed booby, which were hunting for flying fish. I did manage to photograph a few of these flying fish too.
There are about 50 species of these flying fish and managed to capture two of them. Their blue colour camouflages well with sea and hence the autofocus of my camera really struggled to lock on to the fish. The fish take short flights with the aid of their pectoral fins to escape from the predators underwater and many times get caught in mid air by waiting birds .
Trying to photograph these fish I did learn a few things that may help you if you have a chance to photograph these fish.
1. They can randomly pop up from any place but there will be one area where the frequency is more.
2. Fish that come out of water against the wind stay airborne for shorter time, hence keep an eye on wind direction and track fish that will come out of water with the wind assisting them. You will have much more time to focus.
3. The fish don't change course mid way and fly in straight line.
4. Its better if the sea is calm with little or no swell, autofocus works better and it is easier to spot the fish in calmer waters.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grey Heron

We were about 1100 kms off the east coast of Africa and this Heron (Ardea cinera) lands up on deck! I wondered what a fresh water bird was doing in the middle of the Arabian sea. The only reason I could guess was, that it was probably migrating and may have decided to take a break on the ship. It stayed onboard for about a day. This crepuscular bird is found throughout India and as seen above flies with a folded neack with head drawn in between the shoulders.
The bird seemed pretty shy always maintaining about 20-25 meters from me.
If anyone can tell me anyother reason for the bird to be found so far from the coast please let me know.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

White Breasted Kingfisher

This is my second post on the white breasted kingfisher(Halcyon smyrnesis), I decided to do this one because this time around I managed to get a closer view of the bird. This kingfisher had landed on my ship when we were anchred of kandla, Gujarath.
This brilliant turquoise - blue bird with chocolate brown head and a red bill is found through out India mostly because it is least dependent on water and can survive even in forests far away from water bodies feeding on grasshoppers and other insects.