Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ghost Crabs

Genus Ocypode, these are called Ghost crabs of their ability to disappear from sight almost instantly. Their once Claw is generally larger than the other. I had been to Ullal beach, Mangalore where I spotted these small crabs. Finally, it's a break from posting birds in the previous many posts.
They take in oxygen from the water that washes over their gills, hence they need to get frequently washed by the surf.It was a thrilling experience tracking these crabs and getting larger than life images of them.
All images clicked with a 300mm lens; ISO 200; f/5.4 The setting sun provided the warm red tones.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eurasian Spoonbill

This photograph was supposed to have been uploaded, in a previous post but due to oversight missed it out. So uploading it today as a new post rather than amend the old one.
Photographed at the Ranganathittu bird sancutary, the crest is acquired by the bird during its breeding season.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bronze Winged Jacana - Adult

Today I managed to spot an adult Jacana, it was pretty far from where I was perched, but felt good nevertheless. I will try to get a better shot at the bird soon, but seems like the juveniles are more camera friendly than the adults.
I learnt today that the female Jacana is polyandrous, a very rare breeding system in birds. Hence in this case a female will copulate with multiple males, but lay eggs for only one of them.
Nature truly is amazing, the more I learn about it, the more ignorant I feel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bronze Winged Jacana

Its been more than a month since my last post here. I have been busy with my captains exams which I finally got done with, hopefully I can now get back to what I most enjoy doing.
Navi Mumbai is a hot-spot of wading birds, and in one of the swamps I spotted these Juvenile Jacana's (Metopidius indicus). I was surprised at how comfortably they walked with their enormously elongated spider like toes. The widely spreading toes help to distribute the birds weight and helps it to walk along with ease over floating leaves and stems. I could not spot an adult today, may be some other time. I stayed at a far off distance since it appeared to me that the birds were wary of my presence. I seriously felt the lack of a longer lens today or at least waterproof boots to walk in the swamp.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Yellow Legged Gulls

Continuing from my Previous post. Cant write much in todays post because of severe time crunch on my side. I enjoyed clicking these photographs, hope you enjoy viewing them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yellow Legged Gulls

As we were departing a Greek port, my ship was surrounded by hundreds of gulls. They were trying to catch fish, which were pushed up by the ships wake. Most of the Gulls were these Yellow Legged Gulls (Larus michahellis) and found it a great opportunity to photograph these flying beauties.
Will feature 3 more photographs in the next post too.These birds were formerly considered a part of the Herring gull family and they do look similar to Herring Gulls. Adults have darker grey backs and wings than herring gulls and have more black in the wing tips than herring gulls.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Siberian Stonechat

In January I had featured a Female Siberian Stonechat,that had landed on board my ship.Today I was fortunate to encouter the male bird (Saxicola maurus)
Photodetails : 300mm, f/5.4, 1/250 sec, ISO-100

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Little Ringed Plover

Off the Palm Beach road in Navi Mumbai is a marshy pond, where I spotted these Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) . The ones featured above are adults during their breeding season. The birds were foraging in the bare soil, hunting insects and flies that were attracted by piles of rubbish that was scattered around.
I Mounted the camera on a tripod and tried focusing on the birds eye, which was the most attractive and contrasting part of its body. Since the bird was small, I had to come down as low the tripod could, to give an appealing angle of view. I feel, photographs of animals shot at their eye level have much more of a 'personal' feel rather than the ones shot from a higher view.

Photo details : 300mm, f/5.4, 1/320 sec, ISO-200

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gull Billed Tern

The Gull Billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) generally prefers a salt water habitat, but I spotted these at 'Sarovar Vihar' a fresh water lake at Navi Mumbai. The bird is pretty versatile when it comes to its diet. The bird acquires a black cap during its breeding season and the ones I spotted were non-breeding adults.
Since my exam preparations are in full swing, my posts are getting smaller; its a matter of one month now.
Photo: f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 200

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jungle Prinia

I perched myself on a small rock and used my hands as a makeshift tripod and waited. This Jungle Prinia (Prinia sylvatica) soon landed on a branch. Sun was setting low and I had to boost my ISO to 400 to get a reasonably fast speed of 1/320 sec.
After about 5 minutes later a dog came running into the field where I was waiting and suddenly, I realised that there was not one about about three hundred of these Prinia's well camouflaged in the field. They all flew into the sky creating a momentary eclipse, never had 300 birds come rushing onto me. Its was a thrilling experience and will surely visit the spot soon, for another dose.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pied Starling

f/5.4 , ISO 400 , 1/320 sec

f/5.4 , ISO 100 , 1/640 sec

Spotted these colourful Pied Starlings (Gracupica contra) around the Palm Beach road in Navi Mumbai. This noisy, colourful and hyper active group of birds were all around me. This bird also called the Pied Myna, is found all around India and especially around human habitations and wetlands.
The images above were clicked with a 300mm lens, and I certainly felt a dire need of a longer lens. Unfortunately Sony is not marketing its 400mm lens in India and its Tele-convertors cannot be used on my 300mm lens. Hence regrettably I have decided to change my camera system and the decision has been fortified after this shooting session. Sony has a lovely camera and lens system, but it seems like it's not meant for wildlife enthusiast and leaves a lot to be desired.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Long Tailed Shrike

While driving off Vajreshwari in Maharastra, with one eye on the road and other on the power cables, I spotted this Long Tailed Shrike (Lanius schach). Also called the Rufous-backed Shrike the bird was preying on insects in the grassland below.
Since this birds claws are unsuitable for tearing prey, they generally impale the prey on a thorn or similar pointed objects and then tear it for eating. Another race of this bird is also found in India and is commonly referred to as the tricolour race.
This photograph was clicked sitting inside the car and the bird did not mind me one bit, but the moment I got out of the vehicle, it just flew off.

Photo details:
f/5.4 , 1/1000 sec , ISO-100

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Its been quite some time since I have posted here, my exams and college has not let me do any posting. Completed my Written exams yesterday and they seem to have gone well. I have to prepare for Viva, which is next month and I hope I can post in a few photographs in between.
Digging into the photographs I clicked when onboard, I stumbled across this unusual looking bird.
At first I thought it was a Hume's whitethroat (Sylvia altaea) but reading about the bird I realised that he was out of his habitat range and a bit of research led me to the much common British garden bird Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
Must have been migrating to Europe from Africa. He was pretty wary of my presence and it was difficult to approach him and its evident in the photograph, that he is pretty tensed about my presence.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Song Thrush

A popular European garden bird, the Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos ) landed on board off the Mediterranean coast of Africa. This insectivorous bird was probably hopping across the Mediterranean like the birds that have been featured in the previous posts. Like the Lark in my previous post this bird too is in rapid decline especially in the UK
The bird is a great imitator of calls, and can imitate up to 100 calls many of which it learns either from its mother or neighborhood birds. There have been instances of the bird even repeating telephone rings.
The Song Thrush is occasionally a host of parasitic cuckoos, but this is very rare because the thrush recognizes the cuckoo's eggs. The introduced birds in New Zealand, where the cuckoo does not occur, have, over the past 135 years, have still retained the ability to recognise and reject cuckoos eggs.

Photodetails : The photographs were clicked at noon and hence they lack the warm tones of the morning or evening sun. The noon sun also casts some unwanted shadows, especially on the birds face in the second photograph. The bird did not stay until evening and hence probably missed a chance to click some wonderful photographs.
300mm, f/5.6, 1/320sec, ISO 100

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This Skylark ( Alauda arvensis) landed on board off Libya. One of the prominent features of the larks are their crests. Although the bird is pretty common in Europe, its population is seeing a rapid decline today. Skylarks are winter visitors to India and this one was probably migrating to Africa, as winter sets in Europe.
It took me a long time to get a closeup of the bird; all my initial photographs were like the first one. Later as the bird got used to my presence it gave me a bit of leeway and let me come closer to it.

Photodetails : Camera Sony A350
1. 300mm , f/5.6, 1/1600 sec , ISO200
2. 300mm , f/5.6, 1/800 sec , ISO200
3. 300mm , f/5.6, 1/1600 sec , ISO200

Saturday, February 6, 2010

European Nightjar

This European Nightjar or Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) landed on board when my ship was off Italy and I believe it was migrating towards Africa. This is the only species of Nightjar's found in Europe and can migrate all the way up to cape. This nocturnal bird spends most of the daylight hours roosting on ground amidst camouflaged leaves just like this and is difficult to spot. Fortunately for me there are no leaves on board and the bird had to rest on one of the pipelines. I accidentally spotted it and was delighted at the opportunity. My college schedule is making regular postings a bit difficult, should be on track in about a month.
Photo details: 300mm lens ; f/5.4; 1/400sec ; ISO200; Spot metering .

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Common Starling

This common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) was so busy foraging that it absolutely did not notice me, clicking its photographs. This Starling is a very rare bird in India and my eyes lit up when I saw him. Starlings are very common in temperate countries, especially in Europe. I loved the lustrous metallic coat of the bird. The bird was walking on rubber matting and was picking up insects from deep within the crevices of the mat.I was completely low down on the ground to get the required vantage point and this posture is probably the reason why this bird didn't mind my presence.

P.S.These days I am preparing for my Captain's exams, which will be held in the month of March and April. Hence sorry for the irregular updates.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Long Eared Owl

Of all the birds, that landed on board, the one that amused me the most was this Long Eared Owl (Asio otus ). It not only let me do a close inspection of its plumage but also didn't mind me spending about 45 minutes close to him. The bird was probably migrating to Africa from Europe or had landed on board chasing scores of tiny birds, like the Chiffchaff and Chats.
Approached the bird slowly, walking on my knees. The bird was waiting for darkness to set in, so that it could go about hunting the scores of tiny birds that had landed on board. I didn't see it hunting though and can only speculate about it.

Photo details:
1. f/5.4 ; 1/4000 sec ; ISO 100 ; 300 mm
all other Images at ISO 400 and f/5.4

Monday, January 18, 2010

Isabelline Wheatear

Was this bird Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) named after a soiled underwear? I hope it was not, but and interesting story goes like this. Isabella was the Archduchess of Austria and in 1601 her father Philip II of Spain laid siege to Ostend, which was under the Dutch. A successful siege here would ensure Spanish victory and in a joyous fervor Isabella vowed not to change her intimate undergarments until the city was taken. Unfortunetly for her, the seige ended only in 1604, nearly 3 years after she had taken the vow, leading to this off-colour word for over-worn underwear ( Isabellin colour is described as greyish-yellow colour). I have not idea of the authenticity of this story, but surely tickled my trivial instincts.
This insectivorous bird, landed on board during its migratory journey towards Africa from Asia. Out ship was off the Syrian coast heading towards Italy.