Sunday, December 29, 2013

Birds at Lotus Pond, Hyderabad

The Lotus Pond in Hyderabad (near Apollo Hospital) in Banjara Hills is a quiet and not a very huge pond maintained in the heart of the city amidst residential area all around it.

The pond also enjoys a dense covering of trees and shrubbery all around it which has enabled a fair number of birds to make their homes in the same; despite the presence of human beings.

Here are some of the birds captured -
(As always, click on any pic to watch enlarged or as a slide show. Nomenclature help/correction is always welcome.)

Hmm, its time for my breakfast!

Ok, which of these should I choose?

This one looks the biggest!! Hanging upside down is bird's play for me.

Gotcha!! Yummy!!!
There were a large number of sunbirds but they are notoriously difficult to capture on camera since they are extremely active and fleet-footed (fleet-winged, should I say?) and don't stay at a point for more than a few moments.

Purple Rumped Sunbird
Boy, I wouldn't want to be on the the end of that beak!

Another sunbird
Ashy Prinia
Lengthier tail and shorter beak as compared to a sunbird
There was an interesting battle going on between this fellow (with his brothers) below against some of the smaller sunbirds on one of the trees. The sunbirds persistently tried to harry the Koel but to no avail, and instead had to flee when the koel took a threatening step towards them.

A male Koel?
Coppersmith Barbet?
Plenty to eat!

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark - Female
Even more to eat!
Purple Sunbird
Couldn't get a clearer shot.
Spotted Dove

Mama Duck and Baby duck basking in the morning sun

A pair of Red-Wattled Lapwings

A cormorant and Red-Wattled Lapwing not talking to each other

Cormorants, practising symmetric swimming for the Birdalympics

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A visit to Sultanpur Bird Sactuary - 2013

After a previous visit to Sultanpur last year which served as an appetizer, we decided to again make a trip to this Bird Sanctuary in Haryana around 60kms from Delhi. Armed with a better camera and more knowledge about birds, I was hopeful (though not very much) about a few sightings.

How wrong was I to be proved!

The route was taking a right turn from Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon and a subsequent left which took us straight on the road to Sultanpur. We reached there in good time by around 8am when the early morning fog had begun to subside.

Sadly though, the sanctuary was closed till 9am (only for that day) because some MP was visiting. After a sumptuous breakfast at a nearby restaurant, we made for the entrance (Rs 25 per person (I think); and Rs 50 for camera).

The lake was larger than I last remembered and the number and types of birds were definitely huge. The perimeter was partially blocked; so we walked around the perimeter for half way; and went back and then towards the other side.

Birds, birds and more birds!! Near the lake, there were enormous number of birds!

I can only let the pictures speak for themselves! At one point, near the lake - there was heavy activity with migratory Painted Storks and Black-Headed White Ibises flying in huge numbers - nesting and preparing for winter. There were also sufficient number of professional bird-watchers as the word seems to have got around.

Click on the pictures to view enlarged or as a slideshow

Birds, Birds and Birds! Hundreds of them, disturbed by something suddenly took off in flight.
Before settling down again within seconds.

Woodpecker - pecking into the wood

Purple Swamp Hen

Hundreds of ducks..

Bunch of Black-headed White Ibises.
This species was found in huge numbers along with painted storks.
Seemed to have migrated recently as they were nesting for the winter.

Painted Storks
We saw multiple of them flying all across looking for twigs and grass and creating their nests.

A painted stork flying across with grass in its beak.
In the bg, a tree with scores of birds (mostly ibises)
A painted stork - just landed on the tree.
Red-vented Bulbul?


A kingfisher
A pair of Red-Wattled Lapwings


Jungle Babbler?

The usual suspects-

Grey Heron



Pond Heron

Route Map:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Of land mines, explosions and …

I walked quietly. Scared and shivering! All around me, the world was collapsing.

All of a sudden, a bomb exploded in front of me. I screamed and tried to find a hiding place. I felt hunted. Every step was a potential landmine and there seemed no place to hide.

Another bomb exploded - this time, from my right. Heavy smoke rendered the air. I coughed and tried to search for a new direction where I could escape. No such place seemed to exist.

Some distance away to my left, I was startled by continuous firing. That seemed like the last straw. Seemingly never ending, it lasted for a few minutes during which I cringed in agony and fear. I tried to hide my head under my body. That was about as useful protecting me as throwing a stone at the bombs.

The land mines continued to explode. I slunk off in another direction, thinking that to be quieter than the rest. How mistaken I was!

The land under me exploded. Like a cat on a hot tin roof, I changed direction and sprinted away. But where to go??

I found an uninhabited bunker. It seemed like only a temporary respite. I reached there, closed my eyes and lay down. I waited to die.

Soon afterwards, a fellow being found me there. He had been my sworn enemy. But in this age of madness and day of chaos, we put aside our quarrels, quietly acknowledged each other and waited in the bunker. A common empathy ran between us.

By and by, another being found us there. She didn’t belong to our community. But what is community in the face of fear and quest for survival. We gave her her own space. We all waited to die. We all waited for the moment when this bunker would be torn apart by bombs or gunfire.

I heard laughter. Till yesterday, the same people who had walked along side us had turned in to demons today.

I whimpered pitifully. Scratched my tail and lay in agony. I was unable to withstand the explosions and the noise. Even a small bark refused to come out of my mouth.


The festival of lights and joy, they called it. Joy, eh? Landmines, explosions and ... joy?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Birds at Ameenpur Lake, Hyderabad

Ameenpur Lake is a quiet little lake behind Miyapur on the way to Bachupalli and is on the backside of a heavy industrial area. Going past that area, one wonders how did this lake stay intact?

Still on reaching the reasonably sized lake, one can see the huge number of birds that elect to stay there and make for a surprisingly pleasant viewing. The birds seem to co-exist with the surrounding industrial areas and seem comfortable in the lake area which seems to be rich with insects and fish etc keeping the birds happy.

We saw a good numbers of egrets, herons, bee-eaters, cormorants, kingfishers, river terns etc at the lake.

Here are some of the captures below.

View enlarged photos by clicking on them.
The Great Egret, what a neck!

A beautiful honeybee
The Small Pratincole? (not clear enough)

A River Tern. There were plenty of these around the lake

Brahminy Kite? Notice its prey at his feet
Devouring its prey
Indian Bushlark is it?

2 Cormorants, 1 little Egret
Cormorants (in unison) to Egret: You might have a larger beak, but there are two of us!

Cormorants Leonardo De Caprio and Kate Winslet
Leaonardo teaching Kate to spread her wings amidst the water expanse

Pond Heron

Pond Heron: I 've a bigger rock
Grey Heron: Erm, does that make you taller than me?

Bunch of Cormorants

Common Sandpiper?

Flock of birds

Pair of cuddly looking Green Bee Eaters.
Ok, not that cuddly if you look at their beaks.

Green Bee Eater on a green branch

Pied Kingfisher (where are the eyes?)

Grey Heron (amongst bunch of cormorants, not in focus)

Identification please?
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark (male)
Many of these (and the female) flew around us.
They seem to prefer staying on the ground, digging holes
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark (female)
She seems a little sad?

Trouble in the family?
Two Pied Kingfishers not talking to each other!