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!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A tribute to the Sachin Tendulkar era (1989-2013)

Source: Wikipedia
The eras of nations are often remembered by one single person or one act of greatness. When one says 'America in the mid-1800s', the first thought that springs to mind is Abraham Lincoln. Similarly we might qualify Germany between the wars as the period of Hitler; and Britain's eras are often defined by the emperor or queen at their throne. All of these happen to be politicians of some stature.
Years on from now, when we look back at India at the turn of the millennium, we will be saying that was "the era of Sachin Tendulkar".

It might be because of a weak political leadership, or because the nation was going through a transformation during these times; but even without that, no other person single-handedly ever captured a nation’s imagination as this gentleman did.

There have been great sports persons, there have been great people and then there was Sachin Tendulkar. In the later stages of his career, his greatness was no longer dependent on whatever he did on the cricket field. He was already immortalized.

We often wonder why? Why do we idolize this man so much? Why are those two sixes off Michael Kasprowicz so legendary as compared to the many that have been hit thereafter (admittedly Ten Sports had a big role to play here making sure we won’t forget those two Sharjah innings). Why does that upper cut six off Shoaib Akhtar at the Centurion make everyone go gaga? Probably today, every IPL match must now be seeing at least one square cut for six.


Way back in 1994 (or thereabouts), like all kids playing cricket with themselves, a nine-year old kid (me) had created an imaginary scorecard. Sachin had scored 189*, poor Kapil Dev was the next highest with 24. Somehow that memory stuck while I smile at myself in the years gone by at the ridiculousness of that scorecard.

As I look back now, that scorecard didn’t seem way off from reality. It just epitomized the hope and prayers the nation had when Tendulkar stayed at the crease and answered questions of why we idolize him so much.

Match after match in the late nineties, we waited for Tendulkar to come in to bat, can we forget the mixed emotions when he was on strike. One part of us, cheering every run or boundary hit by him; while the other praying in agony for him to get off strike so that he won’t be out. We used to showcase an absolute frenzy of emotion while he was batting and plummet to the depths of despair once he got out.

We got attuned to the fact that the entire nation’s hopes were effectively on Tendulkar and once he got out; there wasn’t much hope in chasing a target. That thought was fed by the 1996 semi-finals, the 1999 test match in Chennai against Pakistan and many others. While this seems disrespectful to his team-mates in the nineties, it is not intended to be as such. That is just how we remember those days.

It is only in the new millennium we began to believe in the possibility of winning after his dismissal. The colossal Laxman-Dravid partnership at Eden Gardens and the destruction of English attack by Yuvraj-Kaif were a couple of such instances.

He got injured for a period after which he accepted his mortality and played accordingly even whilst we yearned for him to play like old. No other elbow has got more people asking ‘what is a tennis elbow’.

Over time, we accepted that Tendulkar now had excellent support and was a good batsman in a good team. Time and again, he reminded everyone of what he was capable of – the 2003 World Cup was his highest peak in the new millennium, the destruction of Australia in a near-impossible chase at Hyderabad (2009), the 2011 World Cup too where he was India’s highest run-getter.

With the emergence of the new generation – the Rainas, the Dhonis, the Kohlis along with Yuvraj; we no longer absolutely imperatively needed Tendulkar as a cricketer. Others could now win matches for India. However, we continued to cling to him as an idol with the belief that once more we will see the Tendulkar of yore. Still, get the same amount of joy when we see a straight drive or a leg flick from his bat than any other. And that, while accepted to be irrational, we millions as a nation continued to unabashedly idolize him all throughout his career.

And as he announces his retirement, whether we weep or rejoice or ask questions about whether it came too late, it doesn't really matter to those who grew up worshipping him. We just understand this signifies the end of an era.


In the last 24 years, people have grown from children to full-fledged adults, got married and had kids. The number of cricketing careers which started after Sachin and ended before his retirement would be an interesting statistic to come up with. It might be a startling figure. India saw a series of economic reforms; and also became a nuclear power in the nineties. The man, who was finance minister two decades ago, is now the prime minister. The triumvirate of Khans’ who started their fledgling career back then, are now absolute veterans of the Bollywood industry. We as a nation became much more consumer driven and got used to the world of colour TVs and mobile phones. The internet grew till it became the most important thing in many of our lives. All of this happened in “the era of Sachin Tendulkar”.

And now what? Time will go on. The master will get a grand farewell in his last two test matches and numerous felicitations after that. We will get on with our lives. Dhoni, Kohli and the like would continue to play cricket and evoke interest and enormous fan following from the audience. But there is unlikely to be another to evoke the kind of emotion only Tendulkar did.

Years from now, with frail limbs and failing eyesight, somewhere some of us will be sitting in our rocking chairs with a hint of a crooked smile, reminiscing in old memories and telling our grand-children, “I saw Sachin Tendulkar bat”.

PS: Here is a link to a post written after watching his innings of 175 at Hyderabad in 2009 against Australia.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Birds at Botanical Garden, Hyderabad

An early morning visit in fresh air to the neighbouring Botanical Garden is always a pleasure. With my new camera, the visit proved to be quite eye-catching and fruitful (or birdful!!). The area of the gardens is enormous with a lengthy walking track around the perimeter. The track is less occupied as compared to the common entrance areas of the garden which are heavily tenanted.

Here are some of the captures below - (still learning about birds, and any corrections/information related to identification are appreciated)

View enlarged photos by clicking on them.

White-browed wagtail
Spotted outside the garden in the parking area itself.

Unable to see this clearly - in the sun!
Perched on a branch amongst the many trees in the garden

A Green Bee Eater
Many of these were kindly perched on the wires running along the perimeter

A beautiful peacock

The Common Jezebel
Might be common enough, yet so colourful.

Common Crow Butterfly
Another of these brown beauties

Spotted Dove
What elegance and sharpness of eyes!!

One of the many colourful flowers of Botanical Garden

Common Kingfisher
How amazingly bright are these birds? This one was spotted far away across the lake.

Don't be shy! A sunbird

Another Spotted Dove
I love these eyes.

Another gorgeous Green Bee-Eater

Little Cormorant

Yellow-billed babbler

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A one-day trip: Hyderabad to Srisailam (Farahabad) Tiger Reserve, Mallela Thirtham Waterfalls

[Click on the photos to view them enlarged as a slide show]

My one year old (second hand - actually eight year old) Maruti Esteem had its first trip out of town since I became its owner. On an overcast morning, we ventured to Srisailam Tiger Reserve with the intention of a good drive and capturing birds or animals (if we would be lucky enough to find some) with my new super zoom camera. Both objectives were achieved successfully.

Srisailam Tiger Reserve is actually in Farahabad on the way to Srisailam and around 140 kms from Hyderabad Airport. After crossing the Hyderabad Airport, the road is all without a divider (State highway) but still in excellent condition with very few potholes or bumps. We started at pre-dawn at 5am and made good time. There were plenty of birds to be seen on the way sitting on wires, trees etc. We stopped occasionally but still reached the reserve entrance by 8.30am crossing a troop of monkeys near the forest area.

On the way

A monkey with her offspring

So much for the alluring caption

The reserve could be much better maintained i.e. the state government could make a fair amount of money out of it if they put in a little effort. This reserve seems to have got used to being a side-attraction as most people including the reserve folks recommended us to visit the reserve on the way back from Srisailam unable to comprehend when we told them this was the solitary purpose of our visit and we had no intention of going further.

The timings seem to indicate a safari every two hours (cost Rs. 800) from 7am to 3pm (don’t expect the 7am one) but it bore a desolate look when we arrived and the person for the safari came at around 9.30am. There is only one Bolero which goes for the safari as compared to multiple jeeps that exist in other reserves; also there are multiple offshoots paths leading into the forest sadly which aren’t permitted.

We spent nearly a couple of hours in the safari including the Farahabad view point and a watch tower whence we spotted a few deer and neelgai; occasionally sambhars. There were also multiple birds in the vicinity of which we captured a few. The expectations of sighting a tiger or the like were not fulfilled.

Note: The names of birds in this post may not be correct as I am still learning to identify them. If anyone can confirm or correct each of the below species, I would be grateful.

I couldn't identify this fellow! Is it a sparrow?

The Purple Rumped Sunbird?

A flock of birds following a flying pattern

Deers, the most common animals in a forest
 The Farahabad view point is the half-way point and also supposedly the highlight of the safari where due to a foggy back ground, we could scarcely see the lake and dense forest cover in the distance.

Hazy looking lake from the Farahabad view point
Therein we made our way to Mallela Theertham Waterfalls which is around 20kms from the reserve where one has to take a diversion on a safari-type road (for around 8 kms) and pass through a couple of villages before reaching the waterfall area. Thereafter one needs to walk down around 350 steps to catch a glimpse of this waterfall.

The fall is a nice place with water falling from a height of approximately 20metres but the area was enclosed by a fence disallowing people from getting right next to the falls (probably a wise thing). We spent some time at the falls, also having some of our snacks as lunch at the same place. We also spotted a couple of gigantic spiders as big as the size of one’s palm.

Mallela Thirtham Waterfalls
Gigantic spider at the falls, eerie looking faces these fellows have

Another gigantic spider at the falls

The way back was swift with us stopping at Dindi reservoir for some time and occasionally to capture more birds and some butterflies. We reached Hyderabad back by 5pm.

A beatiful Indian Roller

Dindi reservoir under cloud cover

The Danaid butterfly (Blue Tiger specie?)

The Common Crow Butterfly (Euploea Core)

An elegant eagle

A Red Wattled Lapwing

For more pictures, click here.


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