Nest photos – the madness

It sure is a cakewalk to get a good shot of the birds if you happen to get them near the nests. You can tell your good friends of it so they can go get some good shots for themselves. Eventually, it gets messy. Reportedly the birds feel threatened. They leave the nest abruptly thereby resulting in the death of young ones. So, in principle, you don’t do it. The forums cry foul when you do them – some – very loud. But every photographer has nest photos. Some birds like Baya Weaver, it is next to impossible to get shots without a nest. And most birds are at a certain location mostly when they breed.

I wouldn’t want to disturb these beautiful fairies. I would advocate, no one should. But it is nothing short of madness to cry foul as if the hell is broken loose.

Birds are smart. They scout thoroughly and put up their nests. I’ve been observing them for a few years now. At home, we have put up some nests for Magpie Robins and House Sparrows. We have seen many birds nesting in the trees, fences and even unused corners of our house. We’ve had Purple Rumped Sunbirds, Indian Robins, White-naped Tits, Brahminy Starlings, Ashy Prinias, Common Tailorbirds etc nest right here. The point I’m trying to make is, they are not threatened as long as you haven’t threatened them.

Here’s a nest of Red Vented Bulbul right at the end of cloth-drying line. It pulled off the material from the bamboo chairs that were lying on the terrace. It also has supply of fresh bugs from the wasps right across! 😀

This brings me to the recent series I posted on a new bird to our household – White browed Fantail – which had nested right across one of the windows. It even chased away our maid who was cleaning that area below the tree not knowing that the nest was in the making. These were taken from inside the house. The bird did not even have a chance to see if someone was taking a photo.

Go ahead and enjoy these. All of them flew off the next day!

Another Seven day Nature Challenge

Around the same time, couple of years ago, my neighbour Anjali Gupte nominated me to this one on Facebook. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I just noticed my last post was also a compilation of another challenge. Anyways, a post in a while is better than no post at all. So, here we go –

Let me know what y’all think!

Time for Orchid flowers and Sunbirds

It’s the time of the year again – starting of the lovely winters in the northern India and for the orchidkachnaar – flowers to bloom in its various pink saturations. And for the birds to feast on the nectar. It’s the same time the sweet purple sunbirds change their plumage towards eclipse and go towards deep breeding plumage over time. Many a times I confessed that I’m never tired of making an image of the purple sunbird. It’s no different this time.

Last week, one early morning, me and my lovely wife were having tea, before getting ready for the rest of the day is when she spotted one right outside the balcony. This smart male was crooning along, happy to be feasting on the various flowers in various acrobatic poses only a sunbird can do!

There were many poses which I could use for a decent frame. Here’s one that stood out which I processed. I used the 400 f/5.6 + 1.4xTC to make this shot on the 5D Mark III. There were any that had the entire bird isolate but I loved this pose which is partly the flower and the bird isolated from the rest. The blurs formed an art-brush like blurs which I loved. I cropped the photo such that it has the rule of third for the placement of the subject. Otherwise the bird was in the middle of the frame.

Magpie made this family her home

Can you believe this? We can coexist, together!

View this post on Instagram

Homework @roobloom

A post shared by Penguin Bloom (@penguinthemagpie) on


This magpie, Penguin, was rescued and even though it had (and still has) the option of flying away, she decided to make this her home. And she plays with them, cuddles with them and even brings his friends over to visit. You must read all about it at here

in Explore… another first

2014-12-17_12-54-44-common-teal-flickr-exploreYesterday I was surprised to note my common teal photo made it to Flickr’s explore. I used to wonder how this happened and still do 🙂

Common Teal - female - EXPLORED

The last that I checked, which is now, the view count was nearing 7.5k and favourited by more than 110 folks. Given that I know very few in Flickr, it’s a huge number for me. And here, I take the opportunity to thank them and the ones that are going to follow. Who doesn’t love a bit of Flickr currency >grin<

This photo was shot on the same day that a few of the others that you may have noticed on the Flickr stream. As it usually happens with water birds, they just fly away as you get in. This new location didn’t have much to hide so I had to get stealth only by crawling and waiting lying down. As the clothes started to get wet, the November cold started to feel in. I had to turn to the side and lift the legs up occasionally to stay a little drier and waited for the birds to get closer. The firsts to show up were a couple of Black-winged Stilts, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover and Common Snipe. Some of them are already posted and the other await some processing. All of these, as you know are, shore birds and are obviously nearer to me.

The Snipe was a lifer for me and I was already very happy to have had some good shots of it. The ducks, which have been a difficult ones for me, essentially because, I’ve never been as patient as I could get on this day. The first round of shots when the Teal was passing by faraway with a splash was already a reward.

Common Teal

It was already well over an hour and I wasn’t able to bear the chill. So stood up and walked back to the car. While I was reviewing the shot with a friend, one of the Stilts was coming closer to us. He jokingly mentioned that the stilt wanted some better shots. I took it with more seriousness. This time when I crawled in, it was much more mud and wetness. And more time too.

The Teal did arrive closer but never believed that it could make it to Explore..

We couldn’t have had a better day and not to forget the Milan Restorent‘s snacks…

First prize for me – yes – trust me!

I think obsession is a “must have” for any one. If you’re not obsessed about it, find something or someone.

I wonder why I always start with a history – can’t help it –

One of the most colourful birds in the plains – is Small Minivet. Various oranges and yellows, the black and the rufous makes it a very very attractive bird. My first sighting of it was in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary when a friend Rishi, who was guiding a few of us along pointed to a very far away distance and said, its a beautiful bird. October 2012 it was. It took me a while to locate it through the 250mm IS II – L glass 🙂 – He had a 50-500 bigma – which all of us dreamt of owing one day. And another guy had a 70-300 bigma. All talking about shooting RAW and getting the world back in PP. Never thought the bird will come closer, and it did.


So far away it was. All that you could see is the colour and the desire to see more of it remained an unfinished agenda then.

The second one that I clearly remember is when Sharad, my neighbour, mentioned to me about a lot of migratory birds in their field area where they work – Bhutala lake – January 2013. Off we went on a Sunday afternoon, packing sandwiches and tea to have by the lake side. My bigma had just arrived. After having had a go at some herons and kingfishers, we were walking to a different spot to get a closer look at some pelicans. “There, on top of your head”, he shouted. Before I could ask “What?”, I saw this just took off from so damn close to another branch and behind the leaves. I had forgotten the name of the bird, then. I could always ask the other Sharad when I’m home. But the best of the lot then is just this one.


At one other time that I saw this a few months back was from our own terrace. But, it was close to disappointing state of affair. None of them was clear, at the eye level. So much of “habitat” frame that I almost gave up the idea of making a decent image.

Like a lot of other birds, this one is very agile. Always on the move, never returning to a same spot, like a bee-eater or a robin. One important aspect is – is the first few shots that you get it turns out the best on that day. Since it just keeps going up once you spotted it – at least that’s what it did to me except the first time but it was far away anyways.

Two or three weeks ago, someone that I befriended on Facebook – Divesh – someone with a great knowledge of birds pinged to tell me that he’s in town and wanted to go birding with me. I called Sharad, my all time go-to-guy, for “help” – he agreed and there we go. So many minivets spotted in one given day. All posing the same challenge. All going up and up. Few shots we managed. Mostly with a lot of blue sky.

Small Minivet - Pericrocotus cinnamomeus

Yes! but this was a celebrated photo, many liked it. Appreciated even the sky! All beautiful colours. About three years plus a few months to see this closer coming closer to accomplishment.

I’m close to finishing it – thanks for your patience >grin<

Last week I fielded another one from the series and to my surprise, it fetched me the first prize. The competition was organised by the Forest Department – as part of the 60 Wildlife Week events. This is my first ever award of the physical kind. I’m so excited and happy about it. So, thought I’ll write a story about it.

Here we go… with the winner!

Small Minivet - the competition winner

Ladakh – an experience

We had travelled to Leh during June 2013. The majestic Himalayas can hold your breath – literally. In the thin air, where breathing was such a great deal, I learnt to take pictures while breathing. Most times, I had a tendency to hold my breath while taking a shot. The funny thing was I had to un-learn that once I returned back.

While photos can speak so much about the subject, this cold desert can easily mislead. The scale of the mammoth mountains are so huge, one can only experience it while you’re there. While most of the photos are of the landscape and the monasteries there, my pick is of the Chukar Partridge.

Chukar Partridge

We spotted the Chukar while we were driving to Pangong lake. I had the 18-55mm lens on my camera body and had to switch to 500mm. I asked the driver to stop the car and was hurriedly changing the lens. And once I had my gear ready, I only had one of the three birds we saw. I got off the car and rushed and hid behind the stone and fired a few shots before it flew away. The green background in the cold desert is a blessing. I had my shot. While I realised this, I knew a few more things. In the thin air – you don’t hurry for anything. I was breathing heavy. Was losing my strength as I hopped back on the seat. Couldn’t celebrate the shot that I just took. We were off to Pangong. By the time we were there, I was totally exhausted. When we reached the cottage, the hotel staff had Oxygen mask for me instead of the usual tea 🙂

Pangong lake by the evening

This shot was taken by Geetika while I was resting back in the room.

So where was this story all along – if you’ve known me, I’m never organised with this blog thingy. A friend was doing a project on Leh and wanted the pictures – that’s the time I loaded these to Flickr and doing a little post here.

Please do visit the Leh album to experience it in full and leave your thoughts.

Back from Sattal – Pangot birding trip

Back from Sattal-Pangot, Uttarakhand trip – a group of 5 enthusiastic birders. This can be easily classified as Mecca for birders. Here’s the list of species we could see. Not all could be photographed by all of us. But it was a wonderful experience.

Khaneez Pheasant

This is Khaliz Pheasant, my most coveted one. More will be processed in the coming days.

1.Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
2.Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa latirostris)
3.Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi)
4.Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
5.Bar-tailed Tree-creeper (Certhia himalayana)
6.Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
7.Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
8.Black-headed Jay or Lanceolated Jay (Garrulus lanceolatus)
9.Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense)-Lesser Goldenback
10.Black-throated Bushtit (Aegithalos concinnus)
11.Black-throated Thrush (Turdus atrogularis)
12.Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus)
13.Blue-capped Rock Thrush (Monticola cinclorhynchus)
14.Blue-throated Barbet (Megalaima asiatica)
15.Blue-winged Siva (Minla cyanouroptera)
16.Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker (Dendrocopos nanus)
17.Brown-fronted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos auriceps)
18.Cheer Pheasant (Catreus wallichii)
19.Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (Sitta cinnamoventris)
20.Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush (Monticola rufiventris)
21.Common Chiffchaff(Phylloscopus collybita)
22.Common Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)
23.Common Green Magpie (Cissa chinensis)
24.Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus)
25.Crested Kingfisher (Megaceryle lugubris)
26.Dark-sided Flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)
27.Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
28.Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos macei)
29.Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)
30.Great Tit (Parus major)
31.Greater Flameback (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus )
32.Greater Yellownape (Picus flavinucha)
33.Green-backed Tit (Parus monticolus)
34.Grey Bush Chat (Saxicola ferreus)
35.Grey Treepie or Himalayan Treepie(Dendrocitta formosae)
36.Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher
37.Grey-hooded Warbler (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos)
38.Grey-winged Blackbird (Turdus boulboul)
39.Himalayan Black-lored Tit(Parus xanthogenys)
40.Himalayan Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
41.Himalayan Flameback (Dinopium shorii)
42.Himalayan Woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis)
43.House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
44.Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos)
45.Koklass Pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha)
46.Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer)
47.Orange-headed Thrush (Geokichla citrina)
48.Oriental Turtle Dove or Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis)
49.Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)
50.Plumbeous Water Redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosa)
51.Plum-headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala)
52.Red Avadavat, Red Munia
53.Red-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa erythrorhyncha)
54.Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)
55.Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
56.Red-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus cafer)
57.Rufous Sibia (Heterophasia capistrata)
58.Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (Dendrocopos hyperythrus)
59.Rufous-naped Tit (Periparus rufonuchalis)
60.Russet Sparrow (Passer rutilans)
61.Scaly Thrush (Zoothera dauma)
62.Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus)
63.Siberian Stonechat or Asian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
64.Slaty-headed Parakeet (Psittacula himalayana)
65.Small Minivet (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)
66.Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis)
67.Spotted Forktail (Enicurus maculatus)
68.Spot-winged Grosbeak (Mycerobas melanozanthos)
69.Streaked Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron lineatum)
70.Striated Laughingthrush (Garrulax striatus)
71.Sulphur-bellied Warbler (Phylloscopus griseolus)
72.Ultramarine Flycatcher or the White-browed Blue Flycatcher (Ficedula superciliaris)
73.Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus)
74.Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon or Kokla Green Pigeon (Treron sphenurus)
75.White-capped Water Redstart (Chaimarrornis leucocephalus)
76.White-tailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis)
77.White-throated Fantail (Rhipidura albicollis)
78.White-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax albogularis)
79.Yellow Wagtail
80.Yellow-crowned Woodpecker (Dendrocopos mahrattensis)
81.Yellow-throated Sparrow or Chestnut-shouldered Petronia (Petronia xanthocollis)