Merry Christmas 2016

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas

The sunbird was kind to pose this morning! Here’s the one without the cap and caption!

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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.

Savanna Nightjar in flight

https://flic.kr/p/pQGSSd

This image was made during one of their trails braving the scorching heat of June last year to Bassi Wildlife Sanctuary. We had a hope of taking a peek at a mammal that could make its way to quench its thirst to a waterhole, or might chance to see the sweet whistling Indian Pitta, and of course anything else that might come our way. We were about a dozen of us in two vehicles, we trailed different tracks, some were lucky to spot the Pitta and others crested serpent eagle but all of us had full taste of the sun. While it was almost time to call it a day we even spotted a few wildbores. When it was time to pack up and head home, Sharad Agarwal heard the Nightjar’s call. All of us got out of the cars and started looking for the most difficult bird to spot.

Nightjars are known for their camouflage and only move about during the nights. They can be sitting next to you and still can not be spotted unless you’re able to see it’s blinking eyes or any tiny movement that they make. We split ourselves into three groups and each one took a direction. I was very tired and the last to exit the car and had no hopes to get a shot at it. After about 15 minutes or so, one of the team members were so close to the bird but still didn’t see it. But the bird got alarmed and took off and flew towards where I was walking in. It allowed a few good frames. I was told that there aren’t many shots that captured this bird in flight during the day.

The Opensource playing tricks?

By the time it was 5:30am there’s a flurry of notification beeps from the tablet and phone. Last time it happened a few weeks ago, there was a flickr user who chose to favourite most of the stream – it brought me a smile! I’d sent him a thank you note!

Purple Sunbird

It’s usually UTC 0:00 hours when some automated hackers decide bombard servers with Denial of Services (DoS) attacks. And it’s the turn to one of our servers. So the notifications were of the email alerts! Time to call it Happy Friday and go about it.

2014-12-12_13-56-00-rs-timeout

Nobody provides support for >geek<ily configured servers and sysadmins would sneer at you if you have custom ports to access systems. But the first thing that you’ll hear “You should think of adding Load Balancers and they start only at $10 a month!”. So, to cater to a DDOS attack, the first thing that we need is a load balancer. And the capacity that you’ve built it is running at 98% idle overall – at all times!

I had to drop the plans of dropping my son to the school and I’ll be automatically voided of the small conversation that I could have with him. The rest of day, anyways, goes into meting out the problems that the world is facing!

So it takes three hours of fighting with the text prompts, google searches, teas, having to ignore the sunbirds that have turned extremely purple to find a new route that people have taken to take me for a ride. Maybe it was the same last time but I wasn’t aware. So each time it’s a new type of attack and I have to learn and add to my notes.

Turns out it’s a WordPress vulnerability that’s been discovered and supposedly fixed, has surfaced again. And it seems to be on the surfacing mode all the time – at least 4th time per people’s rambles. I really wonder if WordPress is really bothered about fixing these. For I see a lot of folks moving to their premium hosted solution and is there some strings attached?

At least, I ended feeling good having gotten over it at 9:30am – a flat 3 hours of Hollywood movie time, much like The Matrix. Back in the balcony, we had an army of tailorbirds that came to wish me for the good recovery. I’ve never seen more than two till then. The usual bulbuls testing the waters of the bird bath. The sunbirds whom I can only hear out of the windows a few moments ago, sticking out their tongues.. The magpie robins and white eyes. Wow, it was just all of them. I decided against running for the camera and continued to sip the tea which my better half got for me. All of it brought me the smile. Did you wonder why I had that Sunbird up there?

All that matters!

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.

IMG_7068-small-minivet

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.

IMG_9260-little-minivet-bird-crop

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