Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pittas and Snakes

Decided to do a quick birding session in Valley school this morning. The plans were made friday but confirmed yesterday night. Since I stay in Talaghattapura I need not travel long distances to find a very good birding location, Valley school is about 4KM from my house. So I can decide in the morning and go for a quick birding session.

Especially after seeing Pitta last week and after reading Dr. Krishna's mail in bngbirds regarding Pitta's getting ready for their return migration I decided to try my luck today and see if there were more than 1 Pitta there.

I started at around 5:45 from my house. First sighting was a Juvenile Shikra right next to the road. Before I arrived at the valley school I saw family of Grey Francolins crossing the road. There were 2 adults and 1 juvenile in the family. Got down at valley school entered the details in entry registry and started birding. Very close to the entrance I saw 4 Green Bee Eaters sitting on a wire and doing some slick acrobatics in air catching their early morning breakfast. It was amazing to see their moves in mid air.

I headed towards the fig tree hoping to see some birds around. There I saw a little commotion where lot of birds were crying away. On close inspection I saw a Spotted Owlet. Probably all the birds there did not like the Owls presence there. I waited for some more time there to check if any other birds fly in. I saw one big bird fly and sit on one of the trees close by. Again as luck would have it was Blue-Beared Bee Eater again. So 2 weeks in a row I was seeing this bird. But this time around he sat on a far away tree and all I could manage was a very bad photograph as you can see below. It had Bumble Bee in its mouth. Again very lucky to see this bird atleast.

Blue-Beared Bee Eater

Went ahead to check if there was any activity near the abandoned house, found few swifts flying around. Couple of weeks back had not seen any activity. This time they seem to be coming back to their nests. After that followed the trail inside.

All of a sudden I saw a green colored bird coming out and sitting on a far off branch. Soon realized it to be a Pitta. There he was sitting and enjoying the early morning sun. He spent some time there on the open branch and flew inside the bushes. After that wanted to visit the Orange headed thrush area and on my way I saw one bird flying from my left side and sitting on a tree. It waited there for a while and flew into the bushes.

Indian Pitta
After that saw couple of fantails and Magpie robin in their courting ritual. Then all of sudden heard Pitta calls all around. I could hear from at least 3 different sides. After sometime saw couple of Pittas chasing each other. It was a different feeling to see so many Pitta's on a single day.

And then I heard a commotion somewhere close by. At first I thought It should be deer's around. But when I went close and saw it was couple of snakes in territorial fight or trying to woo the female. We have been wanting to see snakes in the wild for a long time. We rarely had any luck.  But this time it was two snakes and in a fight:-) It was amazing to see them keep raising together, twisting, crawling and hissing.

Rat Snake?

I also saw White Rumped Shama, Tawny Bellied Babblers, Puff-Throated Babblers too. Also crows chasing what looked like a mottle owl.

Puff Throated Babbler
It was almost 8:45 and my time was up. I decided to head back. On the way back saw warbler very close the bike I had parked and while driving back I saw Brown shrike too.

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Brown Shrike

Greater Coucal

List of birds seen during the day. The same has been uploaded in e-bird too. And the link for the same is mentioned below.

1 Gray Francolin
2 Indian Peafowl
3 Oriental Honey-buzzard
4 Shikra
5 Black Kite
6 Red-wattled Lapwing
7 Laughing Dove
8 Asian Koel
9 Spotted Owlet
10 Blue-bearded Bee-eater
11 Green Bee-eater
12 White-cheeked Barbet
13 Coppersmith Barbet
14 White-naped Woodpecker
15 Rose-ringed Parakeet
16 Indian Pitta
17 Brown Shrike
18 Black Drongo
19 White-browed Fantail
20 House Crow
21 Cinereous Tit
22 Red-vented Bulbul
23 Red-whiskered Bulbul
24 White-browed Bulbul
25 Common Tailorbird
26 Ashy Prinia
27 Tawny-bellied Babbler
28 Puff-throated Babbler
29 Indian Robin
30 Oriental Magpie-Robin
31 White-rumped Shama
32 Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher
33 Pied Bushchat
34 Jungle Myna
35 Common Myna
36 Brahminy Starling
37 Pale-billed Flowerpecker
38 Purple-rumped Sunbird
39 Purple Sunbird

Monday, April 21, 2014

Photographing Red Rumped Swallow and Purple Sunbird

Couple of weeks back Raghu and myself decided to go for a birding walk. This time we decided to take the route which we had not explored before. We took the Kanakpura road and took a left which goes to TK falls. En route we stopped at a place where we saw couple of Red Rumped Swallows very close to the road.

They were collecting mud from the small water pool which was formed on the road. It was interesting to watch the number of times they came back and forth to collect the mud. They would take a small break and resume the activity again. We spent our entire morning watching these birds which a very good experience in itself.

This was the first time seeing this bird up close and needless to say that these are the best photographs I have taken of this bird.

Meanwhile we saw Oriental Honey Buzzard fly across. I was kind of lucky since my camera was almost able to latch onto the focus. I haven't taken a better photograph than this of any bird in flight except may be Kestrel and Pied kingfisher when they were hovering :-)

And then came photographing Purple Sunbirds. We could see these birds in good numbers where we were photographing the swallows. At last I was able to manage few decent photographs of Purple Sunbird(Male). One of the birds which I find extremely difficult to meter because of its color.

Interesting sightings in Valley School

Visited valley school again this weekend. Started from home at around 6. After reaching the school I saw couple of Indian Grey Hornbills. I heard Jungle fowl, woodpecker and Bulbuls all morning.

After a short walk saw a white naped woodpecker flew away to a nearby tree. I went ahead on hearing it call and while I was waiting there, couple of people joined me, Thomas and Kumar. They were friends of Ajit. We had very good birding day together.

The first interesting sighting of the morning was the Blue Beareded Bea-Eater. It flew and sat near a tree very close to us. We got a very good view of it. It was my first time seeing this bird at a close distance. It was amazing experience. I could not get a good photograph since the light was not that good. But just sighting of this bird was an amazing experience. Birding couldn't have started in any better way.

Blue-Bearded Bee-Eater

We went ahead to check the nearby fig tree which was fruiting last time and we had seen lot of birds in that tree including black hooded oriole. This time there was not much activity there. All we could see were Myna's and Barbets. After walking ahead we saw Blue Faced Malkoha, Sunbirds and Barbets. Another Fig tree was fruiting where we could see lot of Barbets, Myna's, Crows and also couple of Tickell's blue flycatcher.

We went near the abonded house to check if there were any swifts. But the woodpecker call invited us to check them. We saw couple of Juvenile White naped woodpeckers along with one adult White Naped woodpecker.

Yellow Billed Babbler

White Naped Woodpecker

We went to the Bamboo area where we had seen Shama couple of weeks back. But this time around there was no Shama. We did see Puff Throated Babbler, White Throated Fantail flycatcher as well as Magpie Robins. We saw courtship of Magpie Robins too.

White Throated Fantail flycatcher

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Another interesting sighting was an adult spotted dear. He was majestic with big antlers. He came towards us running and after sighting us he ran away. After about a minute we saw 3 dogs following its trail. It was disturbing to see feral dogs trying to hunt a deer. I hope this deer was safe. He had 1 minute head start anyways.

Then we went to an area where we had seen orange headed thrush last couple of weeks back. There we saw White Rumped Shama. It was good to see this fellow in 2 consecutive visits. I had not seem Shama in my last visits to valley school.

Then we saw one of the rapotor flying and sitting on one of the trees close by. We went ahead to check the bird but could not see him. But that led us to another interesting sighting and this time it was Indian Pitta. We just could not believe our luck. Sighting a Pitta when it was least expected. This fellow was in no hurry and he kept foraging on the ground. And flew away after a while. My second sighting of this fellow. My only sighting was in Dandeli.

Indian Pitta

Since it was already 9:30 we decided to head back.

An eventful day came to an end. Thanks to Thomas and Kumar for their wonderful company.

List of birds seen during the day.

1. Common Myna
2. Jungle Myna
3. Common Crow
4. Jungle Crow
5. Red Vented Bulbul
6. Red Whiskered Bublbul
7. White Browed Bulbul
8. Rose Ringed Parakeet
9. Asian Koel
10. Greater Coucal
11. India Grey Hornbill
12. Coppersmith Barbet
13. White Cheeked Barbet
14. Yellow Billed Babbler
15. Puff Throated Babbler
16. Tawny Bellied Babbler
17. White Naped Woodpecker
18. White Throated Kingfisher
19. Ashy Prinia
20. Blue Faced Malkoha
21. Shikra
22. Black Kite
23. Green Bea-Eater
24. Blue Beared Bea-Eater
25. White Rumped Shama
26. Indian Pitta
27. Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
28. White Throated Fantail Flycatcher
29. Asian Brown Flycatcher
30. Jerdon's Lark
31. Pied Bushchat
32. Grey Francolin
33. Grey Junglefowl (call)
34. Indian Robin
35. Brahminy Kite
36. Common Iora
37. Oriental White-Eye