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Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

Autumn is here and it is time to enjoy fall foliage colors in the US. The trees around your place must be already best in their colors – yellow, brown and red. I am personally enjoying those hues of fall. The fall colors are dependent on the mositure, amount of the rainfall and transition to colder weather. The green leaves gradually turns into yellow and then brown/red and fall away from the trees. The word ‘fall’ resembles the falling on the leaves from the trees.

I have been googling for the fall foliage places in-and-around NJ for quite a few weeks now. Also visited few places and thus writing this post.

1. Plainsboro Preserve – To my surprise this heaven is closest to my place. It is a wonderful place not just to cherish fall colors but ‘nature’ overall. There is a huge water body and forest with loads of varieties of flora and fauna including birds. There are short and long nature trails. I enjoyed the ‘Maggi trail’ as it takes you on the path which is surrounded by water on both sides at dead end. And I feel short of words to express how it feels to be there.

2. Lake Hopatcong State Park – Thanks to my GPS which headed me to US route 206. The route itself is full of fall colors. Lake Hopatcong state park was in shades of green, brown and yellow. Maple trees were awesome. What I liked about the places is – there is a artifical short sand beach around the lake at park side, with some sliders and swings n stuff for kids. The good place for family outing. Get your food packed and eat on the benches under the fall trees.

3. D & R Canal State Park – The Delaware and Ranitan state park path runs along the flowing canal to the deep woods. Good place for biking and nature trail. You can see lot of deers. Very much into the city and easily accessible from Route 27.

Also people say that there are chances of citing good falls colors this year at places like – High Point State Park, Split Rock Reservior in Rockaway, Monksville Reservior too. So guys…enjoy fall colors this season! 🙂

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We made a plan to visit Sinhagad valley and left home by 6:30 am. We reached valley and saw ‘Changeable Hawk Eagle’.

The main attraction of this time was ofcourse, Paradise Flycatcher and we disbursed to take up the positions in the patch of the valley where these birds are ought to be found. The wait was on…

After some time, I found Paradise female coming in. I was happy to see it. It jumped from one perch to another and played hide and seek with us. I enjoyed watching and clicking it.

The next was, a juvenile Paradise flycatcher male. This was beautiful orange bird with long tail which added to its grace. I tried to click as many frames as I could. It approached water and started enjoying the breakfast. We drooled over its gestures as it drooled on its flies feast. 😛

And finally…an exceptionally beautiful Paradise Flycatcher male made its way and gave us a ‘courtesy visit’. It was royal white and appeared truely as a bird from ‘Paradise’. It appeared before us for few minutes and so I couldn’t get chance to click any of its snaps…Thanks to few (hopeless) group of 4, whose movements and standing up in the middle of its appearance, scared away the Paradise bird.

We got to see few more birds like Fantailed Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Red-throated Flycatcher, Tickells Blue Flycatcher.

We left the valley and took ‘Misal-paav’ break at Hotel Shivanjali which is at base of the fort. My long-lasting wish of seeing Paradise birds had come true as we finally met today. 🙂

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Reverse monsoon (November rain) is not a pleasant thing anymore. Moreover as it was accompanied with storms, cyclone Phyan and what not. Rains made the days dull and lazy. Weekdays were spent in the office and then came weekend.

My friend wanted to capture clouds/fog for time lapse in Mulashi-Tamhini and I decided to accompany him. (Don’t ask me about time lapse stuff, i dont know any technicalities of it but i can now understand and identify it visually. )

‘Mulashi+Tamhini+rains’ equation is always delightful and also we both didn’t meet for quite some time. These reasons were good enough to catch up. We started at 5:30 AM. Plan was to reach there before sunrise but we couldn’t speed up much, many thanks to worst road condition.

 Somewhere near Mulashi, we found a wild cat crossing the road. We slowed down to watch it. It stood up to see how are we to focus lights in its eye, it gave us a dirty look and walked away. It was still dark morning. As darkness began to vanish slowly we found the road to be foggy and road-side puddles gave us evidences of rains. Few miles later, we stopped the car and my friend showed me 1st new bird of the trip. It was ‘Pied Crested Cuckoo’ (मराठी: ‘चातक’). It was busy enjoying its morning breakfast. It is said that Pied-crested Cuckoo sights are sign that monsoon are in. This is migratory bird which travels from South Africa to India. He waited for while and proceeded ahead.

We halted in Tamhini ghat for sunrise. Lord Sun slowly rose from back of the mountains, generously spreading its rays on the earth, fading away all the darkness and making the morning pleasant and worth while. We took some snaps and drove till Plus valley. There was no fog and clouds rising from valley so my friend was not able to capture time lapse. There were few rain showers in the mid.

We came across an animal which was killed by the road vehicles. The animal was ‘Small Indian Civet’. It was sad to see this rare-cited animal  getting killed in such inhuman way. 😦

We traveled some more and waited at a spot.  We did hear some calls of birds and giant squirrel ‘Shekru‘. And also tremendously beautiful pair of Scarlet Minivets had caught our attention. He parked our car at road side and went to woods. The pair also had their baby with them. I must say Scarlet Minivet male with its red and black color is one of the most colourful birds I have seen in India. The female is none less and is yellow-black with some patches of grey on wings. We silently stood at trees. I was seeing them for first time and all I wanted to do is watch them. Needless to say, thanks to my wildlife expert friend who knows all about birds, wildlife and immediately identifies them.

Another attraction was loads and loads of colourful butterflies. I enjoyed seeing and clicking them too. We started our return journey at 11:30 and took a ‘Quick bite’ break while returning.

Mulashi-Tamhini and its wildlife treat is full of many such surprises and too irresistible to miss.

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Purple Sunbird in eclipse plumageMy fondness with sunbirds dates back to more than a decade or so. My home garden at Ratnagiri, houses many birds. Sunbirds are major among them. I still remember when I first noticed the Purple-rumped sunbird pair building their nest on our pomegranate tree branch. The couple was hard-working and busy building their sweet home. The interior decoration was done with cotton, small feathers to make it cozier. The nest was ready and female laid a single egg in it. She was home-bound to incubate it. After a week or so, I could hear chirping of the baby. Both the parents took intense care of their baby. They feed it timely. The baby grew faster and started peeking out through the nest. One day it came out of nest and parents promptly taught it all the lessons of life. Extracting nectar was most important lesson. They accompanied it on almost all types of flower which had nectar. Baby sunbird was not able to fly and was jumping from one small branch to another. I have spent endless time watching them. I was young and didn’t have camera to click snaps. Soon the baby became independent and flew away to live its own life. The empty nest hanging on my tree branch remained there for quite some time. I was lucky to see birds so closely since childhood.

When I got my camera, I started clicking sunbirds every time I went home. I don’t know which generation of Purple-rumped sunbirds comes to my garden now but I feel they too know me. They make me chase them harder for n-times in a day to get my desired shot but I do get some nice clicks at the end of the day.

Red Crimson SunbirdSince last few years, I found another beautiful species of Sunbird coming home. It is Red Crimson Sunbird. It comes mostly in monsoon. It is not easily seen in Pune and most of my bird watcher/photographer friends keep on wondering how am I able to see it every time.

In my outing to Nighoj-Daryabai-Takali Dhokeshwar, I got to see Purple Sunbird. Its dark purple color was just amazing.

Recently I shifted to new place in Pashan. Again, a familiar chirping caught my attention. I rushed to my balcony and was glad to see Purple Sunbird on the branch near by.  This time it looked different. My friend helped me with the fact that it looks different due to an eclipse plumage. Yesterday I clicked few more shots for my new friend.

Now I see, find and identify Sunbird everywhere I go and my obsession with these cute little beauties continues forever…

Some zoological info about Sunbirds here –

“Sunbird is classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Nectariniidae. There are 132 species in 15 genera. They have long and slender, highly curved bills, tube-shaped tongues, and feed primarily on nectar and small insects. However, they perch when feeding rather than hovering as the hummingbirds do. They are typically small birds, with length of less than 10 to 20 cm and are native to forest and brush throughout Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. The males of most species are brightly colored, with metallic, sometimes velvety, plumage. Out of breeding season, the males tend to take on the duller female plumage. Sunbirds may change their feeding grounds during the non-breeding season but are not particularly migratory. They are not very gregarious, and males tend to be aggressive, especially during breeding season. Sunbirds build a characteristic purse-like, hanging nest, into which the female deposits her one/two, rarely three, white or pale blue, variously spotted or striped eggs.”

Note – For more Sunbirds snaps click here – http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=sunbird&w=10523689%40N03

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Peacock FeatherI visited “Morachi Chincholi” for second time last weekend. From learning from last visit, this time we started very early morning at 5:00 AM. I had my friend and her family along with me. They were very keen to see this place and we made a plan.

After reading my earlier post on “Morachi Chincholi“, a young chap called “Tanmay” from same village was very much excited that I wrote about his village and then we got in touch through mails. He insisted that I should visit his home when I go there again. He has also launched website to promote this specialty about his native. I became his critic to make his efforts better. This time I had company of Tanmay’s cousin “Dattatraya” in exploring more peacocks.

So….we reached there at 6:30.  On entering the village, we heard the “Mee-ow” of peafowls and then we HAD to stop. We had first flocks of peafowls to welcome us. 🙂

Datta joined us and we began to go to different places around the fields to see more peafowls. I really wonder how God has gifted this bird with so many magical colors. Its elegancy is divine. We witnessed graceful dances of peacock from behind of the shrubs and bushes without disturbing them. I am spell-bound to explain how amazing it was! 😀

Datta invited us for breakfast and tea and I just couldn’t deny his offer. We went to his place. His house was simple and neat with livestock of cow, buffalo and bullocks. His mother made “Pohe” and “Kanda bhaji” for us followed by refreshing tea. We were overwhelmed by their warm welcome and hospitality.

While returning Datta gifted us with peacock feathers as memento. I said to myself that this is not the last time and many more visits are on my mind. I strongly believe that there are some knots tied somewhere among the individuals which make us to meet different people in our life. I am happy that my path has crossed many such in my life.

We reached Pune by afternoon. My weekend was celebrated!!! 😛

Note: Few more snaps here – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/tags/morachichincholi/

Disclaimer: Friends, I recently got a comment that someone visited Morachi Chincholi and was unhappy that ‘Datta’ didn’t help/entertain them. Let me make it very clear that ‘Datta’ or people alike, whom I met are simple villagers who don’t have any travel company to entertain visitors like us. Nor do they do it for money. It is just for sake of relation and love that they have with me. I am thankful to them for that. I highly disclaim here that do not visit Morachi Chincholi or any of the places with expectations that ‘Datta’ or any villager(s) whom I wrote about, will help/entertain you. I myself have visited many remote places around Pune without knowing anyone there. Intention of my blog is not to provide you assistance for site seeing and food. My sheer objective is to provide detailed information about routes, place and share my own experiences.

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Lakaki LakeEvery time I passed from Jagtap Dairy in Model Colony, this beautiful lake caught my attention. Finally one evening, I decided to go there and find it out. I bought the ticket and entered in the park. I was pleased to see beautifully developed park around the lake with walking track. Another attraction was obviously birds. To name a few are Spotbills, Egrets, Waterhen, Coots, Crow Pheasant, pigeons, Indian Mynah, Cuckoo, Kites, and Robin.

“Model colony lake” or also known as “La-Kā-Ki” (named after Industrialist ‘Laxmanrao Kashirao Kirloskar’ whose residence is just near by) is supposed to be more than 100 years old and unique nature reserve. Since 1995 there were some controversies going on its development but finally it was open to public.

WaterhenI found a water hen with its three chicks. The parents were busy in building new nest for this season. Dad walked on the lotus leaves and came up to bank to get the sticks. It carried new stick and passed it on to the mom who was actually putting it in the place. Even in this bird species, interior was of home-minister’s choice. I waited and watched their activities endlessly and they were so busy and did not bother about the rest of the world. Dedication was key factor.

I clicked some snaps of birds. The park care-taker came up to me and we had talk about park, birds, etc. I told him Marathi names of birds and he seemed to be satisfied.

Lakaki lake is supposed to be ‘silent-zone Park’ and ideal place for reading, writing (i.e. for poets and writers), bird watching, meditation, being with nature and peace. May God save this place from vulgarity of couples like Sambhaji park and Saras Baug.

Gentle Request: To all people reading this post, please avoid making loud noise or talking loudly if you happen to visit this place. You can sit and speak softly along with enjoying amazing nature here.

The park timings are 6:00 to 8:00 AM and 4:00 to 6:00 PM (In summer, till 7:00PM)

Ticket for park is Rs.5/-

Note: For more snaps click – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/tags/modelcolonylake/

Google Map: http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=111578650756510337605.00046bd0fe4ad9c3ad2be&ll=18.531192,73.841794&spn=0.007182,0.009656&z=17

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I accompanied my friend to ‘Sinhagad valley’ on Saturday morning. I started from home at 5:30 AM and reached my friend’s place. Two more friends joined in and we all headed for the valley.

Common Iora‘Sinhagad’ or ‘Sinhagad Fort’ valley is an amazing place for bird watching. In monsoon, there is a stream which flows by the fields and on another hand there are dense trees. Local people use this way to climb up the fort. Valley has now become famous among the birders. All you have to do is – search for a suitable place, sit quietly, set your gadgets (camera, bino, etc) and you could have darshan (glances) of all varieties of the feathered beauties.

I have my friends who have spent hours and hours in valley to get desired shot of ‘Asian Paradise flycatcher’ and believe me friends, it is no more less than doing meditation. 😛

I have been there twice and that was among some of the best bird watching activities I have done. We reached the base and had tea at local hotel. We climbed up and entered the valley. We scattered in search of different birds. We saw a Crested Serpent Eagle hovering in the sky.

Here is the list of some of the birds found in Valley:

  1. Ashy Prinia
  2. Jungle Prinia
  3. Pied Crested Cuckoo
  4. Scaly breasted Munia
  5. Red Munia
  6. Red whiskered Bulbul
  7. Red vented Bulbul
  8. Purple Sunbird
  9. Black Drongo
  10. White-breasted Kingfisher
  11. Common Kingfisher
  12. Pied Kingfisher
  13. Crested Serpent Eagle
  14. Blue napped Monarch flycatcher
  15. Asian Paradies Flycatcher
  16. Ticklle’s Blue Flycatcher
  17. Ultra-marine Flycatcher
  18. Fan-tailed Flycatcher
  19. Red-throated Flycatcher
  20. Cattle Egret
  21. Green bee eater
  22. Little Bee eater
  23. Tailor bird
  24. Black-winged Kite
  25. Marsh Harrier
  26. Eurasian Black bird
  27. Magpie Robin
  28. Grey Babbler
  29. Crested Bunting
  30. Indian Robin
  31. Golden fronted Leaf Bird
  32. Red-rumped Swallow
  33. Dove
  34. Oriental White-eye
  35. Orange Headed Thrush
  36. Common Iora
  37. Small Minivet
  38. Jungle Babbler
  39. Jungle Mynah
  40. Tree Pipit
  41. Yellow Sparrow

And the list is never ending… Along with these birds there are different types of lizards like Garden Colates, etc.

This time I used my binocular more than my camera. Bird watching being the first love, I clicked very few snaps and did more of watching. It is intense pleasure to see these birds. 😀

After spending good amount of time in the valley, we decided to take its leave. We went to same hotel and had breakfast before returning.

This was a pre-monsoon visit and I am desperately looking forward for my monsoon visit to Sinhagad valley. Undoubtedly ‘Sinhagad Valley’ is birder’s paradise!!! 🙂

For more snaps visit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ruhiclicks/tags/sinhagadvalley/

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