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Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

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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Some places appeal so much to your heart that you get an intense desire to visit them, Khidrapur is one of such places. I came to know about this place some half an year ago and was keen to visit. Each hectic visit to Kolhapur somehow didn’t allow me to do so and this fact made the desire stronger and deep. Finally my latest trip to Kolhapur was fruitful. My sis took out time from her busy schedule and made it so.

We headed for Khidrapur in the morning. We took up road to ‘Narsobachi wadi’. It was pleasant drive through lush green fields of sugar-cane. It rained very heavily which added to the atmosphere. I found some birds like Shrikes, Brahminy Kites and Black-shouldered Kite on the way.

To reach Khidrapur (from Kolhapur):

  1. Take Kolhapur-Miraj Highway.
  2. Cross small villages like Dharma-nagar, Chipri, Shahu Nagar, and Shirol to reach Narsobachi wadi.
  3. From Narsobachi wadi, take road of Kurundwad and then via Sainik Takli reach Khidrapur village.
  4. Ask for ‘Kopeshwar Temple’.
  5. Approx distance is 60-65 Kms.

We reached Khidrapur. It is very small village with farming as primary occupation.

Kopeshwar TempleAs I parked my car, I got few early glimpses from road. This magnificent temple belongs to Lord Shiva, and named as ‘Kopeshwar’. I crossed the old stone entrance which brought us to temple vicinity. Kopeshwar reminded me of wonderful architectural carvings temples of Halebidu and Bellur. It is believed that Kopeshwar temple was built by three generations of kings, the Shilahar kings Gandaraditya, Vijayaditya and Bhoj-2 between 1109 and 1178 AD. There are Devanagri writings in the temple to support this. It’s also one of the few temples where both the Shaivas and Vaishnavas, who are arch rivals, come together in worship.

The mythological story behind the name ‘Kopeshwar’ is – Devi Sati (daughter of King Daksha) was married to lord Shiva. Daksha didn’t like in son-in-law at all. He was about to perform some yagna (hindu ritual performed along with holy fire) and he didn’t invite Sati & Shiva. Devi Sati felt sad and went to meet her father asking the reason behind not inviting her husband. In turn, King Daksha insulted Shiva and it was unbearable for Sati to tolerate her husband’s insult. She jumped in the yajna. Hearing this news, Shiva was furious and he punished Daksha by cutting his head. Later on, due to request of other deities, Shiva took back the curse and granted him life with goat’s head. It is believed that angry Shiva was brought to this place (temple) to cool his anger. Hence the temple got its name i.e. ‘Kop’ means anger and ‘Eshwar’ means lord Shiva.

Swarg MandapTemple stand firm with all its glory of stone carvings of 95 elephants and 108 pillars and hundreds of sculptures depicting scenes about from the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Shiva, the twelve astrological signs and flowers, trees, birds, human figures. As you step into the beautiful Swarga Mandap, you can actually feel the coolness. There are 12 superbly carved pillars which support the stone ceiling that is open to the skies. There is a beautiful round black stone slab at the centre which is called the ‘rangshila’. It is an amazing experience to sit on the centre of the stone round open ‘akaash gavaksh’ on the ceiling and look towards the dark inner sanctum of the grabha griha with its beautiful Shiva linga. It is said that all ‘adhyaaya‘ (parts) of ‘Shivlilamrut‘ are carved on the walls of the temple.

Next comes Sabhamandap, Antaral-kaksha and Garbhagriha. The Garbhagriha is more cold and dark. The shiva linga, burning lamps make the atmosphere peaceful and divine.

I was surprised to know that there was no nandi in the temple in spite of the fact that it is Shiva mandir. This is probably one of the unique things about this place. Another unsual thing here is sanctum has lord Vishnu first and then the Shiva linga to protect it. Each visitor first sees lord Vishnu and then Shiva.

It is sad that most of the sculptures are badly damaged by Islamic invaders in the later centuries. There is a story that one of Aurangzeb’s descendants strayed when wandering around on her own and came across this temple. She loved the place so much that she refused to leave the temple complex and go with her attendants. The Mughal Emperor came personally to fetch her. She agreed to leave on the only condition that he will not harm the temple and damage its beauty and so the temple remained untouched from the otherwise merciless Aurangzeb.
 
Khyder Khan, a later invader supposedly mutilated the carvings on the temple and cut almost all the elephants’ trunks. There are no exact historical evidences of ‘who destroyed what’ but it is very painful to see such beauty ruined. Unfortunately, the village of Wadi-Kopeshwar later came to be known as Khidrapur after this cruel invader.

Kopeshwar temple gave me much more than I expected. It gave me peace, joy and an opportunity to appreciate my homeland. Once again I felt proud to be an Indian and lucky that I can see all this. I clicked some snaps. It is really sad that such wonders are still unknown to the tourists. Saddest part is there are no milestones or sign boards about Khidrapur. We had to wait and inquire at several places. Also there is no much information available on internet.

This ancient architectural splendor should be made popular so that more and more people of similar interests can come and visit here. Such place needs to be maintained and conserved.

I decided to take another way while returning just for sake of finding new route and took road to ‘Ichalkaranji’. A fox gave us generous visit on the way and disappeared in sugarcane fields. It rained very heavily and many huge trees were uprooted on the way. I took a bypass through small village. It was messed up too. I could see a huge line of cars in jam for about 2 Kms at least. Paul, our lab doesn’t like it, if the car stops and in few minutes his barking attracted all the kids of the village. Kids gathered around our car and tried to get his glimpses through sun control filmed windows. Whole situation seemed funny and equally irritating as Paul was getting impatient. Finally, when I was about to start my car, I opened the car windows and all kids were very happily to see our handsome black Labrador.

After testing all my patience by worst traffic jam, lengthy waiting hours at railway crossing and narrow roads, I reached Kolhapur at 8:00pm.

Kopeshwar, (yes I prefer to call it just ‘Kopeshwar’ instead of ‘Khidrapur – Kopeshwar’) is strictly no miss-miss place if you are planning a visit to Sangli, Miraj, Kolhapur and alike.

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

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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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Many thanks to Michael for publishing my interview on BoingBird website!!!

You can read it here – http://boingbirdtv.wordpress.com/2009/07/10/boingbird-talks-to-photographer-ruhi-malgaonkar-northern-mocking-bird-photo/

And also for picking up my ‘Barn Swallow’ snap as “Bird pic of the day!” 😀

I have also posted the same interview below –

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Boingbird talks to photographer Ruhi Malgaonkar

In an interview with Boingbird CEO Michael Clark, Ruhi Malgaonkar talks about her photography, her master’s degree, her passion for birdwatching and where she wants to go in the future:

Ruhi, what is like to live in Pune, Maharashtra India? I originally belong to a city called “Ratnagiri” which is on western coast of Maharashtra state in India. I am born and brought up there. And then “Pune” happened to me. Pune is called “The Oxford of the East”, due to the various educational institutions. I came to Pune for my higher studies in 1999 and since then I am completely in love with this city. Pune has amazing climatic conditions and gifted by beautiful nature from all sides.

Who is Ruhi Malgaonkar? What is your life’s passion? Ruhi is a simple, optimistic gal. I like to enjoy each moment of life, crack jokes and like make others happy. I make friends wherever I go. I value relations more than anything else. I like smiling faces.

I started working at early age of 20 when rests of friends were busy enjoying their college life. Mine was more of “earn & learn” types. Along with work, I completed my Graduation and post-grads with flying colors.

In simple words,

By Camera, an amateur.
By Heart, a nature lover.
By Passion, a bird watcher.
By Career, a software professional.

What type of work do you do as a software professional? Are you still a student? I am working in a software organization as a ‘Module Leader’. Yes I am still a student. I am on verge of completing my masters in Computers.

Why did you become a birder and bird photographer? My home at Ratnagiri (native place) has a beautiful garden. Thanks to my Mom for her gardening hobby. It attracted lots and lots of birds. Some to name among them are Rose-ringed Parakeets, Cattle egret, Asial Koel, Purple-rumped sunbird, White-throated Kingfisher, Red-Crimson Sunbird, Oriental Magpie Robin, Tailor Bird, Orange Headed Ground Thrush, Red-vented Bulbul, Red whiskered Bulbul, Indian Mynah, Pond heron, etc.

Bulbuls, sunbirds, robins had usual nests. I was always fascinated with them and spent hours watching them nesting and feeding their young ones. I grew with up them and knowingly or unknowingly birding started since I was a kid.

There is huge ‘Sacred fig‘tree near and a flowing water canal behind my apartment in Pune. And birding continued. New birds were Indian Grey Horn bill, Parakeets, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Babblers, Pied Kingfishers, Cormorants, Darters, Oriental White-eye, Coppersmith Barbet, Kite, with bulbul, koel, crow and pigeon as common ones.

I became a Bird photographer much after birding. I capture birds because I like them. Still bird watching remains first love and then comes clicking. Given an option among these two, I would go for bird watching rather than photography.

When did you start your birding hobby? How long have you been a photographer? I don’t’ remember when Birding hobby bug hit me but roughly it started when I was 2-3 yrs old. I still remember my first pet was a Rose ringed parakeet when I was 2. It was gifted to me by my grandma. I enjoyed playing with it and feeding it. After a year or so, I just opened the door of the cage and set it free.

Photography started much later when I bought my camera in 2006.

I do have few friends who have similar interest i.e. photography. I belong to some few great groups on flickr.com. I have participated and organized in few photography exhibitions here in Pune. Our exhibitions financially supported some social causes like a deaf-and-dumb children school and an orphanage. It was altogether different feeling to interact with those children in our exhibitions.

What brought you from India to Dallas, Texas and what is the travel time from your home to Dallas? My work brought me to Dallas, TX. Travel time is approx 22 hours.

What do you think is unique in your approach to birding and bird photograpy? The unique thing about my approach is I don’t wish to disturb any bird while I do birding or I do bird photography. I won’t disturb it or its natural habitat for sake of my hobby.

I prefer wearing camouflage kind of clothes rather than wearing bright color when I do birding so that birds don’t get annoyed. I do take calculated risks on own in pursuing my hobby like climbing huge stone to get a desired shot, etc.

What methods and equipment do you use? I use a simple Canon digital camera – Canon S2 IS. I wish to upgrade to DSLR soon.

Talk about your experiences in Dallas and in America. I really enjoyed my stay in Dallas. It was good work (profession wise) and great fun at personal level. I stayed in Irving. The main reason behind enjoying is again “birds”. There were lovely birds around my hotel place. I got to see new American birds like Northern Mocking birds, Blue Jay, Northern Cardinal, Cedar Waxwings, Grackles, Swallows, etc.

When I found any new bird, I searched for bird’s name on the net and soon found that there is extensive birding done in TX. I was lucky that I visited here rather than any other state in the US. I quite liked Dallas but not sure about other states in the US.

I visited Nashville, TN and Catherine State Park in Arkansas. I also went to Fossil Rim Wildlife centre, Glen Rose, TX and enjoyed being with wilderness.

Where do you plan to travel to in the future for your birding and photography? I like driving, traveling, birding and photography and together they make great combo. I have already listed down quite a few places around Pune for monsoon trips.

In near future, I wish to travel and explore my own country across its boundaries. In India, we have all the essences together, from ice to deserts, from beaches to lakes, from naturally formed pot holes to mountain peeks, from rivers to wild life sanctuaries, from religious holy places to historical heritage monuments. It is my dream to see entire India.

On the other hand, definitely I would like to travel all around the globe and see the world!

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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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