As I sit in the hide, a familiar call takes me back to a little over a year ago. An evening session and an uncalled visitor; the Scimitar Babbler .
That evening, without warning the babbler showed up, sat on the perch meant for woodpeckers and in a jiffy dived into a water basin behind the hide, splashed and quenched its thirst and then restlessly visited every perch set up and in the end, settled on a branch of a neighbouring tree.
I can tell you quite honestly, I probably held my breath the longest, the camera tightest and prayed the hardest! All because getting this sulker out in the open and sit patiently is not an easy job.
Everyday I hear the scimitar sing, everyday I hope that he visits, everyday I hope for at least a guest appearance, everyday I am left wanting! It has been a year now, and the scimitar still sulks!
Here’s to maybe a visit, maybe a tease, maybe a sighting, just maybe a photograph!
The mug of coffee sits beside me untouched as I reflect upon the year that passed by. While travel for photography was restricted mainly to Bandipur, Kabini and of course birding at home i.e. Forest Hills, few new places were explored purely for leisure.
Here’s to more travel, photography and exploration.
I always looked forward to evenings at Mark’s place (Mark Davidar). To me, Mark was a dear friend and an encyclopaedia of knowledge regarding wildlife. It was always a pleasure listening to his stories and incredible experiences.
Many a session have passed sitting in the verandah beside Mark who was always armed with his binoculars and had this amazing intuition for wildlife movement.
As we sat chatting one of the evenings, Mark mentioned about a certain Sloth Bear visiting the property regularly. She has a cub too, so be on the lookout for them, he said! I acknowledged with a nod. No sooner after he told me, I got lost in my imagination of a mother bear and a cub piggybacking on her.
It must have been past 5.30 pm, Mark trained the binoculars in front of his eyes and calmly stated, Sloth Bear! As I looked towards the trail, I saw two black objects walking at a brisk pace. The mother bear and her cub following her closely. As they stopped and curiously looked in our direction, I made a few images. Moments later, as the sun faded away in the sky, the mother-cub duo also walked away.
Soft light shone through the canopy of bamboo as one visitor after another came, made their presence felt, posed for photographs and went about their business (foraging).
Once the coast was clear, Mr. Red decided it was his turn to show off. The usually intimidated spurfowl walked in cautiously but soon settled himself after scanning the area to make sure no other dominating birds were around. As he posed in the lovely golden light, it allowed me to make a few frames as the red turned to gold.
A regular visitor to the photography hide, the red spurfowls rarely leave us disappointed. Stay tuned for more.
Travel and work kept me away from home for a while. Post rains, a lovely sun-lit morning was a welcome sight and I trotted into the hide to entertain my winged visitors.
To test a recently acquired 1.4x TC, I mounted it on the lens and started making images of a white-cheeked barbet nibbling away on a fruit. A woodpecker landed on the dry stump, as I trained my lens onto the woodie and saw that unmistakable red on the head and I knew there was something odd about this woodpecker!
On closer inspection, I realised the wings were fully golden! This was indeed a different woodpecker….the Greater Goldenback Woodpecker! The woodpecker explored the stump, hopping around and after a minute or so, took off.
Always a great feeling, when a new winged visitor makes an appearance at the hide 🙂
A beautiful green coat, a striking red beak and an exotic blue patch on the throat sums up this little birdie.
Preparing myself for the parrot’s visit to the fruiting Singapore cherry tree, I got myself in position and waited. Sure enough a parrot landed on the tree and got to business right away. Hanging like a bat, the parrot proceeded to feast on ripe cherries.
It is indeed a beautiful sight to see these parrots negotiate branches carefully, hang upside down and feeding. The Vernal Hanging Parrot is one of my favorite birds!
Images shot with: Canon 40D + Sigma 500 f4.5, Feature image with 40D and 300 2.8 + 2x TC
Mosquitos were feasting on me as I waited in the birding hide for the brown-cheeked fulvetta. A number of these skittish birds were occasional visitors. The drying river bed few metres away from the hide worked in my favour. Evening sessions which were usually non-productive started attracting birds due to water availability at the bird bath.
Few fulvettas appeared cautiously, took a dip in the bath and left. A white-rumped shama would disappear somewhere behind, only to perch on a stump few minutes later and dry itself. An old bird bath that was removed and left behind the perches had collected water and was hosting birds! Must bring that bird bath to the front, I made a mental note.
And then in a flash, a bird appeared…yellow beak like a curving sword and the unmistakable colors! One of the shyest birds, and a skulker; Indian Scimitar Babbler had made a quiet entry. The presence of this babbler is known by the continuous calls but always stays hidden behind thick foliage.
Hopping down from the tallest stump, it disappeared into the old bird bath. All I could see was splashes of water and I hoped for it to sit out in the open to dry itself. A painful wait ended with the babbler sitting on every perch at the hide and finally settling for a branch on a tree nearby.
Ignoring the sound of the shutter, the scimitar babbler calmly dried itself while I made some images. Once done, the babbler made a quick exit, leaving me with a wide smile. A quick review of the images left me smiling wider. I finally had pictures of the skulker.
It has now passed two years since I set up of the bird photography hide in Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse with the assistance of friends. Without doubt, it is the Red Spurfowl that attracts most attention and is by far the most popular visitor.
One morning while waiting expectantly for birds to turn up at the hide, the red spurfowl (male) walks in and inspects the surrounding, seconds later the female walks in with three chicks! With the excitement levels already high seeing the spurfowls, it was joyful to see the chicks along with them.
A chick poses for a few seconds while the mother, father and other siblings forage for food.
As if the spurfowls with their young were not enough, in walks a Grey Junglefowl (female) with a young one by her side. It was tough deciding which family to shoot!
The young junglefowl chick strikes a pose before getting down to foraging business.
With the activity of the young ones only started, stay tuned for more posts and pictures.
Equipment used: Nikon 600 f4 VR + D750 mounted on Benro GH2 Gimbal head + Manfrotto tripod.
The stream which flows at the entrance of Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse attracts a host of birds. Commonly sighted birds are Malabar Whistling Thrush, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Black Drongo, Red-vented and Red Whiskered Bulbul, etc.
One evening I was treated to wonderful sights of the White-rumped Shama and female Indian Paradise Flycatcher.
A White-rumped Shama poses on a steel pipe. It was nice to see this otherwise shy bird sit comfortably in the open despite my presence.
The extremely restless Flycatcher flying from one perch to another, offered a few seconds to freeze some frames.
As we enter the last week of the year and on the joyous occasion of Christmas, here is one picture of the Plum-headed Parakeet holding a pod of the “flame of the forest” tree as if it were delivering a postcard.
With naturally gifted colors which also represent the traditional red and green of Christmas, here is wishing all you lovely people out there “Merry Christmas”!
About a year and a half ago, I had set up a bird photography hide on my property. Of the multiple species that visited the perch, the yellow-browed bulbul was one species I had been praying for.
Many months later, sitting at the hide on one of the lazy mornings, I heard a familiar call. Moments later a pair of Yellow-browed Bulbul landed on a perch. A few fickle minutes of exploring the perches, feeding, a quick dip in the bird bath and off they went.
Immense joy and satisfaction fills me for having the much awaited species as a visitor at my hide 🙂