All ears turn blue

Earlier this year in the month of July, Mahesh and I planned a quick trip to photograph Rain Quails in the outskirts of Pune! While in Pune, Mahesh received an update about  a sighting and possible photo opportunity of the Blue-eared Kingfisher (a kingfisher species that had still eluded us). The closest we got to seeing this elusive kingfisher was in Thamdi Surla, Goa, a few years ago.

Excited about this sighting, we reiterated our plans and decided to go to Abloli (near Guhagar), stay the night, photograph the kingfisher and then head back to Bangalore. The drive from Pune turned out to be a long one due to bad roads in the last leg.

We finally reached Abloli with just about half hour of light left in the day. Exchanging pleasantries with our host, Sachin Arekar, we headed straight to the hide where the kingfisher frequented.

We took our slots and waited. I was not carrying a tripod or monopod and was struggling to shoot handheld with equipment weighing over 6.5 kilos. Add to it the swarming mosquitos. The heavy lens gave me more trouble than the blood suckers! Waiting a few minutes, Sachin signalled that the kingfisher would come out in the open anytime.

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Bumping up the ISO, I made a few images. Shooting in almost darkness, we wrapped up hoping to have a good morning session.

In the morning we reached the hide and to my utmost surprise, Sachin had made a support for my lens and camera with the help of two pipes. Settling in my slot, it was waiting game for the kingfisher.

The male landed first and a few times thereafter, and ordinary images were the result.

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Blue-eared Kingfisher (m) | Abloli, Maharashtra, India

On a rare occasion, the female graced us with her presence. The resulting image also not satisfactory.

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Blue-eared Kingfihser (f) | Abloli, Maharashtra, India

Waiting to make that one image which would satiate the hunger for all these years, finally came true. The blue-eared male landed on the perch, and for a brief second or two, posed well.

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The Poser | Blue-eared Kingfisher (m) – Abloli, Maharashtra, India

Contented to have seen this kingfisher at such close quarters, making satisfactory images was worth every bit of change in plans.

Sachin Arekar our wonderful host runs Garva Agro Tourism, a comfortable and homely set up. Not to forget, sumptuous food too. 

Images made with Nikon – D850 + 600 f4 VR 

Barsaati nullah di Kudi

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Barsaati nullah di Kudi | Bijrani, Corbett Tiger Reserve, Uttarakhand, India

A week in Corbett hadn’t borne any fruit (read tiger sightings). The highlight of the trip so far had been a wonderful sighting of the very rare Leopard Cat, Common Green Magpie and a Collared Falconet! All three of course in the Dhikala region. Sightings in Bijrani had been poor and the jungle trips were ending in disappointments.

Wrapping ourselves in multiple layers including thermals, we set out yet again for the morning drive in peak winter. The bone chilling cold was only starting to leave as soft light shone through the sal trees. The gorgeous winter sun turning everything into gold that morning.

Driving past the barsaati nullahs (watercourse that flows during rains), Dhasmanaji guided the gypsy onto a track leading to a waterhole. Pramod jumped in excitement and pointed ahead…Tiger! Over a hundred feet away, a flash of orange and black disappeared from the road side into tall grass.

Rushing forward to the spot, there was no sign of the tiger. We backed up and waited by the side of a barsaati nullah, in hope that it would reappear. Minutes later, there was a rustle in the thick grass, soft cautious steps approaching us and then she emerged. The gorgeous morning light enhanced the beauty of this young lady and we shutterbugs finally had an overwhelming sighting.

Image shot with: Canon – 1D Mark IV + 500 f4 IS