Its raining…babies

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.

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Red Spurfowl (female) with her young | Forest Hills, Mudumalai, India

A chick poses for a few seconds while the mother, father and other siblings forage for food.

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Standing tall | Red Spurfowl (chick) | Forest Hills, Mudumalai, India

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!

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Grey Junglefowl (female) and her young one | Forest Hills, Mudumalai, India

The young junglefowl chick strikes a pose before getting down to foraging business.

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Striking a pose | Grey Junglefowl (chick) | Forest Hills, Mudumalai, India

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.  

Among the Top 100 | WIPA 2017

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Watch your step, kid | Sambar and Fawn Silhouette – Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, TN, India

In the recently concluded Wildlife Photography competition held by popular magazine Better Photography in association with the best in business; Toehold Travel and Photography Pvt. Ltd., I was pleasantly surprised to know that the above picture had been nominated for the main category of the competition from over 7000 entries. The image can be found here.

A personal favorite from my collection, this image was made way back in the year 2012. Post sunset we were returning from an evening drive and spotted the sambar and her fawn on the edge of the hill. The blue sky in the background and still figures presented an ideal opportunity to make a silhouette. Underexposing a few stops, and getting the focus right with the light rapidly decreasing, I managed this.

Shot with: Canon 1D Mark III + 300 2.8 IS II, 2x TC II 

The big switch

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Lesser Flameback Woodpecker | Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse, Mudumalai, India

Finally! Earlier in November I decided to shift my primary shooting gear from Canon to Nikon. I was on the lookout for a Nikon 500mm lens to replace the Canon one.

Earlier in January, a friend insisted I see a 600mm lens on sale. I thought ‘why not? No harm in seeing the lens!’. After testing the lens, I started considering this as an option especially for bird photography.

After debating and consulting friends, I decided that the 600mm telephoto was too tempting to let go. Super excited about this lens and looking forward to more birding.

Shot details: Nikon 600mm f4 VR + D7100 at Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse 

Christmas Greetings

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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”!

That bird in Yellow

 

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Yellow-browed Bulbul | Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse, Mudumalai, India

 

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 🙂

Shot with Canon 1D Mark 3 + 500 f4 ISForest Hills Farm and Guesthouse

The Devil Bird

Spot-bellied Eagle Owl (Forest Eagle Owl)I would have been kicking myself if I hadn’t gotten off the car and taken the camera out from the trunk (I was driving with four other friends…so no camera in hand). I spotted the owl off the main road in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. The first thing that came to my mind was the picture of a Forest Eagle-owl, photographed in BR Hills by Dr. Ajit Huilgol. Unsure if the owl I clicked was the same, I came back home and referred his picture against mine. It was the Forest Eagle-owl indeed! I was thrilled. This still remains as one of the most special wildlife and birding moments!

The Gentle Giant

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Elephants have been called gentle giants, primarily because of their graceful demeanour and large size. I’ve had the good fortune to sight, spend time and observe various behaviour of elephants at late Mark Davidar’s (a dear friend and inspiration) home.

img_2482Of the many elephants that frequented Mark’s home, was a tusker who Mark fondly called Rivaldo. He would visit daily to quench his thirst at the waterhole near the house but there was always the more enticing idea of being fed a fruit or two from Mark’s hands.

ele_relaxed_img_7843Though he would come quite close to the verandah where Mark and I would be sitting, he maintained caution whenever there were a few more people around. To see a wild elephant from such close quarters was an exhilarating experience.

On occasions, he would playfully chase away other visiting elephants and wild boar lest they steal his tidbit. And there were times he would have friendly interactions with other elephants especially males.

 

More stories about these gentle giants from home and around in future posts. elephant_comm_sjk_3501

The Rat-tled Snakes

 

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Rat Snakes in Combat | ISO 800, f8, Aperture Priority, Benro GH II mounted on a Manfrotto tripod

One evening when I stepped out for my usual rounds of the property (Forest Hills Farm and Guesthouse), I could hear something rustling within the fallen bamboo leaves towards one corner. As the combating duo made their way inwards, I followed them for an hour and a half witnessing this ritual from far and close quarters. One of the most difficult shoots too. There were very few moments when these two would actually stay still. This one picture was worth the wait.

 

Indian striped Hyena

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Mavanhalla, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, Southern India

As the last rays of the sun were fading, I decided to put away the camera. I turned it off and lowered the camera down without letting my eyes off the surrounding. From a distance, I spotted a figure ‘trotting’ in our direction. As it came closer and closer, I let out a subdued yell… HYENA!!! This one came very close and paused for a few precious seconds. Secretly praying for it to not move, I lifted my camera, shot up the ISO to 3200, under-exposed to get a better shutter speed and fired away! Incredibly lucky to see this “near threatened” species at such close quarters.

Culmination of the food chain

Elephants, Tiger and a Peafowl | Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India Canon 40D, Sigma 500 f4.5

Many a time we marvel at the beauty of a peacock dancing to the oncoming rains or appreciate the gentle giants frozen in their respective positions shielding their young or the mighty tiger basking in the sun after a good hunt and a full stomach… But all three at a time is a rare sight and I was lucky to witness the rarity.