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 

Ganeshgudi | A birding haven

A long drive to Belgaum had its own advantages. With Ganeshgudi only an hour-and-a-half away, an impromptu visit to the Old Magazine House was devised and I got there on a Friday evening.

I had checked earlier with a dear friend, Angad Achappa, about the usual suspects that frequent the Old Magazine House, so I had a fairly good idea what to expect.

Here are a few images of birds that I saw during my one night stay there:

  • The flagship species at the Old Magazine House is the White-bellied Blue Flycatcher. One can see quite a few individuals (both male and female) frequenting the bird baths.

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White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (male) | Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

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White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (female) | Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

  • Another common species is the Orange-headed Thrush.

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Orange-headed Thrush | Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

  • An occasional visitor – Lesser Yellownape Woodpecker

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Lesser Yellownape Woodpecker | Old Magazine House,

  • At about 6.30 am the next morning, there was excitement among the birding guide and a bunch of photographers. A Malabar Trogon had been spotted at close quarters! Following the bird, I walked along the road and made a few images. This by far has been the best sighting of the Malabar Trogon.

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Malaber Trogon (male) | Old Magazine House, Ganeshgudi

Other species that I saw during the same visit are:

Hill Myna, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Oriental White-eye, Black-naped Monarch, Yellow-browed Bulbul, Puff-throated Babbler, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Little Spiderhunter, Malabar Pied Hornbill, White-rumped Shama, Emerald Dove, Flame-throated Bulbul.

Note: The Old Magazine House now has a new bungalow with 6 well appointed rooms. Few old old cottages they had earlier have been dismantled and maybe renovated in the future.

All images shot with Nikon 600 f4 VR + D7100. 

 

 

Birding by the bridge

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. 

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White-rumped Shama (male)
 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. 

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Indian Paradise Flycatcher (female)
The extremely restless Flycatcher flying from one perch to another, offered a few seconds to freeze some frames. 

More from the bridge in future posts…