Parakeets Attacking Monitor Lizard, Bharatpur

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I photographed this sequence of a pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets (Psittacula krameri) attacking a Monitor Lizard (Varanus bengalensis) in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan.

Parakeets use cavities in tree trunks to nest, and the parents diligently protect the eggs from predators, including snakes. Monitor lizards are egg thieves, and this one’s attempt to steal the parakeet’s eggs resulted in an aggressive attack by the parent birds. 

Monitor lizards are tropical reptiles that belong to the family Varanidae. Due to rampant … Read More

Hispid Hare, Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh

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This image of the globally endangered Hispid Hare (Caprolagus hispidus) may have some conservation significance considering that this is one of the first wild images taken from northern India.

The hispid hare is a lagomorph in the Leporidae family (hares and rabbits). It is identified by its distinctively short ears and, unlike other members of the Leporidae family, short and stout hind legs barely exceeding the length of the forelegs. The animal is rarely seen due to its extremely shy … Read More

Flying Squirrels of Arunachal Pradesh

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There are about 46 species of Flying Squirrels found in the world and they are grouped under one tribe, i.e. the Petauristini tribe. Asia has the distinction of being home to most of the species. Flying Squirrels don’t actually fly, but glide from one tree to the other. They basically use their patagium, a membrane stretching from the wrist (forelegs) to the ankle (hind legs), to glide. Once airborne, these squirrels use their arms, legs, and tail to effectively navigate … Read More

Jackals and porcupine, Bharatpur

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On 15th October 2016 at about noon in Bharatpur National Park in Rajasthan, three jackals were seen by us around a fresh carcass of a porcupine right on the edge of water. They fled, and, try as we could, they did not approach the carcass in our presence. The carcass had injury marks on the neck and foot and a small opening at the rear.

Later, at 5.40 the same evening we found the jackals tugging away and feeding on … Read More

“Ganesha” Spider — a Unique New Spider that Masquerades as a Leaf!

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An oft-used survival strategy in nature is to mimic something you’re not, either to ambush unsuspecting prey or to convince predators that you’re not tasty!

On a warm summer night in April 2015, we headed out on a night trail in the evergreen forests of Agumbe, Karnataka. We were quite happy to see a few snakes, scorpions and frogs. We were still on the trail when I noticed something unusual. Initially I dismissed it as a fallen dried leaf. But … Read More

Whale and Dolphin Surprises in Goa

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A group of us ventured out to sea off the coast of Goa on a fishing trawler for a full-day survey of pelagic birds. These birds spend most of their lives out at sea, living a solitary life, and visit certain islands only during breeding season. We started our explorations in Goan waters in 2017, but our last two trips, on 14th and 21st October, 2018 were exciting and memorable for a completely different reason.

We usually start off by … Read More

Swamp Francolin, Kaziranga

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I thought of sharing an image I made of Swamp Francolins from the western zone of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve in Assam. The image was made in the afternoon safari during late December 2015. I was excited about spotting a rare species like this — we actually saw a family of six but I managed to capture only three in this frame.

As the name implies, this is a bird of swamps and damp areas, but it is … Read More

Red-breasted Merganser, Gajoldoba, West Bengal: A New Record for India

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The Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) is a polytypic species (ie has several variant forms) with a distribution range covering North America, Europe, Greenland and Asia. Through this note, we would like to establish the presence of the Red-breasted Merganser in the northern part of West Bengal, by presenting photographic evidence.

On the morning of 18th December 2016, we were coming down along the river Teesta towards Gajoldoba (teesta barrage) in North Bengal. At that time I saw a bird through … Read More

Sighting of a Super Pod of Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins off Chennai Coast

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On 6th August 2016, while on a pelagic birdwatching trip off the coast of Chennai, we stumbled upon a huge pod of dolphins approximately about 22 kms from the coast. Initially we thought it could be a group of different species as we saw a lot of movement, and breaching dolphins jumping high up in the air at a distance. They kept moving fast with one or the other individual breaching every now and then. There were calves and adults, … Read More

Rare Cinereous Vulture Sighted in Nagarahole Tiger Reserve

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I observed three Cinereous Vultures (Aegypius monachus) in the Kabini backwaters area of the Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in December 2016. They were feeding on a kill alongside Long-billed Vultures and Red-headed (King) vultures.

This is just the fourth sighting of the species in South India though it is not an uncommon bird in North and Northwest India as well as the Himalayas. Just a few weeks ago an individual was seen flying over Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, in February … Read More

Asian Koel Chicks in House Crow’s Nest, Chennai

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I saw this sight of House Crows (Corvus splendens) feeding koel chicks in their nest opposite our home in Mylapore, Chennai, on the 5th of August, 2018. I waited until the next morning to be able to make an image right from the terrace (with no disturbance to the birds).

I heard the chicks calling whenever the foster parents came, and found that there were four nestlings, two slightly older (bigger) than the other two. I soon realised that all … Read More

Short-nosed Fruit Bat and its Tents

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Short-nosed Fruit Bats (Cynopterus sphinx) make their own roosts in the form of hanging tents. These tents are usually made in palm trees, either within the fruiting pods or dry leaves, by removing the center portion of pods/leaves. This small colony made their tent within a Fishtail Palm (Caryota urens). These palms are best suited for these bats and make a great case to encourage planting them in urban parks and gardens.

These were photographed in a park near … Read More

Rusty spotted cat family in Tadoba, Maharashtra

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I had the good fortune of this sighting in the summer of 2017 at Tadoba Tiger reserve. On a morning safari, while driving from a waterhole in anticipation of a tiger, we encountered some movement in the bushes. As we turned off our engine, we saw a small cat appear out of the bush. Initially we thought it to be a jungle cat kitten, but later realized we had just spotted one of the most elusive members of the cat … Read More

Rare Bird Alert — Grey-tailed Tattler in Pulicat Lake

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Grey-tailed Tattlers (Tringa brevipes) breed in Siberia and use the East Asian-Australasian Flyway for migration. They are more commonly seen in the north of Australia, where they winter in good numbers.

Late September and early October are productive periods for shorebird lovers. This is the onset of winter migration and surprises are usually encountered. Pulicat lake covering the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh is one such place in South India where there is always a possibility of seeing … Read More

Rare Bird Sighted in Pulicat lake, Tamil Nadu Coast

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Birders and nature lovers were in for a treat this season.

A rare pelagic bird was sighted near the Pulicat coast in the last week of April, 2018. This is the first time the bird was sighted near Chennai. There are only two previous records from Tamil Nadu.

Lesser Noddy (Anous tenuirostris) is a bird that is closely related to terns. Pelagic birds spend most of the time in the sea and visit the shores only when they breed.

Pulicat … Read More

Indian Grey Mongoose with Indian Eagle Owl Kill, Maharashtra

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This photograph was taken in February 2015 at Hiraj-Solapur, Maharashtra, where Indian Eagle Owls are regularly seen near a canal.

I was surprised to see an Indian Eagle Owl in the clutches of an Indian Grey Mongoose (Herpestes edwardsii). When I came across the scene, the kill was pretty fresh and there were feathers lying around. I saw the mongoose dragging the kill from one end of the road to the other and then to a nearby mound.… Read More

Tiger Stalks and Hunts Down Wild Dog in Nagarahole

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We witnessed an astonishing natural history moment while on a ride inside Nagarahole Tiger Reserve on the 20th of September, 2017. 

Just as the rain stopped in the morning in the Kabini area of the park, our safari jeep came upon a tiger facing off with a large pack of dholes. The crouching tiger seemed ready to pounce, when a bike-borne forest department staffer came riding between them, inadvertently chasing both away. The tiger disappeared into a bush, so we … Read More

A Rare Sighting of the Indian Wolf at Tadoba, Maharashtra

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For several years now the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) has been in the limelight for its tigers. Tourists visit the park in hordes to fulfil their dream of seeing a wild tiger. However, this forest has much more to offer.

During a visit to TATR on 21st November 2016, I was very surprised to spot an Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes). It was early in the morning and light was low but I managed a few images.

Apparently … Read More

Scutiger Feeding on Western Tree Frog, Bisle, Karnataka

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On a rainy night on 6 July 2015, we encountered an arthropod of the genus Scutigera feeding on a juvenile Western Tree Frog, Polypedates occidentalis. Commonly known as the house centipede, the Scutigera spp we saw was chewing on the eye of the froglet. We made observations for about five minutes and continued on our survey as part of the annual “Bisle frog watch” activity. The froglet seemed to be stunned with venom, as it never moved. This incident was … Read More

Chousingha near Pune, Maharashtra

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We were out on our regular Sunday bird-watching trip, 70 kms outside Pune city when we stumbled on this Chousingha or Four-horned Antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis) on 22nd May 2016 at 6:50 AM.

Arriving at a road section where the hills were clothed in scrub jungle, we decided to explore the area on foot. We saw something like a Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) take a couple of jumps and run behind a small hill in a matter of seconds. Sandip was quick … Read More

Pied Crow sighting at Jodhpur, Rajasthan

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The Pied Crow (Corvus albus) is a widely distributed African bird species of the crow genus. Presently its conservation status is Least Concern (LC).

On 13th August 2017, Mr. Vinod Puri Goswami, Mr. Digvijay Singh Rathore and I witnessed and photographed a single Pied Crow together with few Common Ravens (Corvus corax) and House Crows (Corvus splendens) at a cattle carcass dump about 20 kms from Jodhpur city. This sighting may be the first documented wild sighting from India. The … Read More

Brown Mongoose, Valparai

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The brown mongoose (Herpestes fuscus) is restricted to evergreen forests, plantations and even human habitations in the Southern Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Not much is known about this species compared to other mongooses.  Camera trap surveys suggest that they are less diurnal and more crepuscular than other species of mongooses.

During a recent visit to Valparai we came across a brown mongoose in a small stream amidst tea plantations. Valparai is possibly the best place to observe … Read More

First record of Rusty Spotted Cat from Ramgarh-Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan, India

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The Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) is the world’s smallest cat, found only in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It occurs in moist and dry deciduous forest types as well as in scrub and grassland. Rusty-spotted cats prefer dense vegetation and rocky areas (Worah 1991; Patel 2006) but have been found amidst agricultural areas and human settlements (Nowell & Jackson 1996; Mukherjee 1998; Kettle & Watson 2004). The Rusty-spotted Cat is listed as a Schedule I species under the Wildlife (Protection) … Read More

Great Indian Bustards near Desert National Park, Rajasthan

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On a trip to the Desert National Park in Nov 2014, I was fortunate to see 17 bustards in a fallow field just outside the park. The image captures seven of that flock.

The critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) is amongst the heaviest of flying birds. Less than a hundred remain in the wild, with the most (~70) being in Rajasthan, in and around the Desert National Park.

Currently (March 17 to 25, 2017), the Rajasthan forest department … Read More

First Records of Preorbital Gland Opening in Rare Wild Barasingha, Kanha TR, Madhya Pradesh

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The opening of the preorbital gland in deer serves as a visual communication and has been linked to a wide variety of behavioural situations. As we reported recently, all previous long-term studies on preorbital gland opening were carried out on only one species, whereas case reports on six other rarely studied species have shown associations with different behaviours, thus greatly increasing our overall understanding of the real function of this gland in animal visual communication.

Here, we report for the … Read More