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

Bearded Vulture or Lammergeier, Jammu & Kashmir

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The Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) is also known as the lammergeier. It is classified as Near threatened in the IUCN Red list. It is distributed along the high mountain ranges of Europe, Africa, Caucasus, the Indian Subcontinent and Tibet, naturally occurring at low densities all across its range. It is monogamous and breeds once a year, laying two eggs.

Unlike most vultures, lammergeiers do not have a bald head. This is primarily due to the fact that they feed almost … Read More

Amur Falcon, Malampuzha, Kerala

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While birding with a few friends near Malampuzha dam in Palakkad District, Kerala, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a group of 30 Amur Falcons perched on high tension electricity wires. At around 1400 hours they descended to the grasslands and started to hunt insects — crickets, locusts and grasshoppers. They were oblivious to our presence and kept feeding on the abundant prey. We were completely awe-stuck by their presence and their hunting.

Until only a few years ago, these … Read More

Tigress Making a Wild Pig Kill, Nagarahole

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We were on a morning jungle safari on 29th November 2016 in the Kabini backwaters area of Karnataka’s Nagarahole Tiger Reserve. Repeated peacock alarm calls alerted to us to the possible presence of a predator. Soon, we saw this tigress on the track stalking some wild pig that were on the other side of the elephant proof trench (EPT). We were lucky to witness the tigress jump across the EPT into the agricultural fields of Machegowdanahalli village, make a kill … Read More

White-tailed Wood Rat, Purna WLS, Gujarat

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White Tailed Wood Rat (Madromys blanfordi) — First Record in Purna Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat.

On 23th January 2015 at around 2:29 am, we were travelling from Dhulda to Mahal, passing through the Purna Wildlife Sanctuary (PWLS). The PWLS, spread over a small valley, falls in Kalibel range, situated in Dang district of South Gujarat. The area has dense forests with thick bamboo brakes and is drained by the beautiful river Purna, which gives the sanctuary its name.

As we were … Read More

Bioluminescent Phytoplankton, Juhu Beach, Mumbai

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We all saw this spectacle in ‘Life of Pi’ without realizing what it was! These are bioluminescent phytoplanktons called dinoflagellates. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light (at night) by a living organism. Phytoplankton are photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that inhabit the upper sunlit layer of almost all oceans and fresh water bodies on Earth. They emit a protein called luciferase which helps them glow in the night.

There are several genera of dinoflagellates which are bioluminescent. Most of them … Read More

Caspian Plover – A Winter Rarity in India

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The mudflats near Panje village near Uran, Navi Mumbai are known to be a favourite stopover destination for many uncommon migratory birds, so we visited the place to try our luck.

Our day began with listening to the calls of Rain Quails and the sighting of a beautiful Jacobin Cuckoo followed by the usual sightings – Prinias, Bulbuls, Munias, and waders like Sandpipers, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Stints and Lapwings. Further on the trail, along the dry mudflats, we observed a few … Read More

Indian Grey Hornbill Nesting Adaptability, Indore

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In the middle of the city of Indore, an Indian grey hornbill pair has made its nest in a hole (cavity) on the 2nd floor of a multi storied building. Till now it is known that hornbills make nests in cavities of large trees, but this peculiar nesting behaviour has amazed the birder fraternity.

I was informed by a fellow birder that a hornbill was being seen near a building very frequently in the mornings and evenings. I immediately figured … Read More