Shaheen Falcon with Rose-ringed Parakeet Kill, Nilgiris

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The Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator) also known as the Indian Peregrine Falcon is a subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest member of the animal kingdom. The Shaheen is non-migratory and predominantly feeds on small and sometimes, medium-sized birds. It is famous for its characteristic style of hunting, called the ‘stoop’ – the bird does a high speed dive from a great height and strikes its prey at a high speed. It is known to reach speeds … Read More

Red-tailed Trinket eating a Leaf-nosed Bat

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On 16th November 2013, while collecting data on bats in a seashore cave at Havelock Island in the Andamans, my field assistant, Saw Isaac, spotted this beautiful snake and alerted me. The snake was perched safely in a notch at the low roof of the cave, which was occupied by a colony of about a hundred Anderson’s Leaf-nosed Bats (Hipposideros pomona), and was seen constricting its victim. I clicked a few pictures for documentation, after which we left … Read More

Swamp tiger, Sundarbans

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The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal halophytic (saline) mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres, of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh, and the remainder in India. The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Like many species of the Sundarbans, its tigers too remain highly understudied. Though it is a known fact that the big cats love water, these mangrove specialists are a step ahead and are excellent swimmers. Sundarban … Read More

Ruddy Kingfisher, Sundarbans

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The Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda) is a poorly understood kingfisher species. An uncommon kingfisher in the subcontinent, it is found in the Eastern Himalaya, NE India and Bangladesh, from tropical and subtropical evergreen forests as well as mangroves. It was earlier concluded that this medium-sized, rufous-orange tree kingfisher, with bright red bill and legs, is a passage migrant to the mangrove forests of Sundarbans in West Bengal, and can be seen for only for a week’s time at the most. … Read More

Rare sighting of the Andaman Banded Dandy

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The Andaman Banded Dandy (Laringa horsfieldii andamanesis) is a butterfly that is rarely encountered in the Andamans. Butterflies of the genus Laringa are found in S. Myanmar, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Palawan. This andamanensis subspecies occurs only in South Andaman.

I photographed this butterfly at Chidiya Tapu, South Andaman on Dec 01, 2012. The individual in the photograph is a female. The male is overall dark blue with a pale blue band.

This is probably the … Read More

Tawny Eagle with a Spiny-tailed Lizard, Tal Chhapar

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The Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastyx hardwickii) is the only herbivorous lizard in India, and has a wide distribution in small fragmented populations in the dry areas of northwestern India. These lizards hibernate through the winter in their burrows and emerge in spring. In the arid landscapes they habitat, they form a significant prey base for predators especially raptors and small carnivores.

Things didn’t go as per plan for this unfortunate lizard emerging from winter migration in the grasslands of … Read More

Day of the Jackal, Chennai

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While on our usual birding trip, we headed towards this grassland on the outskirts of Chennai looking for migrant species. This is actually a fresh water lake and beautiful grassland side by side, with the monsoon bringing in a copious inflow from sources near the lake. The lake is one of the important wetlands around Chennai, and serves as foraging and breeding grounds for several resident and migratory birds. As we started to scan, we suddenly saw movement, and noticed … Read More

Rare Bird — Gold-crested Myna

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Of all the Indian mynas, the Gold-crested Myna (Ampeliceps coronatus) is probably the most mysterious. Very rarely has this bird been sighted within Indian limits. Very little is known to the general public of its whereabouts, though it is regularly found in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar.

The definitive encyclopedia on Indian birds, Ali and Ripley’s Handbook, records two sightings from South Assam Hills (Cachar) and Manipur, and describes the bird to be “uncommon” and “little … Read More

Siberian Weasel, Sikkim

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20th of April, it was raining heavily in Zuluk, East Sikkim, and the homestay owner hurriedly came to me and said that a “Neuri-musa” (Siberian Weasel) was in his kitchen. First the weasel entered the kitchen in search of food and I took some photographs using my mobile phone and head lamp; later when the weasel stopped foraging inside the kitchen and came out beneath the roof shade, I took some close ups of this elusive beauty. Local people consider … Read More

In search of the Pale-capped Pigeon, Odisha

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The Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea), a large dark purplish-maroon bird with a contrasting pale crown, has a wide but fragmented range in South and South-East Asia from Odisha (Orissa), Assam and north-east India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam to south China (where it has not been recorded for many years). Generally a primary or secondary evergreen forest dwelling frugivore of plains and foothills, it has been recorded as high as 1,600m and in habitats such as mangrove forest in Thailand and … Read More

South Indian Flying Lizard, Chikmagalur

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I photographed this flying lizard in a coffee estate near Chikmagalur, Karnataka, in February, 2013. While returning from field work, I noticed the animal busy feeding. I observed and followed it for sometime, then waited at a vantage point for it to take off.

Flying lizards of the genus Draco are members of the reptilian family Agamidae and are unique in their ability to glide from one tree to another. Draco is a species-rich genus with more than 40 species … Read More

Flying Fish, Bay of Bengal

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While on pelagic birding trips in the Bay of Bengal off Chennai, we would encounter flying fish. They would take off from under and around the boat, fly over the sea and re-enter the water! It is an amazing sight to watch a  school  of these fish in action.

Flying fish live in all of the oceans, particularly in tropical and warm subtropical waters; there are about sixty-four species of them in the world. Thanks to their streamlined torpedo shape, … Read More

Resurrection of a Montane Snake from Northeast India

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Amphiesma clerki was described as a species new to science by Frank Wall in 1925, based on a single snake collected by a Mr. Clerk from Sinlumkaba in Kachin State, Myanmar the previous year. 18 years later, Malcom Smith in his Fauna of British India, Volume III, identified that specimen as a different species, Amphiesma parallelum without any comment. This rendered Amphiesma clerki invalid, and was presumably due to the superficial similarity between both species as well as lack of … Read More

Black Kite Scavenging on Greater flamingo at Chilika Lake, Odisha.

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Chilika Lake in Odisha is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in India. It was a dying lake in the 80s, but has been brought back to life thanks to scientific restoration. It is now a haven for an incredible range of biodiversity. The complex ecosystem of Chilika supports the livelihoods of more than two hundred thousand people in Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha.

When I was photographing at Nalaban bird sanctuary in Chilika Lake during the … Read More

Re-sighting of Collared Bar-headed Geese at Veer Dam, Maharashtra

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It was indeed exciting when a collared Bar-Headed Goose bearing a dark orange collar “RT” was sighted and photographed at Veer dam in Maharashtra on 01 January 2015. This was the only bird with a collar amongst 193 individuals present. Apart from Bar-headed Goose, one Ruddy Shelduck had a collar but could not be photographed. Mumbai birder Adesh Shivkar and team also recorded a collared Bar-headed Goose (C6) on 13 Jan 2008 from Veer Dam.

The information was mailed to … Read More