Dholes near Karkala, Kudremukh

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On Sunday, June 22, 2014 we set out from Karkala, as usual, for a birdwatching and photography trip. We decided to explore Samse village close to Kudremukh town.

The monsoon got delayed this year, but it did rain heavily in the 3rd week of June. We were enjoying a downpour while driving through the dense shola forest of Kudremukh NP. At around 10:35AM we reached the South Canara Border (SK border), on to the left of the road I saw … Read More

Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle, Mysore

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Here is an image of an adult Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) sighted in Mysore on 2nd July 2014 near Chamundi Hills. This is a very interesting record for Mysore given that the species is an uncommon raptor restricted to the forested hills of the Western Ghats.

The Rufous-bellied hawk eagle is easily identified by its black upper parts, chestnut under parts and under wing-coverts and white throat and breast. The two sexes are physically alike but the female is … Read More

Elephants and Dhole, Anamalai Tiger Reserve

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This image was taken on June 3rd, 2014 at Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) in Tamil Nadu. We were driving from Aliyar in the foothills to Valparai and a group of around 50 tourists were cheering and screaming, we got down to see what was going on. An amazing drama was unfolding in front of us — a herd of elephants (7) were chasing away a pack of dhole (around 20) along the banks of the Aliyar reservoir!

As this road … Read More

Bioluminescent Fungi

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Night brings with it a sense of enigma. Darkness, and everything associated, is one such thing. This is more pronounced because of the fear instilled in us during our formative years. The familiar path that we tread with ease during daytime, under the cover of darkness, is full of ‘hurdles’ that often don’t physically exist. This primarily is due to our dependence on our vision. It also prevents us from exploring our environment under the night sky. For most urbanites … Read More

Himalayan Ibex, Kibber, Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh

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The Himalayan Ibex (Capra sibirica hemalayanus) is regarded as a subspecies of the Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica). They are found in the western Himalaya in Pakistan and India, usually at elevations of 3800m and higher. An adult ibex weighs about 90 kgs, and stands around 40 inches tall, with huge curved horns. The horns have notches on the front, and grow each year. Their coat is thick and woolly in winter, and shed in early summer. Colour ranges from … Read More

Madras Tree Shrew in BR Hills, Karnataka

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On one of the safari drives in BRT Wildlife Sanctuary, I came across a small rat-like mammal. Though I knew it was the Madras Tree Shrew, I wasn’t really sure since it had rarely been recorded in this area. The ID was later confirmed by experts.

The Madras Tree Shrew (Anathana ellioti), also referred to as the Indian Tree Shrew, is a small mammal belonging to the order Scandentia, and is endemic to peninsular India. It is distributed … Read More

Pale Weasel, Palam Bridge, Leh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir

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The Pale or Mountain Weasel (Mustela altaica) is a high-altitude carnivore which has a short muzzle, long flattened skull, a slim body and short legs. These weasels eat small mammals, birds, lizards, and occasionally insects and berries.

This species is found in the mountains of Asia, from Russian Central Asia to Korea to northern India.

This species is listed as Near Threatened because its population is in significant decline due to habitat loss because of over-grazing by livestock through most … Read More

Naga Wren-Babbler, Nagaland

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Here is an image of the Naga Wren-Babbler or Long-tailed Wren-Babbler (Spelaeornis chocolatinus) which I photographed in Nagaland in Jan 2014.

This species is Near Threatened and dwells in montane broadleaf forest with thick undergrowth of Nagaland and North Manipur, in NE India. A very active species, usually foraging close to the ground, but not as exclusively ground-dwelling like the Pnoepyga Wren-Babblers.

Originally described as “Pnoepyga chocolatina” by Godwin-Austen and Walden in Ibis p.252, 1875, from Kedimai, Manipur, … Read More

Lesser & Greater White-fronted Geese, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat

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Birders recently spotted two Lesser White-fronted and four Greater White-fronted Geese in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), Gujarat. Both are rarities and seldom seen in the Indian subcontinent. They are long distance migrants.

The Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) breeds across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland. The Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any geese species in the world.

The Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropusRead More

Forest Owlet, Melghat Tiger Reserve

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This bird is almost as mythical as the Phoenix!

During a recent trip to Melghat, I had a memorable experience with this extremely rare bird. I saw three individuals, which helped me understand the differences between the sexes. It was fascinating to watch their bobbing heads and flicking tails!

The Forest Owlet (Heteroglaux blewitti) was first described in 1873 and last seen in the wild in 1884. Subsequently, it was considered extinct. The bird was rediscovered 113 years later … Read More

Woodchat Shrike — First record for India from Alibaug, Maharashtra

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I am a birdlover and amateur photographer from Mumbai. On September 7, 2013, between 11:00 to 12:00 hours in the vicinity of Alibaug, Maharshtra, I was traveling on my bike looking to photograph some butterflies when I encountered this unfamiliar bird. The bird was very accommodating and allowed me to slowly approach fairly close. I posted the record shots on India Nature Watch (INW) where birdwatchers readily identified it as a Woodchat Shrike.

The Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator) … Read More

The Tree Whisperer!

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The leopard is one of the key predators of Bandipur Tiger Reserve. It is elusive, graceful and an expert at climbing trees. It has fantastic camouflage, making it difficult even for a trained eye to spot this spotted cat. Over the years, I have seen many a leopard by following pugmarks or alarm calls, and every sighting has been a learning experience.

Including watching this male, which is rather bold and doesn’t seem to mind the safari vehicles. This individual … Read More

Courtship of Red-necked Falcons, Tal Chhapar

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The Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera) is a widespread resident in India and adjacent regions as well as sub-Saharan Africa.

Once mating of this bird commences, the female suspends or minimises hunting and the male hunts and provides her with food, mainly birds. Here, a male brings a kill to the female. The female then starts de-feathering the dove. It is ironic that in doing so, the female doesn’t let the male come close to the prey. We see … Read More

Tiger – Gaur Face-off, Bandhavgarh

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I was on a evening drive in the Magdhi zone of Bandhavgarh national park when I came across this big male tiger. He was walking along the fence that was erected to contain gaur when they were reintroduced to Bandhavgarh from Kanha. Suddenly the tiger froze. I couldn’t figure out why. He had certainly detected something,  but I couldn’t see it. After about ten minutes he walked back on the road and suddenly I saw him face to face with … Read More

First record of Hodgson’s Bat from Western Ghats

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The Hodgson’s Bat (Myotis formosus) is a strikingly colored bat that roosts in foliage. It is a widespread species ranging from Central to South-east Asia. In India it is reported from 14 localities in North and East India and one locality in Central India. This species superficially resembles the more popular Painted Wolly Bat (Kerivoula picta).

On 12th January 2013 at 11:13 h, we (D.V. Girish, Shashank Dalvi, Vishnupriya Sankararaman and Rohit Chakravarty) visited Mullayangiri peak … Read More