Sunday, 19 July 2020

Hampi - A treasure trove


Hampi - A treasure trove

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Hampi is known to everyone as a UNESCO heritage site with its extraordinary architecture. Some of the temples and structure go back a millennium, weathering the onslaught of  various invasions, treasure hunters and weather.

There is art in every stone and it could take a lifetime, for anyone who is interested in architecture, to see and enjoy those magnificent creations of man.

The Chariot

Along with that Hampi also has a natural side to it, with a rich diversity of flora and fauna. This is not a very highly known aspect of Hampi, and just as in many other places, this is area which I am quite interested in.

The ruins are not home only to those brilliant architectures, some others also call it a home. Like this little wise guy hiding in the wedges.

Spotted Owlet

I visited the place twice - once in 2016 and then again in 2017 - both times thanks to Birdwingers for organizing the trip and initiating me to Hampi, especially to its natural side. We were hosted by a local multifaceted gentleman, who is a naturalist, conservationist and also an avid bird lover.

Rufous tailed lark

Watching and photographing the birds started right from during the journey from Hosepet railway station (the nearest railway station) to Hampi. Once we are out of the hustle and bustle of the town, there are quite a lot of birding opportunities all along the way.

Most of the route was through the banks of a canal which is a tributary from the Tungabadra. The place itself provided excellent opportunities for those interested in birds and other natural beauties.

Monitor lizard warming itself in the morning sun

Indian Eagle Owl

White Ibis or Black headed Ibis

Once we reached our host's place, which is somewhere slightly outside the Hampi heritage town, we were presented with amazing opportunities for birding. Since it was still not mid-day and the birds were still quite active. So we decided to take advantage of this opportunity.

Indian Silverbill

Brahminy starling

The place adjacent to the Daroji sanctuary proved to be a very good place to see a variety of birds and animals. We just had to sit hidden and watch these beautiful friends walk by us!

Elegant ramp walker Painted Spurfowl

The most elegant and colourful pair are here! Mr and Mrs Peafowl!



The curious Mongoose

We can find some of the very long distance migrants as well. Here are 2 such real long distance fliers!

A pair of Bar-headed geese - These guys migrate from as far as Mongolia

Black-winged Godwit - Can fly 11,000 KM non-stop

Common Hoopoe

We also tried to get some species that are not too common in other places, especially the Yellow-throated bulbul, which is endemic to Hampi and the surrounding habitat.

Plain prinia

Red munia or Strawberry finch

This tiny beauty is an endemic bird. Always active and has a sweet song. Considering the habitat, this fellow is a bit hard to find, but the efforts are worth it, for sure.

The local fellow - Yellow-throated bulbul

We came to know of a place where we can find the Painted Sandgrouse. Though it was already evening and the sunlight was getting low in the rolling hills kind of place, we did manage to find them. These birds are mostly in pairs and we did find them so in this case.

Painted Sandgrouse

The Daroji sloth bear sanctuary is another must see place. Apart from the Big Baloo, there are quite a few other wildlife there. There are reports of even leopard spotting, but we had not been lucky enough to see one during our visit.

Honey in the sap of the tree?

The cautious look

The Leap

Evening was spent in the farm of our host. The habitat was quite rich with the food needed by some of the birds.

Always thought that Koels were black. But when the evening sun showed different colours!

Koel - Male

Ashy crowned sparrow lark - The adult male feeding the chick

Large grey babbler having a cautious look

White-breasted water hen going about its business

Even the night fall had something beautiful in store for us. Both the times we were there, we had the chances to witness some spectacular views and skies. And it is not just the humans who enjoy such splendid sunsets, even our closest relatives do!

Money enjoying the sunset

Why would be not enjoy such a wonderful scene!

A very colourful sunset and one of the most photographed place in Hampi

When God decides to show us something really spectacular, just enjoy without thinking too much. Not sure what the phenomenon here is, but these 2 were one most spectacular twilight sky we ever witnessed!

Twilight sky with some deep colours

Hope you enjoyed the natural world of Hampi. Next time when you visit there, make sure you visit this natural side of this amazing place!

Nature in its full glory!

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

Agumbe - A world of its own

Cobra - after being rescued

The Amazing Agumbe

It has been quite sometime (Apr, 2016) since I had visited this amazing place - Agumbe. Thanks to Birdwing Travel and Photography, who had arranged this trip, specifically for the macro life of Agumbe.

Back to the most recent (if 4 years in recent!) trip. This was specifically for the wild nature of this wonderful place. The naturalists, at KCRE where we stayed, had extraordinary knowledge of what could be found where within the forest.

Green vine snake

Keep in mind that this place has some of the highest population of the Spectacled Cobra and King Cobra. The naturalists are mostly involved in the conservation and rescue activities of snakes apart from educating people about the co-existence.

But is not just the snakes, but the various small creatures that add to the real beauty of this place.  Most of these cannot be found in the urban setup. Here are some of such beauties. I do not have the names of most of these magical creatures, so pardon for not mentioning the names.

The skittering frog

Grass hopper playing peek-a-boo

Some creatures might look like they are from some other planet, but no! They are all very much part of our eco-system,

A colourful locust?

Beetle with a whiplash!

Paper wasp in its nest

Lantern fly

During night the forest literally comes live with so many nocturnal creatures, that will definitely make one feel as if we in some other world!

A bunch of bugs

A "Love"ly pair

You can also witness the predators and preys very closely

Tree frog

Cat snake

A praying mantis feasting on a hapless chocolate pansy butterfly. After all, these fellows too like chocolates!

Praying mantis preying on Chocolate pansy

Spider with a perfect symmetry

The limited time we had in the place definitely was not enough to enjoy this wonderful place. But, that is what is keeping us interested and wanting to return to such a place, right!

Ornate flying snake

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Balcony Photography

The farm as viewed from my balcony

Photography from Balcony

While the lock down is still effective, there is no way of going out with the camera for bird photography or any kind of photography.

However, I would say I am blessed in a way to have a balcony that gives me quite some opportunities for helping me keep engaged with what I love to do! Having a farm right in front of the balcony also helps this to a great extent.

There are a few common visitors that turn up every day without fail. Their acrobatics are quite a treat to watch.

Black kite soaring from a ground perch

Sometimes they do get quite close, either out of curiosity or to warn a potential threat!

Black kite up close!

Not all of these predators are acrobats. Some play their waiting game, sitting composed and tracking a prey, while being very aware of their surroundings as well.

Shikra on a high perch and alert

Not all of them are extroverts. There are quite a few shy ones as well.

Southern Coucal doing a balancing act

Also the carefree romantic pairs.

Pair of Common rock pigeon doing a sync flying

I have my personal alarms as well. A couple of them makes sure they wake me up in the morning. This one with its sweet singing.

Red whiskered Bulbul

And the shrill one, which is not so subtle with its wake up call. It is amazing how the smaller ones have such a shrill voice. Be it birds or humans!

Ashy Prinia

The energetic one that tries to show off its beauty!

This one is really interested about flowers

Yet another lively fellow, caught while she was taking off from its borough in the tree.

Rose ringed parakeet - Female

Well most of these guys live in pair. But these ones are the most "distinguished" of them.

Pied Bushchat - Male

Pied Bushchat - Female

Hey! What makes you think its only the birds that makes the place lively? We are there too - colourful, lively and living our life to fullest!

Spotless Grass Yellow

Lemon Pansy


And not all of them are colourful and fun loving. There are some predators amongst them as well!

They praying mantis on the lookout for a prey

Back to the birds. There were a few surprise visitors to the apartments. Though these were not from the Balcony, these were also within the apartment complex. So had the opportunity see them as well, without actually having to leave home.

Black Drongo - Can protect its territory aggressively even from much larger birds

Blyth's Reed warbler
This one was quite a surprise. The jungle myna. I know there are small pockets of forests nearby, but really did not expect this guy to be around!

Jungle myna

When it rains things become even more beautiful!

Purple rumped sunbird - preening while sheltering from rain

One of the very occasions when the barbet decided to come to the tree that was right outside the balcony.

White cheeked barbet completely drenched in rain

Its not just the birds that look beautiful while raining. The natural phenomenon makes everything beautiful!

Lightning lighting up the night sky

Even the moon looks to be a in a trance!

Moon draping the clouds

Hope you too find something interesting to do while being at home. Stay safe!

A evening panorama