Tag Archives: bharatpur

Black Kite (Pariah kite)

Black Kite

(Milvus migrans)

Size(60-65cm): Medium sized raptor. Just a little small than the Greater-Spotted Eagle.

Area: All India till about 2000m in Himalayas. Above that subspecies M. m. lineautus exists.

Habitat: Forests, human inhabitation and cultivation.

My two words: The birds has a dark brown plumage with paler head and neck. Underparts have streak. The tail is forked.  The outer flight feathers are black and the feathers have dark brown bars and with some mottling at the base. The legs and bill are black. The ceres and the interior of the mouth are yellow.

Black kite is often called Eagle by children and even grown-ups in towns and cities which is slightly bigger in size than the Black Kite and the Kite has a forked tail which is not seen in the Eagle (Greater-spotted/ Indian-spotted/ Steppe/ Tawny Eagle). Black Kite can be differentiated from the Red Kite by its less forked tail.

The Indian subspecies (M. m. govinda and M. m. lineautus) breed during January and March. Eggs are usually 2 in number. Both the male and the female contribute towards making a nest which is a rough base of twigs etc. The nest is often reused.

The diet is the same as that of the Shikra-small animals, rodents, small reptiles and smaller birds.

The call is musical whistling which they utter frequently during breeding season.

 ~Arjun Basandrai

Dusky Eagle Owl

Dusky Eagle Owl

(Bubo coromandus)

(Dusky Eagle Owl)

Size(56-58cm): It is a big Owl and very easy to recognise.

Area: N, NW, C and NE India south of Himalayas; absent in S India.

Habitat: Forests, leafy trees and close to human inhabitation.

My two words: It is a large owl with a pale grey-brown plumage and white spots on the upperparts. There are fine and long streaking on the breast and below. Ear-tufts distinctive. The eyes are yellow and fierce looking.

They are found mostly solitary or in pairs but sometimes three or four birds are scattered over a place. 

They are active mostly during the time of sunrise or sunset. The rest of the day they just sit around on a tree branch and rest. 

The nesting season starts from November and ends about near mid-March. The nest is made near water and preferably near human inhabitation.

House Crows are the daring birds which disturb this beast the most. 

(Dusky Eagle Owl being disturbed by House Crows)

Their diet includes small birds, small animals, insects, frogs and some rodents.

Their call is a deep woo…woo…woo…woo…woo…oo…o… which starts to fade towards the end.

(Dusky Eagle Owl at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur)

It is a not a rare bird or an endangered one, in fact it is listed as ‘LC’ (Least Concern) in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, but still is not seen very often.

~Arjun Basandrai

Spotted Owlet

Spotted Owlet

(Athene brama)

(Athene brama indica at Phillaur Divisional Forest)

Size(20-21cm): It is very small that is why it is called Owlet not Owl.

(Spotted Owlet pair at Phillaur)

Area: All India except Middle and Higher Himalayas.

Habitat: Human inhabitation, forests, gardens, parks, cultivation and dry lands.


My two words: It is a common, white and brown Owl. The upperparts are grey-brown with thick white spotting. The head is pale brown with fine white spots. The underparts are white with brown streaking. The neck and supercilium are also white. The iris is pure yellow.

The race A. b. indica is paler all over.

Solitary or in pairs or sometimes even in small groups. 

They are nocturnal, although they are often seen during the daytime. Trees with a hole are their favorite roosting sites. They are mainly seen when disturbed by other birds or during flight. Not a difficult one to spot but at the same time, not an easy one.

When disturbed, they bob their heads up and down and stare at the intruder for a long time before flying away.

(They sate the intruder for a long time sometimes with tilted heads)

Food mainly includes small insects, small vertebrates like mice, sometimes toads. I have seen it feed on a Red-wattled Lapwing chick at my residence.

(Spotted Owlet near its hole)

3-4 eggs are laid in the hole. after hatching, only 1-2 birds fledge and leave the nest. the young ones are fed on small insects for the first few days of their life and slowly they take upto small vertebrates. 

(Two juvenile Spotted Owlets at Phillaur)

Their call is a loud and harsh chirurr…chirurr…chirurr which is heard mostly during sunrise or sunset.

(Spotted Owlet at Harike Wetlands)

They are quite common and are often overseen by people due to its body coloration.

~Arjun Basandrai

Owls (Strigidae)

Owls are birds from the order Strogiformes. There are two families of owls – Strigidae or True Owls and Tytonidae or Barn Owls. But, in this section we are going to talk only about Strigidae family.

As we all know, Owls are nocturnal birds, meaning, that they are active during the night. They have broad head, sharp, binocular vision, talons.

An interesting fact about them is that during flight they make negligible sound of flapping wings.

Another interesting thing is that unlike most other birds, their eyes are fixed and cannot rotate. So, their heads are adapted to turn 180 degree allowing the bird to see its back as well.

Some of them are carnivorous and some are omnivorous.

The species we will be talking about here are:-

1. Indian Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena)

2. Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)

3. Dusky Eagle Owl (Bubo coromandus)

~Arjun Basandrai

Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-3…

Bharatpur-November 2018 trip Day-3…

The last day we spent in Bharatpur was a wonderful one. Today, for us, the day started well before it did for everyone else around. We woke up at 6, took a bath (after 2 days), got ready to go and this is how we got ready for another marvelous adventure. This was the last day of our trip and we went into the Park just to go boating as except my father nobody had done it before here in the Park. Like always the rickshaw person was there on time but this time we didn’t go with him. Instead, we packed and took off in our own car because we had planned that after returning from the Park we will not go to the guest house but directly go home.

(A stone board near the Park’s main entrance)

Like yesterday, we entered the Park, bought tickets went inside but this time the priority was boating not birding.

Missing every bird and animal in our way, we hurried towards the boating area but when we reached there, we heard a bad news that there were many people there in waiting and our turn will come after about an hour. It is right that we were disappointed but we didn’t care and moved on. 

Now, the first treasure was a Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla).

(Eurasian Wryneck)

That one didn’t stay for long but gave us some good shots. We went into thorny bushes in search of it but in vain. We only saw some Common Babblers (Turdoides caudata) in there but they too were in a hurry and didn’t give us any chance of even a single photograph. 

We moved further and reached the Sunset Point and waited there for something to happen and it happened! A White Breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) came flying and sat on a branch very close to us. The closeness cannot be explained through words. The bird was so close that we had to go a bit back so that our cameras could focus on the bird. The interesting thing was that it had a fish in its bill.

(White breasted Kingfisher with its prey)

This photograph up here was the best one we clicked on this trip. When the bird flew away, a call came telling us to reach the Boating Area immediately as the person was waiting there for us. We hurried up and before we could start we saw a Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela). We hurriedly clicked 5-7 photographs of it and went back.

(This one was not a fully-grown adult but was almost mature)

In about 10 minutes we reached the Boating Area, went into the boat and in minutes we were in the water in a boat. 

For a long time, there were no birds to be seen when suddenly an Indian Silverbill (Eurodice malabarica) came flying and sat on an aquatic plant very near to us. We clicked photographs of it and not Just photographs, we clicked great photographs of it.

(Indian Silverbill)

When the bird left we spotted an Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)

(Intermediate Egret)

The next thing we saw was just amazing. A Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker (Leiopicus mahrattensis). He really made us mad because it didn’t stay on the same tree for long and kept shifting its place and us catching it in a boat was stupid but we were determined to get a great photograph of it. After half an hour of hard work, we accomplished our mission.

(Yellow-Crowned Woodpecker)

The area where we did boating was the same where we came the previous day on foot but the difference was that at that time we were on land and this time we were in adjoining waters. We stopped near the path to get off the boat and try our luck and see if we could see some Great White Pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) but in vain. We didn’t get any Pelicans but still, we stood there taking photographs of comparatively less interesting birds like the Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) etc. There was a person sitting on the ground taking photographs of Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) feeding. Suddenly he started shouting “Flamingos-Flamingos”, his camera still pointed towards the Spoonbills. We all were surprised because nobody could see them coming except him. I thought that he was a noob and was calling Spoonbills Flamingos but, the next moment there came a group of 5 Greater Flamingos towards us. I misjudged that man (😮). We were not able to see them because there were tall bushes in the way and he was sitting in an open space.

(Eurasian Spoonbills feeding)

(We didn’t get a good shot of them because we were late but they were also not bad)

When the Flamingos were gone, we also decided to go back and we went into the boat and were ready to go back. This time we didn’t see anything at all except a Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) and a Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus), none of them worth stopping. 

It was time to go home now. We stopped where the Lemongrass Nature Trail begins to try for a Spotted Owlet (Athene brama). The last photograph we clicked was of an Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) – An adult with an Immature.

(Spotted Owlet Juvenile in hole)

(An Immature and an Adult Egyptian Vulture)

(A White-Breasted Kingfisher we clicked on the way)

Next, we went back to the main gate, paid the guides for their hard work, and wished goodbye to them as well as the Park and the City. 

Our last stop was at Mathura Brijwasi Restaurant where we had a delicious and fulfilling breakfast (actually it was both, lunch and breakfast) and then we stopped nowhere before Ludhiana. We reached Ludhiana at about 7:45 pm.  We wished goodbye to the Adv. Ravi Sharma and is his son Adv. Abhishek Sharma, the duo we caught up with day before yesterday, and went back to Phillaur. This is how the day and the trip ended with a Happy Ending.

(All four of us near the Park’s main entrance)

This trip, we realized that there were less number of ducks in the Park. This was because this year there was a lot of Water Hyacinth. It should have been removed during the Summers when the water and the number of waterfowl is very less. But it was being done now, when it is the peak time for the migratory birds to arrive. This was a major reason for the number of ducks and geese reduced this year. I strongly hope that we don’t get to see this the next time we go there.

Continued from – Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-2…

Also see – Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-1…

~Arjun Basandrai

Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-2…

Bharatpur-November 2018 trip Day-2…

A new day starts in the city of Bharatpur at 6:30 when it’s time for the Park to open. Like everyone else, we also woke up at 6:00, got ready and 6:15 we were good to go.

We entered the Park at 6:30, bought the tickets and went inside with the same guides from yesterday.

(A welcoming board near the Park’s main entrance)

First of all, I want to clarify that the guides here are not like the ones most of you would imagine. They are people who take us in their rickshaws and show us the birds and tell us about them in brief or detail, as per your wishes.

Today we tried a new path. The one which goes behind Shanti Kutir Guest House. There we saw lots of ducks, pelicans and cormorants. But, the most important among all of them was a Bay-backed Shrike (Lanius vttatus). It was at a distance but not too much. It did give us good shots but they were not at all great.

(Bay-backed Shrike)

We saw an interesting thing which we didn’t know what it was but I did clicked a photograph of it.

Then, we returned back to our regular path. For the next 20 minutes, we didn’t see anything interesting. Then I spotted a Yellow Wagtail drinking water from a drying up pond (actually it was not drying up, it was slowly filling up). 

The Wagtail was not in the mood of getting its photos clicked and was moving here and there very quickly. We hardly got a shot of it. We spent a lot of time trying to get a good photograph of it but in vain.

Soon, it flew away and it was the time for us to move further. Again for some time we didn’t saw anything really cool. Disappointed, we kept moving further. At that time, we were getting a bit bored. So, we stopped for a regular White-Breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis).

It was then that I noticed something weird. The breast and throat of the Kingfisher were brown instead of being white. I told the matter to my father and he was also surprised to see that something was wrong with that Kingfisher. We spent 10 mins literally just staring at the bird when we realized that it was white but because the sunlight at that time was so harsh that it almost looked brown (🤣).

We moved further and we started seeing birds-lots of them (😆). But they were not special at all, at least to us all. It was a mixed colony of Painted Storks (
Mycteria leucocephala), Great Cormorants (
Phalacrocorax carbo), Little Cormorants (Microcarbo niger) and some Asian Openbills (
Anastomus oscitans).

I took the camera from my father and clicked photographs of the juvenile Openbills. When I was observing the colony through the camera, I saw that there were some new-born Painted Storks in the nest. The thing most interesting about them was that, unlike the adult or immature birds, they were pure white in colour.

While I was clicking the photographs, we heard loud calls of Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone) trumpeting. I hurriedly gave the camera to my father and there not too far away was a pair of them with a juvenile. The cranes didn’t give us a great shot as they usually do to us and went away soon.

 ( A pair of Sarus Crane with the juvenile feeding behind the adult)

We also photographed some other birds like the Black-Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Lesser Whistling Ducks (
Dendrocygna javanica).

(A group of Lesser Whistling Ducks)

(Juvenile of Black-Crowned Night Heron)

For some time again there was silence. Not silence literally, there were noises of Painted Storks screaming and literally creating a nuisance. But the thing is that we didn’t saw anything great for a large period of time. Soon we reached Sapan Mori and by that time, we all were hungry and a bit tired too. We came inside the Park without having a breakfast. So, one of us was to go and bring food for all of us. It was decided that Adv. Abhishek Sharma, the younger one among the duo we caught up with in Ludhiana, was to go and bring omelets for us all. When he left, we decided to go on a walking trail at Bhainsa Mori. Me, my father and Adv. Ravi Sharma, we all went on the trail on foot with the cameras all ready to shoot. The first thing we saw there was a group of Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and an Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia). We didn’t click any photographs of them and kept moving. In minutes, we saw a Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) in flight. But the problem was that the Harrier was too far away for us to get a good shot of it. So we just stood there and stared at it until it went away. And we moved further on the way. The way didn’t give us a lot and we reached the end of it. We sat there and rested for a while when I suddenly stood up and shouted, Harrier, and everyone also stood up in surprise. This time the bird was just overhead. It also didn’t easily go away and it gave numerous good shots. We were very happy with the bird because it was the first time we got a good shot of it.(Eurasian Marsh Harrier in flight)

When the bird passed us, we also went back to the Sapan Mori. On reaching there we saw a baby Indian Rock Python (Python molurus). But that when was also not in a mood of having his photograph clicked. As soon as I took the camera from my father, it went inside its hole.

We also saw an Indian Silverbill (Euodice malabarica), but the problem was that its silver bill was not visible (😂).

(Indian Silverbill with silver bill not visible).

When we were about to move further I saw a Little Heron (Butorides striata). This one gave us numerous good photographs.

(Little Heron gave us great shots)

We soon saw a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos). We didn’t get any great photograph of it but the ones we got were not bad at all.

When we were finished with the Sandpiper a call came, from the person we sent to bring us food, telling us that he has entered the gate and will be there soon. We quickly sat in the rickshaw and hurried to the canteen and were relaxing there when our meal arrived. We were surprised to see that our food came in a big cardboard box. Inside it was a big box full of omelets rolled around bread slices. There were 3-4 packets of Chaach and some water bottles for us. We took our time and enjoyed the meal and it was the time for us to sleep. So, we all put our hats under our heads and slept on the grass of the Park’s Canteen. After an hour of sleep, we all woke up and decided to move further into the depths of the Park.

We headed straight for the temple and turned left from it. Here water level slowly decreases as we continue along this path. We traveled a lot but didn’t got something worth it. We were planning to go back and go along some other path. But suddenly the tide turned and a bird flew past us. I identified it as a Cuckoo and as always (😉), I was right, it was a Cuckoo-a Common Hawk Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius).

(The Common Hawk Cuckoo because of whom we cancelled our plan of returning and going on a different path)

This bird marked the beginning of something very great. Soon we started seeing lots of amazing birds. The next thing we saw was something we didn’t know at that time. It was like a disputed territory. I was saying that it was a juvenile of Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela). The guide was saying that it was some sort of a Buzzard. But, you know, I’m always right. It was Juvenile of Crested Serpent Eagle. I am not really sure actually that whether it is a Juvenile of Crested Serpent Eagle or not. Please let me know if you think I was wrong.

(The Disputed Territory (🤪) but for the time being, a Crested Serpent Eagle Juvenile)

Then we saw the most interesting part of the whole trip, the most respectful creature we ever saw-an Indian Flapshell Turtle (Lissemys punctata). The interesting thing about it was that it crossed the road in front of us and showed smartness by running quickly on seeing us. Now we all now that a job did in a hurry is never successful. The turtle got stuck between a tree and a piece of broken shrub still in the ground. We freed the turtle but by now he had learned a lesson and he didn’t run away this time and stood there staring at us and unknowingly giving us great frames.

(Indian Flapshell Turtle stuck and helpless)

(He stood there motionless staring at us)

After it, we clicked photographed many birds like the Yellow Footed Green Pigeon (Treron phoenicoptera) and the Shikra (Accipiter badius).

(Yellow Footed Green Pigeon)

(Shikra)

And the next thing we saw was amazing, though we see it every day in the Park, it was a Golden Jackal (Canius aureus).

(The way he was sitting and looking at us was scary)

But this one left us very quickly and we continued on the path and when we were about to reach the Keoladeo Temple we saw groups of different ducks disturbed by the Marsh Harrier. 

(Ducks and geese)

We also had many Greylag Geese (Anser anser) and luckily, I was able to record them going. And they were the last ones for the day and we clicked some photographs of sunset and went back to have dinner.

(Image of Sunset at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur)

The restaurant at which we had dinner had a very unusual name-‘Chacha Chicken Chacha Franky’ or ‘Chacha Chacha Chicken Franky’ whatever it was but the food was cheap and very good.

Continued from – Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-1…

Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-3…

~Arjun Basandrai

Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-1…

Bharatpur-November 2018 trip Day-1…

23 November, 2018 was the day when we left our homes for a 3-day trip to Bharatpur, Rajasthan.

Bharatpur is well known for the Keoladeo National Park. 1000s of birds migrate every year from various places across the globes-Siberia, Scandinavia, Europe etc.

Keoladeo is termed as ‘Birders Paradise’ due to the large numbers of bird species found here.

With over 300 different species recorded, Keoladeo National Park is the best place for a birder.

(Main entrance of Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur)

It is the place where I come every year to find nourishment from the picturesque scenes of thousands of ducks and storks spread over a vast wetland.

It is a perfect place for a beginner to come and step into the marvelous world of our winged friends. The greenery and natural beauty is so great that I bet you will fall in love with this place at first sight. Here nature slowly pours in through every single cell into your body.

Me and my father started from our residence at Phillaur at 7:15 am and reached Ludhiana at 7:40 am to catch up with another father-son duo with whom we were to spend the next 2-3 days.

We reached Karnal at about 10:15 am and met another friend of my father and we ate together at a Dhaba. The Pranthas we enjoyed there were very delicious and full-filling.

After over-filling (😜) our stomachs we left the Dhaba and wished good-bye to the other person we met on the way and start the next part of our journey.

This one was a long but the time seemed to slip by so fast and we reached Mathura at 2 pm. Then only a 1 hour trip to Bharatpur was left. We entered Rajasthan at 2:45 pm and Bharatpur was only 10-15 minutes away from us but these 10 minutes were never-ending. But at last, we entered Bharatpur and reached Keoladeo National Park at 3:05 pm.

(An old milestone inside the Park)

The car that brought us till here was left at the parking. The Guide/Rickshaw Puller who always goes in with us in the Park was pre-informed about our arrival and he was already waiting there, ready to take us in into this birder’s ‘World of Wonder’.

We went in and were welcomed by the loud calls of peacocks calling at a distance in the dry zone and that’s where we photographed a beautiful White Cheeked Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucotis). It’s very interesting how these birds have adapted to the human-presence and are not scared or shy of humans coming close to them, which lead to some very beautiful pics.

(White Cheeked Bulbul)

Further down the Dry-Zone, we came across this very busy family of Purple Sunbirds with the male in Ecplise plumage, generally very shy but allowing us to observe it very closely and leisurely.

(Male Purple Sunbird in Eclipse plumage)

Then after crossing the Hanuman Temple, we had Thousands of Painted Storks at their nests feeding the chicks. The Cormorants Hanging by trees gave a very scary-horror movie look. There were other birds also there like Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Openbill etc. But they were not as fascinating to us than that they were to other who were beginners. This was mainly because we have been to this place 6-7 times and we know these birds very closely.

(Eurasian Spoonbill atop a dried up tree)

We were disappointed to see not even a single trace of any duck at first but soon we started seeing some of them. It is true that we saw ducks but the number was not enough and it did not clear away our disappointment.

After crossing Sapan Mori, we saw a Dusky Eagle Owl (Bubo coromandus). It was not at a reasonable distance for us to shoot a great photo of it but it saved the day. The bird was huge and we were surprised to know that it was not a fully-grown adult. Its eyes were orange and very fierce.

(Dusky Eagle Owl has fierce looking orange eyes)

While the owl was being photographed by other bird photographers, there came a big group of House Crows (Corvus splendens) that were trying to disturb the beast and we were filled with a hope that the Owl might get irritated and come within our range but it didn’t even gave a damn to the Crows.

So we left the place and moved further into the park. We reached the Temple which is located near the Park’s Canteen but we still didn’t got anything worth a shot.

(A direction board near Park’s Canteen)

When we were going back, we decided to turn left from the main way and enter a silent world and there we knew the location of a watch-tower. In minutes we were there, standing at the top of the watch-tower relishing the beauty of the Park.

This one was also a wasted effort and we didn’t find anything there. But as we were about to leave, there came a Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus). Then came another one but they were of no use from photography point of view because they both were against light. Then came another large bird which I identified as a Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus). But, the guide said that it was a Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus). I was overwhelmed to hear those words from his mouth. I trusted him and was about to enter it in my diary when an idea to surf the net came into my mind. I spent 10 minutes and found that it was not any Montagu’s or Pallid Harrier. It was the regular Eurasian Marsh Harrier. It was a sad moment but actually “It doesn’t matter”.

(Silhouette of a Eurasian Marsh Harrier)

When we were returning back it was the time for sunset and the time for the birds as animals to go back.

There were loud calls of Golden Jackals but before I could record them, they went away. Then it was the Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus) who started calling. And it was the last one for the day.

(Eurasian Thick-Knee calling)

Then we went to the place where we were to stay. It was University Guest House.

After resting for some time we went to have a dinner. Now, the million dollar question was that where should we have dinner? Finally, we decided to go to Hotel Sunbird and try what it has got for us. The buffet there was not cheap, it was ₹550 per person, but the food was worth it.

Now it was the time to go back and this is how the day ended with a happy note…

Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-2…

Also see – Bharatpur-November 2018 Day-3…

~Arjun Basandrai

Brown-Headed Barbet

Brown-Headed Barbet

(Megalaima zeylanicus)

Size(25-28cm): It is a medium sized Barbet and is the most common one in India.

Area: Almost all India except the Himalayas and is replaced by the White-Cheeked Barbet in the Western Ghats.

Habitat: Gardens, parks, forests and anywhere there are trees.

IMG_9227

(Brown Headed Barbet on an Indian Gooseberry tree at my residence in Phillaur, Punjab)

My two words: It is a green and brown Barbet. As the name suggests, the head is brown The neck and some part of the back are also brown. There is a naked orange patch around the eye. Overall plumage is grassy-green. There can be some white streakings on the head. The bill red and quite large and heavy

img_4048

(Brown Headed Barbet at Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan)

Mostly solitary but can be seen in pairs as well.

The nest is a hole in a tree where they lay 2-3 eggs.

These species are found only in India. They are quite common around in the cities and have adapted themselves to live close to human inhabitation. These are a species of highly arboreal birds who usually never descend to the ground.

IMG_9254

(Brown Headed Barbet on an Indian Gooseberry tree at my residence in Phillaur, Punjab)

They are mainly frugivorous and feed particularly on bananas, mangoes, papayas, and figs. I have also seen them feeding on guavas and Indian Gooseberry (Amla) at my home.

A common sighting, seen everywhere near to humans.

~Arjun Basandrai

Barbets (Megalaimidae)

Barbets are small to medium-sized, pleasantly fat birds. They have a large head and bill. In comparison with other birds, barbets have a bulky bill. They feed mostly on figs and fruits but can also take to small insects – beetles, locusts, centipedes and even small lizards.

The Great Barbet is the largest of the Barbets. Among the ones we are going to talk here, the smallest Barbet comes out to be the Coppersmith Barbet.

They are an important agent of seed dispersal of plants and trees.

Their nests are holes in trees where 3-4 eggs are laid. Eggs usually take roughly 2 weeks to hatch.

In this section, we are going to talk about 4 species of Barbets found in India:-

1. Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanicus)

2. Blue-throated Barbet (Megalaima asiaticus)

3. Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)

4. Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)

Black Crowned Night Heron

Black Crowned Night Heron

(Nycticorax nycticorax)

IMG_8904(adult Black Crown Night Heron in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur)

Size(58-60cm): It is a small Heron but according to its size it is quite heavy.

Area: All India till 2000m in Himalayas.

Habitat: They can adjust simply anywhere around water-marshes, lakes, ponds and small streams.

IMG_3518(immature Black Crowned Night Heron)

My two words: The male has a black crown and back and the rest of the body is white or grey. Their maybe a dark black streak present over the eye. They also have a long black crest. The iris is pure red. The males are slightly larger than the females.

The juvenile birds are grey-brown and are spotted with pale all over the body.

As the name suggests, they are nocturnal – more active during the night.

The nest is built on a stick and twig platform. They mostly nest in colonies. Eggs are 3-6 in number.

IMG_0143(immature near Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh)

They hunt during night time or during early mornings. The hunting style is the usual Heron style – standstill till the prey comes in the striking range and then pounce on it. They are recorded to throw floating objects in water so as to distract and bring the fish close within reach.

IMG_3447(adult)

They spend the day in trees and other shady places where they can hide and rest side by side.

IMG_0140(adult near Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh)

They mostly feed on fish, frogs and some insects.

~Arjun Basandrai

Indian Pond Heron

Indian Pond Heron

(Ardeola grayii)

DSC_1697(Indian Pond Heron spend most of the day standing still close ton water)

Size(44-45cm): It is a small Heron almost the same size as that of the Little Heron.

Area: This specific species of Heron can be found anywhere around India. Ranging from dry areas of Rajasthan to the wettest place on Earth-Mawsynram, you can find it anywhere in India.

Habitat: Lakes, village ponds, river-banks and even village ditches.

My two words: Indian Pond Herons are brown in colour. They have white underparts and chin. The back is buff-brown and shoulders. The head, neck and breast are streaked with dark brown.

During the breeding season, the streaks disappear and the buff-brown back becomes rich maroon. The streaked breast and head changes to un-streaked buff-brown. The yellow bill becomes bluish at the base and black at the tip.

It usually sits whole day on the side of the water in wait of the prey and wait for it to come more closer. Indian Pond Heron is most common Heron in India but one can have a difficulty spotting when it sits still at the edge of the water body.

The still-sitting bird may appear boring but the scenario when the sitting bird suddenly takes off for a short flight. When the bird flies, its wings which appear to be brown while it stands still appear to magically change colour and become white.

IMG_3606(Indian Pond Heron with its prey)

Solitary or in parties. They usually prefer hunting alone but might be seen hunting in small groups.

The male has the duty of bringing the material required to make the nest. The nest is built by the female high atop a tree. They lay 3-5 eggs which take about a month to hatch.

They diet chiefly consists of fish but they also feed on crustaceans, amphibians and other small insects.

~Arjun Basandrai

Little Heron

Little Heron

(Butorides striata)

Litlle Heron

(Little Heron usually rest on a branch near to water)

Size(44-45cm): It is smaller than the previous Herons.

Area: All India except Himalayas.

Habitat: It can be found in marshes, ponds, lakes and riversides.

My two words: It is a grey and metallic-green bird. They have bluish-grey back and dark green-black crown and forehead. Like the other Herons the crown continues to form a short crest. The throat, chin and middle of throat. The underparts are grey-white. The juveniles tend to be browner above with streaking below.

Like other Herons, it is also quite shy and sits patiently on a low branch near water. Rarely climbs up tree branches.

Little Heron is mostly solitary. It lays 3-5 soft blue eggs. The nest is built near water and not too far high on the ground.

IMG_0905

(Little Heron high above on a tree)

They mostly feed on fish and frogs but can get to insects as well.

(Little Heron is a very shy bird)

They are nocturnal, meaning that they are more active during the night as compared to the day.

Little Heron is an easy-to-spot Heron. It is known by many names across the globe- Striated HeronGreen-Backed Heron, Mangrove Heron and of course the Little Heron.

~Arjun Basandrai