Friday, June 16, 2017

In Search of the Litchi. Maharashtra Unlimited.

A lazy Sunday. Drive down the national highway.Take a shady deserted exit road.Pass those tiny but neatly kept tiled houses and nondescript villages.Drive on and on and on. Drive some more.Reach a nicely maintained road running parallel to the most beautiful seashore you have ever seen.Drive down this road with the windows rolled down.The salty cool Wind hits you in your face and plays with your hair. Wave back to the innocent kid smiling a million dollar smile to you.Pass through a road which is almost getting submerged under the upcoming high tide.Glide through a bamboo Forrest growing on both sides of the road with the bamboo shoots almost forming a tunnel for you to pass through. Wonder,pinch and remind yourself that yes your still in Maharashtra and to take more such trips in this lovely state of ours!!! Reach a deserted junction with not a soul in sight.Wonder for a moment as to which road to take. Intuitively and instinctively decide to go straight. Drive through a cool and shady canopy of some huge mango trees growing on both sides.Stop and taste those invitingly looking golden fruits.Enjoy that Sweet sour Taste of the fully ripened mangoes.Get back in the car. Drive on and on and on with the smell of the sea and hear the waves crashing on the clean white sands.Slow down, Stop the car and switch off the engine. Sit still and enjoy the sounds of the wind,the sea,the waves,the birds.Enjoy the silence,the Solitude. Drive on again. Almost when you don't expect it the place you have been dreaming about pops out on your right side.Bang opposite the beach , a hundred year old bungalow rises like a dream.Surrounded on ALL sides by shady trees its almost dream like surreal moment makes you wonder if its all true.You somehow park your car in the huge Veranda and stumble with a open mouth all the while having a look at the place and surroundings.You reach the backyard of this amazingly beautiful place and your gaping mouth drops a few inches more.Standing there side to side and in rows upon rows are huge trees laden with the most Succulent and mouthwatering fruit of all. Trees and branches full and bent with these bright red Litchi Fruits. Destination and the Journey both worth it 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tadoba Sunset

Comming out from the Moharli Gate of the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve  one fine evening after finishing your safari Your forced to change your Telephoto lens after Nature decides to paint the sky with the choicest of Colours....

Friday, November 18, 2016

Garden and Backyard Bird count : 59 and counting ....

Last year around this time after lazily procrastinating it for Ages I finally got myself to compile a Bird list of the Winged Beauties seen in my Garden and Backyard.Then I had hit a half century at the first try itself !!!!!!! Doing this exercise again after a year as some awesome sightings have recently happened



So here goes the list and with it some Photo Highlights:

1.Indian Pond Heron 
2.Little Egret
3.Cattle Egret
4.White Throated Kingfisher
5.White Breasted Waterhen
6.Shikra
7.Black Kite
8.Brahminy Kite
9.Spotted Owlet
10.Long Tailed Shrike
11.Common Myna
12.Bank Myna
13.Asian Pied Starling
14.Purple Rumped Sunbird
15.Purple Sunbird
16.Ashy Prinia
17.Plain Prinia
18.Orange Headed Thrush
19.Blyth’s Reed Warbler
20.Jungle Babbler
22.Little Green Bee Eater
23.Scaly Breasted Munia
24.Indian Silverbill
25.Red Vented Bulbul
26.Red Whiskered Bulbul
27.White Browed Bulbul
28.Eurasian Cuckoo
29.Common Hawk Cuckoo
30.Indian Cuckoo
31.Black Drongo
32.White Throated Fantail
33.Asian Paradise Flycatcher
34.Black naped blue Monarch
35.Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
36.Indian Golden Oriole
37.Rose Ringed Parakeet
38.Oriental Magpie Robin
39.Baya Weaver
40.House Sparrow
41.Common Tailorbird
42.Coppersmith Barbet
43.Zitting Cisticola
44.Common Iora
45.House Crow
46.Asian koel
47.Greater Coucal
48.Common Hoopoe 
49.Pale billed Flowerpecker 
50.Barn Swallow 
51.Brahminy starling 
52.Indian Roller 
53.Asian brown flycatcher
54.Banded Bay cuckoo
55.Pied Cuckoo
56.Rosy Starling 
57.Indian Cormorant
58.Green Warbler
59.Blyth's reed wrabler




Have a Birdaliciously Great Weekend.
Happy sightings...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sinnadorai ~ A Place to Find one's Soul.....






Our Stay in the Anamalais was like no other....
Surrounded on three sides by Tea Gardens and one side by the Valley ...
The drama of nature at its best-Clouds,Sky,greenery and the sun suddenly peeping out and painting the sky in a riot of colours...
We woke up to the call of the Whistling Thrush...
Here Wilderness has a way of embracing our dwelling...
Wild Peacocks peeked curiously from our sprawling veranda...
Wild Gaurs are at home in the adjacent Tea Gardens...
The surrounding Tea estates are Elephants playground....
Time hasn't changed some things in this colonial Landscape ...
We relived the luxury of the predecessors who lived here....
Enjoyed Some delicate cuisines....
Saw and visited some Endemic winged beauties in their natural surroundings at extremely close quarters....
Witnessed the great dangers facing the Critically endangered Lion Tailed Macaque while seeing them in their habitat....
Experienced the warmth of some great hospitality...
Felt Refreshed,rejuvenated......
We definitely will be back Sinna Dorai ....

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

First Local Birding at Bassein Of this Season-Winter 2016

#LeonardoDaFotoğravinci
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Went for my first local Birding trip of this season yesterday courtesy the Dusshera Holiday. Amazing would be an understatement considering the number and quality of sightings I happened to get. Initially it looked totally dry and felt as if the birds especially the winter migrants were not going to make an appearance as yet but soon the trickle turned into a deluge and I was completely overwhelmed by the gems that obliged me with their sighting.So here’s the list by order of the sightings at Bassein: 

1. Black-winged Stilt (4 Nos.)
2. Laughing Dove (2 Nos.)
3. Indian Cormorant (2 Nos.)
4. Barn Swallows (Flock of around 100-150 )
5. Red-necked Falcon (1 No.)
6. Asian Pied Starling (6 Nos.)
7. Bay-backed Shrike (6 Nos.)
8. Spotted Dove (4-5 Nos.)
9. Asian Openbill (4 Nos.)
10. European Roller (1 No.)
11. Jacobin cuckoo (1 No.)
12. Eurasian Wryneck (1 No.)
13. Indian Golden Oriole (1 No.)
14. Brahminy Starling (2 Nos.)
15. Baya Weaver (8-10 Nos.)
16. Long-tailed Shrike (8-10 Nos.)
17. Rose-ringed Parakeet (10-12 Nos.)
18. Heuglin's gull, (5 Nos.)
19. Ruddy Turnstones,Dunlins, Lesser Sand-Plovers, Terek Sandpipers (Mix Flock of around 200-250) 
20. Common Greenshank (1 Nos.)
21. Yellow-eyed Babbler (1 No.)
22. Hume's Whitethroat (1 No.)
23. Siberian Stonechat (1 No.)
24. Rosy Starling (3 Nos.)
25. Chestnut-tailed Starling (2 Nos.)
26. Desert Wheatear (1 No.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Leh-Ladakh

परवा संध्याकाळी जेवायला बसलो होतो आणी जेवता जेवता बायकोने आठवण करून दिली … ह्याचवेळी एक वर्षाअगोदर तू लेह-लडाख च्या टूरसाठी श्रीनगरला पोहोचलेला होतास. डोळ्यासमोरून एकेक चित्र फिरू लागल…श्रीनगरला पोहोचल्यावर दल सरोवरावर एका हाउसबोटीत राहायची सोय,तिथला आम्हाला टोपी चढवणारा नावाडी,संचारबंदीमुळे जबरदस्ती श्रीनगरला वाढलेला एक दिवस, नंतरचा झोजिला पासचा कर्रर्र्रगीलपर्यंत(तिथल्या स्थानिक लोकांचा ऊच्चार) अगदी रोमांचकारी परुंतु पाऊसामुळे दरड कोसळण्याच्या शक्येतेमुळे धोकादायक झालेला प्रवास,दरीच्या अगदी काठाने गाडी जाताना पोटात पडलेला भला मोठा खड्डा, कारगील मधल्या तंबूत काढलेली रात्र,आर्मी कॅन्टीन मध्ये जेवण,कारगील ते रंग्दुमच्या प्रवासात अरण्यात मधेच कुठतरी थांबून एका भल्या मोठ्या खडकावर मिळून खाल्लेले घरचे खाऊ, रंग्दुमला पर्वता शेजारी ठोकलेले तंबू,रात्री केलेली शेकोटी, शेकोटीभवती बसून प्यालेले आर्मी ब्रांडचे "गरम पाणी", गोठवणा ऱ्या गारठयात तंबूत काढलेली रात्र, मध्यरात्री कधीतरी अचानक पडलेला बर्फ आणि "कोणाचेतरी" बेंबीच्या देठापासून ओरडणारी आवाजयुक्त किंकाळी "मी रात्रभर इथे राहिलो तर मारून जाईन रे वाचवा ", सामान घेऊन मिट्ट काळोखात आसरा शोधायला धावणारे सर्व गडी, एका धनगराच्या दगडी घरात घेतलेला आसरा,त्याच्या प्रार्थनेच्या खोलीत ऊब मिळाल्यामुळे उजेडास्तव ढाराढूर ताणून देणारे आम्ही,उठल्यावर गुडगुड टी , अख्या प्रवासात खाल्लेली असंख्य मॅगी पॅक्स,परत प्रवास,मधेच कुठतरी उंच डोंगरात थांबून जाडजूड मोरमॉन्टच्या बिळाजवळ झोपून काढलेला त्यांचा रानफुले खात असलेला फोटू, डोंगरातून प्रवास करताना मध्येच लागलेली छोटी छोटी गावं,त्यात असलेली नीटनेटकी घरे ,एखाद्या घराच्या ओटीवर खेळत असलेली छोटीशी गोंडस मुले,आमच्या गाडीला बघून त्यांनी केलेले टाटा,त्याचं ते निरागस हास्य आणि हात दाखवण बघून माझ्या छोटीच्या आठवणीने हृद्यात झालेली कालवाकालव,उंचचउंच बर्फाळलेल्या डोंगरावरून प्यायचा पाणी खाली आणायला पद्धतशीरपणे केलेले पाण्याचे मार्ग ,त्याच्या नंतरचे बरेचशे अंतर कापून नजरेत येणारी झन्सकार दरी (zanskar valley),झन्सकार दरीत पदुममधे एका होमस्टेत काढलेल्या ३ रात्र,तिथेच खाल्लेले स्थानिक पदार्थ ,मोमोस आणि थुक्पा, उंच डोंगरात अगदी कडेवर वसलेल्या बर्याच रंगीत गोम्पानां (Monastery) दिलेल्या भेटी.वर्षानूवर्षे चालत आलेली परंपरा,गोम्पामधे राहणारे ते लामा (Monks),आणि शिक्षण घेणारी लालबुंद गालांची इवलीशी छोटी छोटी मुलं,त्या लहानग्यांच्या निष्पाप डोळ्यात हरवून गेलेला मी, इनोवा चालवणारा व थोडासा शांत स्वभावाचा परंतु डोंगरातल्या खडकाळ रस्त्यातून सफाईदारपणे गाडी काढणारा युसुफभाय,स्कॉरपिओ चालवणारा आणि आम्हाला स्थानिक गाणी तसेच बरेच रीतीरिवाज व तिथले बारकावे प्रेमाने समजवणारा व अगदी डॉट सांगितलेल्या वेळेवर हजर राहणारा लोभज्यांग (ह्यानेच आम्हाला जुले बोलून स्थानिक लोकांना कसं अभिवादन करावं ते शिकवलं ), तिथे भासलेली आणि जणू परिसरातच मिसळलेली व सगळीकडे पसरलेली प्रचंड शांतता,परतीचा प्रवास,दरांग-दुरुंग हिमनदी,मधेच कुठल्यातरी दुर्गम ठिकाणी अशक्य असा निळ्या पाण्याचा जलाशय बघून थांबवलेली स्कॉरपिओ, जवळच असून देखील तिथे चालत पोचताना झालेली माझी दमछाक,(एकूण ह्या संपूर्ण प्रवासात नवीन हवामानाशी किंवा परिस्थितीशी (High Altitude) नीट न रूळण्यामुळे बराचसा प्रवासात मी गोगलगाय किवां Zombie झालो होतो… म्हंजी व्हायचं काय की ह्या समुद्रसपाटीपासूनची उंच व विरळ ऑक्सिजन असलेल्या वातावरणात दोन पावलं टाकली रे टाकली का माझ्या हृदयाचे ठोके आणि छातीची धडधड असली वाढायचे की न सांगितलेली बरी), असो , त्या जलाशयाजवळ एकदाशे पोहोचल्यावर त्या निळ्या पाण्यात पाय पसरून बसायला आलेली मजा,परत गाठलेलं कारगील,तिथे केलेली खरेदी,महामार्गा शेजारी असलेल्या ढाब्यात घेतलेलं जबरदस्त चविष्ट जेवण (आम्ही बटर रोटीची ऑर्डर दिल्यावर तंदूर मधल्या गरम रोटीवर अतिशय काळजीपूर्वक व सावकाशपणे डब्यातलं अमूल त्यावर थापणारा धाब्याचा कॅशियर / मालक )…. वेगळ्याच अश्या दुनियेत मी रमून गेलो होतो आणि एकनाअनेक चित्र सरसरत डोळ्या समोरून फिरत होती तेवढ्यात अचानक माझी मांडी हलवून माझी छोटी मुलगी मला म्हणाली ड्याडा तुझा फोने आहे… भानावर येउन मी तिच्या हातातला माझा मोबाईल घेतला आणि कानाला लाऊन "हॅलो" म्हणालो . पलीकडून आवाज आला "जय हिंद साब … मै कॅप्टन अजमीनदर पाल बोल रहा हू,पंजाब रेजिमेंट से, आप हमें ठीक एक साल पहिले झोजिला पास में मिले थे.…… !!!!! (TO BE Continued….)
View From Our Tent at Rangdum ....Dat is Before the temperature dropped down a lil bit ...to -4°C

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Surprisingly Happening Weekend

A friend's promise of showing me a lifer (ODKF)vanished into thin air of disappointment and bitterness.So to cheer myself up and to lift the mood I went birding by giving the Sunday afternoon nap a miss.Nature as usual did not disappoint and put up such a splendid SPLENDID display that all that disappointment now seems a very distant memory.so what happened? Here we go....
Biking to the hotspot I saw a pair of Indian spot billed ducks foraging faraway. Not having a decent shot of this species in my records I decided to approach the bird carefully .As I crawled through the mud and water to get a good shot the male amongst the pair noticed my movement and became alert.I desperately try to lay still even as the muddy water soaks my trousers and my Tshirt. I manage to fire couple of shots before the pair gets fidgety and take off. As am about to get up I hear a small commotion from behind some bushes on my right side.Still lying in the water I carefully take a peek and see that the cries are comming out from a frogs mouth who has been caught by a snake who is in the process of swallowing him !!!! As I fire another round of shots of the snake with it's catch I notice TWO watercock's grazing nonchalantly further ahead . clicking some pics of the two I stand up all dripping wet.
Standing up I notice a group of Indian Silverbill and some strawberry finches on a couple of branches.I take a couple of shots and make my way towards the tar road. I put the camera in my bag (HUGE MISTAKE) so I could clean myself a little. Iam busy cleaning the sand and mud from my clothes when a quail, with her two small chicks trailing behind, comes out and starts crossing the road . keeping my eyes on the quail family I begin removing my camera when all of a sudden a wild cat, it's golden coat all glistening in the afternoon sun, leaps out and lunches up in the air from behind some bushes and pounces on the mother quail. Missing its mark at the first attempt it leaps again in the air but the quail is too fast for it and calling out loud alarm calls it leaps in the air and disappears in the thick undergrowth on the opposite side of the road. This happens so quickly and instantly that I couldn't even get the camera out of my bag. My heart racing I somehow retrieve the camera and began searching behind the bushes to see if the wildcat is still hiding somewhere, but there's no sign of it anywhere. Waiting at the spot of another 10 min gets me nothing so I decide to call it a day . Riding my bike home with the wind in my hair there's a huge huge smile on my face. What a unexpected and a lovely afternoon this turned out to be.
Cherry on the top : As I sit down at my home to write this down I hear heavy and loud calling of a white breasted waterhen from the window. I grab the camera lying around and slowly slit open the shade and click this beauty calling out from the top of a tree !!!!
What a lovely awesome day this was.