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.)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Love

I still remember the day I first saw her. It’s kinda amazing if you ask me. Its amazing coz it’s been years since the first day that I saw her and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
She was the perfect shy girl. The kind who hides behind her mother when guests come over... It was the first day of the first grade. I remember kids crying all around me. Some clung to their mothers, some threw tantrums. If I didn’t know better, I would say they were going to whip us and make us work. But they didn’t, actually compared to what I am doing now, those days were fun. Actually, compared to any days those days were fun.
She walked past me with her eyes fixed to the ground. Her bag was pink and so was her complexion. I love innocence. I guess all men do. I think we value it so much coz of our utter incapability to be innocent ourselves.
She went inside the classroom and took the first bench. I took the second. Right behind her. Then the teacher came and asked me to move to the last bench. I hate being tall. Apparently I was blocking the view of the blackboard for the guys sitting behind me. So I got up and took the last bench. And that was the end of that.
I strictly believe our choices don’t change overtime. We like the same kind of people all our lives. If you don’t agree, ask yourself who was your best friend in school and who’s your best friend now(if both are the same guy, there are fewer people luckier than you), then try to analyze their qualities- you ll find that a lot of those qualities match.
I liked the same girl all my school life. People wonder when I tell them that I couldn’t talk to her for almost all of primary school, except for the one time when we had an exam and I forgot a pencil. She was sitting three benches in front of me (the closest we had been till then). I got up from my seat and asked her for a pencil. She looked at me for around 4 seconds. Then quietly took out a pencil and gave it to me- "This pencil writes very fast,” she said.Then I didn’t know why she said that. But years later she told me that she had seen my mother scold me for not being able to complete the paper on time.
Now don’t translate this into love. She didn’t love me then. Maybe she liked me. But not more than that. I think till girl’s don’t reach puberty, the only people they can love is their parents. I, I loved her. Men can love at any age. Infact men can love anyone at any age; maybe they are more individualistic or stuff.
As we grew up, her liking for me increased. Or maybe it was just my imagination. But I found her glancing at me. She now tells me that she used to glance at me coz I used to keep staring at her! It would be impolite for her not to even glance. We men are idiots, we give it away.
As she grew, so did her curves. I would be lying if I said while looking at her my eyes or my mind didn’t go astray. Puberty is such a gift. It suddenly gives losers like me, enough courage to say something that we have been wanting to say since like 7-8 years or something...
We were in the 8th grade I guess. I asked her to wait after school. Apparently I had some important stuff about Annual day that I had to discuss with her.
After school as I walked down the steps with her, I thought to myself - I can walk these steps all my life with her.
I held her hand, softly at first. She stopped but she didn’t pull her hand away. Her eyes were fixed on the stairs. I thought of all the things I could say. You practice saying things in front of the mirror and stuff, but it just doesn’t work. I thought of all the cool things I could say and then came up with this -"I wish these stairs would never end."
Really! I came up with that. I was so proud of myself. She looked at me, and then held my hand firmly. I took that as a yes.
Years later she told me that that line was the lamest excuse to hold her hand. I pity all those guys whom I have suggested this line. No wonder all my male friends are single.
After our board exams, we made sure we gave the same entrance exams. Both of us wanted to get into engineering. She got better scores than me (like always) and chose Electronics in a top notch college. I managed to get in Mechanical in the third best college in the area. She cancelled her admission, much against the wishes of her parents to be with me. She gave up electronics and took up Mechanical for me. Remember I told you a girl loves only after a certain age? I knew that she loved me then.We gave the CAT last year. She again got a better score and made it in IIM in the first round. I was lucky to get in the last round in the same class. But I got in. Thank God for that.
Today, sometimes, when we go to mess together for lunch, she walks beside me...her eyes fixed to the ground... I whisper something in her ear and she smiles.
Even today when I look at her, I sometimes still see the same innocent girl I had met on the first day of school. Here we are now- we attended the same school for 12 years, then went to the same engineering college in the same class and now are in the same class in IIM. God had a script written for us, didn’t he? I love the fact that there is someone who knows me more than I know myself. I hope someday I get to know her, better than she knows me.
I find it amazing... she’s the same girl who once offered me a fast pencil so that I could finish my paper on time and not get a scolding from my mother... and here she is walking next to me to the mess of our Management College. We walk up the stairs to the first floor mess and I say - "I wish these stairs would never end."And she bursts out laughing.


P.S. Dedicated to NK and PALS (names abbreviated to protect identity) of RGIT who have been in the same class since the first grade, all through their engineering and now MBA. Someone wrote a script for you guys!
This is more of their story than mine, hence the dedication. Best of luck guys god bless you …..

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.