Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

August 18, 2017

Kashmir Birding 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 6:45 am

Dal Lake

This morning I was up and 5am for my 5:30 shikara ride. But it was too early. The sun had not come up yet and it was too dark for decent photos. It was nice and quiet and atmospheric anyway, so I just enjoyed the ride.

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)

I had been seeing Citrine Wagtails for a few days but did not have my camera with me. So luckily this morning I finally got a photo of this blighter. They breed in high-altitude wet grasslands in Baluchistan and the Himalayas.

Hooded Crow
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

The Hooded Crow is superficially similar to the House Crow, but the back and front is a much lighter grey and extends much further down the back. Black hood is very similar to House Crow.

Untitled
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)

This is a Big Close Up showing the weird blinking motion of a lot of birds. “The nictitating membrane is a transparent or translucent third eyelid present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye from the medial canthus for protection and to moisten it while maintaining vision. Some reptiles, birds, and sharks have full nictitating membranes.” (wiki)

Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)

Little egret
Little Egret

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida )

Srinagar bird list

Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Common Moorhen
Eurasian Coot
Little Grebe
Little Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida )
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
White-eared Bulbul
Himalayan Bulbul
Black Kite

August 17, 2017

Srinagar Walk

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 5:05 pm

Kashmir Birding

I arrived in Srinagar, Kashmir this morning. I managed to have 2 hotel touts attached to me. They just tagged along while I found my hotel. One of them tried to scam a commission from the hotel that I found all by myself. ha ha. too funny.

Little Grebe
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Late in the afternoon I went for a walk along the lake front and got accosted by hundreds of Shikara boat drivers. I organised a boat ride for 5.30 in the morning. There are thousands of boats and houseboats and no tourists. They are getting a bit desperate.

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida )

I found some guy making mutton kebabs and had a couple. I was craving some meat. Tomorrow I might have some fish.

shrike
Bay-backed Shrike (Lanius vittatus) ??

Not sure about this. There are some large anomalies. Waiting for proper ID.

Indian Pond Heron
Indian Pond Heron

Common Myna
Common Myna

Srinagar bird list

Bay-backed Shrike (Lanius vittatus) ??
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida )
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
White-throated Kingfisher
House Crow
Black Kite
Common Myna
Indian Pond Heron

August 15, 2017

Himalaya Birding Keylong part 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:07 am

Keylong Birding Part 2

In the afternoon at Keylong I just went for a walk along the road through the ravine. Luckily I spotted a Grey Wagtail hovering near its nest with some bugs. It tried to lead me away from the nest for a while but eventually went into a hole in a bank to feed the young one.

Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

I am pretty sure this is a male. Later on I saw it at the local dump scavenging around for worms or bugs.

Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Western Crowned Warbler

Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis)

It took me ages to identify this one. Western Crowned Warbler. Thanks to the Indian Bird ID group on facebook. They are awesome.

Western Crowned Warbler
Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis)

Earlier on I spotted an adult and a juvenile Long-tailed Shrike sitting on a wire near the posh hotel where the tourists from Manali stop overnight on their way to Leh in Ladakh.

Long-tailed Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)

Blue Whistling Thrush
Blue Whistling Thrush (Myphonus caerulus)

August 12, 2017

Himalaya Birding Keylong

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:48 pm

Keylong Birding.

Keylong is the first stop on the Leh Manali Highway. It’s altitude is 3000 meters. High in the Himalayas. I went up the hill this morning not expecting to see much but was pleasantly surprised.

Red Crossbill
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

This is the male. It has a V-shaped Tail, crimson head, white belly and crossed bills. At first I was not sure if it was a Common Rosefinch or a Blanford’s Rosefinch. Until I saw the crossbil of course.

 Red Crossbill
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

I am not sure if this is a female or juvenile Red Crossbill. I am guessing juvenile.

Variegated Laughingthrush
Variegated Laughingthrush (Garrulax variegatus) race similis

I had no idea what I had until I put it on the computer. Pleasant surprise. I am pretty sure this is the Western Himalayan race – similis.

Variegated Laughingthrush
Variegated Laughingthrush (Garrulax variegatus)

Red-billed Chough
Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax phyrrhocorax)

Oriental Turtle Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis)

Streaked mountain
Himalayan mountain

This is only a tiny one.

Keylong Bird List

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax phyrrhocorax)
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
Variegated Laughingthrush (Garrulax variegatus similis)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Western Crowned Warbler (Phylloscopus occipitalis)
Oriental Turtle Dove (Streptopelia orientalis) maybe race meena.
Long-tailed Shrike
Blue Whistling Thrush juvenile
Streaked Laughing Thrush
House Crow

August 8, 2017

Himalaya Birding Part 1

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:54 pm

Tirthan Valley, Himachal Pradesh

What a mammoth trek to get to the Tirthan Valley. Let us start at the beginning, shall we? I started off from Mandi about 7am in the rain. I was told there was a direct bus to Banjar, but there was none. So I hopped on a bus to Aut. Up and over winding hills, past raging torrents, passing trucks and cars with horn blaring. Through the tunnel to Aut. From Aut I caught the bus to Banjar up a mountain valley. Another accident along the way. Front end of a Maruti Suzuki wiped out.

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa flavirostris cucullata)

At Banjar, I hopped on another bus to Gushaini. End of the line. After a cup of chai and an omlet I start walking up the valley. It is hard going and I am not used to climbing hills. I do not like it. Luckily the guest house guy came down with his motor-bike and gave me a lift the rest of the way.

Little Pied Flycatcher
Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni)

During the afternoon, I recuperated by taking photos of the birds from my verandah. About 3 or 4 pm I wandered up the hill, past mountain huts and tiny fields carved out of the mountain sides. I really do not know how people do it. It is so hard the life here. The guy told me when he was a boy he used to walk 9 kilometers to school every day. And that is up and down the hills. Whew!

Verditer Flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus)

I was not sure if this was a Verditer Flycatcher or a Pale Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis unicolor). Thank you very much Mr Kumar for the identification. 🙂

Slaty-headed Parakeet
Slaty-headed Parakeet (Psitticula himalayana)

This is the only Parakeet other than the Rose-ringed Parakeet that I have seen in India. doh!

Great Barbet
Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)

The next morning I went down to the river and found a little meadow. Later on it started raining so I went back to the guest house and took some photos from the verandah.

Pied Bushchat
Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata)

I got stung by some poison ivy type plant and I came up in a bit of a rash. The boy got some cannabis and rubbed it on the rash and after a while it went away. It has just stopped raining. I was hoping for some fine weather but it looks like I am not going to get it.

not sure yet
Grey-hooded Warbler (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos)

I was not sure if this was a Grey-cheeked Warbler or Grey-hooded Warbler, The local experts seem to think it is Grey-hooded Warbler.

Himalaya Birding Part 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:46 pm

Tirthan Valley Birding Part 2.

While in the Himalayas, I stay at the Tirthan Himalayan Adventures. Email: tirthanadventureck@gmail.com and phone: +91 9459 101 001. The guest house is really terrific. You get looked after really well and the environment is amazing. I think May-June and September-October would be the best times to visit.

 Himalayan Bulbul
Himalayan Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)

The Himalayan Bulbul looks very similar to the White-eared Bulbul. The main striking difference is the forward-sweeping crest. The head is also brown and the white cheek spotting is smaller. The White-eared Bulbul has a black head and the same yellow vent.

Blue Whistling Thrush  - adult
Blue Whistling Thrush (Myphonus caerulus) adult

The adult Blue Whistling Thrush has head and body spangled with glistening silvery blue.

 Little Forktail  - juvenile
Little Forktail (Enicurus scouleri) juvenile

I did not go on any treks up to the the Great Himalaya National Park. To do it, I think you have to be very experienced and fit. I only went a couple of kilometers up the track and that was enough for me. You have to climb more than 2000 meters to the camp. I have seen photos of the area and it is totally alpine up there above the treeline. You can even climb to 5000 meters where there are glaciers, beyond which is the Spiti Valley.

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

Black Bulbul
Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)

Little Pied Flycatcher
Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni)

not sure.
Dark-sided Flycatcher

Tirthan Valley bird list

Slaty-headed Parakeet (Psitticula himalayana)
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie (Urocissa flavirostris cucullata)
Great Barbet (Megalaima virens)
Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermanni)
Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus)
Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
Himalayan Bulbul (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
Blue Whistling Thrush (Myphonus caerulus)
Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata)
Little Forktail (Enicurus scouleri) juvenile
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)
Shikra (Accipiter badius)
Grey-hooded Warbler
Dark-sided Flycatcher

August 5, 2017

Himachal Pradesh – India

Filed under: Birds — admin @ 4:41 am

Shimla Birding – Himachal Pradesh.

It was raining early in the morning so I stayed in bed, had breakfast and watched television until it stopped.

Tibetan Blackbird
Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus) juvenile

Lucky I took the camera out for a run today. I did not expect any birds but some eventually turned up and it became a good day with four new birds. Mistake with ID. thanks for the correction
.
Streaked Laughingthrush
Streaked Laughingthrush (Garrulax lineatus)

I knew this was a laughingthrush but which kind I did not know until I got the book out.

Red-billed Leiothrix
Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)

I thought this was some kind of mesia and it took me a while to work out what it was.

Grey Bushchat
Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus)

I took some photos with the point and shoot camera yesterday and I was glad to get a record shot at least of a Grey Bushchat. But still not a good shot.

White-eared Bulbul
White-eared Bulbul

shimla hills
The hills are alive

Shimla bird list

Tibetan Blackbird (Turdus maximus)
Streaked Laughingthrush (Garrulax lineatus)
Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)
Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferreus)
White-eared Bulbul
House Crow
Black Kite
Common Myna

August 2, 2017

Chandigarh Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 5:17 am

A walk in the forest.

I found a bit of forest down the road from my hotel. This morning I got up early and walked down the road and across the bridge. There was nothing much around, just a heap of peacocks. Luckily I managed to see and photograph an Indian Grey Hornbill or the day would have been a dead loss.

Indian Grey Hornbill
Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris)

On the way back it started drizzling, so I put the camera away and put up the umbrella. The rain kept getting harder, so I sheltered under a tree waiting for it to stop but it did not. Usually it stops after a little while.

Indian Grey Hornbill
Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris)

Chandigarh bird list

Indian Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris)
Peacock
Rufous Treepie
Common Myna
Bank Myna
Shikra

July 29, 2017

Bikaner Cattle Dump

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 9:23 am

Jorbeer Conservation Reserve

My guest house owner, vino, took me to the Bikaner cattle dump this morning to see the vultures. It was a fair way out of town, beyond an abandoned housing estate – the other side of the railway tracks, literally. Some men were there boiling down hooves and stuff for making glue I guess. They were also stripping the hides for leather.

Rosy Starling
Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)

We saw these birds late in the morning as we were finishing. We had seen a few flocks flying around and I did not know what they were. They were Rosy Starling.

Rosy Starling
Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)

Here is what they look like in flight.

Red-naped Ibis
Red-naped Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa)

I thought these were Glossy Ibis at first until I saw the red head on them. What is a nape? I have no idea! And they are fake ibis, not real ones, pseudo-ibis. 🙂

Black Kites
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

There were tons of these around.

Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

Not very many vultures around. And only one variety. [insert sad face]

Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)

And one in flight.

Common Babbler
Common Babbler (Turdoides caudata)

And of course a Common Babbler with what looks like a very angry ant. He later dropped it.

Changeable Lizard
Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

I have not seen a Changeable Lizard up a tree before. A lot of people call these chameleons. I am not sure if that is the right term.

Bikaner Bird List

Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)
Red-naped Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa)
White-browed Wagtail
Black Kite
Cattle Egret
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus)
Common Babbler (Turdoides caudata)
Bank Myna
Indian Silverbill
Green Bee-eater
Brahminy Starling (Sturnia pagodarum)
White-cheeked Bulbul
Red-wattled Lapwing
Indian Robin
Lesser Whistling-duck
Little Grebe
Rufous Treepie
Eurasian Collared Dove
Grey Francolin
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia female

July 28, 2017

No Cranes At Khichan

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 2:37 pm

Khichan Birding, Rajasthan.

25th July 2017. I arrived about mid-day to Khichan and tried to find a cheap hotel but there was only an expensive resort, so I settled for the luxury of air-conditioning and a swimming pool. It was within budget. In the afternoon I went looking for any birds. I was there at the wrong time of year, I knew that.

Rufous-tailed Lark
Rufous-tailed Lark (Ammomanes phoenicura)

I think this might be a Rufous-tailed Lark but there is every possibility that I am wrong. Edit: No, I am right this time. Confirmed by the gurus on the Indian ID group.

immature what ?
Immature Purple Sunbird

I have no idea what this very immature bird is. Maybe an Ashy Prinia? It has me bamboozled. Edit: Immature Purple Sunbird. doh!

Common Babbler
Common Babbler (Turdoides caudata)

These are relatively common but more so in the north in my humble opinion.

Indian Silverbill
Indian Silverbill

This is the only photo I got of this Indian Silverbill. It is not the bes of photos but it does show the bird very well.

Purple Sunbird male
Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) male

The Purple Sunbird is so common in the north that it is ridiculous. Everywhere I go, even in the harshest of environments, there they are.

Brown Rock Chat ??
Brown Rock Chat (Cercomela fusca)

Another guess here. Maybe a Brown Rock Chat. Edit: Experts confirm it is one. Two correct ID’s. legend. 🙂

Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix griseus)

I am fairly confident about this one. Finally.

grasshopper
Poekilocerus pictus

This creepy grasshopper was just sitting there. Doing nothing.
“Poekilocerus pictus is a large brightly colored grasshopper from India. Nymphs of the species are notorious for squirting a jet of liquid up to several inches away when grasped. It is also known as Aak grasshopper” (wiki)

Khichan Bird List

Rufous-tailed Lark (Ammomanes phoenicura)
immature ???
Brown Rock Chat (Cercomela fusca)
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix griseus)
Common Babbler (Turdoides caudata)
Indian Silverbill
Purple Sunbird
Red-wattled Lapwing
House Sparrow
White-cheeked Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Grey Francolin

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