Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

June 22, 2017

Guntur, Andhra Pradesh

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 10:13 am

Upallapadu Bird Sanctuary.

Upallapadu Bird Sanctuary is about ten kilometers east of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh along the old Guntur Road. I caught the local bus from platform 31 at the Guntur Bus Stand. I got off the bus and walked up the road past the tanks.

 Asian Pied Starling
Asian Pied Starling (Sturnus contra)

The tanks here are kept in very good order unlike some of the ones I have seen full of plastic and rubbish. First off I spotted and old friend, the Asian Pied Starling. I think the last time I saw this bird was in southern Laos at Four Thousand Islands. Or is it One thousand? I forget. doh! Asian Pied Starling is just in range from the distribution map from my book.

Spot-billed Duck
Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha)

I found the proper sanctuary and there were lots of birds. Mainly Painted Storks and Asian Openbills. I saw a lot of young birds from these two.

Spot-billed Pelican
Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)

These pelicans breed later in the year as far as I can tell.

Little Heron
black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

I thought this was a Black-crowned Night-heron but there are not any in India as far as I know. Edit: It was a Black-crowned Night-heron after all and they are all over the world. doh! I need to trust my judgement more.

Bronze-winged Jacana
Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus)

My only new bird for the day. They look more like a moorhen to me, especially with that forehead patch.

Bronze-winged Jacana
Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus)

Another shot side on. They have the huge legs of the jacanas, moorhens etc.

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

This is a really young bird.

Painted Storks
Painted Storks

Quite a large colony on the side of this tank.

Ashy Prinia
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

This Ashy Prinia stood up quite proudly posing for me. His eyes make him look a bit crazy.

To sum up, there are lots of birds here and it is very worthwhile if you have not seen Painted Storks, Openbills, Spot-billed Pelicans or Spot-billed Ducks.

Uppalapadu bird list.

Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus)
Asian Pied Starling (Sturnus contra)
Black-headed Ibis
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)
Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha)
Spot-billed Pelican
White-breasted Waterhen
Painted Stork
Asian Openbill
Common Coot
Common Moorhen
Purple Swamphen
black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Indian Pond Heron
Cattle Egret
Purple Heron
Black-winged Stilt
Little Cormorant
Shikra
Black Drongo
House Crow
Common Myna
Spotted Dove
Red-vented Bulbul
Rose-ringed Parakeet
White-throated Kingfisher

June 20, 2017

Indian Surfing with birds

Filed under: Birds,Surfing — Tags: , — admin @ 8:55 am

Kovalam – Tamil Nadu.

From Pondicherry I got to Kovalam somehow and ended up in this sleazy dive. An expensive sleazy dive. I went down the beach in the afternoon and there were huge amounts of Indian tourists playing on the beach.

fishing boats
Fishermen down the beach.

These guys came in straight through the surf. It reminded me of a surf boat race. Very spectacular.

indian surf boat
Surf boat.

Some bee-eaters were peeking their heads over this wall, so I went and found them.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)

I thought these were Green Bee-eaters at first until I had a good look at them. doh!

Purple-rumped Sunbird
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)

I found an abandoned housing estate and there were a few birds on it so I ignored the No Trespassing sign and went right in.

Indian Roller
Indian Roller (Coracius benghalensis)

I have been wanting a decent photo of an Indian Roller actually in India. Here is a good one.

taking off
Taking off

The kids were having a great time catching waves. They were even getting in the barrel. The rip was a bit horrendous, dragging them down the beach every wave they caught.

in the barrel
In the barrel.

Re-entry
Big Re-entry

in the tube
In the tube.

Cut-back
Cut-back

Kovalam bird list

Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)
Indian Roller (Coracius benghalensis)
Common Myna
Red-wattled Lapwing
House Crow
Large-billed Crow
Oriental Magpie-robin
Red-vented Bulbul
Rose-ringed Parakeet
White-throated Kingfisher

June 15, 2017

Black Buck

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 4:45 pm

Point Calimere 2

I finally got to get a trip around the sanctuary this morning. I had to hire a taxi and a guide. But it was worth it I reckon. I saw a few new birds and heaps of Black Buck.

Black Buck male
Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra)

This is a male. They have really curvy horns. I do not know what that thing on his cheek is. It might be a tumour or his third nostril.

Black Buck  female
Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra) female

This one is a female, jumping for joy. They do not have horns.

Spotted Deer, male
male Spotted Deer

I usually do not bother photographing Spotted Deer because they are so common everywhere. But this male had a great set of antlers.

Indian Bushlark or Jerdon's Bushlark
Indian or Jerdon’s Bushlark

I am tending with Jerdon’s Bushlark. Mainly because of range and the shape of the marks on the chest.

Grey  Francolin
Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)

This is the first francolin I have ever seen. The guide called it a partridge.

Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark (Eremopterix grisea)

They do look a lot like a sparrow.

White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher

This is a great shot showing the white markings on the wing of the White-throated Kingfisher that can be seen in flight.

Green Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)

Green Bee-eaters are common in sandy coastal country. And I can remember their scientific name. doh!

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo(Phoenicopterus ruber)

Greater Flamingos in similar country to where I saw them in Sri Lanka. They even had the salt mine.

Point Calimere bird list

Indian or Jerdon’s Bushlark ?
Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark (Eremopterix grisea)
Grey Francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus)
Brahminy Kite
Greater Flamingo(Phoenicopterus ruber)
Painted Stork
Gull-billed Tern
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
House Crow
White-throated Kingfisher
Indian Pond Heron
Red-wattled Lapwing

Mammals

Black Buck (Antilope cervicapra)
Spotted Deer
Bonnet Monkey (Macaca radiata)
Wild Horse

Kodaikarai Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 4:25 pm

Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary

This morning I hopped on the bus at Muthupettai and headed off into the hillbilly lands of Tamil Nadu. The bus took a detour and went through all these little villages, picking up farmers going to town.

Eurasian Curlew
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquatus)

When I got to Kodikarai, I found the forest rest house and got a room for two nights. It is a small fishing village here. They have fishing and salt.

Painted Stork
Painted Stork(Mycteria leucocephala)

There were massive numbers of Painted Stork in the estuary. Their knees bend forward. Or is it their ankles?

Curlew Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)

There were a few waders closer to the beach, but not all that many. It is the wrong time of year.

Little Tern
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)

Quite a few Little Tern darting up and down in the strong wind.

Lesser Sand Plover
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaulti)

Point Calimere bird list

Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquatus)
Painted Stork(Mycteria leucocephala)
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucordia)
Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)
Greater Sand Plover (Charadrius leschenaulti)
Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)

Tamil Nadu Boat Ride

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:54 pm

Muthupettai Lagoon.

It has been one of those days! I shall start from the beginning. I caught a bus from Tanjore to Mannargudi and changed there for one to Muthupettai. On the last stage we went through all these villages hither and thither.

Brahminy Starling
Brahminy Starling

When I got to Muthupettai, I walked along the main street looking for a hotel. I finally found one. After a refreshing hard water shower, I went up the road looking for the fabled lagoon boat ride. I found a fisherman who would take me for 1200 rupees. So we hopped on his bike and got my stuff.

Crossing the river
Dog swimming across river.

We set off and chugged away along the river. A few times we had to stop and cut off all the plastic wrapped around the propeller.

fisherman
Fisherman

There were lots of camps along the river with people fishing, herding goats and cows. There are so many goats around here. I suppose they thrive on country with no water.

Pied Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher

There were not many new birds anyway, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

A murder of crows
A murder of crows.

These crows were having a circle. I like their democratic process. Which one has the talking stick?

Pigs in shit
Pigs in shit

Politicians with their noses in the trough.

Muthupettai bird list

Red-wattled Lapwing
Brahminy Kite
Black Kite
Grey Heron
House Crow
Pied Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Little Cormorant
Black Drongo
Brahminy Starling
Red-vented Bulbul
Common Myna

Vaduvoor Bird Sanctuary

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:42 pm

Vaduvoor Bird Sanctuary.

I was up at 5:15 am this morning to catch the 6am bus to Vaduvoor Bird Sanctuary. It was crowded and I had to stand up all the way! I found the bird sanctuary and went along the path bordering the dry lake. No water.

Spotted Owlet
Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)

First thing I run into is a Spotted Owlet. Just sitting up in the tree. They are so tiny – about the size of a little puppy. But I was so happy to see it.

Brahminy Starling
Brahminy Starling (Sturnus pagodarum)

Next thing you know I have another new bird, a Brahminy Starling. Things were looking up.

Indian Robin
Indian Robin

The Indian Robin was nothing new but first for India. I had already seen them in Sri Lanka.

Common Woodshrike
Common Woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus)

I had a good idea of what this bird was, having seen photos on Bird Identification sites.

Coppersmith Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)

I have seen the Coppersmith Barbet in South-East Asia. I was hoping it was a white-cheeked variety. doh!

Eurasian Collared Dove
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

Not sure if I have seen a Eurasian Collared Dove before. I have a feeling I have.

White-browed Wagtail
White-browed Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis)

I nearly ignored this bird. This is the second time I have mistaked it for Oriental Magpie-robin. I did the same at Periyar.

Jungle Prinia ?
Jungle Prinia (Prinia sylvatica)

I think this one is a Jungle Prinia because of the eyebrow stopping at the eye.

Plain Prinia or Jungle Prinia
Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata)

This might be the same bird but I do not think so. Notice how the eyebrow goes well beyond the eye. There are other differences – the bill and the tail, but I cannot see them.

Purple Sunbird , female ?
Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) female ?

Not sure about this at all because all the females look the same to me. doh!

lizard
Oriental Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)

Edit: Id confirmed by Nathan Rusli. The Oriental Garden Lizard, eastern garden lizard or changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) is an agamid lizard found widely distributed in Asia. (This might be some kind of dragon with all the spikes on his back.)

Vaduvoor bird list

Spotted Owlet (Athene brama)
Brahminy Starling (Sturnus pagodarum)
Common Woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus)
Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Jungle Prinia (Prinia sylvatica)
Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata)
White-browed Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis)
Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica)
Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala)
Indian Roller(Coracius benghalensis)
Ashy Woodswallow (Artemus fuscus)
Indian Robin
Common Hoopoe
Brahminy Kite
Black Kite
Yellow-billed Babbler yes ?/ Jungle Babbler ??
Common Tailorbird
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
White-throated Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Common Myna
Red-vented Bulbul
Black Drongo
Rufous Treepie
Large-billed Crow
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Spotted Dove
Red-wattled Lapwing
Indian Pea-fowl
Ashy Prinia

June 9, 2017

Rameswaram Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 8:22 am

Towards the Lighthouse.

I got to Rameshwaram after a very confusing drop off at the bus station, which is miles out of town. It is a very convoluted town, with streets going everywhere. It is like a rabbit warren.

Black Kite
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

There were hordes of Black Kites wheeling over the water-front. I think that was because they dumped all their rubbish there. And of course the ever-present Brahminy Kites. A lot of the Black Kites were very immature birds. This following Black Kite is very much an immature bird.

immature Black Kite
immature Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

I went for a walk further along the water-front and on the way back found some birds in an empty paddock.

Purple Sunbird, male
Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica)

I think this is a new bird for me. I will check when I get wifi. It is a breeding male.

Rose-ringed Parakeet , female
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) , female

I was very excited to find a parakeet but I have seen heaps of these in Sri Lanka, so no kewpie doll for me.

Rose-ringed Parakeet
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Check out the tongue on this Rose-ringed Parakeet.

Rameshwaram bird list

Purple Sunbird (Nectarinia asiatica) breeding male
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) female
Black Kite (Milvus migrans) immature
Brahminy Kite
House Sparrow
Common Myna
House Crow
Little Egret
Spotted Dove

June 6, 2017

Kodaikanal – Western Ghats

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 8:46 am

Coaker’s Walk.

After a horrendous bus ride up the mountain from the plains, I just vegged out watching the cricket. The next morning, after a chai for breakfast, I set off along Coaker’s Walk along the edges of the forest.

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher (Culicacapa ceylonensis)

Pretty much confident about this identification. I have not seen this one before.

Black-and-orange Flycatcher
Black-and-orange Flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa)

This is a pretty bad photo but it is just a record shot. Another new one.

sunbird ?
Nilgiri Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor)

(Edit: It is a flowerpecker, Nilgiri Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor)). I am not confident one little bit about this identification. It is not a flowerpecker and I cannot see what else it might be. I originally thought it was a sunbird, but it was not fitting.

Jungle Myna
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)

I am very happy with this photo of a Jungle Myna.

Common Hoopoe
Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

You never know when a Common Hoopoe will pop up. I have been looking for one.

White-bellied Blue Flycatcher or Nilgiri Flycatcher
Nilgiri flycatcher (Eumyias albicaudatus)

(Edit: It is a Nilgiri flycatcher (Eumyias albicaudatus) )This is a probably a White-bellied Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis pallipes) or Nilgiri Flycatcher. I am thinking this mainly because of the white belly. But I am not confident at all.

ID needed please
Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata), female

I have no idea what this is. (Edit: Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata), female.) I looked through the field guide at least a million times but could find nothing like it. Will have to ask for help with this ID when I get some wifi.

Grey-breasted Laughingthrush
Grey-breasted Laughingthrush (Garrulax jerdoni)

I think this is right but the photo is so bad one can not be sure at all.

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)

I have been wanting to photograph this bird for ages. But until now have been unlucky.

To sum up, I saw about six new birds today but I had massive trouble identifying a few of them. Some of the photos are a bit dodgy due to the bad light in the forest. The other thing is that I used AutoISO again today. I think it works successfully in lighting conditions that are constantly changing and you need to take shots quickly. Under constant lighting conditions I think it is better to set the ISO manually and take a few test photos. And of course it is imperative to use manual ISO under backlighting condtions.

Kodaikanal bird list

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher (Culicacapa ceylonensis)
Black-and_orange Flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa)
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)
Common Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)
Nilgiri flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor)
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Pied Bushchat (Saxicola caprata)
Spotted Dove
Nilgiri flycatcher (Eumyias albicaudatus)
Orange-headed Thrush
Grey-breasted Laughingthrush (Garrulax jerdoni) ??

June 2, 2017

Pugmark Trail Again

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 9:45 am

Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Raining again this morning. I am still in Kumily near the Periyar Tiger Reserve. I waited until 9am when the rain stopped and the sun came out occasionally until I went birding at the Pugmark Trail again. I was hoping for some more new birds, but I only got one new bird today.

Malabar Whistling Thrush
Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii)

“The Malabar whistling thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii) is a whistling thrush in the family Muscicapidae. They are also known locally by the name of whistling schoolboy for the whistling calls that they make at dawn that have a very human quality. The species is a resident in the Western Ghats and associated hills of peninsular India including central India and parts of the Eastern Ghats.” (source: Wikipedia).

Southern Hill Myna
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)

There were heaps of these under the canopy today, hanging about with Jungle Mynas, making a fearful racket. There are five species of Gracula, Hill Mynas. 1 in India, 1 in Sri Lanka, Common Hill Myna in mainland South-east Asia and 2 in Sumatra on Nias and Enggano islands.

male  Orange-headed Thrush
Orange-headed Thrush (Zoothera citrina cyanotus)

This is a male Orange-headed Thrush. I am thinking it is a better shot than yesterday. Well, actually it is about the same. doh!

Black-rumped Flameback
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense )

Really bad shot of the Black-rumped Flameback. But it is a good diagnostic shot showing the golden back, black rump and black chin that give this one away.

White-bellied Treepie
White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)

This is a better shot than yesterday but still in low light. I tried Auto ISO. It worked but you have to go back to manual ISO when you are shooting up towards the sky because of the backlighting effect.

Jungle Babbler
Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striatus)

The Jungle Babblers were everywhere this morning. Chasing each other, grizzling and squabbling and preening each other. They are very much like Australian babblers and very sociable.

Bonnet Macaque
Bonnet Macaque (Macaca radiata)

Evil mofos. I had to rescue a girl’s keys from one the other day. Never trust them or any other macaque. They will steal your bag, your food, even the shirt off your back.

Nilgiri Langur
Nilgiri Langur

Periyar Tiger Reserve bird list

Malabar Whistling Thrush (Myophonus horsfieldii)
Orange-headed Thrush (Zoothera citrina cyanotus)
Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striatus)
Jungle Myna
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)
Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)
White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense )
White-throated Kingfisher
Common Tailorbird

Mammals
Sambar
Nilgiri Langur
Bonnet Macaque (Macaca radiata)

June 1, 2017

Pugmark Trail Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 12:28 pm

Periyar Tiger Reserve.

This morning started off with rain so I put off going into the reserve till later. After the drizzle, I made my way down to the ticket counter and bought my ticket for the Pugmark Trail. The ticket for this walk costs 100 rupees. To get into the park you have to pay 450 rupees for the entrance fee. The Nature Walk that I did yesterdays costs 1200 rupees for 4 people. I went with two other people so it cost me 400 rupees. So I got into the park and signed in and was shown to the beginning of the Pugmark Trail and told to follow the signs. It was very easy to follow. I did not think that I would be seeing much but got the shock of my life when I started seeing lots of new birds.

Malabar Grey Hornbill
Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)

The thrill of the day was the Malabar Grey Hornbill. It is very similar to the Sri Lanka one. The lighting was atrocious under the canopy so I had to use very high ISO. Therefore I am not too pleased with the results, but you just gotta live with what you got.

Jungle Babbler
Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striatus)

At first I thought this was a Yellow-billed Babbler, so I did not worry too much about it. When I got back and looked at the book, it seemed it was a Jungle Babbler. The head is much darker than the Indian race of Yellow-billed Babbler.

White-bellied Treepie
White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)

And I made another big mistake thinking this was a Rufous Treepie. Luckily I saw some more later on and was able to pull together a usable photo. I was using ISO6400 for most of my shots as time went by. So these photos have mega-noise.

Black Eagle
Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)

I think this is a Black Eagle. It was soaring high above an opening in the jungle.

Orange-headed Thrush
Orange-headed Thrush (Zoothera citrina cyanotus)

On the way back I was going to go via the road but decided against it because of the traffic. Luckily, because right after that, I spotted this male Orange-headed Thrush just sitting on a branch right in front of me.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)

And then, a pair of Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers just popped up in front of me. It was so dark in there. Even the flash did not do any good. Rainforests are a night-mare to take photographs in.

Southern Hill Myna
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)

I took a photo of one of these yesterday. Still not satisfied.

Black-rumped Flameback ??
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense ) ??

I am not sure if this is a Black-rumped Flameback. Edit: ID confirmed on the Indian Birds ID facebook group. Thank you.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo ??

The only thing that tells me this is so is the crest..

Periyar Bird list – Pugmark Trail

Malabar Grey Hornbill (Ocyceros griseus)
Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striatus)
White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)
Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis)
Orange-headed Thrush (Zoothera citrina cyanotus)
Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)
Black-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense ) ??
Lesser Yellownape (Picus chlorolophus) ??
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus )

Mammals

Nilgiri Langur
Malabar Giant Squirrel

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