Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

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

May 31, 2017

Periyar Tiger Reserve

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 1:43 pm

Kumily, Western Ghats.

I am up in the mountains. It is a lot cooler and more pleasant. This morning I went for a nature walk at Periyar Tiger Reserve at Kumily, in Kerala. First thing I saw at the guide’s hut was a Golden-fronted Leafbird. Not a bad first impression I am thinking.

Golden-fronted Leafbird
Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)

We were given some leech socks which I have never seen before. They seemed to have worked because at the end of the day I had a couple of leeches in my shoe and a girl had a couple too. But no bites. So they do work.

Great Hornbill
Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)

I was very stoked to see quite a few Great Hornbill fly overhead. I was clicking away madly. That reminds me, I have to add these to my hornbill page.

Malabar Parakeet
Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columbides)

I was trying to photograph the elephants but this male Malabar Parakeet kept popping up near to us, so I had to divert to get him and then back to the elephants. Which you will see later.

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

I thought these White-browed Wagtails were a couple of Oriental Magpie-robins until I looked at the photos closely. I got the shock of my life. The photo is pretty dodgy – record shot only.

Southern Hill Myna
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)

A record shot only. Not seen these Southern Hill Mynas but I have seen the Common Hill Mynas in Malaysia, or have I? Well, actually seen at Kep, Cambodia and Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Jungle Myna
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)

There were a pair of Jungle Myna with a nest near my homestay/lodge. I have seen these before in Jerantut, Malaysia.

Nilgiri langur
Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii)

A few Nilgiri Langur were feeding in a tree near the trail.

male Asian Elephant
Asian Elephant

This one is a 20 year old male. There was a 60 year old female there as well. The male here has tusks.

Malabar Giant Squirrel
Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica)

This is also called the Indian Giant Squirrel. He was way high up in the tree. “The Indian giant squirrel, or Malabar giant squirrel, is a large tree squirrel species genus Ratufa native to India. It is a large-bodied diurnal, arboreal, and herbivorous squirrel found in South Asia.” (Wikipedia.)

Southern Birdwing
Southern Birdwing (Troides minos)

The guide said this butterfly was very rare. I have no idea about butterflies. It may be the state butterfly of Karnataka state.

Periyar Tiger Reserve bird list

Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)
Malabar Parakeet (Psittacula columbides)
Southern Hill Myna (Gracula indica)
Golden-fronted Leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)
White-browed Wagtail (Motacilla maderaspatensis)
Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus)
Cattle Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Asian Openbill
Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus)
Grey Heron
Red-wattled Lapwing
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

Mammals

Gaur or Indian Bison (Bos gaurus)
Sambar
Asian Elephant
Malabar Giant Squirrel or Indian Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica)
Nilgiri langur (Trachypithecus johnii)

Butterflies

Southern Birdwing (Troides minos)

May 29, 2017

Another Kerala boat ride

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 3:27 pm

Kochi Backwaters.

I had no idea where we went today. I took ea taxi to this luxurious hotel where I waited for the van to pick me up. Then we drove south for nearly an hour through all the traffic until we came to a river. Then we had a cup of chai and went down and got in the boat.

poling the boat
Poling the boat.

We had two men poling the barge along the water. I was waiting for them to start up the outboard but they never did. They poled us miles and miles through all the waterways.

Kochi backwaters
Kochi backwaters.

It was raining on and off as we went. These people run out of petrol.

run out of petrol
Run out of petrol.

Not sure what this is. At first I thought sunbird, but no. It has a bill like a babbler. I have no idea what it is. Waiting for some help. edit: Thank you Tom Tarrant for the ID. The prinias stump me every time.

ID needed please.
ashy prinia (Prinia socialis)

I have a sneaking suspicion this may be the same bird. Or not. At first I thought it was a shrike-thrush or something similar. But no match. I have no idea.

unknown, id please
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

There were not many birds around at all. I was fairly disappointed.

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)

This lady and a few others were dragging nets around the canal. I have no idea what they were after.

netting the canal
Netting in the canal

Lots of boaters went past with their umbrellas up. Or plastic bags over their heads.

boating in the rain
Boating in the rain

Kochi waters bird list

Rufous Treepie
Asian Koel
Greater Coucal
House Crow
White-throated Kingfisher
Ashy Prinia (Prinia socialis)

Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 12:55 am

Ernakulam Birding.

I caught the bus from Alleppey to Ernakulam this morning. I was hanging on for dear life! Indian buses are more excitement than a roller-coaster ride. In the afternoon I walked along the foreshore, then continued on to Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary.

Indian flying fox
Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus)

“The Indian flying fox (Pteropus giganteus), also known as the greater Indian fruit bat, is a species of flying fox in the family Pteropodidae. It is nocturnal and feeds mainly on ripe fruits, such as mangoes and bananas, and nectar.” (wiki).

I climbed up the watch-tower and there was nothing to see. Then I heard this horrendous screeching. It was a pair of Shikra having a humungous fight, flying around yelling at each other.

Shikra
Shikra (Accipiter badius)

The light was really atrocious but I did my best. My camera was doing all weird shit as well, so I had no idea what I was doing.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)

I found this old railway building, so I snuck in past the Entry Forbidden sign and was surprised to see a Black Drongo and some fidgety Greater Racket-tailed Drongos.

Rufous Treepie
Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)

There was also a Greater Coucal and a family of Rufous Treepie.

Ernakulam bird list

Shikra (Accipiter badius)
Brahminy Kite
Common Tailorbird
House Crow
House Sparrow
Common Myna
Common Tailorbird
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)
Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)

May 26, 2017

The Muhamma Ferry

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 1:40 pm

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary.

It was a big day today and I am knackered. I got out of bed at 6am and trudged off to the bus station at Alleppey. I found out where the bus to Muhamma was. You cannot tell as the destinations are all written in Malayalam, which I cannot decipher one bit. I had a bit of time so I had a cup of chai and a couple of deep-fried pakoras for breakfast.

Rufous Treepie
Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)

The bus finally took off and we charged down the road at an adrenaline-inducing rate of knots, dodging bikes, pedestrians, trucks, and lowly cars. Better than a roller-coaster ride.

Rufous Treepie
Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)

We made it to Muhamma, so I stumbled off the bus, looking for the ferry. I went down the wrong road and had to backtrack for nearly a kilometer. I kept asking people “ferry?” and they smiled and pointed me in the wrong direction.

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

Eventually I arrived at the Muhamma Ferry Terminal dusty, tired and thirsty. I sat down for half an hour to wait for the ferry. So I get on and sit in the ladies’ section unbeknownst to myself until the trip back. I was wondering why I was getting all these strange looka and giggles. Arriving in Kumarakom, I grabbed a tuk-tuk and made for the bird sanctuary.

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

When I arrived, I found out that the workers were on strike and the joint was not open. So I set off along the creek and found a few tracks off into the bush and eventually found a few birds.

Oriental Magpie-robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin

The front Oriental Magpie-robin has got some pink spots on the breast. I have no idea what that is all about.

Black Drongo
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

I took me a while to work out the ID for the Purple-rumped Sunbird. Olive-backed Sunbirds were out of range, and it was definitely a Purple-rumped Sunbird when I saw the solid line on the chest of the male. I had seen them previously in Sri Lanka at Kalamatiya Bird Sanctuary. So no tick for that. But the Rufous Treepie is a tick.

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary list

Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) tick.
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius
Purple-rumped Sunbird (Nectarinia zeylonica)
Brahminy Kite
Red-vented Bulbul
White-throated Kingfisher
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Baya Weaver
Common Myna
Purple Heron

May 25, 2017

Kollam to Alleppey

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — admin @ 4:32 am

Kerala Backwaters Boat Ride.

After two days in Kollam, I was ready to get on the boat for the Kerala Backwaters to Alleppey. The boat leaves every second day because on the other days it is coming back from Alleppey.

kerala trawler
A trawler

Black-headed Ibis
Black-headed Ibis

After I took this photo, we got stuck on a sandbar and had to reverse our way out. I was a bit worried there for a while.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite

There are thousands of Brahminy Kite all over the waterways of Kerala.

Lesser Crested Tern
Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)

I am not sure if I have seen these before. Probably. Just checking. Hmm, it seems like I have not. Oh well, that is a tick then. doh!

poling along
Poling along

Setting nets from small canoe seems to be the common way to fish around the backwaters of Kerala.

tough old bloke
Tough old bloke

Fishing is a tough life and this guy seems to have it in spades.

Great Cormorants
A tree of Great Cormorants

Asian Openbill
Asian Openbill

Ashy Woodswallow
Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus)

I thought this might be a tick but I have seen them before in Ban Lung, Cambodia in 2012. doh!

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

I think this one might be a young one.

netscape
Netscape

There were hundreds of these Chinese cantilevered fishing nets, just like the famous ones in Kochi.

Kerala Backwaters bird list

Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus)
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)
Grey Heron
Indian Pond Heron
Black Drongo
Little Egret
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Asian Openbill
Black-headed Ibis
Little Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Oriental Darter
Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)
Brahminy Kite
Black Kite
Stork-billed Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher

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