Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

November 19, 2017

From Kerala to Kalba

Filed under: General — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 5:33 am

India and United Arab Emirates.

These are the photos from my tourist camera, the little panasonic point and shoot. They range from the lush green rice paddies of Kerala to the desolate desert dunes of the United Arab Emirates.

Kerala paddies
Rice paddies at Kerala

The green of Kerala. Lots of rain and hugely fertile. They probably do a couple of crops of year of rice.

India rail
India Rail

The chaos and madness of Indian trains as opposed to the order of the UAE road system. Near Shoranpur on the way from Calicut to Kochi.

fish traps
Fish traps.

These fish traps were loaded onto the fishing boats. For bait they use a mixture of bread and fish. We used to use square traps made out of wood frame and wire mesh.

arab dhows
Arab dhows

These boats were fitted with diesel motors and were used for fishing. Still the traditional dhow design.

car ferry from Delmah Island
Ferry from Delmah Island

This is the car ferry from Delmah Island back to the mainland at Ruwais. It took about 2 hours.

Ruwais ferry terminal
Ferry Terminal.

The ferry terminal at Ruwais. This was mainly an industrial area and I did not hang around.

Captain Oats UAE
Captain Oats.

Breakfast in the dunes. Oats, raisins, sugar and UHT milk. Yum. Washed down with a cuppa tea. Just like home.

Liwa dunes
Dunes at Liwa

The interior of the country. Dunes as far as the eye can see.

Dune panorama
Dune panorama

The road to Liwa stretches on forever. I got out of the car and the silence was deafening. I had never heard such absolute silence before, even in the Australian outback.

Reed tunnel
Reed tunnel

The reeds at Al Wathba Wetlands near Abu Dhabi.

October 16, 2017

Sarovaram Bio Park

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 8:14 am

Calicut – Kerala.

I got out of bed a little sore this morning but soldiered on. After a chai and a couple of deep-fried snacks, I trotted up the road. The problem was that there was a taxi strike on, as well as a bus strike. I had no idea. Luckily a scab rolled by and I got a lift to Sarovaram Bio Park.

White-cheeked Barbet
White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis)

It took me a while to work out what this was. A bad photo in really terrible light. Record shot only.

Lesser Goldenback
Lesser Goldenback (Dinopium benghalense)

This is the nominate Indian mainland race. There is a race in Sri Lanka with a red back.

Black-hooded Oriole
Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus)

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

local guy
A local

I always get asked to take people’s photos. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it gets a little weird. This one turned out pretty good.

Luckily I got back to the hotel because a nice man gave me a lift back on his scooty. Thank you mystery man.

Calicut bird list

White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis)
Lesser Goldenback (Dinopium benghalense)
Black-hooded Oriole (Oriolus xanthornus)
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)
Brahminy Kite
Indian Pond Heron
Common Iora
Asian Koel
Greater Coucal

October 15, 2017

Kozhikode Tourist Photos

Filed under: General — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 3:15 pm

Calicut – Kerala.

I got into Calicut just before mid-day and had some dinner near the bus station. Then I found my hotel and went out to get some money. On the way I found the Sunday markets where they were selling all sorts of stuff, second-hand and new.

the estuary at Calicut
The estuary

In the afternoon I went for a walk to the estuary and poked around the river mouth and the beach.

Working on the nets
Fishermen and nets

Playing around with the nets.

going to sea
Going to sea

I used to do this many years ago. Heading out to sea every night, punching a nor’easter home. No fish and a wet arse.

Black Kite
Black Kite

This Black Kite was just sitting on a rock close to some fishermen. I do not know why it did not fly away.

Indian Pond Heron
Indian Pond Heron

A reflective shot. Narcissus in feathers.

under the bridge
Under the bridge

Lots of action under the bridge late afternoon. woohoo!

recycling on the beach
Recycling some of the crap

So much rubbish on the beaches everywhere. Terrible.

Looking south
Looking south

Down the beach looking south towards Beypore.

kids processing green mussels
Kids getting mussels

Some kids were getting green mussels off the rocks. A couple of kids were diving and getting them and these kids were detaching them from the black gunk.

still working
Late evening net sorting

Late in the evening as the sun was going down, these fishermen were still sorting out their nets.

October 14, 2017

Munderi Kadavu Bird Sanctuary

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 9:13 am

Kannur – Kerala.

Another cloudy overcast day. I went down to the street to catch the bus to Munderi Kadavu Bird Sanctuary. It was difficult because the bus names were all in Kerala writing. doh! Luckily a young guy helped me find my bus and I was on my way. I got dropped off at Munderi Motta and caught a tuk-tuk to the bird sanctuary.

Greenish Warbler
Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides)

Here is a photo left over from Madikeri. I shot this from my hotel room after I had processed all my photos.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier  female
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) female

Lucky I found this harrier otherwise the day would have been a complete dud.

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

It took me a while to twig as to what this was. It certainly looked different to the usual run of the mill Green Bee-eaters.

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

With an actual bee! This is the first time I have seen one with a bee. doh!

Little Cormorant
Little Cormorant

Gull-billed Terns
Gull-billed Terns

In various stages of plumage.

Kannur bird list

Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides)
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)
Eurasian Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Lesser Whistling Duck
Brahminy Kite
Grey-headed Swamphen
Plain Prinia
Little Cormorant
Common Kingfisher
Green Bee-eater
Gull-billed Tern
Common Sandpiper

October 13, 2017

From Karnataka To Kerala

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — steve_happ @ 3:06 pm

Shimoga – Madikeri – Kannur

Catching the bus from Shimoga early in the morning to Madikeri up in the hills. Passing lots of fields of corn.


Coming into Madikeri. Pictures of passers-by. Stop.

coming into town
Coming into town.

Climbing a hill above my hotel. Taking someone’s dogs for a walk. The dump is on top of the hill, garbage goes over the cliff.

Coorg View
View of Madikeri

Tourist ride to the top of a big mountain in a Mahindra jeep. Mandalpatti at 1700 meters.

View of Western Ghats
The Western Ghats

Catching another early bus to Virajpet from Madikeri. I had to change buses at Virajpet. This is the interstate special speed bus that I caught.

Interstate bus – Karnataka to Kerala

Passing through Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary. It is full-on rainforest jungle that stretches for miles and miles. Very wild country.

jungle road
Road through Brahmagiri jungle

The bridge over the river just before Iritty. I am now in Kerala.

cross the bridge
Bridge at Iritty

So many tuk-tuks lined up in this town. I have never seen so many tuk-tuks.

too many tuk-tuks
Oversupply of Tuk-tuks

And a lineup of gawdy buses. All dolled up like pox-doctor’s clerks.

party buses
Party buses

Finally arriving in Kannur, having lunch at the bus stand. Searching for my hotel with the tuktuk driver. Totally in the wrong place when it is all sorted eventually.

View from my hotel
View from my hotel room

Present participles are ending.

October 12, 2017

Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 7:58 am

Mandalpatti – Madikeri.

I was up this morning before 6am. My jeep safari to Mandalpatti was due for 6:30am but as per usual was fifteen minutes late. Up the hill we went. Then it got bumpier and bumpier. I paid 25 rupees at Mandalpatti and then the goat track got even bumpier. My driver was fantastic in his Indian-made Mahindra four-wheel-drive.

Yellow-browed Bulbul
Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica)

We somehow made it to the top of the mountain where the Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary is situated. I paid my 100 rupees foreigner entrance fee and went for a walk. The highlight of the day was this Yellow-browed Bulbul. I thought it was an oriole so I just took a few and it flew off.

Crested Lark
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

But firstly I ran into some Crested Larks which were hopping on the rocks.

Blue-capped Rock thrush
Blue-capped Rock thrush ( Monticola cinclorhyncha)

And some more Blue-capped Rock Thrush that I had just seen yesterday. On the way back we passed a jeep towing a huge generator. It was a major task going over the humungous pot-holes, but they got the job done. A cup of chai at the checkpoint at Mandalpatti and back down the hill again.

Western Ghats
Western Ghats

This is pretty much what the country looks like around here.

Coorg bird list

Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Blue-capped Rock thrush ( Monticola cinclorhyncha)

October 11, 2017

Coorg Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 3:36 pm

Madikeri hill top.

I got to Madikeri around lunch time and got a lift to my palatial mansion on the hill. I have a tv room, kitchen and bedroom for $10 a night. Bargain. In the afternoon I went up the hill at the back here. I found one new bird but not much else.

Blue-capped Rock Thrush - Female
Blue-capped Rock thrush ( Monticola cinclorhyncha) Female

Thanks to the good folks at Ask ID’s of Indian Birds facebook group for the identification. Here are some of the suggestions – Nilgiri Thrush, Eurasian wryneck. Black headed cuckoo shrike female, and Blue-capped Rock thrush ( Monticola cinclorhyncha) Female. I had no idea but once I saw the photos on the Oriental Bird Club website I was convinced.

Brown Shrike
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)

I am not sure if I have seen this one in India. I know I have seen it in South-east Asia somewhere. Edit: Only seen in the Philippines.

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

These things are everywhere.

House Sparrow
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

This female House Sparrow had a grasshopper for a late lunch. This is the second time I have seen sparrows chomping on grasshoppers. I never seen it before. doh!

Coorg bird list

Blue-capped Rock thrush ( Monticola cinclorhyncha) Female
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus)
Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach)
Indian Jungle Crow
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

October 10, 2017

Goa and Karnataka

Filed under: General — Tags: — steve_happ @ 6:31 am

From Goa to Karnataka.

Goa was my favourite place in India. Luckily I stayed out of town and away from all the tourists and beaches. I had a nice guest house by the river which was very quiet. I hired a scooter and just went out to the lake and birded most of the time. And exploring when I was in the mood.

Gravel Barges
Gravel Barges.

These were on the opposite side to the ferry from Divar Island. It looked like they were loading up with gravel or sand.

safety first
Safety First in India!

Welding without a safety helmet. He did have a little square of dark glass. I never saw a worker use safety gear. They were grinding metal, stone without safety glasses or any protection. I was horrified. There must be billions of accidents at work every day.

washing elephant
Washing the heffalump

I caught the sleeper bus to Hampi from Goa and stayed about four days. This elephant was getting washed in the morning. After that I crossed the river in a boat.

Coracle and street cart
Crazy Transport solutions

This is a street food cart getting carted across the river in a coracle! Far out brussel sprout. You see some weird crap in India.

milking buffalo
Milking the buffalo

This lady milked the buffalos behind my room morning and afternoon. Old skool.

funny kid
Funny kid

I bumped into this kid with chilli stalks stuck to his head! He was very funny. I had to take his photo. This was at a small village close to Hampi – Kamalapura.

fisher dude
fisher dude

I caught another bus to Shimoga and then went to Chikmagalur where I went for a walk around the lake just out of town. Some guy asked me to take his photo, so I took his mate instead. doh!

October 9, 2017

Chikmagalur Karnataka

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 3:26 pm

Basavanahali Kere.

I arrived in Chikmagalur around lunch time and had a bit of drama finding my hotel but it got sorted out eventually. After a bit of a rest I went for a walk around town checking out the shops. In the afternoon I went to the lake on the edge of town and walked half-way around it. There was a huge statue of Swami Vivekananda on an island on the lake.

Great Cormorant
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The Great Cormorant when breeding has a red spot at base of bill, white cheeks and throat, white plumes covering much of its head, and white thigh patch. Most of these features you can see in this photo. Exhibit A.

LOng-tailed Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike

The wind was blowing his feathers around.

Jungle Myna
Jungle Myna

These guys looked a bit crazy. I like it.

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Too bad there were not three or four all lined up.

Black-headed Ibis
Black-headed Ibis

He looks a bit psycho too. Must be something in the water around here. Fluoride?

Black-winged KIte
Black-winged Kite

Hovering. Inviting me to take his photo. So I did. And I like it.

It's art you idiot
Arty photograph

I have no idea how I did this, but I like it and that is all that matters. Or I do not know anything about art but I know what I like.

Chikmagalur bird list

Common Moorhen
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Purple Heron
Grey Heron
Little Egret
Indian Pond Heron
Grey-headed Swamphen
Lesser Whistling Duck
Indian Spot-billed Duck
Red-wattled Lapwing
Black-headed Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black-winged Stilt
Painted Stork
White-throated Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Pied Bushchat
Jungle Myna
Long-tailed Shrike
Black-winged Kite

October 7, 2017

Hampi Birding Five

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 10:46 am

Kamalapura Lake.

This morning I set off to Kamalapura, about 6 kilometers from Hampi, towards Hospet. I was going to catch the bus, but a tuk-tuk came along with someone else in it, so I shared a ride. I got dropped off at the bus stand and walked about a kilometer to the lake. The lake was dead. Nothing in it. No birds, just blue green algae and rubbish.

Black-winged Kite
Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

I finally managed to photograph a Black-winged Kite in India. I had been seeing them from buses heaps of times but always had my camera packed away.

Red Avadavat
Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava)

These are very nice looking birds.

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal

The Greater Coucal is hard to photograph because they are always hiding behind the leaves and get very skittish when you approach.

Checkered Keelback
water snake

This water snake was hanging around in a drain. Edit: Just checked the name. Checkered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator).


And so was this fish

fresh water crab

and this crab.



Hampi bird list

Black-winged Kite (Elanus caeruleus)
Common Coot
White-throated Kingfisher
Purple-rumped Sunbird
Ashy Prinia
Common Myna
Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava)
White-browed Wagtail
Great Cormorant
Greater Coucal
Black-headed Munia (Lonchura malacca)
Pied Bushchat
Yellow-billed Babbler

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