Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

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.

Big Re-entry

in the tube
In the tube.


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 17, 2017

The Trawler Launch

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 10:23 am

Karaikal, Tamil Nadu.

I was going for a ride in my bike towards the beach when I saw this massive boat on the road. So, of course I stopped and had a look at what was going on.

On the Road 928
The trawler on the road.

They got a back-end loader and pushed it down the ramp. The sand ramp. They had to put all bits of timber under the wheels.

Trawler launch 930
Going down the ramp.

The traweler was secured to the wheels carrying it with ropes twisted with logs.

trawler launch 932
side view

Big Propeller 936
Securing ropes.

Here is a shot of the propeller showing how the ropes are attached to the wheels.

going down the ramp 938
Going into the water. 938

The back-end loader pushed the trawler into the water.

stuck on sand 942
Stuck on the sand

Cannot go any further by pushing from behind with the back-hoe.

last push 945
Still stuck on the sand.

But she was still stuck on the sand. They got another trawler and put a line on her to tow her off the sand.

yippee afloat 947
Success, she is afloat.

Everyone yahooing when the trawler is afloat. Game over. Set and match.

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


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.


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!

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 Water-front

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The Sea Shore.

I woke up this morning at 6am, had my cup of chai and a deep-fried doughnut thingie and took off along the waterfront. I was going to look for birds but the action going on in the water was much too interesting to ignore.

Paddling a raft

They make these rafts out of big logs and use them for fishing with traps and nets.

sail boat
Sailing boat.

This is a very cheap mode of transportation. No paying for petrol.

Bringing the pots home
Bringing the pots back home.

This guy was bringing his fish trap back to shore.

Dragging a raft
Dragging the raft.

It is easier to drag the raft along when the water is shallow.

Indian Palm Squirrel
Indian Palm Squirrel.

There were a few Indian Palm Squirrels sun-baking on the sand.

Black Kite
Black Kite

Looking for shellfish
Looking for shell-fish.

A fisherman

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal

Coolite boat
Koolite canoe

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 7, 2017

Murugan’s Birthday

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 12:22 pm

Vaikasi Visakam.

Vaikasi Visakam is the celebration of the birthday of the Hindu god Lord Murugan. He is the god of courage, wealth and wisdom and the younger son of Shiva and Parvati. He is the brother of the elephant-headed Ganesha.

Vaikasi Visakam procession
The procession through the streets

On the day, Tamil people go in a procession to carry milk to the appropriate temple.

carrying milk
Carrying milk

I had no idea what was going on when I heard drumming at about 6am. While I was having breakfast, I saw all these people going past and celebrating, so I grabbed my camera and went out on the streets to take some shots. I did not know what it was all about.

drinking curd
Refreshing curd drink

The people in the processions were given drinks by some stalls along the way.

mad colours
Mad colours

There is a guy under all that gaudiness.

hanging around
Hanging around.

There were a few guys suspended by hooks. But not many.

the band
The band.

Quite a few musical groups. The processions kept coming for about 3 hours that I noticed. Probably a lot more.

boys acting up
Boys acting up.

And of course some young blokes had to have as much fun as possible, throwing water at everyone. They even grabbed my hat.

spike through the cheeks
Spikes through the cheeks

There were lots and lots of guys with long spikes through their cheeks. It was explained to me that there was no pain and no wound afterwards. I do not think I will try it out.

More spikes

The ladies were getting into it as well.

proud young man
Proud young man

This handsome young man was walking along very proudly.


Lots of friends out together having a good time.

more friends
More friends.

I like it that people were out with their friends and family and having a great time.

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) ??

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