Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fall of The Sparrow

World Sparrow Day 
20 March  

Incidentally it was a dead yellow throated sparrow that turned Dr.Salim Ali into an ornithologist and conservationist. We have all grown up the vicinity common house sparrow. I remember hoards in my old house chirping, feeding and nesting.   

They were part of the house and us taken for granted the commensal of men could not withstand modernity as it has entered the vicious form that we see today. 

The reduction in numbers is an indicator of serious environmental concern. Since  a long time the reduction in their population has been noted in urban areas which they inhabit the most. This reduction in numbers is directly related to our lifestyle as well our way of farming. We are using number of chemicals which are toxic to birds and humans in long time as well. The toiletries, garden chemicals and pesticides used in farms are contributing to slow death of avian species Worldwide. The chemicals flowing through the outlets are ingested by birds which eventually affects their eggs and hence breeding. 

While the house sparrow lives in towns, cities and villages other species of sparrows prefer different habitats. The house sparrow (passer domesticus) is the most affected inhabiting human habitations. 

The continuing urbanisation is taking its toll due intolerance present generation since the sparrows used to nest in old houses. In modern construction there is no space for this avian and few nesting grounds are available. 

The population reduction is also due to the destruction of trees and forests. Constant large scale urbanisation has lead to reduction in number of trees and groves which the bird prefers. The scrub land another of its habitat too has been affected by rampant colonisation in India.     

Classification of Sparrows 

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Infraorder: Passerida
Superfamily: Passeroidea
Family: Passeridae

Friday, November 17, 2017

Kanha National Park - Winter & Summer Birding

Birding at Kanha

Kanha National Park along with other tiger reserves in Central India are a heaven for bird watchers. Albeit degree of difficulty is very high in winters whence the migrants arrive. The thick canopy makes visibility a challenge and greater efforts have to be made to identify avian by interpreting their calls.   
Indian SCops Owl - Monu Dubey

Brown Hawk Owl - Prayut Mandal 

Cinnamon Bittern - Prayut Mandal 

Black Rumped Flameback - Sanjeev Patel  

Northern Taxa like the Pallas Fish Eagle, Grey Headed Fish Eagle, Grey Bushchat, Osprey, Gray Lag Geese, Siberian Ruby Throat, Verditor Flycatcher, bar winged flycatcher shrike can be seen along with wintering pipits, warblers and some teals.   

Winters accord excellent opportunity to enhance skills in identifying the warblers and wintering pipits. In this region the latter are scarce but nevertheless there.  But by all means this is a strenuous and stressful exercise. Anyway better birding starts from December on words whence water begins to recede and canopy begins to thin down. 

The ever exciting tiger chases will always be there to interfere merrily. Some serious birders tell me not to indulge in the tiger chase. I am happy with that because the run for avian accords me to sharpen my birding skills especially after a gap of three months whence the park is closed. 
Painted Stork - Shreyas

For birders going into the park the Khatia Zone in the buffer with lot of mix canopy and bamboo provides ideal opportunity for birding in an open jeep. The expeditions are more challenging on the jeep safaris since getting down is not allowed.  For a bird watching apart from Khatia Zone moving in the buffers is a good experience hence all zones and buffer zone areas should be explored. 

Keeping in mind the degree of difficulty winter tours should be of longer duration especially if the mega fauna is on the  menu. Summer birding could be shorter due to increased visibility of birds and mammals. 

Overseas visitors arriving from cold climes should acclimatise themselves with warm weather mid March onward. 

Summer Birding at Kanha

In the summers migrants leave but thinning canopy offers wonderful opportunity to watch the resident birds like the painted francolin, Indian Pitta, Orange headed ground thrush, Malabar Pied Horn Bill, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Naped Flycatcher to name a few. 

The tiger reserve is home of forest birds and those expecting wetland species will be disappointed due to the absence of large water bodies.  Under most circumstances good quality binoculars are more than enough with little use of spotting scope.   

Birding can spring few surprises like my discovery of blue capped rock thrush earlier, rufus bellied eagle, pale footed bush warbler and spot bellied eagle owl. Sighting vagrants, passage migrants  and some undiscovered species will make your trip exciting. Hire a good birding guide from among the naturalists in Kanha during the trip.      

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Birds of Kanha - Spot Bellied Eagle Owl

Jonathan & Emma UK
Guest Courtyard House Kanha
Date 20/4/2017

On recent visit to Kanha National Park we came around interesting birds. In summer time winter migrants are not seen leaving the sandpipers and black redstart which leave a little later.  But March onwards Kanha National Park in Central India is ideal for summer birding. In this period one can find some of the migratory bird species and as the summer increases and foliage reduces resident species are seen all over.  

Hence it is delightful experience to find summer residents some of which are hidden in the dense canopy or bush during the winters. The added advantage is that many water sources become redundant and birds conscribing to various niche habitats gather around the remaining water holes, stream and lakes. 

Many a discoveries are made during this period of avian that are not checklisted earlier at this tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh. 

On this trip we came across Spot Bellied Eagle Owl perched high on a skeletal branch. In the initial stages the guide pronounced it as Brown Fish Owl but I was not convinced. Hence looking through the binoculars I could make out that it was Spot Bellied Eagle Owl without any doubt. An image has been taken of this species at the same time which I am expecting to be sent.               

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rufus Bellied Eagle at Kanha

Rufus Bellied Eagle at Kanha

Pete & Pam UK at Courtyard House

We saw this raptor hunting at Kanha National Park last year. We were fortunate to photograph this passage migrant again this year in February 2017.
Photo: Pete & Pam

  This raptor has been recorded probably for the first time at Kanha.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Birding Trip Report Kanha and Bandhavgarh

Julien Gonin
Marine Gonin  

Julien & Marine

Guests: Courtyard House Kanha
Tiger Den Resort Bandhavgarh

Courtesy Indiafootprints Tour Operator  

It was a trip for bird watching at India's Finest Reserves Kanha and Bandhavgarh National Park. Well it was much more than a birding trip since we combined it with tiger safari and managed to see many animals besides the tiger. 

Julien is a professional birder from France and conducts tours in Northern India including Bharatpur and Chambal. This was his first trip to Central Indian parks, and I am sure he was not disappointed. He plans to operate birding tours in this region in near future. Marine his wife was equally enthusiastic and accompanied us throughout on the tour.    

We covered many zones of the tiger reserves including outer areas. The result in a short period was spectacular. We check-listed around 165 species. Down below is a short list of discoveries. 

  • Pale Footed Bush Warbler
  • Bonelli's Eagle
  • Tickell's Leaf Warbler
  • Hume's Warbler
  • Greenish Warbler
  • Blyth's Pipit
  • Long Billed Pipit
  • Rufus Tailed Bush Lark
  • Booted Eagle
  • Crested Serpent Eagle
  • Crested Hawk Eagle
  • White Eyed Buzzard
  • Black Naped Monarch
  • Paddyfield Warbler
  • Bronze Winged Jacana
  • White Backed Vulture
  • King Vulture
  • Long Billed Vulture
  • Little Grebe
  • Bronze Winged Dove
  • Oriental Turtle Dove
  • Zitting Sisticola
  • White Cheeked Orange Headed Thrush 
  • Common House Martin
  • Wire Tailed Swallow
  • White Tailed Needletail
  • Dusky Crag Martin
  • Barn Swallow
  • Red Rumped Swallow 
  • Alexandrine Parakeet
  • Streak Throated Woodpecker
  • Black Rumped Flameback
  • Shikra
  • Canary Flycatcher
  • Yellow Footed Green Pigeon
  • Green Sandpiper
  • Striated Heron 
  • Open Billed Stork
  • Lesser Adjutant Stork
  • Black Stork
  • Black Ibis
  • Indian Moorhen
  • Whitebreasted Waterhen
  • Indian Scops Owl
  • Mottled Wood Owl (Call)
  • Brown Fish Owl
  • Gold Fronted Chloropsis
  • Tawny Bellied Babbler
  • Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
  • Red Breasted Flycatcher
  • Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
  • Lesser WhiteThroat
  • Shama
  • Pied Bushchat
  • Gray Bushchat
  • Tree Pipit
  • Great Tit
  • Black Lored Tit
  • Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
  • Gray Wagtail
  • Thick Billed Flowerpecker
  • Pale Billed Flowerpecker
  • White Rumped Munia
  • Petronia
  • Crested Bunting Female
  • Blue Bearded Beeeater
  • Indian Scimitar Babbler

    Among the mammals we saw:
  • Tiger
  • Gaur
  • Barking Deer
  • Swamp Deer
  • Gray Mongoose
  • Spotted Deer
  • Wild Boar
  • Langur
  • Rehsus Macaque
  • Sambar

The trip was an exciting exploration of the wild places. And could catch birders attention from around the World  to Kanha and Bandhavgarh which are only known for tigers.
Bandhavgarh Mountain


Malabar Pied Hornbill


Picks courtesy the birders..

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bird Images - Dharma Giri

Dharma Giri looks after Jungle Home Pench and is a well known naturalist and photographer. He is from Nepal but presently based in the resort at Pench Tiger Reserve.
Ashy Crowned Finch Lark

Asian Barred Owlet


Black Naped Monarch


Common Chiff Chaff

Common Kingfisher

Coppersmith Barbet

Crimson Sumbird

Pigmy Woodpecker Gray

Great Tit

Bee Eater

Green Tailed Sunbird

Grey Winged BlackBird

Female Grey Winged Blackbird


Peregrine Falcon

Pied Kingfisher

Mottled Wood Owl

Plain Prinia

Puff Throated Babbler

Brahminy Duck

Scarlet Minivet

Shikra Juvenile

Indian Silver Bill

Spotted Owlet

White Browed Bulbul

White Eye

White Naped Woodpecker

White Wagtail

Yellow Bellied Fantail Flycather