Saturday, April 13, 2019


Sundarbans, the great mangrove forests that occupy the deltas of Ganga and Yamuna, in an area that spans across both India and Bangladesh, has its own unique birdlife. Although winter is the more conducive season for birding, we were not too disappointed with our pickings. The migrants had mostly left, but the natives were still there. Like this Collared Kingfisher below. 

572. Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

Talking about Kingfishers, the Sundarbans are a great place to observe and photograph the Common Kingfisher. Unlike their brethren in the rest of the country, they seem fairly comfortable with the presence of humans around them. 

573. Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos macei)
Caught a 10-sec glimpse from our boat. Was lucky to get a record shot.

The highlight of the trip was watching the murmurations of the Asian Pied Starlings. This wide angle video from my GoPro hardly does justice to the spectacle. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Birds of Mindo, Ecuador

In Mindo we stayed at a lodge called The Yellow House, which is renowned for its adjoining bird trails. From the balcony of our house I could spot a couple of dozen bird species. When it was not wet enough for the camera to come out, there was excellent lighting to shoot birds and the below shots are the result.

The place had a vast variety of tanagers.

514. Blue-winged Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus)

515. Palm Tanager (Thraupus palmarum)

516. Lemon-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus icteronotus)
Here's the more modestly-plumaged female of the species
...and here's the male that answers the question "Why that name?".
517. Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gylora)
Only managed a record shot of this brilliantly coloured bird, which was feasting on a worm when I photographed it. 
518.  Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
The curiously named Bananaquit is placed in the Tanager family, but I think that placement is disputed. Until they resolve the classification, here it stays in the thraupidae family. 
519.  Golden Tanager ( Tangara arthus)

520. Blue-grey Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)

521. Golden-naped Tanager ( Tangara ruficervix)
522. White-lined Tanager ( Tachyphonus rufus)
This one's the female
The rest of these birds were higher up in the hills and deeper in the woods.
523. Common Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana)

524. Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis)

525. Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner (Anabacerthia variegaticeps)

526. Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis)

527. Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii)
528. Grey-capped Flycatcher (Myiozetetes granadensis)

529. Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii)
The iconic Rufous motmot showed up a couple of times when I went for a walk on the trail. Both times I was unprepared with my camera to get a good shot. This is the best I could do. 

530. Zeledon's Antbird (Hafferia zeledoni)
531. Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus)
We were just finishing up breakfast on the balcony and this tiny little woodpecker landed right in front of us, and gave me just enough of an opportunity to click this snap. 

532. Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)
This mother and fledgling pair sat on a wire for a good amount of time. The mother would make her sallies in the air and return with a bug each time, and the young one, kept gobbling them up. 
533. Crimson-rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus)

534. Guayaquil Woodpecker (Campephilus gayaquilensis)

535. Thick-billed Euphonia (Euphonia laniirostris)

536. Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris)

537. Blue-and-white Swallow (Notiochelidon cyanoleuca)
538. Orange-billed Euphonia (Arremon aurantiirostris)

Hummingbirds of Mindo

Watching hummingbirds is a breathtaking experience. There are enough clues that they are birds, but so much else of what they do is so completely wacko. They come in psychedelic packaging. They fly backwards, and they can hover in one place. Their acceleration and deceleration are barely within the bounds of physical laws. They flap their wings so fast that all you can see of them are two blurs. And yes, you can hear the humming. All those adaptations are designed to capture the nectar market, but they are so energy intensive that the birds have to go into a state of torpor when they rest. In the remaining time they have to ingest twice their body weight's worth of food.

There can't be too many better place to see hummingbirds than the cloud forests of Mindo. Our lodge had a balcony at canopy level and our host had hung a few feeders out. The birds that came to feed had a convenient (for me) habit of perching back on the exact same twig between sorties to the feeder, making it relatively easy to photograph them. Here are a few I managed to shoot. By the way, what a way to reach 500!

500. Green-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica fannyi)
501. White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora)
502. Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula)

503. Andean Emerald (Amazilia franciae)

-->504. Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae)
505. Green and White Hummingbird (Amazilia viridicauda)
506. Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii)

507. White-bellied Woodstar (Chaetocercus mulsant)
508. Violet-purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini)
509. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
510. Lesser Violetear (Colibri cyanotus)
511. Purple-bibbed Whitetip (Urosticte benjamini)
512. Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni)
513. Fawn-breasted Brilliant (Heliodoxa rubinoides)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cuyabeno, Ecuador

553. Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin)

554. Russet-backed Oropendola (Psarocolius angustifrons)

555. Greater Ani (Crotophaga major)
Interestingly this bird is called the Boiling Bird, because the call conjures the sound of boiling water.

556. Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona)

557. White-winged Swallow(Tachycineta albiventer)

558. Channel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus)

559. Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)

560. Chestnut-fronted Macaw (Ara severus)

561. White-throated Toucan (Ramphastos tucanus)

562. Blue-crowned Trogon (Trogon curucui)

563. Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris)

564. Scarlet Macaw (Ara Macao)

565. Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)

566. Plumbeous Kite (Ictinia plumbea)

567. Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)

568. Black Caracara (Daptrius ater)

569. Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis)

570. Neotropic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)

571. Yellow-rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela)