I’m not much of a bird watcher, but when there’s nothing else to do, I tend to lift my camera to find something interesting. On a visit to see my sister’s charitable foundation on the outskirts of the city of Vizag in South India, I was at once struck by the lay of the land. This was last month, when it was a blistering 42 degrees celsius (107.6 fahrenheit), far from the season to be in these parts. Though fascinated, it was way too hot and humid to do anything meaningful other than find oneself the closest fan to air all that streaming sweat. An air conditioner in a remote village where its hard to find electricity? No chance. We had two nights and days to spend and I was almost done with the book I’d been reading on my other hand before I reached into my camera bag. Why kill time when you can shoot it!
Icha Foundation (more about that in my later posts) is built on elevated land overlooking one of the largest fresh water lakes in Andhra Pradesh. Suffice it to say that the lake surrounded by green mountains and coconut groves attracts many a migratory bird. Frankly I had no idea until I was back in Mumbai with these shots and informed by Google about this amazing fact. The place is also being promoted as an eco tourist spot.
A friend who is a professional bird watcher came across this site and very kindly sent me a list of birds in these photos. Have added them into the captions for bird lovers who want to know the species in this series.
A male purple rumped Sunbird enjoys the view: The best time to visit this lake is anywhere between November and February when rare migratory birds flock in large numbers from all over the world.
A green bee-eater prepares for take off: I’m not too familiar with bird types but my online research suggests this may be the blue tailed bee eater! Maybe this one flew in from Penang or Singapore, maybe it just lives here.
A black Drongo looks to pick up a fight: I had just opened my new Tamron 75-300mm out of the box and it’s amazing how the lens made me aware of the birds around me. Perfectly compatible subject for this lens I thought.
A Pied Starling calls its partner back to the nest: What concerned me most was how these beautiful birds were perched on electricity wires running pole to pole through various plots on the land around the lake. They were oblivious of the danger to their lives. Sadly so were the villagers and the government that installed them.
The black Drongo surveys its habitat: I have not post processed these images, other than crop them for interesting compositions. The rural mud house and the bird provided me with plenty of inspiration to forget the heat. I know I have travelling in common with birds. I love visiting places, though its far more convenient if one has those wings.
A juvenile bee-eater takes a brief respite from the heat: This capture makes me want to return to the village in November when I may be granted even more colorful sightings. Strange what a lens can do to alter your life choices!
The red whiskered Bulbul prepares to sing playfully: I shot most of these from the comfort of my room facing a paddy field behind the lakefront. You need plenty of time and patience to capture these speedy wingers. A speedy camera and lens can help though, if kept on silent mode.
The red whiskered Bulbul is not very camera friendly: This bird had an exotic look about it. It took me a whole day and a night to figure out its path. It was very fast and not very still anywhere on the landscape for too long. Quite a beauty I thought.
A red vented Bulbul: I suspect this is the grey winged blackbird commonly called Bulbul. The one that sings when the Mayflower trees bloom, just before the monsoons.
A baby Baya weaver: Could this sparrow have flown in from Africa? I wanted to see if it had a red-eye but given the hectic activity this family was involved in, in this very tall tree surrounded with foliage I was lucky to have captured this. Maybe its the common Indian sparrow after all. It’s rare for me to see a sparrow with a yellow crown.
An egret basks in the sunshine: The lake is full of lilies and storks. I will have to make another trip when it’s not this hot and when a boatman is willing to take me down into the water in his hand-made palm tree trunk boat. That way I hope to get up close and personal with this new-found subject, with hopefully more dramatic and exotic fare.
An Egret walks like an Egyptian: This one was completely one with the human element in the paddy field where it was strutting away quite comfortably and confidently. It didn’t look like it had lost its way from the lake on the other side.
Another green bee eater flies into frame: The lens gave me pretty good sharpness on the eye of this beautiful feathery friend.
The view from my room that provided me with all the opportunities to capture the birds without having to bear the sun beating down on my head at 42 degrees celsius.
For more pictures of the lake I was unable to shoot due to a flat dull summer sky, do see some interesting ones in peak season on https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.240379072723476.56515.225418204219563&type=3