Shaheen Falcon 

There is a forest near my home. It is maintained by Department of Forests. The department has converted a small portion of the forest into a Nature Park. I am a regular visitor to this park where sometimes very different birds make their appearance. One day, I was lucky to spot this beauty perched on the branch of a leafless tree.

It was sitting very patiently perhaps inviting me to take as many pictures as I liked. I took so many pictures. When I processed them, I had some confusion between Eurasian Hobby and Peregrine Falcon because the former was spotted many times by me.

But it turned out to be Shaheen Falcon juvenile.

The shaheen falcon with scientific name Falco peregrinus peregrinator is a subspecies of Peregrine Falcon. It is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent. Other common names for the subspecies include the Indian peregrine falcon, black shaheen falcon, black shaheen, Indian shaheen. It is a master hunter and usually takes the prey in the air. It can achieve horizontal speeds up to 240 kilometres per hour and when it descends, can attain a speed of 300 kilometres per hour.

Peregrine falcons were greatly prized by Mughal kings especially emperor Jahangir. It appears on the emblem of Pakistan Air Force. Pakistani cricket team is also nicknamed after this raptor.

Staring at me
In full glory
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Greater Cormorants: Fishing Experts

During these winter months, a number of migratory birds visits India from the countries where winter is very severe and also food availability is low. These annual visitors add colour to the season.

Many of the migratory birds are water waders and land in the lakes , big pools and other water bodies. Amongst these are greater Cormorants. They are huge birds and expert fishers. They hunt in groups and there is great jostling and fighting for the catch snatching.

In older days the trained Cormorants were used for river fishing in Japan and China. A snare was tied at the end of the neck which in addition to keeping the cormorant under leash also prevented the Cormorants from eating the fish except for smaller ones. As soon as the bird caught a fish, it was taken out from water and made to spit out the fish.

Nowadays, it is only a tourist attraction.

These days a number of these big birds have descended on Sulkhna Lake in Chandigarh. I took some pictures.

 

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A group fishing
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Sun soaking on a tree