Murmuration of some birds is a strange but fascinating phenomenon. It has been observed with common starlings in Europe and India. In this phenomenon, groups consisting of thousands of birds fly together and are joined by more and more groups from the neighborhood. They fly together going up and down, changing direction suddenly making breathtaking patterns. But even being so close, they hardly collide with one another.
I was lucky to observe this phenomenon by chance but not with starlings which are not in plenty in our area but with House Sparrows.
So It was a double bonus and surprise. I at least have the notion that house Sparrows live in houses in small groups and also the most common belief that the population of house sparrows has declined to dangerously low levels. But I was proved wrong when I spotted them in the fields.
It was dusk time when it all started. I was roaming with my camera in the field located nearby to my home. There are two or three excavated areas in the fields which have become water bodies and Reed grass grows in them in adundance. It was early April and wheat crops have been reaped.
Suddenly, groups began arriving and joining over an area of say about 1 kilometer radius. The group will perform those maneuvers and suddenly once in while land on the electric transmission wires passing that place or plunge into the reeds. The numbers must be thousands. Then suddenly they will again take off and perform those maneuvers in the sky. This went on for till the darkness descended.
This was observed by me on three different evenings. Lastly, since two day in a row, the Sparrows have left the place suddenly. Baffling me. Why they have left and where they are headed. One apparent change is of course the reaping of the wheat harvest in those fields. But still the explanation is uncertain.
Mottled Wood Owl is a rarity in North India. There is a forest near our village peermuchhalla under Punjab Forests Department. It was our routine to visit this place everyday in the morning. It was in February 2020, I first spotted a pair this bird in this forest. Forest has mostly thorny trees of Khair (Senegalia catechu is a deciduous, thorny tree) and is prized for Kattha used in Paan. This tree has very haphazard thorny branches. I recalled then having missed the bird group earlier on many occasions in deeper woods. After this one bird was spotted in March 2020. Then one fine day, i heard a commotion and frantic calls of drongos, crows and treepies amidst a thick group of trees at the entrance of the park. On close inspection, these birds were hovering over the trunk of a dead tree whose top portion has broken off and a hollow has formed. As I approached the tree, thinking that there might be some reptile inside, suddenly the bird flew away from the hollow. After that it became clear that they have chosen this hollow open to skies as the nest for breeding. Another reason for choosing this hollow tree might be the big garbage dump in the vicinity of the forest where rodents must be in plenty.
Slowly as the time went by, one could go and spot one from pair always sitting inside the leafy canopy of nearby trees. By May 20, the two chicks began to be seen looking out of the hollow. As one of the owls was away one was permanently posted nearby. As it became known to the bird enthusiasts all over, they began visiting with big cameras to take pictures. They became sort of celebrity birds. By June the chicks were out having taken their first hesitating flight to perch near their parents on the nearby tree.
After few days they finally disappeared. After some months the tree unfortunately fell down. Then again by the end of the year, second wave of covid came and we stopped going out. But in June 2021, I was there at the farther end of the forest to avoid mixing with the people in the main park, thanks again to the ever vigilant crows, drongos as I was passing under a big tree, the bird again flew away. After that, it was with surety I could spot either one of the pair or the pair itself in that tree. This went on at least for entire June 2021. After that they shifted to another place because I spotted one of them again into the deep inside of the forest.
I think they must have visited the tree again but not finding it there must be looking for alternative spot for nest. But I never spotted them again during my sporadic visits.
In this blog post, I will be Post some information about the bird called Long Tailed Minivet. I have spotted them and photographed in a forest near my home.
I go for bird photography everyday in the morning. My visits are nearby Forest, river side and other areas under the foothills.
Our area abuts the Shiwalik hills. As it happens, when the winters become too harsh, many birds descend to the adjacent areas to escape the winter and food shortages.
In the forest near my home, many such birds come in the winter. One of these is a beautiful bird called Long Tailed Minivet.
Long Tailed Minivet is a small bird. The males are red and black and females are grey yellow. They are found in South and Southeast Asia. They feed on very small insects living on the leaves of trees. You can judge from their typical short calls their presence. They come in a flock of 5 to 6.
I have observed that there is a single male among the 4 to 5 females. It is very difficult to take their good picture. They don’t stay at any position more than 15 seconds. Secondly they try to stay among the shadows of sense trees.
i waw lucky to take some good pictures which I am posting here. Hope you will like them.
The grey-bellied cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) is a cuckoo with widespread occurrence throughout Asia.
It comes here in the Northern India at the time of outset of the summers. It is a small sized cuckoo. During this time of year another cuckoo known as the Jacobin Cuckoo also arrives.
Unlike Jacobin Cuckoo which migrates here in summers from Africa, Grey Bellied Cuckoo is short distance migrant.
It comes here for breeding. It is a brood parasite. It lays its eggs by replacing the eggs in the nests of babblers who then raise its brood. This strategy is just akin to the Koel using Crows to raise its chicks.
The onslaught of building activity is devouring the agricultural lands everywhere. Fortunately there is still greenery around the place I live. There are wild shrubs, fields where crops like wheat, rice, maize and cattle fodder grows and the woods in the reserved areas.
There are a number of birds which dwell here. One of them is black Drongo, jet black bird. It is an expert insect catcher. It is very aggressive towards crows and other marauders like eagles and falcons.
Many other gentle birds try to be close to this bird for protection. Here are some pictures. These pictures have been taken by me while on walks and sitting in the balcony of my home from where the open land is visible.
There is a forest near my home. We see lots of peacocks roaming in it forest during monsoon season. One can find many of these dancing. Peacocks display their best by dancing to attract the females. Please enjoy the video I made.
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.
I think I wrote a post on this beautiful bird long back. Its name is Red Wattled Lapwing. It gets this name from the blobs of red colored mass near its beak. In fact, this bird is very common here and if you happen to live near fields, barren lands and water bodies, you are most likely to encounter them.
They are always on alert. Any preying bird or animal, is bravely and aggressively taken upon. They can be heard making alarming calls even during the night. They are said to be foraging even during moonlit nights.
They lay eggs on the ground. Nest is nothing but a collection of few pebbles, grass pieces. The selection of pebbles is done very intelligently so as to camouflage the eggs. While one partner sits on the eggs to hatch, the other stays nearby to alert about any danger.
People in north India believed that if it makes nest on the elevated places, there are chances of rain ahead. If the best is at lower level, the weather is going to be dry weather.
I first spotted this bird perched on a electric transmission wire. The area underneath was all shrubs. It was in the hot monsoon season. The bird has a very strange plumage pattern of brown and cream stripes.
It’s name is Eurasian Wryneck and here it comes on migration. It belongs to the woodpecker family although it’s beak is not as large and dagger like as the other woodpeckers. It subsists on ants and insects which are found in the dead wood.
It can rotate it’s neck by almost 180 degrees. When it senses danger, it makes a hissing sound. The word Jinx has its origins in the bird.
After that, I spotted it few times. The latest encounter being in the month of December although it has become very cold here. I took some beautiful pictures of this bird.
Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) is a bird which is found in South East India. I was moving about in Ghaggar River in Panchkula. It was in the June month, scorching heat and dry. Bed of the river is almost dry- full of sand and pebbles.
As I was descending a raised bank through the pebbles, three of them flew just from my feet. They are master of camouflage. It is very difficult to spot them. They just merge with the background. They caught you unawares and suddenly fly away. You have to keep watching them where they land.
It is a rarity in my area and I was the first to spot them. I regularly visit the area to check they are staying here and found them there.