Friday, 26 December 2014

Visit to MORNI / TIKKAR TAAL 22 Dec 14

Mondays trip to morni - Rima Dhillon, Self, Jasbir Randhawa,

7am to 5pm (phew... a marathon birding session)

Report by Mrs Rima Dhillon.

7 am on Monday saw us headed out to morni in cold and fog. However soon after we passed berwala the mist cleared away and we were greeted by troops of monkeys and watery sunshine-better than none at all.

Between three stops for tea and sandwiches, cookies and my ever popular mathis we were able to sight 63 species though we could only hear the Great barbet and the Grey francolin.

The shutterbugs got some great pictures including those of the Asian barred owlets which were sighted thrice at different locations. Himalayan bulbul, red-vented bulbuls and grey-breasted prinia (in non breeding plumage) were seen in abundance, the sky was quite bereft of any raptors-just a few griffons searching for thermals in the far distance.

This trip we decided to give a miss to the Badi Sher area and instead go all the way to Tikkar Taal. It was a good decision as we came upon a pair of Black storks in the lake. Braving the aggressive bull in the field near the lake we tried to get closer to the storks for better fotos but alas jasbir was quickly tagged by them and they took flight.

The return to Chandigarh was via a different route.Just before the fork that bifurcates towards Badisher, there is another road leading down to chandimandir- it is marked by a number of teastalls under a huge banyan tree. Earlier this road was not motorable but now it is properly metalled and much shorter. It is about 14 km to the kalka-zirakpur highway and comes out 200 yards ahead of the toll plaza-the only drawback as you end up paying at the toll plaza!!

We discovered that Haryana tourism has an eco tourism setup with huts etc for staying and nice lawns at Thapla just 5km from the highway.

It was a marathon day as we got home at 5pm but well worth it. (List of Birds is after the photographs)
Rufous Sibia

White Browed Fantail

Black-throated Accentor

Asian Barred Owlet

Common GreenShank

Black Strok

Grey-hooded Warbler

Long Tailed Minivet

Russet Sparrow

White-browed Wagtail

1. Blue whistling thrush
2. Hoopoe
3. Indian silverbill
4. Oriental white-eye
5.  Common sandpiper
6. Grey wagtail
7. White wagtail
8. Laughing dove
9. Rufous treepie
10.  Himalayan bulbul
11.  Redvented bulbul
12. Black drongo
13.  Ashy drongo
14.  Grey bushchat
15.  Jungler babbler
16. Black-chinned babbler
17. Indian roller
18. Black redstart
19. Brown rockchat
20.  Indian peafowl
21. Ashy prinia
22.  Grey-breasted prinia
23.  Himalayan griffon
24. Yellow-breasted greenfinch
25. Black-throated accentor
26. Siberian chiffchaff
27. Streaked laughingthrush
28.  Asian barred owlet
29. Large-billed crow
30. Common myna
31. Great cormorant
32. Common greenshank
33. White-browed wagtail
34. Greater coucal
35. Rose-ringed parakeet
36. Little grebe
37. Common pochard
38. White-breasted waterhen
39. Black stork
40. Little cormorant
41. Little egret
42. Blue rock pigeon
43. Lesser whitethroat
44. Humes leaf warbler
45. Long-tailed minivet
46. Grey-fronted pygmy woodpecker
47. Fulvous breasted woodpecker
48. Rock bunting
49. White-capped bunting
50. Bar-tailed treecreeper
51. Rusty-cheeked scimitar babbler
52. Crested bunting
53. Rufous sibia
54. White throated fantail
55. White-browed fantail
56. Pond heron
57. Rosy pipit
58. Verditer blue flycatcher
59. House sparrow
60. Russet sparrow
61. Grey-hooded warbler
62. Red wattled lapwing
63. Black bulbul
64. Great barbet (heard)
65. Grey francolin (heard)
66. Lark (unidentified)

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Canon 7D Mark II - a sincere review...

Let me put my this article in perspective by giving it a little bit perspective. I am a birder, a hobbyist at that but a serious one. I do not mind kicking the road whenever I can spare some time and be out photographing them. I am not a commercial photographer in the sense that I have not sold a picture - not that I have not tried. 

There were two reasons that I bought this camera. First was - I followed the rumours since last year that a new crop sensor upgrade to Canon 7D was on its way. I did buy a stop gap camera, Canon 70D and was quite sure about it that the purchase is stop gap only. Then I followed all the reviews that I could get my hands on and was convinced that this camera is for me and would be my companion for some time to come. Since I purchased one of those Tony Northrup's books - I was following him what he had to say for the camera. Well then the camera fell in my hands.

Now the question - is is worth it ?
Let me give a run up of the good part first. It is a good camera to feel in your hands, a solid one to be precise. The picture quality on the look of it is same as 70D but ramp up the ISO a bit and then there is the discernable difference. The much talked about Auto Focus is GOOD as in GOOD - it does have a wow factor - for the first time I got some pictures of flying birds those were acceptable. Not very good perhaps but then far better that I got with the previous cameras I held. The 10 FPS is again a WOW, the firing up does not create noise that I have seen in the older cameras and I did feel that the vibrations produced by shutter firing is far less. That should show in pictures and I might be able to fire up without IS perhaps.

There is no negatives per se - but then there are steps taken backwards. WiFi is one that I missed the first day, the touch screen that I came to like in 70 D is another. That I feel is what I will miss the most perhaps. Though I did like the GPS - I noticed that it remains on even with  the camera switched off - the GPS keeps blinking. There was also a noticeable additional drain in the battery. It also took more time to get a GPS lock than that I expected. I did click quite a few pictures with GPS turned on and am still exploring what more I can achieve with GPS turned on. The location by the way displays seamlessly in Lightroom I use.

Should anyone else upgrade - Well a personal choice per se, I would have and have - because I was waiting for this upgrade for more than a year (when the definite rumours had surfaced regarding 7D upgrade) and was sure that 70D is just a fill-up. 
Well that's that...

Two pictures of flying birds taken today (02 Nov 14) for all. Both pictures are cropped, No reduction of noise etc in Post processing.

Short-eared owl, Mohali, India

Black Shouldered Kite, Mohali, India

I intend to keep adding pictures for some time to come so that you can get better impressions as and when I click them.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Red-Billed Leiothrix

The Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) is a member of the Leiothrichidae family, and is native to the Indian Subcontinent. Adults have bright red bills and a dull yellow ring around their eyes. Their backs are dull olive green, and they have a bright yellow-orange throat with a yellow chin; females are somewhat duller than males, and juveniles have black bills. It has also been introduced in various parts of the world, with small populations of escapees having existed in Japan since the 1980s. It has become a common cagebird and amongst aviculturists it goes by various names: Pekin Robin, Pekin Nightingale, Japanese Nightingale, and Japanese (Hill) Robin, the last two being misnomers as it is not native to Japan.

The leiothrix is about six inches in length, generally olive green, and has a yellow throat with orange shading on the breast. It also has a dull yellowish ring around the eye that extends to the beak. The edges of the wing feathers are brightly colored with yellow, orange, red and black and the forked tail is olive brown and blackish at the tip. The cheeks and side of the neck are a bluish gray color. The female is a lot paler than the male and lacks the red patch on the wings. It doesn't fly frequently, except in open habitats. This bird is very active and an excellent singer but very secretive and difficult to see. 

The leiothrix is usually found in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma and parts of Tibet. This species is a bird of the hill forests, found in every type of jungle though it prefers pine forests with bushes. It has also been found at elevations ranging from near sea level to about 7,500 feet.The species was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1918 and spread to all the forested islands except Lanai. Its population on Oahu crashed in the 1960s and it disappeared from Kauai, but is now common and increasing on Oahu. The leiothrix was released in Western Australia but it failed to become established. This species was also introduced in Great Britain but permanent establishment was unsuccessful. It was introduced to France, where it is now established in several areas.

This bird was photographed in Chakki Modh in Himachal Pradesh by S S Cheema