It was some time since I got any lifer - and with Christmas around the corner - the hunt for the Santa was on. One elusive bird was recorded and reported by Mr Rajive of Chandigarh bird club that I was very very interested to hunt down was this Chestnut-headed Tesia. He was kind enough to give me the location but added that he will not be able to go during working hours. The bird is known to be a pain to find as it is a ground loving warbler and just runs around in the underbush most of the time. I rang up Mr Narbir Kahlon - an avid birder to come along and he agreed. He had seen the bird previously on number of occasions but was ready to help me out.
As it happens during birding - was up at 4 am, ready at 5:15 and on road at 5:30 after picking up Mr Narbir - the sunrise being 07:25. The expected location was 1:45 travel from Chandigarh towards the hills. We reached the spot - spot on as planned and got the chairs and tripod out. Mr Narbir chose the location that was the best as per him and we started the stakeout. It took us 2 hours of waiting roughly - not speaking to each other than an ocassional nod before a group of Red-billed Lieothrix came about - a group of about 20 strong and gergarious. In between I saw a bird that I thought was Tesia and all my senses were on full alert. The bird was too fast, too small and remained in the thicket occasionally pearing with beautiful black eyes at me. I peared in my camera view finder and let out about a hundred shots. The bird was still too bloody fast, the light too low. I took times out from my shooting and rang up Mr Narbir who was sitting a few feet away out of my sight. He did not pick up the call and my shooting continued firing off anothr few hundred shots after ranpling up the iso to 3200. I took another breather, rang up Mr Narbir - he picked up the call and in hushed tones told him - the bird is there in front of me and continued shooting. Another hundred shots down the line I got one that showed the bird that can constitute as a record shot and the bird too hopped away - this entire episode would have take a minute at the most - that includes the call I did. We waited another hour trying to see the bird but it did not show itself thereafter.
|The only shot I would consider a record shot - unless you count the ones below as acceptable.|
|The hide and seek the bird played.|
|I do not have enough hair on my head to pull out otherwise I would have been bald by now...|
|Even at 3200 iso the shutter speed was not coping up to catch the bird as i pulled trigger.|
|Finally the full bird in sight but too hazy... guess the 'beggars cannot be choosers' quote applies...|
|The range of the bird virtuall covers the himalayas - me looking for it at the western tip of the range...|
This bird is a 8 to 9 cm 8 to 10 gm small upright and almost tailess ground loving warbler is how this bird is described in the Handbook of World Alive. The habitat is undergrowth of Broadleaf forest and mixed broadleaf and conifer forest, also bamboo, preferring dense and moist areas of ferns, nettles and thorn-scrub along damp streams in valleys and ravines. Even this book lists it as "extremely difficult to see".
Finally to sum it up - what better Santa Gift did I ever expect other than this small one wearing the red Santa Cap - 🎅. A lifer worth the score...