Monday, May 14, 2012

The Robin - "Mirror, mirror on the Car, Who’s the Bird that has no Par?"

Yellamma Lake birding was a fulfilling experience for me; partly, because I happened to find a little friend who was interested in something I owned. A little Indian Robin was hovering near my parked car. I spotted this beautiful creature when I came back from an uneventful lakeside walk trying to capture some water birds on camera. This was a visual treat for me.



What surprised me was that this Robin was not afraid of me. He came quite close to me. Guess he discovered I wasn’t a threat to his presence and games. I set up my tripod a distance from my car and stood behind the camera waiting for the perfect shot. I didn’t have to wait long.


The Robin flew down from the electric wire and sat on the left mirror. He bent down, looked into the mirror, saw himself and started pecking at it. He jumped down on to the window, hopped closer to the mirror and started fluttering up towards the mirror, screaming all the while. Well, that was the perfect picture.



I had always heard of birds being attracted to shiny objects. Here was a ‘big’ shiny object; and, it caught the Robin’s attention. This bird played with the mirror (seemingly admiring himself with each look and attacking the other bird who looked cuter) saying (perhaps), “Mirror, mirror on the car, who’s the bird that has no par?” I wish Snow White was around. Her evil queen might have got some good competition.


After 15-20 minutes of waiting, I moved on into the reeds to get a closer look at some Purple Moorhens. It took me about 15 minutes to get back to the car. The bird was still in action. While I enjoyed the antics of the bird, I didn’t like the poop that he left all over the windows (he played with the other mirror too!) and mirrors. However, I didn’t want to spoil his fun.


I had to move on. I got into the car and started it. I edged along slowly towards the exit of the compound. What I saw surprised me again. The Robin followed. I parked the car to get some shots of a Drongo and some Green Bee-Eaters (photos coming in another post). The Robin still played.


Finally, it was time to leave. I felt sorry for the little fellow (who, by the way, followed my car to a certain distance before turning around), but I had to go.

If you happen to spot a Robin anywhere. Be patient. You might just experience something like never before.


Robin Facts:

  • Black plumage (brownish – females)

  • White stripes or patches near the shoulder area (only males)

  • Chestnut (color) undertail

  • Tail raised upright

  • Commonly found in scrub areas

  • Northern India Robins are more brownish, Southern Indian Robins are black


Let me know when you spot a Robin.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mynah March in April

The Mynah is a cute little bird that’s so commonly found that the urban species got tagged as the “Common Mynah”. It is a fascinating bird that’s capable of multiple vocal renditions. In fact, there are times you’d think there are multiple birds in the area when it would be just a bunch of Mynahs singing away to glory.


The Mynah (officially spelled as Myna) is a member of the Sturnidae family (consisting of starlings and mynas) and is a native bird of Asia. It is omnivorous and has a very strong territorial instinct. It has now been introduced to other parts of the world; and today, you can see them in Australia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.


You can easily identify a Mynah by its brown body, black hood, a yellow patch under the eye, yellow legs and beak, the white patch near the tail area, and the white lining on the underside of the wings.


Though it lives in urban areas and is used to seeing people all the time, the species is still very scared of humans. The birds let out loud shrieks to warn their mates and other birds of human approach. When you go birding for Mynas, be careful. They’re very aggressive when it comes to protecting their roost.


This photo taken on the Infosys campus in Bangalore shows two Mynas (usually appear in pairs) collecting twigs and straw for, perhaps, their new nest. The couple kept hopping ad marching along as I tried to go closer to take a better picture. If you get a picture of a Mynah, come by and post it here.

Here are the other two pictures I got...






Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Birding as a Hobby

One of the most fruitful hobbies you can cherish is Birding (commonly known as Bird Watching). Not only will you be satisfied with it, you will enjoy each and every experience. It can be indulged in your free time, or over the weekends. In fact, you can watch birds everyday (or, anytime) right from your door.


What you will need for Birding


Most birders are ‘freshers’ to the hobby. All they know is this: stay quiet, spot a bird, observe it, take a pic, get help IDing it, post the pic on a social network, etc. This is more than sufficient for a beginner. If you really want to get into birding, you need to invest in some items to enhance your experience.


A good pair of binoculars is essential. You don’t need a very expensive pair, but something that you can afford and that has a good range of view. It can become very difficult to spot birds with the naked eye, especially when they are at an elevation or hidden away among the leaves and branches.


A camera. While you may invest in a point-and-shoot (p&s) camera that can help you take instant pics of birds, getting your hands on a DSLR camera with a good telephoto (between 300-600mm) lens will make you a serious birder. Here’s why: the p&s camera will require that you go very close to the bird if you want a good shot. That is sure to spook the bird out of sight. The telephoto lens will enable you to take pictures of the birds from a distance without intruding into their comfort zone. Most professional photos are taken with a minimum zoom lens of at least 600mm.




Tripod or monopod. This is an essential equipment to carry along if you want rock-steady un-blurred photos of the birds you’ve spotted.

A local bird guide book. This acts as a handy reference and a great complement to your hobby.





Where to go Birding?


Perhaps, you’re thinking you need to travel far to the mountains (or hills), forests or lakes to find birds. You will find them; but, you will also find them right in your backyard! The best time to go birding is early in the morning between 5:45am and 7:30am. This is the time all birds are awake and alert. They’re waiting for the sun to come up so that they can warm themselves up for a while. That’s when you can spot them. Their merry chirping will almost always lead you to find them.


If you’re done with your local area, you could visit a nearby lake or shrub area. Scout around. You can find birds on large campuses, wooded areas, compounds with trees, lake shores, electric wires, and some urban dwelling.


Join a birding group in your city; you will be able to get a lot of information from fellow bird watchers. Keep this hobby alive. It will draw your mind to the creator who has carefully thought out all the patterns, designs and colors for the birds you see around.


Keep visiting this blog for information about where you can go Birding in Bangalore and what birds you can expect to spot.