The response to the first edition of the series ‘Birds of Bangalore’ was extremely encouraging, and so here is the next part. In this series we take a closer look at some of the birds in our backyard. In deference to reader’s feedback, a few tips on bird watching have also been included at the end of the article which is sure to help one get started and develop the hobby.
Areas to sight it around Bangalore: It is fond of well watered areas. So the best places to sight it are Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Hebbal and Madivala lakes. The bird frequents localities with lots of green cover and marshy surroundings. Its small size helps it go unnoticed, even at close quarters.
I shot this picture at Madivala lake, when I spotted the Ashy Prinia in the midst of some undergrowth on the lake side. I had to wait for some 15 minutes to get a good view, as it moves around quite fast. The photo clearly shows its strong legs, red eyes, and ashy upper body.
Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)
Characteristics and identification:
The bird has a short neck and long legs. The legs change towards a darker reddish tone during breeding. The quiet bird does not make much noise, but does emit harsh croaks at intervals. The under wings are pure white and they look amazingly beautiful in flight. The top coat of the bird is dull in colour.
The bird can be found in large numbers around water bodies and wetlands. It feeds on small fish and other common insects found in water and marsh lands.
Areas to sight around Bangalore: All the lakes around Bangalore, including Hebbal, Madivala and water bodies around the city and farming land.
This photo was shot at Hebbal Lake where the bird was enjoying the morning sun. The bird can be extremely agile and a slightest movement can make it go away; so this shot was an outcome of lot of patience.
Did you know… that the bird was named in honour of John Edward Gray who first sighted this bird? Hence Pond Heron is also known as Grey Heron.
Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Characteristics and identification: The bird can be identified with its shiny skin and the bright blue back. The bird has a large beak and bright red legs. This colourful bird has sharp noisy call which gets intense during breeding season.
The Kingfisher roams around water bodies and perches on tree tops and poles to get a better view of its prey. It loves fish and also munches on large rodents, worms, small sized snakes and frogs.
Areas to sight around Bangalore: Kingfishers are commonly found across lakes and water bodies. Lots of them can be found across the natural cover of Manchinbelle dam where the birds get to feed a lot without any disturbances.
The photo was shot at the Bagmane Lake early morning when the kingfisher was out early to catch its prey.
Did you know… that the presence of kingfishers around a water body indicates the health of the fish and other creatures inside it. A good tip to remember when you go fishing.
Rose Ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
Characteristics and identification: The male bird has a ring around the neck which is absent in the female. The young one also won’t have those rings around its neck. The tails gives the bird its maximum length and have heavier body types.
The bird can be found near flowering trees, thick and densely populated trees. It mainly feeds on seeds, berries and fruits. The bird is kept as a pet and is fed chillies too, known to be its favorite munch.
Areas to sight around Bangalore: Flowering trees and areas where they could get some cover. Lalbagh and Cubbon Park are the Mecca of these noisy birds.
Parakeets are quite fascinating and always have been my favourite. It’s even harder to capture them because of their sensitivity towards movement. This photo was clicked at Hebbal Lake where they are present in large numbers. But I had to move quite cautiously to capture this shot.
Red-Watted Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Characteristics and identification: The bird can be easily identified with its sharp shrill voice in flight or with its beautiful colours. The bird has strong legs and a beautiful wattle in front of its eyes which is where it gets its name from.
The bird loves to move around in groups and can be seen on farm lands or in a small island in lakes and parks. The Lapwing is known to be a farmer’s friend and helps in germination of seeds. It mainly eats beetles, caterpillars and other small insects from farm lands and loves to eat day and night.
Areas to sight around Bangalore: Fields and open farm lands. This is one among the portrait shots I managed to get during my shoot at Bagmane Lake while the bird was resting on the lake edge- it didn’t look perturbed by my movements.
Tips for Bird Watching and Photography:
- Get a small handbook which should be easily available at a book store near you and try to identify some of the common birds. The previous birds’ series article and the coming parts shall help you give that head start.
- Take trips to some of the common places listed below. The best time to go out would be early mornings, when these birds start their activity and afford the best chance to sight them.
- Listen to the sounds coming from trees. In time, with practice you should be able to separate the Squirrel sounds and then identification of birds would become easier.
- Dress in subtle colours since you would not want the birds to fly away as you head towards them. From birds’ point of view, a block of red approaching them may not appear to be very friendly.
- Be patient while bird watching. You cannot get all the birds to come and sit for you. As you acclimatise to their surroundings, they will to you too.
- Birds usually have a tendency to come back to the same place many times during their activities. So, stay put.
PLACES AROUND BANGALORE:
- Hebbal Lake, Madivala Lake, BTM/Madivala Lake, Bagmane Lake.
- Cubbon Park, Lalbagh, Valley School, IISc Campus.
- Nearby places would include Manchinbelle Dam, Dubare fishing camp.
My goodness…the pond heron looks purple on my monitor! How did it get that way? It’s a white bird….