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Huge tusker of Nagarhole.

Pigeons

Pigeons – The most common character of Urban bird-life.. They are noisy, they are dirty, but they are also pretty…

Painted Stork

Painted Stork:[Location: Hoskote Lake, Outskirts of Bangalore, Karnataka, Southern India]

As we approached the Hoskote Lake driving through an unremarkable diversion from Old Madras Road – the dusty road on left just 500 metres after the Hoskote Toll. We parked our car just beside a Temple on western boundary of the Lake. As soon as we got down, we could clearly see a distinguishable life-full whitish shades of flock of birds on the other end of the lake, about 1 Km away. When we zoomed in with our Binocular, it was instantly clear what we were looking at. It was a colony of Painted Storks along with a few Grey Herons scattered randomly among them. The Grey Herons looked sharp and graceful as individuals but they seemed reduced to grayish blots among a plethora of stark black patterns orchestrated on Pinkish White hue surrounding them. It wasn’t really difficult to spot these iconic waders from the stork family after all. I grabbed my humble Nikon DSLR and the remaining story was all about a Bird watcher’s delight.

Painted Storks are residential throughout their range, especially often found in large numbers around lakes and rivers, south of Himalayas. This large stork has a distinct pale-yellowish down-curved beak that gives it some resemblance with that of Ibis. However, the thick beaks of the Painted Stork has noticeable curvature only towards its tip and does not curve on its entirety like that of an Ibis’s thin beak. The feathers on its breast and the wings are black with scaly white markings. The rest of the body is predominantly white. The legs are typical stork-like- long and thin, but yellowish in color. The most distinct features, however, includes a pinkish shade towards its tail, and its gloriously red colored face with humble little black eyes. These Physical aspects actually explains why this bird is referred to as the “Painted” Stork – mother nature placed distinct shades of multiple colors in the most subtle way to decorate this creature.

Painted Stork

Painted Stork: [Date Encountered: 23-Feb-2019] [Location: Hoskote Lake, Outskirts of Bangalore, Karnataka, Southern India]

It was 7:30am as we approached the Hoskote Lake driving through an unremarkable diversion from Old Madras Road – the dusty road on left just 500 metres after the Hoskote Toll. We parked our car just beside a Temple on western boundary of the Lake. As soon as we got down, we could clearly see a distinguishable life-full whitish shades of flock of birds on the other end of the lake, about 1 Km away. When we zoomed in with our Binocular, it was instantly clear what we were looking at. It was a colony of Painted Storks along with a few Grey Herons scattered randomly among them. The Grey Herons looked sharp and graceful as individuals but they seemed reduced to grayish blots among a plethora of stark black patterns orchestrated on Pinkish White hue surrounding them. It wasn’t really difficult to spot these iconic waders from the stork family after all. I grabbed my humble Nikon DSLR and the remaining story was all about a Bird watcher’s delight.

Painted Storks are residential throughout their range, especially often found in large numbers around lakes and rivers, south of Himalayas. This large stork has a distinct pale-yellowish down-curved beak that gives it some resemblance with that of Ibis. However, the thick beaks of the Painted Stork has noticeable curvature only towards its tip and does not curve on its entirety like that of an Ibis’s thin beak. The feathers on its breast and the wings are black with scaly white markings. The rest of the body is predominantly white. The legs are typical stork-like- long and thin, but yellowish in color. The most distinct features, however, includes a pinkish shade towards its tail, and its gloriously red colored face with humble little black eyes. These Physical aspects actually explains why this bird is referred to as the “Painted” Stork – mother nature placed distinct shades of multiple colors in the most subtle way to decorate this creature.

 

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We encountered them during our regular visits to the Hoskote Lake. There was a small flock of these (4-6) and As soon as my husband spotted them, we started ambushing and gradually closed in. I aimed my humble Nikon DSLR and photographed them without wasting any minute. These birds are native to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. However an identical variety, also lives in the Iberian Peninsula and North western Africa (Tunisia and Morocco). In this Mediterranean Africa-Euro georgraphical range they are known as the Western Swamphen.

We were wondering how did these colourful feathered beauties, who are not actually native to India, ended up here at an isolated lake on the outskirts of Bangalore. They are not known to be migratory bird species. They are clumsy in flight especially during take off and landing… Even when approached by Danger, they tend to run first and fly later(unlike other wetland avian fauna). We can confirm this very behavior, since as we began closing in to get that perfect shot, these elegant hen-like birds tended to actually run as a first line of defence. Their bright purplish-blue feather, the well placed magnificent triangular red beak with an armour like shield on its forehead and that adorable round-ish stature mesmerized us for several minutes.

SUPERMOON 19 FEB 2019

A supermoon happens when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit.The first supermoon of 2019 was the Super Blood Wolf Moon on Jan. 20-21, second was yesterday Feb. 19 and the next is on March 21.

Heron

I can See YOU….

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The Mugger Crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), also called Marsh Crocodile, Broad-Snouted Crocodile and Mugger is a crocodilian native to freshwater habitats from southern Iran and Pakistan to the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. It is extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar and has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1982.

It is a medium-sized crocodile that inhabits lakes, rivers, marshes and artificial ponds. Both young and adult mugger crocodiles dig burrows where they retreat when temperature drops below 5 °C (41 °F) or exceeds 38 °C (100 °F). Females dig holes in the sand as nesting sites and lay up to 46 eggs during the dry season.

Characteristics

  • The mugger crocodile is considered a medium-sized crocodilian, but has the broadest snout among living crocodilians. It has a powerful tail and webbed feet. Its visual, hearing and smelling senses are acute.
  • Mugger hatchlings are pale olive with black spots. Adults are dark olive to grey or brown. The head is rough without any ridges and large scutes around the neck that is well separated from the back.
  • Scutes usually form four, rarely six longitudinal series and 16 or 17 transverse series. The limbs have keeled scales with serrated fringes on outer edges, and outer toes are extensively webbed.
  • The snout is slightly longer than broad with 19 upper teeth on each side. The symphysis of the lower jaw extends to the level of the fourth or fifth tooth. The premaxillary suture on the palate is nearly straight or curved forwards, and the nasal bones separate the premaxilla above,
  • Adult female muggers are 2 to 2.5 m (6 ft 7 in to 8 ft 2 in) on average, and male muggers 3 to 3.5 m (9 ft 10 in to 11 ft 6 in). They rarely grow up to 5 m (16 ft 5 in). The largest known muggers measured 5.63 m (18 ft 6 in).

Distribution and Habitat

The mugger crocodile occurs in southern Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, but is probably extinct in Bangladesh. It inhabits freshwater lakes, rivers and marshes, and prefers slow-moving, shallow water bodies. It is also known to thrive in artificial reservoirs and irrigation canals.

Behavior and Ecology

  • The mugger crocodile is a powerful swimmer that uses its tail and hind feet to move forward, change direction and submerge. It belly-walks, with its belly touching ground, at the bottom of waterbodies and on land. During the hot dry season, it walks over land at night to find suitable wetlands and spends most of the day submerged in water. During the cold season it basks on riverbanks, individuals are tolerant of others during this period. Territorial behaviour increases during the mating season.
  • Like all crocodilians, the mugger crocodile is a thermoconformer.

Hunting and Diet

  • They prey on turtles, birds and mammals including monkeys, squirrels, rodents, otters and dogs. It also scavenges on dead animals.
  • During dry seasons, muggers walk many kilometers over land in search of water and prey. Hatchlings feed mainly on insects such as beetles, but also on crabs and shrimp and on vertebrates later on.
  • Muggers have also been observed while preying and feeding on a python

Tool Use

Mugger crocodiles have been documented using lures to hunt birds. This means they are among the first reptiles recorded to use tools. By balancing sticks and branches on their heads, they lure birds that are looking for nesting material. This strategy is particularly effective during the nesting season.

Reproduction

Female muggers obtain sexual maturity at the age of about 6.5 years, and males at around 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in) body length. The reproduction cycle starts earliest in November at the onset of the cold season with courtship and mating. Between February and June, females dig 35–56 cm (1.15–1.84 ft) deep holes for nesting between 1 and 2,000 m (3.3 and 6,561.7 ft) away from the waterside. They lay up to two clutches with 8 to 46 eggs each. Eggs weigh 128 g (4.5 oz) on average. Laying of one clutch usually takes less than half an hour. Thereafter, females scrape sand over the nest to close it. Males have been observed to assist females in digging and protecting nest sites. Hatchling season is two months later, between April and June in South India, and in Sri Lanka between August and September. Then females excavate the young, pick them up in their snouts and take them to the water. Both females and males protect the young for up to one year.

The black-headed ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus), also known as the Oriental white ibis, Indian white ibis, and black-necked ibis, is a species of wading bird of the ibis family.

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Description

  • It is the only native ibis species in its range that has an overall white plumage with a black neck and head. The down-curved beak and legs are also black.
  • Though often referred to as a wetland species, the black-headed ibis forages in a range of natural and man-made habitats.
  • This species of ibis nests only during the rainy season .
  • Tails of adults bear light grey ornamental feathers that turn jet black during the breeding season. During the breeding season, bare patches under the wing turn blood-red.
  • The head of some breeding adults gain a blueish tinge, or very rarely have a pink or bright red patch behind the neck.
  • Like storks and spoonbills, it lacks a true voice-producing mechanism and is silent except for ventriloquist grunts uttered by pairs at the nest.

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Distribution range and Habitat

  • Black-headed ibis are native to the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. They are migratory or vagrant in Japan, Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Mongolia.
  • The black-headed ibis is very versatile being able to use a large variety of natural and man-made habitats. These include freshwater and salt-water marshes, lakes and ponds, as also rice fields, freshly ploughed crop fields, irrigation canals, riversides, reservoirs, urban lakes, open sewage gutters, grazing lots, and garbage dumping sites.
  • In summer, they largely use and prefer natural marshes and fallow fields, but in the monsoon, spread out more evenly to also use a variety of agricultural fields.
  • Open sewage lines are used more during the dry summers, and ibis increase the use of grazing lands during the monsoon.
  • It builds a stick nest in a tree and lays 2–4 eggs
    .