In search of Avian Friends

Besides my near perennial disease of writer’s block, I am also low on time which is holding me back from writing long boring essays and sign off with glee to torture my readers. That said, a couple of photo essays I published in the past seem to have been well received. Allow me to continue, on a fictitious public demand!

A lot of my journeys, especially in winters, have been done in search of winged friends. Although not as much as a few of my fanatic naturalist friends, I keep an eye on them when I travel, or sometimes do travel-for-birding. The places where I have chased them are spread all over the country. I was part of the first eco-tourist group to travel to Arunachal’s Eaglenest National Park which showed me in its forests some insanely colorful birds hardly seen anywhere. And in the early days of my birding, I passed off a picture of an extremely rare pair of Grandalas as more common Whistling Thrushes. The picture caused a minor excitement when I posted it on a mailing list and the experts probably pitied me for passing it off for something mundane. But most encounters are of common birds in the south, from places in and around where I live.

I wish I could start off with our National Bird Peacock, but unfortunately, common as they may be, I don’t have a worthy image of these majestic birds yet. So I will start with something smaller, nevertheless beautiful, state bird of Karnataka – Indian Roller. It is called ‘Neelakantha’ in Kannada.

Indian Roller

And next is an innocent looking parakeet eying on some fruits. Probably delicious, but I haven’t tasted them myself to be sure. This was shot after many failed bird-shoot rendezvous to Hebbal Lake, a nice big lake in the northern parts of Bangalore.

Rose Ringed Parakeet

And this romantic Jungle Babbler couple were caught on camera in the periphery of wilderness of Dandeli, on the bank of Kali River. Don’t they know that Public Display of Affection is not very tolerated in our culture?

Jungle Babbler Pair

If the Jungle Babblers were sitting cuddled in full view, here is a sparrow having a bath out in the open!

Sparrow's Bath

When I was a kid, mom used to make fun of me for having a ‘gubbi snaana’ – ‘sparrow’s bath,’ if I came out from the bathroom in a very short time. The sparrow above, from the looks of it, seems to be making a half-hearted attempt of a bath while immersed in some deep thoughts. It should learn the rigours of a bath from the Bank Myna here. There is a problem though. Bank Myna lived in Varanasi, but the sparrow is in Jaipur. May be Marudhar Express can help.

Bank Myna Splashing in Water

After bath, it is time for breakfast. This Mrs.Gould’s Sunbird in Arunachal Pradesh has problems of plenty. It seems to be wondering which flower has more nectar. Talk about choices.

Mrs Gould's Sunbird

But this Grey Tit from nearby Guwahati has no such worries. It is happy with a delicious catch for the day.

Grey Tit

And finally, a Blue Capped Rock Thrush sings away happily after his breakfast.

Blue Capped Rock Thrush


  • Ram Dhall says:


    You have done it again.

    Amazing pictures, beautiful write up – your sense of photography is simply awe inspiring.

    Favour us with your next post soon.

  • Excellent write up, and amazing pictures. Should I ask you about the camera you use?

  • ajeet says:

    Arun, you should give us a post on how to take good photographs of birds, and how to pin them on the trees and still look natural…. I liked the one with drops showing distinctly and the bird didnt know wot hit it.

  • ajeet says:

    wanted to ask one thing, did you take pictures then looked them up, and where exactly did you look them up and how were you sure that is the one, what if you discovered a new species (i read they discovered 14 news species in brazil in some expedition last week) and still forced it some name just because it looked similar…haha, am just thinking up a piece myself, so getting warmed up.

  • nandanjha says:

    Wow. What pics. Total Calendar material. I really hope that someday these friends look here and feel like celebrities. Thanks for sharing the train details with them, should be helpful.

    Ajeet – My dad worked in publishing houses most of this life and one of the after effect was that we had lots of books at all times (it has no link to our literary tastes or inclination though) and there was this one little book by Mr. Salim Ali which was considered as bible for bird lovers. It has illustrations/photos of various birds. Hope London weather wont keep you cold for long :)

  • Arun says:

    @Ram, thank you.

    @Upanshu, thanks. I have a basic Canon DSLR.

    @Ajeet, thanks. Your second comment went over my head though.

    @nandan, thanks. I hope the sparrow decides to take the train :)

  • Arun says:

    @ajeet, most of the time I know the name before shooting the bird. Very rarely do I have to lookup after I shoot.

  • Celine says:

    You have been bird chasing all over the country, to write a photo essay to fulfill fictitious public demand, and I am not commenting on the PDA of the Blabber of the Dandeli wildlife region, where else?..haha.

    Great post with fantastic pictures!!

  • Celine says:


    I had another look at the pictures (couldn’t help but admire more) and I am amazed at how well the Neelakanta matches with the ‘neela aasman’ and the pink beak of the parakeet with the colour of the Caesalpiniaceae flowers!

    The feathers of Mrs Gould match so well with the exotic flowers. Awesome photography of wonderful nature!

  • Bhooma says:

    Wonderful pictures. and interesting write up. Beautiful photo essay.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Beautiful Pictures Arun.

    Once in Orchha, I spotted a bird and asked locals about it, they told me its Neelkantha and viewing it is considered auspicious. I tried to catch it on my camera but my camera was not meant for that. These days I started to wonder that may be I viewed a Kingfisher, I am not sure now.

    In my office, in Greater Noida, we had regular tik tok on our window panes and it was Jungle Babbler. This bird with its yellow eyes looks very much anger filled. It would be difficult to forget it. She was like a friend knocking quite often, though sometimes with violent fervour. Even if I would have loved to open the window for it, at those time I could never dared to do so.

    Thanks for sharing. I wish someday I could take such beautiful pictures …

    Looking for more …

  • Arun says:

    @celine, thank you :)

    @bhooma, thank you.

    @manish, if it is sacred, kingfisher is very unlikely. Anyway kingfisher with a similar color is only half the size of Indian Roller. So Roller, it is likely to be.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Pictures can be deceptive, from the picture I felt that the Indian Roller is smaller or equal to the kingfisher. But as you pointed that Indian roller is twice the size of Kingfisher, I think it was Indian roller only.

  • bikerdude says:


    Beautiful pics and a great writeup… especially liked the start of this post. Somewhat conveys my predicament… the writer’s block… got loads of time to kill though ;-)

    Would kill anyone to be able to ake pics like these… and I would like to second Ajeet’s comment about a post on how to click such snaps…

    I use the Olympus SP500UZ for clicking pictures… so any tips or tricks you might have up your sleeve, please share.

  • backpakker says:


    I am such a beginner on birds..I have just learnt to distinguish a crow from a koel..your pics are so outstanding, they are my guide to birdwatching

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