Gulakmale with the Bird Photography group, 011115

Email to the bngbirds egroup:

had the opportunity of going with a group of bird photographers (that is how they described themselves!) to Gulakmale on Sunday morning (01 Nov 2015.) As many of them were new to photography as well as to birds, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some pointers on the ethics of bird photography, so that they start on the right lines.

Here are some of us at the start…the group size was much augmented later!

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It was immediately apparent there was a need to talk about such guidelines. A few of them talked about Madivala and Hoskote lakes…and discussed the possiblity of taking boats to get closer to the birds! I was able to tell them that this would be a very bad idea, as it would disturb the birds. Bazooka lenses were our way, I said, of ensuring that we got our shots with as little disturbance as possible. Two demonstrations with my SX50 served to convince them that this was a better way to go about bird photography! In future, I’ve decided to go with such photography groups as often as I can, as a friendly word from someone who’s also interested in documentation, seems to convince people much more than rules laid down from afar.

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The higher water level meant that we could not go on the usual path, so we took the bund on the western side of the lake.

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Being on this bund has some advantages. Shy birds such as Francolins can be easily spotted through binoculars as they come out into the open without fear. One is also at the canopy level with respect to the trees on the other side of the road, and watching small birds is not, literally, a pain in the neck. We watched several Sunbirds flitting amongst the “powder puff” flowers of the Rain Tree.

The usual birds like the Openbills were missing as the water level was considerably higher, but as we worked our way from the bund around the lake on the northern side, we saw some of them…an Openbill,

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one Sandpiper…enough to keep the photographers happy, while I was wondering at the low numbers.

People like I S Hariharan are a valuable addition to any birding group. In the tree-shaded area, he spotted a Flameback and a Treepie and told us about them, so that we too could have a look. Of course, for photographers, much of the delight of a sighting seems to depend on whether they can get a good shot! It was overcast and light conditions were poor, so much of the heavy equipment was carted around more in hope than action.. However, a Grey Heron standing on one leg, contemplating its reflection in the water,

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a couple of River Terns flying around (and occasionally arguing!) and once, settling on a pole,

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gave the cameras enough to do. And there was one delightful incident when a mother Coot suddenly released two chicks from under her wings, and the family went off for breakfast, boating and fishing all rolled into one!

At about 9.20 am, the group came back to the cars and decided to go ahead to Thotti Kallu (TK) Falls.

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As I’d had a call asking me to come back, I took a ride with Bindu and her daughter Meenakshi and then caught a bus home.

For all that we did not see the “glamorous raptors”, our species list was quite respectable, and I’ve put it up on eBird at

http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25669568

The butterflies also were a source of delight,

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and I was able to get the bird photographers interested in them, as well as Life Under Foot (and often under an inch!) that I saw around me. The Blue Tigers and the Plain Tigers were fluttering around (more of the latter), but I was also able to point out Emigrants, Jezebels, and one beautiful Blue Pansy. However, it was unnerving when I pointed out a Crimson Rose which flew down the bund, only to be hit by a passing van, and which lay stunned on the road, but later recovered and flew off unsteadily. It was an object lesson on mortality in these creatures.

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I S Hariharan’s bird list:

1 – Gray Francolin
3 – Little Grebe
2 – Great Cormorant
2 – Little Cormorant
1 – Great Egret
1 – intermediate Egret
1 – Shikra
1 – Black Kite
1 – Brahminy Kite
2 – Eurasian Coot
4 – Red-wattled Lapwing
3 – River Tern
1 – pigeon/dove
1 – Greater Coucal
1 – Alpine Swift
10+ – mud swallows
2 – White-throated Kingfisher
2 – common kingfisher
4 – Green Bee-eater
1 – Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
3 – Rose-ringed Parakeet
2 – Small Minivet
4 – Black Drongo
6 – Barn Swallow
4 – Red-vented Bulbul
3 – White-browed Bulbul
1 – Common Tailorbird
2 – Indian Robin
2 – Common Myna
3 – Purple Sunbird
1 – Scaly-breasted Munia
1 – Silver bill
2 – Red Munia
1 – Grey Heron
2 – white browed wagtail
2 – Pied Bushchat
1 – Siberian Stonechat
1 – wood swallow
1 – Open bill stork
1 – treepie
1 – Asian Koel male
1 – small egret
1 – intermediate egret
13 – cattle egret
2 – pond heron
2 – rufous babler
1 – golden flameback woodpecker
1-Pied Bushchat
7+ – common crow
3 – jungle crow
1 – brown fish owl

Butterfly list:

Blue, Gram
Blue, Pea

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Cerulean, Common
Crow, Common
Emigrant, Mottled’
Gull, Common
Jezebel, Common
Mormon, Common
Pansy, Blue
Pansy, Chocolate
Pioneer
Psyche
Rose, Common
Rose, Crimson
Wanderer, Common
Yellow, Common Grass
Yellow, Three-spot Grass

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