Friday, 24 February 2017

Some Indian Mammals

Much as it may seem like I spend all my time watching birds, that's not actually the case.  I don't mind watching a mammal or two if they show up.

The first mammals I saw in India were Palm Squirrels - and I think these are Five-Striped Palm Squirrels.  To be honest these little rodents are pretty common, and the chirping of 'squirrel stress' followed us almost everywhere.  They are undoubtably rather good value!

I do like the shot of the Palm Squirrel in the window - but I do wish it had put its tail on show!

The next mammal was a real surprise - it's a Small Indian Mongoose (well, probably!).  This fast moving animal was hunting around the footings of a temple complex in the Lodi Gardens in Delhi.  I was in tourist, rather than naturalist mode, photographically so I only managed a rather distant shot - the version below is a heavy crop.  I rather like that face!

The Nilgai or Blue Bull is largest Asian Antelope and is endemic to the Indian subcontinent.  I saw this male - and some females that I could not photograph - in the Sultanpur National Park.  In the pictures below you can see some Painted Storks in the trees and a Pintail in the water as well as the Blue Bull.

 I'll be linking this post to Saturday Critters - where you can find more animals from around the world.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 239 - Painted Stork

When I was in India I managed to organise a trip to Sultanpur National Park, which is about 60 km from central Delhi.  60 km may not sound far, but I think it's reasonable to multiply distances by 2 in India to get a feel for how long it will take!

The Sultanpur National Park is only about 1.5 square km in size, but 250 species of bird have been recorded there.  While the area is a natural wetland, water is now pumped into the park to help maintain the water levels.  Given how close it is to Delhi, it's a remarkable place.

The Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is Asia's most abundant stork - although it is considered to be risk because its population is falling.  Hunting, wetland drainage and pollution are all thought to play a role in this birds decline.

The Painted Stork is in the same broad group of storks as the Wood Stork and it feeds by swishing its open beak backwards and forwards though the water.

Many of the birds in these pictures are juvenile birds, lacking the bright plumage and beak.  The slight haze in the images is a combination of early morning mist and (sadly) air pollution.

As ever, to link up with WBW click on the blue button below. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An India Icon

The Taj Mahal in Agra must be one of the most recognisable buildings in the world.  It shape and colour make it stand out from other 'iconic' buildings such as Sydney's Opera House or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Perhaps only the pyramids are as instantly recognisable.

The Taj Mahal is built from a huge amount of white marble, which is now (unfortunately) taking on a slight yellow hue because of pollution.  For all that, the overall impression of the place is still truely remarkable.

Work on the Taj Mahal started in 1632 and was basically complete by 1643, although other work continued for another 10 years.  The Taj Mahal was built to house the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of the Shah Jahan.  Much more detail about this remarkable building can be found here.

One of the issues about photographing such a well known building, is that the 'classic shots' have been taken thousands of times before.  These first two shots fall into that category.

I tried to find some different ways to take pictures - and while I doubt that I really did find any new angles, at least I had fun trying!

These images are an attempt to capture the way in which the Taj Mahal is first seen - over the heads of crowds and through the arch of the main gate.

In these next images I am trying to get a sense of both the scale and detail of the place.

And finally I tried to find a different way to frame the Taj Mahal - to contrast the built with the natural.

It really is a remarkable place.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 238 - Taking a bath

A bit rushed this week - as some of you may know I am in India on a work trip - so things are a bit hectic!  And I thought I had set a WBW post up for this week - only to find I was wrong!

Indian birds and pictures to follow soon!

These birds are House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) taking a dust bath in a car park in New Zealand.  Given that they seem to have excavated little holes in the ground, it seems to a popular location for a bath.  The dust also seems to have given the birds a little more colour than normal!

As ever, to link up with WBW click on the blue button below. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A taste of things to come

I am just over half way though a work trip to India - although I have been able to sneak a few side trips into the schedule!

These are some of the shots I have taken in the last few days.  More to follow.

You can find more shots from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Wild Bird Wednesday 237 - Weka

The Weka (Gallirallus australis) is an endemic, flightless rail from New Zealand (and only New Zealand!).  The bird is about 50cm long and weighs in between 700 and 1000g - in other words it's about the same size as a small chicken.

Those of you with good memories may recall that I posted some images of Woodhen from Lord Howe Island about a year ago. Woodhen and Weka are in the same genus and have both become flightless.  I say 'become' because both species of birds are found on remote (ish) island and it's sure that the ancestors of these birds did not swim to these islands!

These pictures are of two different birds and I suspect that they are examples of two of the four 'types' found in NZ.  The first first bird seems to be one of the 'buff' forms - its does seem rather more 'ginger' than the darker bird, which may be the 'western' form.

In any case the first bird was very inquisitive and walked up to and past us without much bother.  I would have liked to get a bit lower for some of the shots of that bird, but we were half way though a walk and things were a little damp underfoot!  It's why I normally wear (or carry) a coat of some form!

Pictures from this point are of the second 'darker' bird.

Now it's over to you - click the blue button and off you go - with luck I'll be able to respond quickly this week, but I'm not sure, as, believe it or not, I am on the road again!