Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Touching thirties

All set for the exciting 30's!! New phase of life awaiting.
Need to sit down and jot my resolutions

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rail boa(i)rding

I love traveling in trains and enjoy the window views and can sit hours doing nothing but sitting next to a window and watch. Ever since I started birding the pleasure I derive out of this doubled. In fact even my bus journey too is not as boring as it used to be!

I especially enjoy the mornings, as soon as I see daylight, I wake up and start glancing out of window or the door till my tummy cramps of hunger!So I started doing birding from train after boarding it!

As you wake up in the morning and stand next to the door, the cool breeze that hits your face and the unique fragrances the wind carries makes me feel so good (baring those you experience as you enter urban
places in the morning, you know what I am talking about) . The colors of skies, changing terrains, different vegetation all makes it interesting. So when you add birding to those pleasures it will turn out to be awesome!

Last Friday night I boarded the Hyderabad bound train and as usual woke up early and started my birding.
It rained the previous night and the skies are overcast. Everything looked green and fresh with shining drops of water on leaves. The red vented bulbuls are the first to be noticed followed by happy-go-singing ashy prinias.
I tell you it's different ball game birding from the train.

You need to be confident and quick at spotting and there is no second look. It gets tougher when train picks up speed and easier when it slows down.

I was expecting just the common species and kept an eye open. As the train went past a Water body I could quickly see a white throated kingfisher and few cormorants. One interesting thing is that as the train goes past a place the birds get disturbed from their perches and start flying away thus giving you good chance of spotting them! I saw a purple heron doing that besides few herons and cattle egrets.

Surprisingly at one place I noticed a couple of birds that looked very much like francolins , they stay still very close to the track say 10 mtrs away unfazed by the speeding train! What followed next was the biggest surprise of the morning for me, as the train went past a green meadow two birds came flying and perched on tree top and i figured them out to be a pair of pied cuckoos. I had seen pied cuckoo but never in pairs! When i just thought that made my day, the train this time fiushed off a black shouldered kite from a perch at lower elevation which swiftly moved to another perch closer to the train! Ilost a breath there!

I saw small egrets, cattle egrets in the paddy fields as well as pond herons. The best part is spotting peafowls! They are literally everywhere to be seen. For a stretch of 30-40 kms, Every 10 mins I spotted one or more. This particular area is between raichur and Secunderabad stations, more precisely closer to vikarabad. At one
small station I noticed a colony of swallows making nest below road-over-rail bridge. I saw swifts, silverbills , mynas and lots of doves worth a mention, they are the ones that get flushed first! A baya weaver nest just barely above surface of a water body made it interesting.

This is truly one of my memorable railway birdings... Here is the list:
1. Common myna
2. House crow
3. Jungle crow
4. Pied cuckoo
5. Spotted dove
6. Laughing dove
7. Peafowl
8. Indian robin
9. Cattle egret
11. Small egret
12. Pond heron
13. White throated kingfisher
14. Purple heron
15. Little cormorant
16. Black shouldered kite
17. Francolins (?)
18. Silverbills (?)
19. Ashy prinia
20. Swifts (?)

Rail birding is interesting since you hardly need any equipment and the train will flush the birds for you.
The habitats keep changing, you get to see birds of different habitats without walking.... so many advantages! hey but remember to hold onto the supporting rod while standing at the door

Am I alone or does any of you do this kind of birding? Would love to hear your experiences! Well that reminded me of Karthik talking about the swallow congregation he noticed on a rail bridge!