Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Birding in Mumbai

Mumbai has a very active bird watching group. The Navi Mumbai Naturalists (Namunas), led by Julius Rego go to a new trail every Sunday. Saru and I join them as often as we can. I am not a morning person, but this is the one day of the week when I don't mind waking up early. It is great to be outdoors in time to see the sun rise. I love being outside with the cool breeze and the active birds. Here are some images from last month.

These were taken near the JNPT police station in Uran.

Long Tail Shrike - Nicknamed as Gandhari because of the black patch near it's eyes. This is a common bird we see all the time, and I have been wanting to photograph it. Few weeks back, I saw a very beautiful, fat and plump Shrike in the bushes close to us, but my fat and plump husband didn't have the camera ready. I shot this at Uran just after it finished bathing. Some birds take a bath by rolling on early morning dew on leaves. It is fun to watch them.

Common Stonechat (Female)
I was trying to shoot a Hoopoe and this bird came and sat on a branch next to me and posed without any inhibitions. I got some lovely closeups. It is such a cute bird with beautiful eyes.

The pond there was full of ducks....mostly Northern Shovelers (Males are beautiful with a dark green head and white breast, females are brown and nondescript). There were also a few garganeys and spot-billed ducks.

Waders in the sky
There were a lot of waders in the grasslands. Once in a while, they would all collectively take off and form patterns in the sky. It is a defense mechanism to ward away predators.

These were taken at the mangroves in front of our building.

These days, we can hear birds chirping all the way in our bedroom, so we went to the mangroves in front of our building to see what the hoopla was all about. We saw hundreds of pied starlings,but they were too far to photograph. On the way back, we saw this Shikra sitting on a tree branch. I took some record shots and slowly inched towards it from its back and was able to get closeup shots.

Flock of Great Egrets
One day we noticed a few painted storks in the mangroves, so went to look at them. They flew away, but the pond had hundreds of egrets. These are so common that you ignore them, but Saru took this postcard shot with their reflections .

Little Brown Dove / Laughing Dove
It was time to go to work and we were hurrying back home when I spotted this Spotted Dove. I took a very quick shot while Saru dragged me home not realizing that this would be the best picture of the day.


  1. They're all lovely photos...but the hawk is my favorite. Nice! :)

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  3. Nice way to spend a Sunday morning! I like the nickname Gandhari :) The birds are really cute, Vam. I never pay much attention to birds...but after seeing your birding pics, I will remember to look closer.

  4. Lovely captures. Amazing closeups. What equipment do you use.


  5. wow - these photos are fantastic! Awesome. I love the one of the large flock taking off simultaneously. Makes me feel like there is still hope when I see it.

  6. Wow! Greater Mumbai is very rich indeed.

  7. vagabond,
    Thanks. That was a Shikra, not a hawk and I corrected the blog after you left the blog.

    Welcome to my blog.

    Are you subscribed to my blog? I love it that you come and check out every post of mine!! Birding is more fun that what people think.

    We use a Nikon D70 with a 70-300mm VR lens...nothing fancy.

    Thanks. It is indeed fun to see large flocks form patterns in the sky. At the same location we saw flocks of spoonbills and storks.

    Thanks. Mumbai is surprisingly awesome!

  8. lovely images. I must get back to shooting birds. must.

  9. Fantastic series Vamsee. Those images of the Shikra are just stunning. We folks should do one trip together sometime this year. It should be really exciting.

  10. The dove is the Little Brown Dove / Laughing Dove. The tiny bird with lovely black eyes is a Common Stonechat - female.


  11. Bird-watching is defly a lot of fun! I remember I used to observe birds so diligently back then and get back home and refer to Salim Ali . Some how, here in US, I have stopped following birds... I blame it on my unfamiliarity with the species here. I like Indian birds better :D

    But on a serious note, I do want to get back to it, am slightly clueless here :-(


  12. Arun,
    Thanks. That comment coming from a photographer of your stature means a lot.

    Absolutely!! We should and will do a trip together this year.

    Thanks for the birdwatching trips every Sunday and helping us identify the birds.

    I know exactly what you mean. I like forest birds a lot more and in the US we mostly see waders. There are a lot of bird sanctuaries in and around SF. You should look them up. We used to go to the Don Edwards SF Wildlife sanctuary in Fremont a lot. Send me an e-mail and I can give you more information. I once read an article that said that birding was the fastest growing hobby in the US!

  13. oh wow... so much life apart from us humans in mumbai ???? geee...

    Lol @ name Namuna's and apt too !! :)

    lovely photos !!!

  14. I knew that Saru and you were pretty good with identifying the birds but didn't realise that you could also distinguish between a male and a female considering the window of time that you get to catch a glimpse of these birds...I am impressed.


  15. Hitch Writer,
    Thanks and welcome back to my blog. You have been absent for a while.

    Saru and I can recognize very few birds as of now. I had to send this picture to Julius for figuring out the name.Hopefully in a few months we will get better.

    Vitor Lopes,
    Welcome to my blog and thanks for the comment

  16. My fav picks are Waders and Great Egrets. Bangalore has Bird Watchers club too, they meet usually in Lalbagh. Many a times I've thought of joining them - but the only trouble is waking up in the morning! Will try that out once I return.

    Almost forgot, nice pictures indeed!

  17. Vamsee, Loved your pictures and detailed descriptions. I had no clue about bird watching until few months ago I went with a friend to a lake. We spent next two hours, me mostly clicking pictures and listening to my friend describe the birds, and he yelping with joy whenever we spotted a new bird.
    Clearly, you guys had fun!

  18. Kalyan,
    The picture of egrets looks great in its original size, but you really can't see how cool it is in the blog. Bangalore has a very active birding group. Wake up in the morning for one trip and you will get hooked to it.

    Thanks. Me neither until Saru bought a binoculars and dragged me to bird sanctuaries in the US. The best part is to be out that early and learning to appreciate little things in life.

  19. Me and absent ?? never... blogger had removed me from the follower list... otherwise i always read and keep visiting... :P ... your the lucky one who has been travelling and absent !!! :)

  20. interesting close-up..great capture...

  21. Bonsoir,
    Great serie..Wonderful compositions and details..great work!..Bravo!

  22. Very interesting and beautiful photoblog! It’s great way to discover new countries ;)
    I voted for your blog for 2009 photoblog awards because I love it very much! Good luck :)

  23. Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    Invite you to my blog and leave your comments on my latest post "Train Your Brain – Have Ageless Memory

  24. Great pictures Vamsee!
    Especially loved the painted storks and the flying flock of birds.

    I totally agree that it feels great to be out in the open and watch sunrise. Feels like 'the awakening' :)

  25. Hi Vamsee! I'm sure I've already commented on this post. Anyhow, younhave great shots here!

    Now, «The Masterpiece» waits you and your comments at Blogtrotter. You shouldn’t miss it, believe me... ;).
    Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  26. I went birdwatching for the first time last weekend and it was pics though as I was getting to know the names and colours ...

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