Monday, June 15, 2009

Birds in Breeding Plumage

This is Part 3 of our trip to Bandipur National Park. You can read Parts 1 and 2 here:

In Part 3, I am actually writing about the first day of our trip. Those who have read the other two reports or at least the title of the first report will know that we were traveling with T & S, our blog friends who we had never met before. On our way to Bandipur National Park, we planned to stop at Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary, which is a famous breeding ground for egrets, spoonbills, open bill storks, painted storks, river turns and many other birds . Our plan was to start at 5:00 AM and reach the sanctuary by 6:30-7:00 AM.

Thomas: 5:00 AM means 5:00 AM , 5:00 AM does not mean you wake up at 5:00 AM. 5:00AM means you are outside the door and ready to leave at 5:00 AM
Vam: I GET IT!! I will be at the door at 5:00 AM. Don't worry, I am not a morning person, but I wake up when it is necessary.
Thomas: Do you want me to give you a wake-up call? You know what...I will give you a wake up call at 4:00 AM just in case.
Vam: Relax Thomas....I will wake up.

This was our first time meeting Thomas and Shilpy and I did not want to start off on the wrong foot, so I set up two phone alarms 5 minutes apart and kept waking up every hour to check the time. Finally I fell asleep at 2:00 AM and woke up when the alarm rang. I showered and got ready and woke up Saru. It was already 4:30 AM and I still didn't get the wake up call from Thomas. I called him, just to reassure him that we were indeed going to be ready by 5:00 AM. The phone rang a few times before it was answered by a very sleepy voice.

Thomas: Hello

Vamsee: Hi Thomas...It is Vamsee. Don't worry we are almost ready!
Thomas: Oh Shit...Oh Shit...What time is it?
Vamsee: 4:30
Thomas: Oh Man....I was very restless last night and I woke up at 2:00 AM and could not go back to sleep.
Vamsee (with a very wide smile): Did YOU oversleep?

It was a little after 6:00 AM by the time we started. We were meeting for the first time, but the ice was broken with the hilarity of the situation and I was thoroughly enjoying the upper hand.

Vamsee: Thomas....When we said 5:00 AM, we meant leaving at 5:00 AM, not waking up at 5:00 AM.
Thomas: Oh God....You are going to write about this on her blog...Aren't you?. It was not my mistake. S takes one hour to pack and get ready.
S: Don't bring me in to this. You didn't wake up.
We had fun teasing each other and before we knew it, we were chatting like old friends. It was a nice drive along green fields. Gulmohar trees were in full bloom and were really beautiful. We took this picture much later in the trip.

We stopped at Barrista for some coffee and breakfast and were delayed a little bit more, so it was about 9:00 AM by the time we reached the bird sanctuary. The sun was high in the sky, not the best time for photography, but since we were there, we decided to take the boat ride anyway.The place was full of water birds- egrets, storks, pelicans etc. Since we were on a boat, we had the chance to take some really good closeup shots.

Cattle Egrets in Breeding Plumage
Egrets are so common, we normally don't give them a second look. During breeding season, they develop orange-brown feathers on their back, breast, crown and bill and their irises become red for a short period before mating. Here is the bird in many poses.

Intermediate Egrets in Breeding Plumage

As the name suggests, these egrets are intermediate in size, between The Great Egret and the Little or Cattle Egrets. They are mostly white in color with a thick yellow bill but breeding birds have a black bill with a green gape skin. This one kept taunting us with various poses, but finally opened up its feather for a decent (not great) picture. The sunlight was too harsh and the white color is overexposed, but this is the best we could get.

Painted Storks

(from Wikipedia)The adult is a large bird, mainly white with black flight feathers. The head is red, and the long downcurved bill is yellow. The tail and legs are pink, and there is dark barring on the breast.

For more posts on Camera Critters, click on the image:

Camera Critters


  1. I can so understand that not sleeping part. Obviously, it doesn’t matter where the sun is at the sky – your photographs are brilliant!

  2. oh, the green and white egret - such a killer. Such a splendid mix of pure white with the green. wow, thanks for sharing

  3. Oh my God! *kneels down and bows* I should spend some time at the feet of Saru. He to be blamed for these unbelievable pictures, right?

  4. Gorgeous captures all Vamsee. I really love the Cattle Egret with its crown standing up. The Intermediate Egret is beautiful with the green gape skin and the Painted Storks are very interesting. I like the second shot where you can see the irridecent green in the black of the wings.

  5. Great pictures. I loved the first one very much with beautiful colors. Clearly makes me feel like actually being there. And, the birds I wonder if I would have got to see those bird or even had known of them if I'd not visited your blog... lovely pictures and thanks for sharing :-)

  6. luved ur travelogues as always :) and beautiful pictures too

  7. stunning pictures and loved the laidback post!

  8. the pix are WOW. I have never looked at an egret so closely :-)

    The Gulmohar pic is also mindblowing......

  9. Beautiful picture! Stunning!

  10. Oh well , blogger ate my comment up ! :(

    So like I was saying .. Awesome pics as usual! I particularly loved the first and the last pic of the egrets, the egret with the "crown" and the first one in the painted storks!

    The Gulmohars look soo pretty .. reminds me so much of Bangalore!

    Oh, and I don't think the egret snaps are overexposed !


  11. Fantastic shots of the beautiful birds once again. By looking at this series on Bandipur, I am tempted to have a first hand experience of this.

  12. Fida,
    Thanks. I rarely sleep well before a trip and this was no exception.

    Thanks. The picture is overexposed because of the harsh lighting at the time, but it is still a very beautiful bird.

    That was too funny. Saru and I burst out laughing when we read your comment. He definitely is the one to blame for these pictures:)

  13. Larry,
    Welcome to my blog and thanks for the comment. I almost didn't post that egret picture because I thought it was not too sharp. Also, thanks for pointing out the iridescent green in the stork. I didn't notice that.

    Thanks. There are so many beautiful things that we don't notice. Birding is a great way to look at those and appreciate nature.

    Thanks for visiting regularly.


  14. Jayanti,
    I love reading your enthusiastic comments. Gulmohar trees are so pretty when they are in full bloom.


    Blogger does that and it is annoying! Thanks for coming back and re-posting your comment. I too love the first picture...especially the eye and the texture of the bird. It is a very sharp image. Gulmohars are very beautiful and Bangalore was full of them. It was very beautiful.

    Thanks for visiting regularly. You should make a trip there.

  15. Just came here from Thomas' blog..what a double treat

  16. The cattle egret is really cute! And I love the painted stork's poses! The other egret is a great egret - it shows blue lores and red thighs during courtship. The median egret has yellow lores and black legs.

    Waiting for your next post...

  17. Hey Vamsee !! Another Fascinating post !! Really loved the photographs..What a neat capture..Great

  18. Beautiful pictures!! I loved the gulmohar trees....almost like fall colors!!

  19. Lakshmi,
    You can't compare our pictures to Thomas's pictures. He is too good.

    Thanks for the correction. I will change the name.

    Unseen Rajasthan,
    Thanks. I almost didn't write this, but the photographs were too good to leave them languishing in the folder

  20. These pics are just too amazing. You shd also post the EXIF info of the pics.

  21. I knew this was coming soon Vamsee. I just relived that day (the waking up part) reading your post. lol.

    Coming to your images, they are all amazing, the painted stork is the best for me in this series and so is that gulmohar walkway, that was worth the effort, I can surely say now after seeing that image.

    Give me a call when free and let me help you sort this layout issue on your blog...Thomas

  22. Hi Vamsee! Lovely post! Amazing story to start with and awesome pictures!!!

    The Republic of Uzupis. Never heard? Blogtrotter has it for you… ;) Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  23. I learnt about the egret, when i noticed that change in color on few, that coe near my house. Some things are wonderful isnt it? The painted stork is beautiful.

  24. Fantastic... such handsome creatures these. I know more about birds than I ever did, thanks to some of these posts. :)

  25. Hey just came across ur blog and liked it a lot since even I am fond of travelling and photography :) keep blogging!

  26. Hi Vamsee - your birds are stunning! Beautiful clarity in all your pictures. And I love the gorgeous, gorgeous first photo of the mud road lined with gulmohar. Only in India ... :)
    Sitting tight this summer to finish thesis. Also training for a run-bike-run duathlon. That's about it. You guys have a blast in France - it sounds so good.

  27. Nice story of your sleeping pattern, and fabulous bird photography. I particularly like the one of the Intermediate Egret in that pose.

  28. No words to express how beautiful these photographs are. I sure am following your blog!

    Bedse Caves

  29. LOL @ Sleeping. :)
    Hey, consider watermarking your pictures. If I've had bad experiences with people stealing my stuff, I can't imagine what they;d do to your awesome hang-on-a-frame-on-your-wall kinda pictures.

  30. Nice writeup, checkout my travel pics in