About Me

My photo
Hyderabad, AP, India
I used to be a bit of a drifter, still am partly, but life is getting more and more organized recently due to a special someone. I love playing and watching cricket, I have recently realised that I have a very big interest in wildlife and birding. I work for a blue chip company. I am well and truly blessed! No complaints there :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Its Diwali!

Diwali in India, some say, is the best time of the year! Though I have an aversion to all kind of loud noises (memories of wearing helmets during my young age to escape the noise abound), I also end up loving the amazing variety of light-related fire works on offer. This was my first experiment at capturing some of the action from my house terrace in Chennai when I visited for Diwali in 2009. Check them out below . . .



Have a merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ngamba Island

I had recently gone to Kampala, Uganda to attend the AfriGIS conference. As part of this trip, I had the opportunity to travel to Ngamba Island (locally known as the Chimpanzee Island) through the good efforts of the friendly Dr. Lilian Pintea, from the Jane Goodall Institute. The Ngamba Island was established in 1998 as a program to care for orphaned chimpanzees or others removed from their natural habitat, and with no chance of survival back in the wild. You can read more about the island here.

For me, the highlight of the trip was not only the active chimps that we saw at the island, but the vast array of bird life that we noticed and the awesome 45 min boat ride across Lake Victoria to reach the island. The icing on the cake was the fact we crossed the equator twice over water! A few pictures from this trip . . .




The only bummer was the fact that I had gone on this trip without my 500mm lens and I missed a golden opportunity to record some quite colorful East African bird life. Hope there is another time I get to visit this beautiful Island . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lotus Pond again - rain et al

This Sunday I woke up fairly early to head to Manjeera Reservoir to see if I could get some river terns in action. However, heavy overnight rain and constant drizzling early morning put paid to my plans. I did wake up at 5 feeling gung-ho about my plan, but the roads were just too wet for me to attempt the ~50 km 1-way drive to Manjeera Reservoir. So decided to fall back on Lotus Pond and this time went a bit earlier in the morning that I usually do. I was not let down at all! I saw some white throated KFs fairly close, also got to see purple moor hen chicks. Even managed a neat shot of a Pied KF with a backdrop of flowers. So, here goes . . .



Cheers

Friday, June 12, 2009

ICRISAT - First visit :)

This sunday I got a chance to visit the ICRISAT campus for the first time ever along with Ashok. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience. After Bharatpur, this is the place where I have seen the most variety of birds. And to think this is not even a bird sanctuary. ICRISAT is well spread out and has well laid dirt roads which take one very close to where the actual action is. I managed to capture a Red wattled lapwing chick at fairly close range. That was a first for me. I also managed to catch a strange and mesmerizing contest between a wool necked stork and a kite looking to steal the former's breakfast. It was an awesome and noisy event as you can imagine.

ICRISAT also has some real stunning landscapes. I hope to do more justice to that over the monsoons when the lights are a bit kinder for my liking. So, without much further ado, here are the pics . . .



Please leave comments and let me know what you like and what you think could be better!

Here is a link of where you can find ICRISAT in Hyderabad. Awesome place for birding, but you need official help to get in . . .


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Monday, April 6, 2009

Cricket!

Ranji Trophy: The Ranji Trophy is a domestic first-class cricket championship played in India between different city and state sides, equivalent to the County Championship in England and the Sheffield Shield in Australia.

Mumbai won the 2008-09 season's trophy by 243 runs. I got an opportunity to watch the 3rd day's play with Zaheer getting a 7-wicket haul and Vinayak Samant, the dimunitive Mumbai wicket keeper scoring a fluent hunderd. Also had the pleasure of watching a typical, elegant Wasim Jaffer 50.

Big miss! - Sachin played the match, but could not lay eyes on him even once :(
He was resting his back for the Australia series . . .

Here are some action pics shot with a borrowed 400mm telephoto and 1.4x converter. Thanks to Ashok again for the timely help :)



Since this is the first time I shot a pro match, would love to hear some feedback from you guys!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A magical place with magical instruments - Jantar Mantar

For me personally, the highlight of the Jaipur visit was the time we spent at Jantar Mantar.

The Jantar Mantar is a collection of architectural astronomical instruments, built by Maharaja (Ruler) Jai Singh II at his then new capital of Jaipur between 1727 and 1734. It is modeled after the one that he had built for him at the then Mughal capital of Delhi. He had constructed a total of five such facilities at different locations, including the ones at Delhi and Jaipur. The Jaipur observatory is the largest of these.
An excursion through Jai Singh's Jantar is a unique experience of walking through solid geometry and encountering a collective astronomical system designed to probe the heavens.

I had a whale of a time here shooting some of my best pics of the entire trip. Pristine blue skies finally blessed my quest to do some meaningful photography. I like these pics a lot, hope you do too . . .

RTDC Vinayak

While in Ranthambore, I also got a nice chance to shoot abstract pictures of the lovely hotel we were staying at, the RTDC Hotel Vinayak. Here they are . . .



. . . and here are some abstracts from Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, where we arrived early morning Feb 24 . . .

Ranthamboriiiing . . .

After a short and nice train ride from Bharatpur on the Jan Shatabdi express (tickets at around Rs. 80/- for a comfortable 2-hour ride {great value for money in an otherwise hassled railway network in Rajasthan}), we arrived at splendid Sawai Madhopur. The town itself appeared to be filled with all the trappings of a tourist-filled town. The auto rickshaw that plied us was brand new and even smelled of fresh paint :)

We stayed at the RTDC Vinayak Hotel, a very good place to stay at if traveling on a tight budget. But of course if you are the kind whose dad drives a Mercedes, you might want to try for rooms at the Oberoi Vanyavilas.

The nasty surprise that greeted us was that there would be gypsies available for safari at this late an hour. We should have to share space with 20 other tourists on a canter van :(

Though this was a downer, we did manage to reserve seats on one of them for 2 safaris the next day.

The safaris themselves were too short. At least the morning one had like-minded folks who maintained silence where required. The afternoon one was a total mess! First, we had to wait for a tourist couple who were late to arrive and wasted 15 mins outside the park. We also had a huge family that was with kids, eatables, water . . .that could have fed an army! The group was unrelenting in its chatter and was driving us close to the edge of our tether!

Add to this the biggest disappointment of all, we never saw any tigers :(

Here are some pics from this misadventure though . . .

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birding in Bharatpur

Bharatpur, this quaint laidback city of Rajasthan I hear was once impregnable and well-fortified. Though on my way back I checked Google maps to see the formidable walls around the city, it’s not the fort that took me there. I reached Bharatpur one February night only to make my way to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park at the crack of dawn next day.

History: The marshes of Keoladeo, more popularly known as Bharatpur, was the private hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. It was developed in the late 19th century by creating small dams and bunds in an area of natural depression to collect rainwater and by feeding it with an irrigation canal. Over the years, the lakes attracted great numbers of waterfowl and the Maharajas held grand shoots with family, friends and visiting dignitaries. Two-thirds of the park lies under water, the extent and volume depending on the intensity of the rains. The remaining one-third of the park is covered in dry deciduous forests (with Acacia, Ber, Kadam and Khajur trees) and extensive grasslands. On the raised ground outlining the wetlands grow a profusion of Acacia trees, where the resident water birds nest, often in large mixed colonies, a spectacular sight during the monsoon.

The city has an extremely unique system in place. You get on to a cycle rickshaw and you are at the pullers mercy :). He’s your sole guide/companion within the park. He has excellent understanding of the history, flora and fauna of the reserve and keeps you pleasantly occupied through your birding experience. It’s the safest, environment friendly, cheap and personalized trip I have had. Here’s what it looks like:

From Bharatpur


The park attracts ornithologists and photographers from all over and the crowd is more family oriented than boisterous. I got many decent shots, as you can see below. The following are shots solely of the common mynah...



These are some other favourite pictures from the truckloads I shot at the park:



...and these are of my 170-500 mm Sigma covering birds in flight. Let me know if you like any?



I also had a friendly conversation with the forest guard who told me more about the current ecological threat to the park. This is due to the reduced water supply from the Government. It has caused the marshlands to turn dry and inhospitable causing most birds to fly off to alternative destinations. I wish things got better…

From Bharatpur

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trans-orb-lucent!

Colours are a photographer’s delight. He plays with them, tries to enhance or desaturate them but can never ignore them. They have a special charm, a charm that most cannot fail to notice… and if you have a translucent orb streaked with solid colours in and out…ah, you can have a ball (pun very much intended ) of a time unearthing their layer after layer of opacity. The following pictures are of a Google award I was lucky to win, hope you enjoy the bold colours as much as I did…



All I used is the glass orb and a table lamp… pretty amateurish a setup but the colours shone through! Let me know if you have any suggestions...

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Sunday morning visit to Lotus Pond, Hyderabad.

Lotus Pond is a small water body situated off Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. The pond is surrounded by lush green flora and a 1.2 kilometer path. At the crack of dawn this Sunday I decided to pack up my 170-500 mm Sigma telephoto lens and go look for birds at this place. Thanks to Ashok for pointing this place out to me.

Lotus Pond is home to more than 20 species of birds. A few of them are Pied Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, sunbirds, Common Coot, and Little Egret.



The Lotus Pond was conceived to be an Eco-conservation project bringing natural elements into the concept of the project without disturbing the ecosystem and conserving the natural rocks and pond. The launch of the construction of the project was on on 20 November, 1999. The work was completed in late 2001. I was surprised to see this pond so well maintained by the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad(MCH).

I would highly recommend nature lovers to visit this place in search of beauty and quiet. Here's its exact location:


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National Geographic Photos