Category Archives: India

Some favorite photos

I’ve been looking through my bird photos, trying to come up with my favorite birds of the last decade. I’m saving that list for another post, but I managed to pick out some favorite photos of birds that didn’t make my top ten list.

These twelve photos were taken in four different countries between 2006 and 2009 (since I haven’t been birding all that long and have only had my (super-zoom point-and-shoot) camera since ’06).

Can you guess what they are? They all link to Flickr where you can find out, or scroll to the end for a list.

Indian Pond Heron


Common Coot chick

Black-headed Ibis

Blue-winged Teal

Rufous Treepie


Red-breasted Nuthatch

Great Crested Grebe on nest


Red-vented Bulbul

Tufted Ducks

Indian Pond Heron: Kota, India;
American Robin: Great Smoky Mountains National Park USA;
Common Coot chick: Starrevaart, Netherlands;
Black-headed Ibis: Ranthambhore, India;
Blue-winged Teal: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Rufous Treepie: Ranthambhore, India;
Chaffinch: Munster, France;
Red-breasted Nuthatch: Illinois USA;
Great Crested Grebe: Voorschoten, Netherlands;
Red-shouldered Hawk: Viera Wetlands, Florida USA;
Red-vented Bulbul: Jaipur, India;
Tufted Duck: Flevoland, Netherlands.

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Posted in Florida, France, Illinois, India, Netherlands, Travel, Viera Wetlands | 1 Comment

My life’s vultures

Where I live now, in northern Illinois, there is only one normally occurring species of vulture: the Turkey Vulture. I see these birds flying on thermals quite often here in Lake County during the summer. In honor of International Vulture Awareness Day, taking place on Saturday, September 5th, I’ve been thinking about all the vultures I’ve had the privilege to see. These are the eight species of vulture on my life list, in random order.

White-backed Vulture

I saw this bird on a week-long trip to the Gambia in January 2007. My husband and I spent 4 days with some very experienced birders from Finland, with whom we shared our Gambian guide. We were totally out of our league with these guys, who had spent months before the trip preparing, learning the calls of the local birds and practically memorizing their Gambian field guides. We had a great time and tried our best to stay the heck out of their way. Unfortunately this is the one vulture on my life list of which I have no photo.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

The Turkey Vultures I see here seem to love flying, because that’s all I ever see them doing. When I’ve seen these birds in Florida, it was a different story. There, TVs seem to be everywhere, hanging out in groups along the roadside or in open spaces in nature preserves.

Palm-nut Vulture

This is another vulture we saw in the Gambia. I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t remember the circumstances under which we spotted this extremely striking bird. Yes, the trip was a bit wasted on us – there was a lot of running around and nodding as we looked at the birds that were pointed out to us. We would have a different experience making the same trip today, that’s for sure.

Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vultures

When we visited Rajasthan in March 2006, we saw Egyptian Vultures several times. We even saw them at the Taj Mahal. I remember we were starting to be interested in birds, especially since we were seeing so many that were unfamiliar to us. We saw this large bird perched on one of the outbuildings by the Taj and wondered what it could be. I took a few photos and we looked it up later – eureka, an Egyptian Vulture! [Photo is of a pair at a nest near Kota, India]

Rueppell’s Vulture

Another beautiful vulture we saw in the Gambia, near Tendaba. Unfortunately I cannot remember much about this sighting either. ๐Ÿ™ Shame on me!

Black Vulture

Black Vultures

My second North American vulture is another Florida favorite. These guys also seem to hang out nearly everywhere we’ve been. On our last visit to Florida in June we spotted this large group milling about at NASA.

Griffon Vulture

This is another bird I spotted in India. This photo was taken in Jodhpur but we also saw these birds on several other occasions during the trip.

Hooded Vulture

Another Gambia bird! This time I remember exactly where we were when we found this lovely. Our hotel in the coastal resort area was a short walk from the beach. The walk took us down a sand-covered alley between the backs of several other resorts, and there was trash everywhere. Besides this bird we also saw Cattle Egrets feeding on the piles of garbage and a few unlikely birds like Red-cheeked Cordonbleus and Red-billed Firefinches.

What vultures are on your life list? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave a comment!

This post is participating in the International Vulture Awareness Day 2009 Blog for Vultures. You can click on the badge below to see the other participants in this meme.

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Posted in Festivals & Events, Florida, Gambia, India | 5 Comments

Keoladeo Retains World Heritage Status

Hurrah! Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, in Bharatpur, Rajasthan state, India, will retain its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was decided at a recent meeting in Canada, following a UNESCO delegation’s visit to the park in March.

We visited Keoladeo for two days during our trip to Rajasthan in 2006. Cycling and walking through the park was a wonderful experience for us as budding birders. I’m sure if we went back, we’d spend more than 2 days there! There was plenty of water in the park when we visited, but recent seasons have seen dry conditions unsuitable for the amazing heronries a watered park can support.

Source: Bird sanctuary retains world heritage status

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Dry Indian Bird Park Loses Birds And More

Several years of meager monsoons have left World Heritage bird sanctuary Keoladeo Ghana National Park in India without the water needed to sustain bird life. The wetlands, once over run by breeding storks, cranes, herons, ducks, and other birds, are now dry and barren.

Pumps have been sucking up groundwater from the park to nearby farms which have suffered from seasons of drought. The thousands of migratory birds that usually return to the park to breed over the winter have had to find alternative locations to raise their chicks.

If the dry trend continues in the park, it may lose its World Heritage site status.

Read more about Keoladeo’s problems.

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Dry Conditions Hit Birding Paradise

Minimal rains fell on Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, India this season. The dry conditions have forced migratory birds to seek other areas to spend the winter. The lack of birds in the park has hit the Bharatpur economy hard.

The usual species of migratory birds, including spoonbills, egrets, cormorants, cranes and ibises, arrived at the park at the start of the monsoon season. But with little rains during the following weeks, most of the birds left to breed elsewhere, closer to a water supply.

Bharatpur’s rickshaw drivers have reported a dip in earnings as few tourists are visiting the park. Birders, aware of the situation, are staying away in droves. The few visitors that have been coming to the park are unaware of the poor conditions and leave in disappointment. One hotel manager reported a 50% drop in customers from last year.

Read more about the situation in Bharatpur.

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Record Number Migratory Birds In Kashmir

Over 500,000 migratory birds have arrived in the Kashmir Valley in India this winter. Low temperatures in nearby, usual bird wintering areas have driven the birds to seek new places to spend the coldest months.

Wildlife officials expect a record number of winged visitors this season. The valley has long attracted migratory birds from Siberia, China, Europe, Central Asia and even South America. The extra bird life in the area has also meant more birders are coming to view the spectacle. State authorities are scrambling to take advantage of an increase in tourism.

Read more about birding in Kashmir.

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Dry Rajasthan Means More Birds For Delhi

Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India received very little rain during the monsoon season this year. With the popular bird area virtually dry, migratory birds are expected to visit areas around India’s capital in larger numbers than usual. Read more in the New Kerala article More migratory birds to frequent Delhi this year.

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Decline In Vultures Causes Religious Controversy In Mumbai

Parsis, a religious minority group living in Mumbai, India, are facing a crisis. The group is suffering declining numbers worldwide: there are an estimated 130,000 left in the world, 43,000 of whom live in Mumbai. And now an important part of their religious faith is being questioned – the way they dispose of their dead. Their age-old tradition calls for corpses to be left as carrion for vultures. In Mumbai, corpses are brought to the Towers of Silence, but today they are left to rot as the vulture population on the subcontinent has been in decline for years. In Mumbai, vultures are virtually extinct, which means that the Parsi corpses are taking months to decompose as they are left out to the elements. Read more about the controversy at the BBC.

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