Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Masinagudi - Where Harmony is a way of life

Masinagudi a quaint town receiving more than its fair share of tourists, some for the nature and some just for fun. Some responsible about nature and a few sadly with no knowledge about the importance and need for preserving this beautiful place. At a comfortable distance from Bangalore en route to Ooty, this place is sheer magic.
The summers however can be very warm but evenings pleasant. Winters feel like winters and the rains paint the town green.
This place, as beautiful as it may be also faces a huge battering in the form of rash motorists who ignore every rule as they speed to keep their date with their destinations.As a result he number of road kills are also high in this place, despite rules and closing of Forest check post gates.

The animals and birds however continue to keep their peace, taking their leisurely strolls on the roads or sometimes hurriedly scampering across, they have learnt to adapt, even if we have not, to live, to sustain and beautify their domain.

Simple things in life , a few bonds, friendships and togetherness, looking together not eye to eye, but in the same direction, someone to walk a few steps together with you in life, simple things in life speaks volumes.
   And so went on the interaction with a 'Mommmmmmy Helllpppppppp he is chewing on my finger' to 'don't bother me kids ... go play elsewhere,
My funky hairdo did not impress her,
All I want to do is sulk and stare.'
I wish I could state what else went on in their minds,
But well aware if I do so I'll be tagged in their kinds.
Kids at play in Masinagudi.
The little ones were fooling around, the older ones deep in gossip and preening each other. But this guy sat alone and sulking, oh those in between years.
So what if he was naughty, that's what kids are meant to be,
Sitting on a lone branch on this tree.
He sulked and grumbled.
There was no one to see,
Naughty is what kids are meant to be.
   An upside down world, but not to me,
The view from here is great to see,
The trees the barks the air fresh and free,
This my friend is the way to be.
Lead your life the way you see fit,
What others may think will not help you one bit.
This may be the prophecy to follow,
If only the others around me allow.
A piece of experimental processing to give the shining blue and brown bundle of feathers with the shiniest beak and the sharpest eyes, the respect it deserves.Standing patiently till an unsuspecting prey swims by and even as we start praying for the prey to make a quick entry, a swift splash, the drama is over even before it has begun. Back to the waiting again.
Patience is indeed a huge virtue and who else to teach it better then a bundle of bright blue and brown feathers.
   A long wait,
Unblinking eyes scan the road ahead,
It does not show any fear,
Just a stare,
A gaze probably for someone very dear.
We have been taught as kids to look before we cross the road and now the animals and birds seem to be instinctively learning this. Walking over the freshly tarred roads diverging through the forests, the brilliant greens striking up the most exotic contrast with subtle hints of browns and greens painting the background.
With an elegant step, she turned her graceful neck, a pause, a stance, she slowed and posed, her wide pretty eyes hinting a trace of anxiety and yet abundance of confidence. Her sisters crossed in a hurry, but she had her grace and charm and she did not hesitate to blow our minds away with it. The lady, the winner, born to model and not one to hesitate in stealing the show.

  A common bird, the Great tit, but this bird has managed to give me the nightmares. Strange as it may sound every single pic I've ever clicked of this little one has always managed to be stirred, shaken and blurred. Else it was on the dark side of the light or one tiny leaf or twig would always strategically came over the head. It was after an incredible penance that I managed to get this little 'common bird'.
Something about this little guy captured my heart, maybe the way he kept to himself, so silent and sure, confidently darting around and making quick meals of unsuspecting insects. A blink of an eye and he was gone, a blink of an eye and there he was again. Kind of reminded me of the strong silent types in the form of the Asian Brown Flycatcher. A personality to behold   

 Another commoner, male Brahminy Starling posing in the wet greens of an early morning dew, awaiting the arrival of its flock to gather around to start foraging again.
    The tiny yellow grey fellow sitting on a branch,
hiding his head in the shadows,
avoiding the sunlight's glance.

A glint in the eye caught just by chance
before he took off again to do the fanciful flycatcher's dance.
Gracefully darting around,
catching every insect he found,
before the tiny yellow grey fellow again settled on the branch.
The Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher.
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Photographs and work by Tharangini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

BR Hills Magic

A place so beautiful and so generous. She has always bestowed us with something so incredibly beautiful each time. She is the BR hills. Be it an abundance of bird sightings or Mammals running across, be it the gorgeous forest, draped in green and painted with reds, yellows and orange in between with the sweet gentle perfume of the many fragrant flowers and leaves seductively luring her many admirers again and again into her arms as the magical calls of the various birds flows like music into our ears.
At night she drapes herself in a diamond studded attire with the stars shooting across the sky and the gentle breeze caressing the souls of those who seek peace in her. Many salutations to one of the most beautiful forests I've visited.

An alert blue jewel, a call so teasing that you could fall in love with the caller, a glimpse so fleeting, that you cannot but thirst for more, a handsome stance, it was luck perchance that he happened to hop on a perch so fantastic, tail held up, ready to jump back into the shrubs he had appeared from, and yet graceful enough to favour the desperate eyes that had far longed to view him at such close proximity. Forever in love - Malabar Whistling thrush (Male) in BR Hills.
Paint me gold, Paint me bold,
The Blue rock thrush female, to the rays of the sun she told,
Her best step forward, her head turned to pose,
No longer drab, not even close.
The rays of the sun most obligingly
showered her with his golden rays so lovingly.
She sat she basked,
who is the prettier one, she asked...
The Blue rock thrush female sitting on the bark,
As the golden sun painted her pretty frock....
Many misses and just one hit as the Blue tailed Bee eaters happily splashed into the water. Were they fishing for insects or just cooling themselves off I do not know, but my temperature rose with their each successful dive and my each unsuccessful shot. Any more attempts and I would have felt like diving in after them. But this one shot gave the much needed respite. But then it also left me wondering about the number of times while we are behind the cam that we fail to truly enjoy the beauty of nature and carry the stress of getting the perfect shot all the time. A resolution for 2013 - it is ok to get bad shots as long as I do not lose out on the beauty of the moment unfolding in front of me at that very second.
A head from a branch, thoughtful and silent, not sure what thoughts floated around, the eyes refused to be a mirror to those thoughts, just left us guessing, the head from the tree, what did want to tell us....
I wish I could say more, but words do not seem to flow, it has been an overwhelming 2 days and no prizes for guessing the star of the show. The Indian Pitta so tiny and pretty, with its mere presence had us enraptured totally. Waited so long for a single glance, but this sighting was more than just perchance.
On a Stealth mode, the goal lay above as he crept up the tree, totally engrossed in his own destination to notice what a beautiful picture he painted with his violet blue colors against the greens of the forest.
The orange headed ground Thrush was a very valuable sighting for moments before the Indian Pitta arrived and after that it was but another bird. It is indeed strange as how we value and devalue birds so rapidly, depending on the arrival of the other birds. On the dry days even a Pied bush-chat or a Magpie Robin can be the king. Yet this one was kind and content, cooperative, quietly feeding in its own domain. I wonder if they are aware of the change in their status each moment....
Drowned in brown, the leaf seemed to move, hopping around all over the ground and then a pose, as he stood on the stone, the puff throated babbler did not seem so shy any more. He took just a minute to survey the scene, plenty of food available and he looked keen. Off he went drowned in brown. The leaf seemed to move all around..
The shy male Grey jungle fowl always made me wonder as to why the females seemed bolder pecking away at the tips of the grass, while the male shied away hiding his colorful crest behind the thickets. Got this guy outside in the open after a lot of patient waiting, giving up even breathing the fresh morning air of the forests in BR Hills, just to give him enough time to feel safe and comfortable in our presence. Though I do feel I could have still done better, but I guess with guys ... you just need to give them space and let them come to you... :)
The Pretty Girl was on her own, enjoying the quiet peace of the rising sun warming her back as she chewed on the juicy greens, it was but a morning snack.Her beauty glowed for all to see, she was as content as one can be. The pretty girl stood her ground as her grace and beauty shown all around.
They dashed across the road forcing us to stop suddenly and just as we thought they would disappear into the bushes, they sat down to give us a long and a hard stare almost as if contemplating if we would make a tasty meal. Their contemplation gave us the few precious moments to click before they decided against unhealthy food in the form of humans and went their way. their parents had sure brought them up well. The other guy sat a little further away and could not fit into the screen.
These are but a few images from what the heavenly forest had to offer us. There are more to come even as I wish to catch a glimpse of her in various seasons as they change her attire as per their speciality along with which the behaviour of each of her inmates vary.
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Photographs and work by Tharangini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Nilam's Blessings - A trip to Chikmagalur

Disguised as 'Nilam' the cyclone, a blessing followed us all the way to Muthodi and Chikamagalur. As we stuck our heads out of the car and gazed up at the dark grey clouds that seemed to stretch forever and silently giving up all hopes of any photography whatsoever, we kept going in the torrential rain but as we turned towards Muthodi, we could barely breath, our jaws hung open at the sheer beauty of the forest soaked to the last leaf, adorned with the shimmering pearls of water droplets and nothing else but the sound of the water gushing somewhere underneath to keep us company, made the scene almost like one out of some fantasy movie. The sighting of a chestnut headed bee eater, a lifer, raised our excitement, but after that the birds seemed to have hidden themselves in the comfort of their cosy hideaways and we spotted nothing.
Reaching our destination late afternoon with nothing to do other than watching and listening to the rain from the wet porch as the leech found their way between our toes to make a hearty meal, we wondered if this is how we had to spend the next four days. But then each time the rains subsided the jewels began to shine.

The rain subsided, the chaos took over and we did not have to look far.
One of the many jewels from Muthodi,the Ruby throated Bulbuls seemed to be everywhere,as they danced around without a care.
A bane to some but a boon to many, the Nilam that wrecked havoc, brought out the food in plenty.
We stood there with unbelieving eyes,
The reds and yellows, a pleasant surprise,
From the curtains of rains they were freed,
They came in flocks, they came to feed.
Circumstances made us shift to Chikmagalur. Unsure of what to expect we reached at 9pm in pitch darkness and an eerie silence. The place was new and every hanging root of bamboo managed to create a shape that made sure we would not forget it in a long while. The darkness held us in awe and the silence made us aware of our own breathing. Losing network often was not too helpful in finding the place as we had to backtrack to call again and again. We were again blessed as a good samartian saw our plight and rode ahead of us till our rooms were in sight.
The next morning however we saw everything in a whole new light, no sunshine, but such a grand show by so many birds. The rains had ensured that the insects were in plenty at low levels. The party had begun, the birds having fun. A word from the wise, always look for the blessing in disguise.
The tapestry draped over the canopy,
The blues and the greens flowing gracefully,
Grand laces and satins incomparable to this grand beauty,
He took off, a flash of brown ,
streaking across the canopy's gown,
With immense grace, he set his pace...
Slipping and sliding, cautiously I stepped out, the mud on the road making a rich creamy paste. I was not sure whether to look for birds or save myself from the numerous leech who jumped onto me as if I was a King's platter. He sat there bemused with an almost smiling look, as if I was out there to entertain him. Stand still you silly girl, then you may possibly get a shot of me. I did as he said and finally got a shot of this bird. The blue capped rock thrush.
Glossy black blue feathers and a streaming tail,
mimicking calls and flight so agile, that we managed to just get a glimpse of the tail feathers disappearing through the thickets each time. But the tasty insects were too much to resist,
from flying back and forth for a few moments, he did desist
We got our shots and he took off
impressing us without fail.
There is something about the Scarlet Minivet Female that always amazes me. She is just that, a perfect female, so docile and charming and her eyes seemed to be lined with kajal so exquisitely, that any male even with all his flaming red feathers cannot but fall for this princess.
And then the male, chest held high, face flushed with pride, reds on blacks sat and posed. It had stopped raining but now it was raining minivets. They were everywhere, zipping across, so much to do, so little time, have to get busy before the next rain.
It was so fascinating to watch this little guy, so calm, content and peaceful in his own world, foraging the slushy mud with a quiet calmness,unperturbed by the lenses pointed towards him as he went about his business. We went on to make doubly sure that we do not move a muscle as this guy wandered close had his fill and went his way. Being alone does not mean being lonely and that is the lesson I learnt from this content Little Ringed Plover as the evening sun bathed him in its golden light.
The spot Billed ducks making their flight
As the fading light
made way to another beautiful night
Flying tandem, yellow, blue and green splashing across the sky
A roost to reach before the stars shone high
It would not be long before darkness descended on the blue waters blanketing it in the cool breeze as heads would curl up in the cosy warmth of the feathers and tired eyes welcoming the long awaited rest.
The last 2 images came from a subsequent trip to Chikamagalur as we chanced upon a water body that was a haven to this and a lot more birds, most of which continue to roost in my hard disk and I am hoping a breeding program does not crop up there. If it does a lot more pictures will be added to this blog very soon.
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Photographs and work by Tharangini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Ruins Call...

A trip to hampi had long been in the to do list, waiting and fermenting. The dream was to photograph Hampi during the rains, the heat being replaced by the cooling showers, the dust making way for the lush greens. But as monsoon came and went barely making an impact even in the rain blessed areas, and drought looming large both with the absence of leaves from work and absence of the rains I could feel my dreams floating away with the monsoon clouds.
After a couple of cancelled attempts we decided to hang on to the last straw available in the form of a long weekend early October and headed towards Hampi. Fortune does favour the brave, the patient and I guess in this case 'the desperate' with sudden rains following us all the way to Hampi from Bangalore.
A frozen moment,
a moment to be proud,
I was not sure I would be able to do it,
As they flew around in patterns crazy,
while I awaited in anticipated frenzy,
But the moment did happen,
In a shutter's click the tern was frozen..
a moment that makes me glad to be for now in the photography world,
whatever the future may hold....
The sprinkling of the raindrops on the sunshine's yellow,
The gentle petals and a mood so mellow,
the calm and peace,
Of the gentle breeze,
Makes me want to traverse those roads again,
watch the sunflowers shine,
Feel the wind on my face,
Those are the days...
The days I travel...
are forever the best....
Blessed by the sudden rains, the dry hot Hampi was almost unrecognizable as the new lives and greens
sprouted with happiness, drinking in, quenching the thirst and feeling the weather soak in through every pore.
Food was in abundance and so were the smiles, life moved at a leisurely pace, a drenched Hampi and magic
all over the place.
In the realm of two in one, a slightly mysterious image for my friends, just for fun.
They took off at the same time, one was a predator and the other a very brave one.
Let me know dear friends can you decipher this image.
And then the wings flashed open and one flew after another,
of talons, wide spread wings and all the feather,
the chase , the craze and the mad escape,
A crazy game they played,
Into the Eagle owl's territory,
The dove had strayed...
A flash of Red zipping around,
Picking twigs and bits from the ground.
As he sat and glanced behind,
His confident gaze and absolute non-chalance
did create a deep impact on our minds.
And then as we waited with bated breath, would they grace us with their presence today? Never having had the
opportunity to witness such a spectacle before, anything would have been a blessing. But then as this majestic
persona walked on to the stage, emerging from the greens like a black pearl with all the grace, we almost clapped
our hands and shouted with glee, but we chose to celebrate with every single cam clicking away at a non stop
speed. And then came another, one came with his brother, there were cubs with their mother... all in all it was an
evening to remember...
& then there were two.....
The stage was set,
and the entrance she made was the best,
with her cubs in tow,
as she surveyed the rocks below.
Safe it did seem to her,
though the wait seemed to go on forever,
Slowly, gently with the grace of a queen,
She climbed down the rocks and ruins,
The entrance was made,
Dear queen take a bow,
An amazing lady with her cubs in tow.
Each in his own world, busy, minding their own business, a silent communication they shared, together and yet
apart. As they wandered in so they wandered out, a routine almost as clockwork as can be, but so endearingly
charming as they came for their daily dose of something appetising.
it is still indeed an incredible feeling that just gushes through you as the bears march in one after another and I
do not know if it was our luck or a regular scene as we were graced with the presence on not just one or two,
but eight of them that just ambled in. After making Gbs and Gbs of shots and deleting an equal amount, I am
trying to share just a few special shots..
All in all it is just another brick in the wall,
The stones maketh way for a tiny fur-ball,
Gazing out and beyond with unblinking eyes,
The silent spectator, as the day flies.
The dusk brings out the lives,
But as the day dawns, this fur-ball,
blends in to just another brick in the wall.
The wall that may have protected the empires centuries ago, feeds the Hoopoe
now. It goes about its duties tirelessly as we continue to gaze upon what was
once inside of those walls and what is now on the outside. Do we ever glance
upon the wall itself as it stands there silently watching the generations and
generations of both mankind, birds and animals that have gone by. A tribute to
the silent wall, the source of life to so many and the protector of life of the empires
that have stood there. Hoopoe feeding at a heritage site in Hampi. Next time you
are there feel the rocks with your hands. Feel the vibration, trust me...
they do speak to you... all you have to do is listen.
The voice echoed all around and glancing back we noticed this one calling out in the most melancholy way
probably searching for his mate amongst the ruins. the rocks did not answer back and he kept on his efforts
tirelessly perched high on the ruins. Here is hoping his plaintive calls were well received.
The tail of the stones piled one above the other and yet she stands taller.
The look in her eye made me wonder, was it sadness or the look of a mother,
contemplating the strangers around her.
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Photographs and work by Tharangini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.