Friday, November 30, 2012

Birds and a Bug - Siliguri 2009

I took these years ago in Siliguri, West Bengal. Didn't go birding or anything. Some shoot from the hip. Me, I just shoot from the balcony. :)

  The Asian Pied Starling or Pied Myna
The Jungle Babbler
A garden bug, whose identity I do not know... do you?

I was able to identify the two birds thanks to the folks on BirdForum.netBird Forum. Really neat site, only thing is the gallery is viewable after registering. Which is not a biggie is a bird lover.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Comedy Central: A valid point

My five year old exits the elevator in an up-market mall. Something catches his eye and dashes towards it.
Mom: You can't go in there!

Boy: Why? It's all red in colour. I like it. I want to go in.

Mom: No. This is Comedy Central. It's very people tell jokes and make visitors laugh.

Boy: I want to go in.

Mom: But it is only for big people...

Boy: Why? Only big people laugh?

Mom rolls eyes. Girls standing outside the Comedy Central entrance start giggling.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Like kites? Then look at this moon moth

Indonesian Moon Moth?
This is one crazy-looking moon moth. My father-in-law (FiL) came across this guy in the school he is headmaster at. This was probably 3 years ago and at that time, all he had on him was his Nokia phone, so the captures are not crystal clear.

Even then, this moth is striking in appearance, with its kite-like wing span and long, tapering tail. The tail-end looks like a twisted tassel, something you would come across in flower petals.

The antennae is not very clear but they are long and brush-like, typical of any moth. My FiL excitedly mailed the pictures to me and I in turn posted them on Unfortunately, no one was able to identify him. The people on the forum are pros and veteran nature photographers. After a lot of googling, I came across similar moths – moon moths. Not much is written about moon moths on Wikipedia, except for their classification in the insect kingdom.

Like a hang glider...
At the time of writing this post, I tried searching again and I came across a picture of the Indonesian Moon Moth. This looks strikingly similar to the one my FiL found in his school office. I do remember visiting this website earlier but never did come across the Actias Maenas, which is the scientific name of the Indonesian Moon Moth. Well, I am glad I did now. The identification mystery is finally solved, I think. But I don't understand how this fellow ended up in Siliguri, West Bengal, India. There must be sub-species or a migratory route it follows. I mean, the Indonesian Moon Moth's habitat is listed as tropical rainforest. This one was sighted on the outskirts of Siliguri, which is a town at the base of the Himalayas and serves as a trade corridor the north-east. Now I am not sure whether the forest area is tropical or not, I am no expert on that but it does not add up. Lost or not, this guy made for some eventful e-mailing, Googling and forum posting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Parrots: House hunting?

Paying a friendly breakfast visit?

This morning I happened to take a train from Grant Road Station, Mumbai and walk down to the Post Office for some work. On my way back, I came across these two parrots looking into a hollow on this (Gulmohar?) tree. All I had with me was my phone cam, so the pictures are really not that good. As soon as I took pictures and walked on, one of the parrots shrieked loudly, flew off and to my amazement a third one popped its head out of the hollow! I'd like to think this was a breakfast meet up.
...or scoping for a new home?

In reality, these two must have been scouting for a new home and got startled by the resident. Anyway, when I checked these pictures out, I realised that these are not rose-ringed parakeets. I assumed they were because you usually see the Alexandrine parrots in the suburbs. It was my oversight that I didn't bother to notice what type they were before impatiently (and hurriedly) taking a picture.

So, it turns out, if one looks very carefully at the poor quality captures, one will notice reddish patches (smudges, in this case) on their shoulders. That means they are Alexandrine parakeets – an 'introduced' species of parrots in Mumbai. Yep, I had read somewhere that unlike the rose-ringed ones, these guys are not native.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Asian Palm Swift: Mumbai

While taking a tea break with colleagues, I spotted some swifts swirling madly about at a distance. Now, we had with us a megazoom camera, a Canon Powershot SX40 HS and I knew that even with this cam it would be difficult to capture such an active bird. Initially, I took this to be the house swift or the Little Swift. But when we looked at the photograph I managed to take – which I must say was a lucky one because after this shot, I was unable to grab another still of the birds, they were just too fast – I realised that the swift was probably not a House Swift/Little Swift. I have only seen the House Swift, first hand, in the suburbs and South Mumbai.

Asian Palm Swift
This is a  crop of the original image, where the chap looked like a speck in a blue expanse. Laughable, I know. All you can see is the profile – which is good enough for a super amateur like me. Anyway, after some Wiki-ing, I think this might be the Asian Palm Swift. Let me know if any of you think otherwise.


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