Saturday, 31 January 2015

My First Indiblogger Meet.

It's been almost an year since I started blogging at Indiblogger. A unique platform where one can flaunt their blogs royally.

I got a mail from Indiblogger with a special invite few days back. With all curiousness I selected the link which took me to a fresh page with a label---"Asus Indiblogger Meet 2015--Bangalore". I was excited: "Wow, that'd be my first ever Indiblogger meet and what a coincidence, it's happening in namma bengaluru.!!" I registered immediately, which was not too difficult. Well, least that I knew about this event my mind wandered with many thoughts: "you dont know anyone what will you do there..? what if things dont work as you expect" etc etc. With all these confusions I wrote a mail to my blogger friend who apparently had been to such events earlier.
"Dont think twice, just GO" he replied. That was a relief, I then waited for the agenda which was displayed couple of days later.

Clearly, Asus sponsored this meet. GoSleekAsusExperience was the main agenda of this blogger meet. As this was my first meet I did not bother about the agenda, I wanted to feel it. So, I started counting days to be a part of this meet.

With neutral expectations, lot of hopes to meet new friends I reached the venue, ITC Gardenia. Enthusiasts had gathered already. There were hardly any known faces to me. Though I felt weird at start, I got engaged with couple of newbies who made feel comfortable. Interacting with different bloggers from different genre I felt so fresh. I exchanged their blog URLs, shared mine too.!
Then started the fest, first item from the agenda. A rock band..!! rocking indeed.

Indiblogger meet-2015

We moved on to the next agenda which to me was very important. Anoop the host asked the participants to interact with each other and get a personal thing from them. It was a nice initiative as most of them were new faces. I had a great time speaking to fellow bloggers, getting to know about their interests and sharing my work with them. 
Anoop handed over few gift vouchers to few of them who got maximum souvenirs. :-D 

Asus Product Manager speaks. 

Now we came to the main agenda: Asus product manager disclosed the characteristics of their new gadgets. Pretty interesting stuffs, Asus AIO PC 2040 and Asus Eeebook x205. 
Asus AIO PC 2040 is an integrated machine and has gesture control system. Personally I felt touch would have been more convenient. Gesture control had predefined commands and requires app to be installed. However, it was a nice comp.
Asus Eeebook on the other hand is extremely light and compact. I loved its thin feature, very handy. 

We were left with an hour now. The host made few teams amongst us and gave an activity to depict how important is blogging. 
I was associated to an enthusiastic team which had about 15 members. This small activity brought us even closer. We discussed about it, arrived at a plan and displayed it to the audience. It was nice.!
I liked every skit which was performed by the participants. They were creative. People tend to think more when they are in a group.

Due to time constraint organizers decided to announce the winners through email. With a big grin on our face for a group photo, we then headed towards the dining hall. Hot food was waiting for us. It was delicious. 

The Dinner.
What a wonderful evening.!! I enjoyed it thoroughly. A big thanks to Indiblogger for hosting such a lively party. These kind of events bring fellow bloggers from different part of the country on a same platform. I wish Indiblogger all the best for all their upcoming events and venture. 

Looking forward to next Indiblogger meet..! Cheers to all bloggers who were a part of this meet. Let's keep in touch. Happy blogging..!!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Let's be "Friends of Elephants".

I happened to see a poster on facebook about a photography competition conducted by "Friends of Elephants" in association with "Darter Photography" and "Namma Metro". Theme of the contest was "Elephants and their forests". I hope the agenda of this event was to bring awareness about Gentle Giants. Each participant could submit up to 5 images. 

According to the guidelines only 50 unique photographs of elephants will be selected, subsequently those photographs would be displayed to public @ Rangoli Art Gallery, MG Road, Bangalore on 25th Jan 2015. The jury would then pick 3 best photographs out of 50 to declare the winners. Last day to submit the photographs was 19th Jan 2015. Hence, my submission had to be good. I then started digging my collections. 

The year 2014 gave me an opportunity to travel to many places, that included several visits to Nagarahole National Park. Every time I passed through this range, I had a sure shot sighting of elephants. So, with plenty of elephant photographs now my task was to find an outstanding one and I succeeded with it. I sent a mail to the organizers with my 5 best images, hoping that least one would get shortlisted. 

The Prize catch.
The Hoarding.
I got a mail from organizers that above image of mine was shortlisted and would be displayed during the exhibition. Thrilled..!! this was my first ever experience, couldn't asked for more. :-)
I was insanely nervous and kept wondering if someone would contact me about the actual schedule. 

One Mr. Surendra Varma rang my inbox. His formal introduction via email impressed me. Basically a research scientist from IISC, Bangalore; he has been working on Elephant science for over 2 decades, a remarkable achievement. Along with like minded companions he formed an informal group called "Friends of Elephants" who focus on everything related to elephants. The newsletter attached with his email had plenty of information about ongoing works towards conservation of elephants. An event schedule was also attached. First half of the day was dedicated to photo exhibition, second half of the day was for presentations. With these information I eagerly waited for the event day. 

25th Jan 2015: Me and my wife walked along MG road anxiously. We could see people had gathered at the venue. All the shortlisted photographs were printed and displayed to public. I could see the response from public was good. People started appreciating each one's photo. 
I was not surprised to see Mr. Karthikeyan S, chief naturalist of Jungle Lodges and Resorts. He ought to be there as this was related to his field.

Apart from eye catching photographs, what caught my attention was a big flex wall where kids and others were pasting few postcards. It was called "Bio Diversity Wall". A creative idea to bring people close to nature.
So, after couple hours of interactions with wonderful people, it was time for me to head back home. I saw Mr.Varma was indulged in discussions with many others due to which I didnt get a chance for a formal introduction. Finally, he made sometime for me :-). 
I showed my photograph to him, he enjoyed it. With his experience he explained the nature of mother and calf through that photograph. Now that's called photography for research activities.

Evening events included an awesome documentary about Khaziranga tiger sanctuary directed by Sandesh Kadur. Further, a small presentation from Mr.Shankar was very informative. He brought us to the world of flora. 

Later, a wonderful insight to elephant's habitat and behavior was given by Mr. Ajay Desai. Having thorough knowledge about asiatic elephants his experience revealed many interesting stuffs. It was a treat and a perfect way to end the event. 

I thank each of them who were responsible to make this event a grand success. It's because of pure dedication these unique programs are successful . I wish Friends of Elephants all the best for their upcoming ventures. 

Few photos on Flickr:

Friday, 23 January 2015

HSBC--Bangalore Bird Race 2015

I had to skip Dandeli-Yellapur and Nandi bird reports to complete this. Like many others I was a first timer to this event. This event is organized by HSBC in the month of January, every year. A group of 5 members should identify as many bird species as possible between 0530 hours to 1800 hours. At end of the day the bird report will be submitted to the coordinators who will announce the winner. 
Well, although the team names were just for formality, Deepa Mohan accumulated a bunch of birders, the count was 38..!! It was a great congregation of local birders. It was an awesome gathering !! I met so many like minded people. The predefined route was JP Nagar >> Bannerghatta circle >> Gulakamale Lake >> The Valley School area, Kanakapura road >> Bannerghatta zoo area. 

Small Blue Kingfisher @ Gulakamale Lake.
Ashy Crowned Sparrow-Lark @ Gulakamale Lake.
I started jotting down my findings like any others during the trail. I took the photographs of specie which I found was interesting and co-operating. Gulakamale Lake was a bumper hit. Lifers for me at this location were Red Munia, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier, Yellow bittern (flight), grey francolins. After a short breakfast session, we continued our expedition towards infamous Valley school, today we got a chance to get inside the school campus; courtesy Deepa Mohan.

""Pale" Billed Flowerpecker @ Valley School Entrance.

With a cherry fruit.
We entered school arena. It's a paradise for birders. I found better bird activity inside the school campus compared to the outside trail. Scrub forest offered us good entertainment.

OOH's AAH's ABBA's and many other adjectives came out from our mouth when we found colorful and elusive birds. People who missed the shots cursed themselves with AYYAYYO, Darn it ! etc.

Verditer Flycatcher @ Valley School arena.
We then came across a bridge, beneath was a dry patch. Couple of White Spotted Fantails were dancing. Their hops pleased everyone of us.! Am sure rookie photographers would have got amazing fantail shots.

White Spotted  Fantail Flycatcher.
Display of "FAN".
Now it was time for us head towards last but very important birding zone, Bannerghatta zoo area. I was anxious to pass through Flycatcher Avenue & Kingfisher Pond, named by Deepa Mohan.
Flycatcher avenue is where you'd find beautiful flycatchers. The show started with a Blue-Bearded bee eater, uncommon in this area.

Blue Bearded bee eater.
Little that we had traversed, the show of flycatchers started. Almost all of them were lifer to me. First one to show up was Asian Brown Flycatcher. It's typical dive made me stand still for sometime. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Asian Brown Flycatcher.
Another Look.
"Ultramarine Flycatcher !!"..the group found it. A small active bird was on a tree top, absolutely not bothered about what's going-on below. Obviously not knowing how important it was to us. With it's cool blue colored body it hopped from one branch to another. I could'nt catch it through the lens but I have its portrait within me.
Moving on, the bold one turned up and posed nicely.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.
Next lifer was a Black Naped Blue Monarch. It was bit shy, refused to pose.
Though I missed to take a shot of Rufous Asian Paradise Flycatcher at the start, I was fortunate enough to get it at the end. I can't explain in words how it danced in front of us. Magical Moment..!

Rufous APFC.
Love this image. Long tail on 2 twigs.
More action at Kingfisher's pond. A pied Kingfisher was waiting for a chance to fill it's belly. It dived into the water hole to get a fish.

Faint image of a Pied Kingfisher.
I observed co-existence between 2 opposite species. A grey heron was standing very near to a marsh crocodile. Just as experts say "Predators attack others only when they are hungry", so true.

Grey Heron, Marsh crocodile.
At the exit gate we found couple of black capped night heron fishing inside a croc's pond. Also many caged birds and animals.

Black Capped Night Heron.
So, I was under team-Black Stork with Deepa Mohan as lead. The total specie count from our team was 134. An unbeatable count, probably.
We then departed to Infantry hotel where our findings were to be submitted. Further, an interaction with  Mr. Sudhir Shivram, a small presentation about Leopard and its habitat from Mr. Sanjay Gubbi and a short but effective speech by Dr. M B Krishna was an icing on cake.

The day started at 0530 hours and ended at 2200 hours, every minute was special. I'd like to thank all the birding enthusiasts. It was an amazing social gathering.
For me it was definitely not about specie count, it was more of knowledge transfer from the experts.

Ebird report :

Event: HSBC Bangalore Bird Race--18 Jan 2015.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Pelican's Paradise !!

Indeed, it was a paradise of Spot-Billed Pelicans. The location--Madiwala Lake, Bengaluru. Though I pass through this lake to my work place, I never had been inside the park premises to do a bird count. I should thank my cab driver who repeatedly asked me to visit the lake. He also told me about boating. Finally, me and my friends visited this lake and were astonished.

With few inputs about boating and park entry from a fellow birder, we reached the lake by 830 AM hoping to get into boats. This lake is being maintained by forest department. 
The boating counter was opened by 10 AM, though it was put up that it starts from 9 AM. They are so damn punctual..!!

Left side of the park is clean, the guards were cleaning the plastic trash. However, the right side of the park was filthy, mainly because of fishing. The lake water was obviously polluted, I could see dead fishes near to shore. Many were using traditional techniques to fish. 

We took the tickets and hopped into a paddle boat. Thus began an awesome waterfowl expedition.

Spot Billed Pelican--Juv
Boating at Madiwala lake is worth every penny. Pelicans were friendly, they were so close to our boat. We did not bother them at all. They showcased themselves as we clicked continuously.

Spot Billed Pelican.
Pelicans Roosting.
The Flight.
A juv pelican follows a sub-adult.
Pelicans head count had come down when we went to the lake, there were about 80. Apparently the count was about 180 at the start of the season, mainly breeding. Adult pelicans were teaching the young ones how to wade through the still water and find food.

Spot Billed Pelican.
Pelicans are mighty birds. With broad wing span and a spotty long bill, they have a distinguished way to catch fish. 

An Elegant look.
Apart from pelicans, we saw plenty of other aquatic birds. Everything was up-close. It was very nice to see them preening, feeding young ones, wading through silent water, flying here and there.

Black Capped Night Heron.
Oriental Darter.
Darter roosting.
Gray Heron.
Gray Heron.
Little Cormorant.
Greater Cormorant.
Painted Stork.
Purple Heron.
Brahminy Kite.
Location: Madiwala Lake can be easily located. It is near to BTM layout, before Central Silk Board.
Park Timings: 630 AM to 11 AM, 4 PM to 6 PM.
Boating: 9 AM, 4 PM.
Entrance ticket: 10 /-, Photography: 100/-. Parking available inside.
Best time to visit: Post Monsoon.
What to expect: Pelicans, Herons, Storks, Kingfishers.
Few stuffs that might embarrass you: Plenty of trash to the right side of the lake. Couples interaction inside the park. Annoying sounds made by paddles while boating.
Good things: Nursery area is maintained pretty well. Afforestation to the extreme right side of the lake. Kid's play area inside the park. Trash bins are provided inside park premises.

Ebird checklist:

Friday, 2 January 2015

"Weavers" of Hesarghatta Grasslands.

It was early winter when I paid a visit to Hesarghatta Grasslands, hoping to see Euraisan Roller. Water level was good. The show started with Indian Silverbill and a White Throated Kingfisher. 

Indian Silverbill---Dons a pose.
Another one.
White Throated Kingfisher.
Mist started clearing as the sunshine got brighter. Bird activity got brighter too. Brahminy kites and black kites soared on top of the lake looking for food.

Purple Rumped Sunbird--Eclipse plumage.
Green bee Eater with a Drangonfly catch.
Brown Shrike.
Javan Munia.
After spending sometime near the lake, I went to the grasslands in search of Eurasian Roller. I was unlucky to find it. But, there were plenty of Weaver action. Each tree had least of 10 abandoned nests, and the munias were trying to conquer them.!

Baya Weaver--Male.
With plenty of nests all around and the sun getting hotter I observed too many birds coming out. I was surprised to see Bulbuls investigating the abandoned nests.

Ziting cisticola.
White Browed Bulbul.
Black Headed Cuckoo Shrike---A lifer !
A beauty just flew in, a black headed cuckoo shrike..probably a record shot.! Without any calls or sounds it went inside the thick bush. This bird led me to duo--silent killers.

Spotted Owlets--Duo
I was fascinated about these nocturnal birds. They were watching me quietly from a distance, camouflaged perfectly.! Big eyes attracted me.

Spotted Owlet.
"Goobe Kannu"
Common Hoopoe.