Sunday, August 7, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Until last month (June), the leopard sighting at Bandipur was on a high. Even my last few visits since April until end of June were excellent with leopard sightings. I and few friends were on our evening game drive at Bandipur; we had Basavanna one of the Senior Naturalist who was driving the commander jeep for us. We took the entry from reception and drove towards moor kere, this location has three water holes, hence the name referred to Moor Kere in Kannada.
The tigress (Gowri) and her 4 cubs have been spotted here on several occasions. I strongly believe that the cubs were born in this area, hence the family is often spotted here. We patiently waited for a while but no sign of the tigress nor her cubs, despite pug marks all over the place. It is quite obvious that the mother is very protective of her cubs, especially when her offspring's are very young. So chances of seeing them in open is never gonna be easy.
(Indian Bisons). During this time it started to drizzle a bit followed by heavy showers, I was keen in photographing the calf. However he was very shy, finally I managed to make a portrait of the calf. The time now was about 5pm, it had been over an hour in the forest and no cat sighting nor any warning calls. In such situation it always good to keep tking rounds near the water holes so we decided to drive towards daiyada katte. As we reached this spot few jeeps were waiting and we were told that they had just spotted a leopard who walked freely on the game track, scented marked his territory and then sneaked into the bushes. The excitement began, upon taking a closer look at the bushes we could spot the leopard, not so clear but he was partly visible. I wasn't sure what he was doing inside the bush, normally at dusk the cats like to free walk in the open or hunt. By now we all could see the leopard in the bush but couldn’t photograph. The leopard sensed our presence probably and moved further inside the dense area. Basavanna mentioned that the leopard may come to daiyada katte water hole so we moved ahead and waited there patiently. A couple of jeeps also joined us and waited but the leopard never made his appearance. After about 10-15 mins the three jeeps that were waiting with us lost their patience and drove away.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Have you seen or heard about Snakes Rituals? Snakes rituals are often mistaken by most of us for snake mating. In this story I am sharing images clearly demonstrating Rat Snakes performing their rituals at the best. Please bear with the low quality of images as I had to shoot under tough conditions of light, especially shooting against light is one of the greatest challenges. The people of Karnataka call the rat snakes as Kere Havu, while in Marathi it is Dhaman, Kerala it is Chera, and Cherai in Tamil.
I was put at Gorukana Resorot in BR Hills, We had just checked in our cottage when I received call from Jade Swamy, a Senior Naturalist. He mentioned to me that he spotted two snakes near the exit gate and mentioned that they were mating. I rushed to the spot with my camera.
Snakes are exciting to watch and equally dangerous if disturbed. Fortunately these were rat snakes that are non venomous, but their bite can be nasty. The snakes were in the open; however my position to shoot wasn’t that great I had to shoot against direct sun light at about 5pm. I had to fall flat on the ground, use my bag pack as the support for my lens and shoot. This position is important from a photographer’s point of view to get the best low level angle.
This snake ritual is nothing but a combat dance performed by males of the species. Though a friendly ritual with no over display of aggression, it is driven by instinct and used to define territory and defend mates. Its frequent and customary expression during the breeding season is proof of this encoded behavior.
The ritual was fascinating to watch and this went on for good 30 mins, until few soliga forest tribals were passing by and the snakes got disturbed and moved into the bushes. Another challenge to shoot the combat dance is the speed; the snakes stand tall and swirl swiftly with excellent synchronization of their movements. So getting the right focus becomes difficult.I always wanted to photograph snakes, especially my dream is to photograph the King Cobra, and I guess I am getting there sooner or later. The Rat snake is at times mistaken for a cobra and killed needlessly. It offers valuable service to the environment by keeping the balance of the ecosystem through its feeding on rats, frogs and insects in places where agriculture is the dominant activity. Though large and fierce looking, the rat snake is not a poisonous species.
As winter approaches, challenges are faced on various fronts due to fog, the flights invariably get delayed, driving on highways becomes tedious and for wildlife/bird photographers it is a mixed feeling and most of time we aren’t sure if mist and fog can be in our favor or against us.