When your son brings home a…

My son rushed back home from play a few evenings back carefully pinching a butterfly in his hands. The butterfly seemed unhurt and I had to oblige him with a photoshoot. We carefully laid the butterfly in our light box with a few sugar crystals to keep it occupied. I quickly took the camera out and got to work.

Turns out it was a pea blue butter fly – Lampides boeticus. It’s a pretty little butterfly, especially when you look at the upper part of its wings (it’s bluish in collar – that’s what gives the butterfly its name). Unfortunately, it never opened up and I could not get a shot. It posed for a couple of minutes before flying away.

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Purple Sunbird

I realise I have to be very careful in identifying this bird. Especially the female. The males are fairly easy to distinguish especially in their eclipse plumage (as in the picture below) but the females look remarkably close to other sunbirds.

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I’ve been pretty lucky with this bird though – they are fairly common in most parts of India and I’ve spotted them in the lush green jungles around Bandipur as well as in the drier areas of Gujarat. It’s a small sized bird and doesn’t  seem to be very shy of humans. They let you get pretty close if you approach cautiously. And since they are always found near nectaring plants, it’s almost always easy to get a very colourful picture. These pictures were made on the western coast of Gujarat on the Gulf of Kutch.

This one is the female foraging in the same area. Fun fact – they are monogamous!

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Little Heron

When you’ve been birding for a few years, most of the birds you spot on a trip are repeat sightings. As the years pile on, spotting something new becomes more and more rare. And when you do spot something for the first time, even for a seasoned birder, the experience becomes unforgettable. Invariably, these are the experiences every naturalist looks forward to.

I had such an encounter during my last trip to Nalsarovar – a huge water reserve of about 120 sqkms, just outside Ahmedabad. I was on a canoe in one of the many small canals around the lake when I saw him come out of the shadows. My first impression was that it was a Bittern. This got me excited – Bitterns are not very easy to spot. But as I focused my lens on him, I quickly figured this was a bird I had never seen before.

Very stealthy, very shy and beautifully camouflaged, this one is called a Little Heron.

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