Showing posts from 2010

Sultanpur sanctuary, Haryana - A kingdom welcomes its sultans

Sultan in Hindi/ Urdu means a Prince and Pur is used to refer to a habitation/ village. Sultanpur, south-west of the NCR (National Capital Region), is the jewel of Haryana state's wildlife sanctuaries. This year's rains have broken records of the past few years resulting in nature blessing the wetland with the most precious of its bounties - water. The birds' kingdom is more than ready this year to welcome its winged princes & princesses. Above: A view of the seasonal jheel (wetland) in Sultanpur Park in August 2009
Here are some images from my recent and last year's visits to the place:
Breeding waterfowl on one of the islands in September 2010.
A flock of Comb Ducks in Sep 2010.

Boards like these help common man understand the different birds inhabiting or visiting this place. 

Haryana Tourism has its tourist complexes across the state named after birds. The one at Sultanpur is named after Rosy Pelican. 
The restaurant. The place is clean and food is good. 

A proud gra…

Available for free download 'Highlands of Central India'

Dear nature lovers,

The bio-geographic region Central Indian Highlands covers parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra states. This region is home to some of India's best known forests and tiger habitats like Pench and Kanha, among others. These forests are the catchment for some of India's well-known rivers like Narmada, Chambal and Tapti. The Maikal hills here bridge the Satpura and the Vindhya ranges. It is here that the natural teak (Tectona grandis) forests from southern Peninsular India give way to natural sal (Shorea robusta) forests that are predominant in north India.

One of the earliest books to detail the region's wildlife was'Highlands of Central India: Notes on their forests and wild tribes, natural history and sports.' It was penned by Captain J Forsyth of Bengal Staff Corps, who was the ACF (Asst Conservator of Forests) and acting CF of erstwhile Central Provinces. The book describes the region's various forests and their denizens - b…

For the love of mangoes

Engrained in childhood
For a vast majority of Indians, both urban and rural, mango is an integral part of their growing years. The fruit flowers in spring and is harvested in summer, which coincides with the summer holidays for kids  in India. These holidays for many kids in India are a time to break free from the bondage of formal schooling. A time to holiday with fellows from their mohallas, go to vegetable markets with their parents,  play (and fight) over sports like cricket as well as enjoy street side edibles.

For the nearly 80% of these who live in non-urban and semi-urban areas, it also means exploring nearby woods, throw stones to bring down fruits from avenue mango trees and for some (mis)adventurous souls, even stealing from some body else's orchard. Every year when the cold winds wane and the sun gets harsher above my head forcing me look for shadows, I feel a strong carving for mangoes. I guess they are engrained in the summer part of my body's annual biological c…

Birding (and wildlifing) with a spotting-scope

There are many amateur birders who use binoculars to pursue birding. Some of you might have also seen serious birders watching birds with spotting scopes.
The amount of light reflected by a subject to the eye, through the lenses of a scope, is far greater than the regular birding binoculars of, say,  8x40 dimension. This translates to far better visibility of a bird when seen through a scope, under comparable lighting. I personally feel seeing a bird with a spotting scope is the next level of experience in birding. I would never see a bird through binoculars, if I can see the same through my scope. 

With improved technology and production on a bigger scale,
a) the prices of optics like spotting scopes have gone south.
b) modern day spotting scopes are far lighter (mine weighs less than 2 kilos).
c) many recent scopes allow one to fix a pocket digital camera (or even DSLRs) to the scope's eye-piece. This converts the scope into a fixed focal length, long-range tele-lens. Although the…

Experiencing Kanha's first monsoon showers

The first monsoons are always special, more so if they happen in a wilderness. I experienced this year's first while travelling to Kanha National Park and Tiger Reserve, in mid-June. It so happened that we were the last to enter the park and all of the tourists we encountered were scurrying back to their resorts and leaving the park in a hurry to beat the rains. But we were there to enjoy the rains and it was a soul-stirring feeling. The dark monsoon clouds changed the shades of the skies and the earth from light to dark grey. The parched earth laughed with joy as it welcomed the rain drops. The animals looked undisturbed by the frequent lightening around. And only we were there to witness this and no one else around us for miles...
Below are some images (with captions) of this visit of mine, particularly of the first rains...

A date with rural Kathmandu

I visited Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, for the first time ever in early June, to attend a WWF workshop. We stayed at Godavari resort in rural Kathmandu. There were interesting things learnt at the workshop and experiences shared by fellow WWF folks from India, Nepal and Bhutan. The bonus was the sights and scenery of Himalayas from the resort, post the early monsoon rains while we were there. I particularly composed the following on the evening the workshop ended. "Workshop done. Sitting in the patio overlooking a small fertile valley. Looking at the farmer women and men making using of the monsoon rains. Gently sloping Himalayan foothills on the three sides. An old Nepali man in conversation with his wife to the backdrop of slow, soothing old Nepali and Hindi songs. Alternatively working on the notebook and sipping chai. Birds singing all around and cool air caressing face. The sun slowly travelling to another part of the world. Wish she was here too...Enjoying an evening a Satu…

Dhanaulti - A quaint, enchanting hill station in the Himalayan foothills

------------------------ ------------------------ ------------------------ May, 2010: Delhi has been terribly hot of late, as it usually does in summer. This mid-May there were a couple of days where the temperature crossed 48 degrees centigrade. I could find no better reasons to drive my wife and her siblings who were visiting us from Bangalore, up the Himalayas.
I had many options. Among the thoughts was to take a week off from work and drive up to Khardung La pass from Kulu-Manali and then into Ladakh. But work load and the fear of snow blocking the passes into Ladakh made me change my mind and hence the thought of driving up some where more near.

I had a long pending invitation from my friend Santhosh Gubbi, an IFS officer at Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun to visit him. I also had a long time desire to Mussoorie, which lies above Dehra Dun. When asked, my colleague Samir Sinha, an upright and experienced IFS officer of Uttarakhand cadre advised me to visit Dhanaulti as it w…