Saturday, December 31, 2011

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

I visited Vedanthangal bird sanctuary on 28th December 2011 a day before cyclone Thane brushed Chennai. Vedanthangal bird sanctuary located approximately 80 km from Chennai. In a big tank/pond with trees up to 30'000 birds nest here. The two square kilometer of open water are surrounded by paddyfields. Vedanthangal sanctuary serves as a nesting home for many species of water birds. Egrets, Grey Heron, Open-billed Stork, Darter, Spoonbill, White Ibis, Night Herons, Grey Pelican, Pintail ducks and Cormorants are some of the breeding birds that visit the sanctuary. Breeding season starts in October and ends in March. Best time is December and January.

A small entrance fee has to be paid (Rs.5, Rs. 25 for camera and Rs150 for video camera) to enter the sanctuary. Good place to shoot birds and you can rent binoculars in the shops near the entrance. Its a beauty to watch these birds fly around .........

Some of the birds identified by me are:

Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) 
 Painted Storks are large and colourful birds found in South India.



Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
 Black-crowned night herons are very aggressive and steal eggs and young of other heron colonies. 

Asian Openbill Stork (Anastomus oscitans)

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Grey Herons have long necks and powerful bills for a long and strong reach. They usually wait on the mud or at the water's edge to snatch passing aquatic prey. 


Spot-billed Pelican or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)

Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii)

Eurasian Spoonbill or Common Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Black-headed Ibis or Oriental White Ibis (Threskiornis melanocephalus)

White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)


 Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger)


Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) Indian treepie

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kinabatangan River Sabah

The Kinabatangan River is located in Sabah, on the island of Borneo.  This is one of few large rivers in tropical Asia where riparian forests still exist. The river flows for 560 kilometres (347 miles) through eastern Sabah to the Sulu Sea. The lower Kinabatangan is one of the best area for viewing wildlife animal and plant life. Kinabatangan River has such an abundance of jungle creatures at the river’s edge due to the huge amount of logging of the rainforest.

I visited Kinabatangan in October 2011, I was totally amazed on how there was so much animals available in just one small area. I stayed in Kinabatangan nature lodge which is located in Kampung Bilit. They  charters 5.30am morning cruise and 4pm evening cruise which last for around 2 hours. With the help of our guide we could able to spot lot of interesting animals and birds. It was misty in the morning so it was difficult to get sharp photos as I need to shoot using high ISO setting and also my zoom lens not enough to get a close shot. I think we need minimum 400mm lens to capture the birds.

The Kinabatangan River harbours a diverse concentration of wildlife and is one of two places on the planet where ten primate species cohabitate. These are the Tarsier, Slow Loris, Pig-tailed Macaques, Long-tailed Macaques, Proboscis Monkey, Silvered Langur, Maroon Langur, Grey Langur, Bornean Gibbon, and Orang Utan. We saw plenty of proboscis monkey and long tailed macaue here. The proboscis monkey is found only on the island of Borneo.  

Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus)

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis)

Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina

Silvery lutung (Trachypithecus cristatus) or Leave monkey,

Orang Utan (Pongo pygmaeus)
Finally able to see Orang Utan in wild but it was really far away from our view.

This river is a birds paradise; there are over 250 species of colourful tropical birds the Bornean Bristlehead, Purple Heron, the endangered Storm’s Stork, Blue Banded Kingfisher, and all eight species of Hornbills can be spotted. Commonly seen drying their outstretched wings in the sun is the Oriental Darter, that is an endangered water bird extinct elsewhere in Malaysia.

Wallace's Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus nanus)

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

 Rhinoceros Hornbill (buceros rhinoceros)

Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)

Oriental darter

Stork-Billed Kingfisher

  Collared Kingfisher

Blue Throated Bee Eater (Merops viridis)

Pacific Sparrow



Monitor lizard on a tree



Pleanty of leeches around the lodge, narrowly escaped from leech bite as one was found on my pant and I have to use mossy spray clear it.

The night trip was amazing and we saw kingfishers, some spiders and owl. But sad as we could not see the pygmy elephants.

It was a great experience to see all these animals in the wild but it was sad to see the deforestation happening right in front of you. Kinabatangan river is disappearing before our very eyes? Hope this spectacular kinabatangan forest stays intact for the next generation to see as most of the land is been destroyed for the oil palm plantation. Hope the government acts soon before it is completely destroyed.

Voice of the Forest

Earth Song