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19 December 2005 @ 01:30 pm
In search of the Cisticola ...  
About a month ago we went all the way to the Kemmangundi area of the Bhadra wildlife sanctuary in search of one little bird. The Bright-headed Cisticola is not really an attractive bird to many - it's small, brown, with black streaks and skulks in deep grass looking for insects and not even easy to see. However, it's not common and with a very restricted range, there aren't many who have good photographs of this one, and that's enough inspiration to go and get a nice photograph.

There aren't too many places to stay close to Kemmangundi, but the last time I was driving in that area I had noticed a signpost to a place called Nature Nirvana. We didn't know what it was then, but while planning this trip I did a quick search on the web and found out that it is indeed a place to stay. And from their website, the place looked inviting, so we decided to try it out. Our main aim, however, was to stay in a place close the grasslands where we could find the Cisticolas. We did not know what to expect of this place, but I should say it's been the most excellent place I've been to in recent times. The most wonderful hospitality of the folks there made us feel really good and more importantly, at home!

After a quick breakfast we set off for the high grasslands of the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary in search of the bird we had come for. We parked our car and scanned the green vastness for signs of life. The silent howl of the morning wind was all we could hear for the first few minutes and then suddenly we hear a call, a comical one it is, hard to describe but rather interesting to listen to. A single Cisticola popped out of the grass for a few seconds and then disappeared beneath the translucent brown-green surface for several minutes. After this, we spent hours trying to get a focus on the bird and between the three of us, we had just two photographs. Four hours had passed since we first saw this bird and the reserves of patience were getting to their end and that's when we decided to give the bird and ourselves a break, so we drove around the hills for a while and then returned to the site where we had first seen the bird.

At this point, we did not have much energy left to give another shot to photograph this bird. Sudhir, however, was determined, he had still not managed to get a focus on the bird and set off at an energetic pace, straight down the grassy slope with his big telephoto lens on this shoulder. It was as if a warrior was off to battle. We followed him and came upon a nice flock of Cisticolas and this time, they decided to leave their foraging for a bit and show up on nice perches for some decent photographs. Satisfied with the photos, we started towards the resort and just half a kilometer down the road, we saw another flock of Bright-headed Cisticolas. These were right next to the road and even bolder than the ones we found in the deep grasslands! They were in all plumages and sizes - Breeding adults, non-breeding adults and juveniles - and were even posing for us. We even managed to record their calls with Vijay's recording equipment.

The next morning we followed a different route, through coffee estates bordering the Muthodi forests. On either side were coffee plants in full bloom and pepper vines growing up the trunks of trees. With patches of thick jungle encroached upon by coffee estates and paddy fields, man-animal conflict seems to be unavoidable in these areas. And like we expected, we did not see too many wild mammals, but the place was absolutely teeming with birds of all kinds. From the shrill calls of the massive Mountain Hawk-eagle to the low squeaks of the skulking warblers, we could have seen and heard more than a hundred species of birds.

In all, it was a great trip in the company of two fantastic people - Vijay and Sudhir - and surely the trip would not have been that great if it was not for the great stay at Nature Nirvana

The first picture of the Bright-headed Cisticola for the day

Bright-headed Cisticola - adult

Bright-headed Cisticola - Juvenile

Blue-Rock Thrush - resident at Nature Nirvana

Crested Goshawk

Crested-Serpent Eagle

sainath on December 19th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC)
breathtaking pics !!!! absolutely wonderful !!!!!!!!!!!!!
dude , how do u manage to get such shots ? with such DOF :)
I managed a bird shot :) this was my first with my new camera. do provide some tips to the ignorant :)
I have no idea what this bird is called :)
Yathinyathin on December 19th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
That bird is a Pond Heron (if it was photographed in India)

> dude , how do u manage to get such shots ? with such DOF :)

Two simple things:
1. Get a super telephoto lens
2. Get as close to the bird as possible and shoot at max aperture possible.

sainath on December 19th, 2005 10:04 am (UTC)
the aperture that i can stress to with my s2 IS is 8.0 and its a 12x zoom camera (432 mm ) ( wud this be sufficient ? or do i need more F values and zoom ? ) . exif info of any of ur shots plz :) . anyways will try my luck with that :) thanks :)
Yathinyathin on December 19th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC)
> wud this be sufficient ?

f8.0 is not good enough in most cases. It would give a wonderful bokeh if you are very close to the bird or the background is very far.

432 mm zoom is great. It's more than what I have, but the quality of the lens makes a lot of difference.
(Deleted comment)
Damodqwez on December 29th, 2005 05:53 am (UTC)
f2.8 on digital doesn't directly correpond to the f2.8 on conventional lenses, atleast not in the DOF u expect. :( It is something u have to live with unless its a digi SLR.
zhenzhizhenzhi on December 19th, 2005 09:57 am (UTC)
lovelt bird pictures. :-) that first one is a little cutie!
(¯`·._.·[ (SIL) ]·._.·´¯)cyberscorpion on December 19th, 2005 10:15 am (UTC)
Awesome pics man