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22 February 2006 @ 09:13 pm
The beautiful bird...  
If we do not look carefully, we may think it's just another branch in the tree - the frogmouth is another master of camouflage in the animal kingdom. The bird knows that and it trusts it so much that it allows us to get really close without getting disturbed. However, finding the bird is a tough task, for this bird belongs to the dense evergreen forests where there's hardly any light and is also home to some of the deadliest and most beautiful insects and snakes. The shola floor is made up of layers of fallen leaves and the dense undergrowth restricts easy movement and we were really fortunate to spot this lovely guy sitting on a branch just a few meters inside the forest from our camp.

Not much is known about the Frogmouth except that it's nocturnal and hawks insects. It's a little less than twice the size of a house sparrow which was hard to believe since I had always imagined it to be a much larger bird somewhere in the league of its cousins - the owlets and the nightjars.

These guys always seem to have the "I know you can't see me, but I'll watch out for you anyways" look and their smiling beaks add a touch of humour to that as well. The frogmouth name seems so apt, but still I wonder at times what they could have called it if not frogmouth.

suhassuhas on February 22nd, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
It looks like a tree branch in the second photo.
Suraj Kumarsunson on February 23rd, 2006 07:05 am (UTC)
Exactly! The actual 'deceiver' is its head. Very bushy and looks like a broken end of a branch. and the wings seem to have some white dots that some predators might get a 'warning' sign from. Simple, Superb survival machine, I think.
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Yathinyathin on February 22nd, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC)
I use a Nikon D70 + Nikon 300mm F/4 AFS ( with a 2x teleconvertor TC20IIe sometimes )

For bird photography, the longer the lens the better and they are priced a little too high for non-professionals. However, the ultimate combination today is a Nikon D2X with a Nikon 600mm f/4 AFS lens. I've used it and it's just spectacular.

An alternative to Nikon is Canon and while buying DSLRs we should always look at the lenses we might want to buy in the future. Canon has a wider variety of lenses in the telephoto range and they are slightly cheaper as well. As far as I've seen here in India, most serious amateurs use Canon 20D with at least a 300mm lens (I'm talking about folks who use Canon).

Some people I know stick to 300mm / 400mm prime lenses since they are light and can be carried around easily and help in hand-held shots which means running behind birds. The big lenses allow you to sit at one place and focus on the bird but that has some disadvantages like we need to buy a sturdy tripod and other high-end accessories to support the heavy lens and that means at least a thousand dollars and a lot of pain to carry the lens around and a strict no to long treks!

So finally, while buying the camera we need to primarily think in terms of how much do we want to (or can) spend and what array of lenses we want to have in the future.

Hope this helps.
Premnath Kudvapremkudva on February 24th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)
I suppose you are using a fast 300mm lens? What I use (infrequently ie) is a Nikon Af 70-300 F/ 4-5.6 G, quite slow as you can see. I find it quite heavy though, and am unable to keep it steady especially in low light conditions.
Yathinyathin on February 24th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
G series lenses are slow. The AFS lens are the quickest focussing lenses around and it certainly helps in getting a quick focus on birds.
zhenzhizhenzhi on February 23rd, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
we have tawny frogmouth owls here, also rare to spot one. they look similar. (it must be their frogmouth) hehe!
beautiful photos :-)
teemus on February 23rd, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
Premnath Kudvapremkudva on February 23rd, 2006 04:23 am (UTC)
Wow! Why is it called a frogmouth? Nothing in the wikipedia about that.
Yathinyathin on February 23rd, 2006 06:49 am (UTC)
I think it's because the beak is like a frog's mouth.
Sajith T Ssajith on February 23rd, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)
Have never seen this fellow anywhere before. (My place is ~30km from Thattekkad and I generally keep a passive eye on all living beings, so...) Hello frogmouth, glad to see you! But such an appropriate name!

These should be really rare pictures, right? Congratulations Yathin. Go there more often - remember that Salim Ali never had a D70 and a long lens ;)
Yathinyathin on February 23rd, 2006 06:47 am (UTC)
> These should be really rare pictures, right?

Nopes. It's just difficult to spot them first, but once you know their perch, these birds usually hang around near the same spot.

Since you live so close to Thattekad, you should really be going there more often and look for these interesting birds. There are lots more we missed out this time and that only means I will go there again for them. :)
Sajith T Ssajith on February 23rd, 2006 06:58 am (UTC)
Well, I actually work and live in Bangalore like all the hordes and go home once in two months or so. And I don't have a 300mm prime ;)
Yathinyathin on February 23rd, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Going to that place for something like six times a year is something to live for! ;)

The full potrait of the Frogmouth was shot with a 105mm lens! :D
Sajith T Ssajith on February 23rd, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
Wow. Now don't say that it is not cropped either!
Yathinyathin on February 23rd, 2006 07:19 am (UTC)
No crop! The idea is to stay quiet and appear as non-threatening to the bird and it will allow you to come within just a few feet. :)
Chandrahasa Reddy Nchandrahasa on February 23rd, 2006 05:55 am (UTC)
Kudos dude, Looked at the first pic and thought it must be the size of an eagle. The second pic took me back by its size and the camouflauge... great work
Preethifiveonehalf on February 23rd, 2006 06:50 am (UTC)
In the first picture the shape of the eye is almost human, deepset unlike the usual beady eyes I thought birds have.
Bhavanabhavanar on February 26th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
Wow nice shots!