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26 January 2012

Republic Day

HappY RepubiC daY :)

The March Past
As thought with my camera and in high spirits I was at the parade ground at Mahatma Gandhi Road in Bhubaneswar. Here every year the Republic Day and Independence Day parade is done with much pomp and show with flag hosting by the CM or the Governor of the State followed by function formalities, march past and all. The mood and the feeling of these days would never go from the heart. The feeling of being in a freed country, the memory of the brave men who gave us freedom and the feeling of being a part of this great country would never ever fade away. To make the feeling sink in more, I always go and watch the parade. :) It feels great watching it. From school kids to middle school to paramilitary forces, everyone in uniform, everyone with determination and strong will power to perform their best.

Today too, driving in the foggy and chilly morning, I came for the parade. On my way, I stopped to buy an Indian flag badge (as always) and pinned to my chest :) Kids and parents lined up to buy flags too. While driving I tried remembering the Patriotic Songs we used to sing in school. I remembered the song 'Aye watan Aye watan... humko teri kasam. Teri rahon mein hain jaan tak luta jayenge ... ' 

Accompanying my Canon SX10 IS, I had reached much early to catch some before parade candid shots.
The foggy ground
This time I was alone and no other photographer was in view, unlike last time where I felt there were more photographers roaming than the paraders. Good I guess. May be this time whoever came was near the place where flag hosting was done. I observed people, I roamed around casually, I smiled at them. At some place made them conscious and sometimes they made me conscious :P The roads were all foggy even till 8.15 am. The time came when the parade was to be started. There was tension among the jawans and cadets to perform their best. The last minute touch up in their uniforms and making stern faces. 
Last minute preparation
Police people got strict with the viewers and made them go outside the main track. I hadn't planned to stay in the crowd this time. I stayed towards the end of the parade set and watched them go one by one towards the main stand where they had to perform.

Watching them brings back my own goody goody feelings, when I used to be IN the parade. Wearing my best, pressed blue NCC AIR WING uniform. Pride in my heart, chest out, beret on my head, shining shoes and straight spine. It was some feeling I tell you. As if the whole world is watching you and would judge with the slightest moment made. 3 years, 6 times I have marched on this road, in uniform. Then the time comes when you have to perform in front of the chief guest. Showing the best of you with the other participants. The most difficult task was to maintain the uniformity among the other girls in the same flight. And the correct way was to hear the drum beats. After the college days got finished, I continued to come to the ground with the same feeling to capture the moment in my little camera. Completely this would be the 8th year I would be coming to the parade ground both for Independence parade and Republic Day parade :)

Of-course one can not forget these days while in school. Wearing the whitest of white uniform, me sometimes in Guide uniform. Watching and listening the programs performed at school. Speeches, some kids fancily dressed as freedom fighters and then we waiting for the tiffin packets and boondi (best part :D). Then we would walk towards our home gossiping all in the way. :) 

Coming back to today. I stayed till the last platoon was gone from my sight. There were three school boys by my left side who were very excited for the marches. They had superb expressions to be captured. Excitement, amazement and innocence. In the last, after fire station tableau, there were some performers dressed in folk dresses, Sambalpuri costumes and two in costumes of Durga Maa and Mahisasura. I had never watched such performers before. They looked beautiful and with very high spirits to make their audience dance in their tunes.

Durga Maa
The folk dances

I had few of their photos. While they crossed, two of the boys on my left side made a namaskar gesture watching the Durga Maa's idol. I was touched by their innocence. I bet even we adults would not have done this. But they did! On the whole trip today I was not very pleased as I had not got any good shots but they made my day fruitful one. I was in some kind of inner peace after watching them. On the whole way I drove back smiling. :)

Shot of the Day :)


Some earlier days picture ... :)

Celebrating Freedom

The R&V squadron

The guns at rest

Kids waiting for the parade to start
The song I was remembering of:

19 January 2012

Bird Census of Chandaka Dampara Sanctuary

The Entrance
Waterfowl Census of Chandaka Dampara Sanctuary_13.01.12

One Friday, we again got the opportunity with the Wild lifers and Naturalists to count birds in the Chandaka Sanctuary Region. The first venture was to Chilika and this would be the second one. For this one day trip, I started with Udayan, early morning around 5 to Chandaka. The morning bike ride till there was super chilly and almost killed us :( Reached there and met Shakti bhai, Dipti Ranjan and Partha who was also our team leader. Started the journey in the Bolero for the Range Office, inside Dampadra Range. The distance was pretty good but with beautiful sights it didn't matter. Full of green big trees, pre-set path, shrubs, bushes, birds everywhere, sharp shrill chirping and cold cozy weather. At the office we got our kits and met other birders who had bird counting in the nearby region. We met the most senior members like Biswajit Sir and Babu bhai. It was a great pleasure to be associated with them and know them. :) 

7.10 am: From there we reached Mahanadi shores where Biswajit Sir and Babu bhai took a boat for their journey.There on the river bed we saw so so many Small Pratincoles and River Lapwings. I saw Pratincoles first time and found them so cutie :)
Small Pratincoles

8.05 am: We then turned towards our designated places :) Jaria, Charigharia and Upara-pathapur towards north-eastern part of the sanctuary. With our young guru and TL Partha, me and Udayan too jumped off to view the place, alongwith Shri.P.C.Nayak (RO) geared up with full excitement. In the start I could hardly see anything but heard beautiful voices. Even of peacocks :) 


The Fisherman setting the nets
Then we started spotting Purple Moorhens, Sandpipers, Redshanks, Common Snipes and the Spot billed ducks. :) Ofcourse accompanied by pond herons, cormorants and Egrets. Also saw spotted dove, Hoopoe and white throated kingfisher. We moved closer to the lake sides, walking and stopping by, keeping an eye on the birds :) the view was amazing. I could have never imagined a place coming through Chandaka :) Again the mountains, fields, water, chilly air, marshy land, walking inside fields...hmmmm :) There at a place a fisherman was setting his nets for fishes :/ which disturbed the birds and they mostly flew away.

Red-Wattled Lapwing
8.40 am: We kept walking on the shores of the lake and the edgy fields. With Partha's guiding we could see and collect most of the bird information. :) Mr. P.C. got irritated with us as were weren't walking up to his pace. He preferred more safe places and didn't land into marshy fields. So obviously he reached places fast and we didn't :D He clapped for the birds to fly away and count. We continued watching and spotting the birds. Missed clicking a spotted owl though. The photography helped in recognising birds more closely.
We then reached near villages where people were fishing by, washing clothes and lining up to bath and all of a sudden they realized we are there :P They started asking in loud tones if we are from OTV and shooting :P  After a little more of roaming there we were off for other places.

Lesser Whistling Ducks
Partha made the vehicle stop at a place with lake view sighting many birds. All dropped down and saw birds flying by in large number of flock. Partha made us recognise them as Lesser Whistling Ducks.  Yes I too could here the whistling :)

The Mahanadi banks

9.45 am: We then got back into bolero and reached at a Mahanadi reservoir area where we picked up Biswajit sir and Babu bhai and were all off to have tea nearby. All snacked up, breakfast plus yummy bara-tarkari (Vada-curry) at the local Dhabha. There all got into conversations on the birds one found and related information. After having a light talk time all got divided again to continue our respective journeys.

The next place was almost empty of birds except one man bathing making bear sounds :P we were scared. :D We stopped at various places on the way. One marshy place was full of Egrets and Herons, Cormorants and Purple moorhens. Asian Open billed storks and one Oriental Darter too. I saw one Citrine wagtail nearby :) The following place was superb with avid flora and fauna. The water source was even more blue and beautiful with Cotton teals and couples of spot-billed ducks swimming by. 
The great Banyan tree
There was one typical huge Banyan tree, very tall and very pleasing underneath it. Again we missed an owl that just flew away from us. Other birds spotted were Brahminy Ruddy Shelduck, River terns, River lapwings and lots and lots of Purple Moorhens. 

Common Redshanks

Cotton teals & Spot Billed Ducks
Spot-Billed Duck, Purple Moorhen, Citrine Wagtail, Wood Sandpiper, Large-pied Wagtail

1.00 pm: All were packed back in Bolero and dropped at the Range Office. There lists of birds were marked, counted and added in the pre-defined lists provided. Discussions and questions in air were shot in different species one found and on their recognition with the help of descriptions and photographs. Took lunch break in between and then finished the listings. 

2.50 pm: Partha was ready with the listings and submitted it to the DFO. After everybody's submission all started off to the main gate.

4.00 pm: Reached to the starting point i.e. the entrance gate. All got together with the conversations on their places and sightings. :) We bid goodbye to other members and were off from there. Yet another memorable and priceless trip. :) Looking forward for more, but this time to add more value to the census :)

list if birds spotted: In the order of final listing

  1. Little grebe
  2. Little cormorant
  3. Oriental Darter
  4. Indian Pond Heron
  5. Cattle Egret
  6. Little Egret
  7. Intermediate Egret
  8. Purple Heron
  9. Grey Heron
  10. Asian Openbill
  11. Lesser Whistling Duck
  12. Brahminy Ruddy Shelduck
  13. Indian Cotton Teal
  14. Spot-Billed Duck
  15. White-breasted Water hen
  16. Purple Swamphen
  17. Little Pranticole
  18. River lapwing
  19. Red-wattled lapwing
  20. Redshank
  21. Marsh Sandpiper
  22. Greenshank
  23. Common Sandpiper
  24. Common snipe
  25. Indian river tern
  26. Citrine wagtail
  27. Large Pied wagtail
  28. White wagtail
  29. Pied Kingfisher
  30. White breasted Kingfisher

 Few more photos:

With the Bolero
Inside the fields

 The team walk :P
On the way...

The beautiful Marigold fields on the way
'A priceless learning experience for me'
"Chandka Elephant Sanctuary is a wildlife reserve located in north western fringe of Bhubaneswar in the Indian state of Orissa. Nestled on Khurdha uplands of 'Eastern Ghats' biotic region, Chandaka forest spread over 175.79 km2 of rolling table land and small sprawling hillocks of Khurdha and Cuttack Districts."
 Source: Wikipedia

9 January 2012

A trip to Chilika, Bird Census_7-8 Jan 2012 :)

An amazing weekend trip to Chilika (Odisha), for the Annual Bird census.

It’s quite a time, I have been a member of a virtual group called ‘Birds of Orissa’ on facebook. Fellow members informed about the Bird Census program which happens yearly for study & research on migratory birds and for developmental purposes of the wetland eco-system. Me and Udayan jumped out for it and planned a bike tour to Chilika.


N.H. 5
7.30 am: Started our bike journey towards Chilika. The weather was perfect for a ride. Foggy and pleasing with cold air. To re-energise, we snacked up on the highway, tea with hot aloo-chops (potato chops) and Baras (Vada) with green chilli :D. We then continued our journey towards Chilika passing through Balugaon. The meeting was supposed to start at 10.00am.

The briefing by Dr.U.N.Dev
10.00 am: We reached the venue at Chandraput almost at the right time. The place was beautiful from the very start. The lake, the heavy cool breeze...simply wow :) We entered our names and got seated inside. More people came in. People we recognise and senior members which followed namastes, waves and smiles :) The room was full with Ornithologists, wildlife activists, bird lovers, forest officials and enthusiasts. Introduction started on Chilika, the wet-land and how we are going to help protect it. Our Chief guests there followed the briefings in addition to presentations and guidelines on recognizing and counting birds of the wetland. Finally the time came when all were to be divided into groups with assigned places for bird counting. We waited and waited and then we were grouped for the place 'Rambha'. I had never heard of this place, but all along was very excited to explore ^_^ Our team leader was Akash Rath, guide Purna Ch. Guru (F.R.O) and fellow members were Umakant Biswal the expert in this, S.K. Mohapatra (ICZM), Me, Udayan and Aditya. We had lunch and were off  to our destination 'Rambha'. Other birders I know Satya bhai, Shakti bhai, Sanjib bhai also were off to their designated places with their teams. :)

2.30 pm: We were in the Bolero with the associate members, discussing and talking by. We reached at the place and took our assigned rooms. After getting freshened up and little rest all decided to look around the near by places. :) I was super excited to look up more of the place and specially the water. 

4.15 pm: Rambha, of what we saw was a beautiful place. It comes under the famous District Ganjam in the Indian state of Odisha. We traveled along the lake side with the forest official and also went through beautiful villages. There were mountains and greenery everywhere, with boats and humpy roads, cool wind and people looking at us strangely. We halted at a place to view and click some birds, then proceeded to more interior places. Mountains all had round smooth stones, that looked as if they'll just make a fall. We reached at a place which looked like greasy water. There the forest official Mr. Jena spotted a small turtle in the fishing nets. He called the fishermen, rescued and carried it to drop him to better water resource. The turtle was super cute and its head and body went inside the cover when turned upside down. :D :)

The beautiful 'Rambha'

Went more alongside the lake, inside villages, visited some ponds, photographed, watched various birds and at a place even saw and clicked a peacock roaming inside the fields. What a beautiful sight. I had never seen a peacock like this :) Mr. Jena dropped the turtle in a fresh water pond there. By evening all were back to the guest house at Rambha and chilled out :P We had little discussion over the birds findings and then roamed in the village markets for some snacks. I was little tired and wanted to rest for tomorrow. 

10.00 pm: Having dinner at the forest official place, I was knocked out for the main day aka Tomorrow.

5.00am: Early morning we were ready to be packed in the Bolero and reach the Chilika Lake. It was super cold and chilly. We waited ....

The Dramatic Dawn
6.20am: The Jeep came and took us to the venue of bird counting. The view of the magnificent lake just before the sunrise stupefied me. It was so so beautiful, the weather, the redness in the sky, the silhouettes of the boats and the little birds feeding and flying by. Our bird counting started with little pond patches full of Egrets, Bronze winged Jacanas and Pond Herons. Mr. Mohapatra wrote down the names, as experts (few by us too) called out the names and numbers. We also spotted Small Blue Kingfisher and Pied Kingfisher. :)

All got into the boat, except Aditya who hadn't accompanied the team. The journey towards the deep, red-dish, blueish water and sky started... All got seated with notebooks, cameras, binoculars and breakfast. We started our journey of bird counting by getting deep inside the lake...water and water all around. In comparison to my visit to Mangalajodi, wet-land birds were less here. Expecting to spot some interesting species, we got deeper and started spotting birds like Black Winged Stilts, Tufted Ducks and Brahminy kites. 

Black Winged Stilts
We spotted birds, some in a group of three to four and some in such large numbers that we only could estimate the numbers. The experts examined the species and counted and it was written down. Akash bhai had a good 70-300 Nikor lens to capture the beauty as well as Udayan. I clicked with my Canon SX10IS :) With Akash bhai's and Udayan's photography, it went easy in recognizing the species and counting. The Forest officials Mr. Purna Chandra and Jena also spotted on birds. To some extent and areas there was nothing, just water and water far far away. But then we saw birds in between in large flocks and nearby some Islands. 

The place was such a beauty. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the vast lake...nothing but water...everywhere...flocks of birds flying by, staying by, posing by.....

Then came places where we were near the mighty mountains. What a view! The mountains, all full of round sloppy stones, beautiful brown shiny bushes, trees of green and red and gold...the feeling was simply amazing. There were beautiful fields also marking human habitation. Found Brown Headed Gulls, Cormorants and so on.. nearby the mountain places. Hoping for some decent photos :) The boat was a power driven one and didnt actually stay to view the bird flocks when asked a result of which the the birds flew away making the bird counting task difficult. We even saw one lighthouse, made by the Raja of there, followed an island with a life size sculpture of a dinosaur :P

Brown Headed Gulls
The singing cold air, heavy water ripples, splashes, the weather sometimes cloudy, sometimes gloomy and sometimes just sunny. The weather was in some mood, showing us its many colors but never did it hurt. Even the bright sun was pleasing. many. Tern and Ducks, Kites, Cormorants, Kites, Gulls, Kingfishers and who not :) And of so many varied colors, whites, greys, glossy blacks, bushy browns, spotted, printed and with the primary colors too :) I shall include a list of birds in the end...

and Hey did I forget to mention we saw Dolphins too ? yeah, we sighted some Dolphins. They played hide and seek, yet we spotted them when they jumped outta the water.

The moody weather
10.30 am: Till now we covered across places 'Gaurangapatana' and 'Kumarpur'. We had our breakfast. Bread, jam, bananas, eggs, oranges & apples. Hmmm....I was full...yum :) After some more of traveling in water, we stoped by on an Island 'Talatalanasi.' Everybody got outta their shoes and roamed the Island. The Island was typically green, with fields, marshy land and ponds. Mr. Mohapatra and Uma bhai roamed around to recognize and discuss on birds there. Akash bhai went a little deeper to click birds and Me and Udayan roamed near the fields. He spotted some good birds to click and I went near the bushes to click some beautiful Butterflies. Few bushes were just full of Plain Tigers and Common Crows. :) I also spotted some wetland birds also plus the hoopoes :) A little later all gathered. The boaters who accompanied us and local villagers made us coffee in the near by huts and also offered smoked fresh fishes to snack on.

We left the Island and then again the tour on water started. Again the routine of spotting, recognizing and counting birds started with the same excitement. A little later tiredness gripped us and I started feeling sleepy in between. I guess others silently slept too :D After around 6 hours of ride on the boat we landed on land. :D
Tufted Ducks flying by...

As we had carried all our luggage, we were directly exported to Chandraput from where we had started. There we had our lunch and everybody sat down in circles for counting. Uma and Akash bhai started on the given list of birds and Mr. Mohapatra held his written down list to mark it. One by one, species by species all got counted. Birds who couldn't been recognized were dealt with the help of photos. Other troupes also started arriving and after lunch started counting. :)

Counting was done, copied to various sheets with list of birds, team information and the task was done, of course majorly by the senior members,we were just a little help. :) We bid goodbye to bhai manes, other senior members and the DFO and started out journey back to Bhubaneswar, Our home. I reached by 7.20 pm. :)

Counting over
Special thanx to Sanjib bhai for getting permissions for us :) Satya bhai & Shakti bhai plus Bird of Orissa group for inspiring us in the field. It was a great learning opportunity, exploring the b'ful place of our amazing Odisha and participating in a noble cause of Bird Counting. :) Feeling lucky. ^_^

List of Birds spotted: As per the final census record

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Little Cormorant
  3. Cattle Egrets
  4. Little Egrets
  5. Intermediate Egrets
  6. Grey Heron
  7. Gadwall
  8. Gargeney
  9. Tufted Duck
  10. Water Rail
  11. White-Breasted Water Hen
  12. Bronze-Winged Jacana
  13. Black Winged Stilt
  14. Little Pratincole
  15. Yellow-Wattled Lapwing
  16. Kentish Plover
  17. Marsh Sandpiper
  18. Wood Sandpiper
  19. Common Sandpiper
  20. Little Stint
  21. Brown-Headed Gull
  22. Whiskered Tern
  23. Little Tern
  24. Small Bee Eater
  25. House Crow
  26. Jungle Crow
  27. Black Drongo
  28. Brahminy Kite
  29. Common Hoopoe
  30. Lesser Pied Kingfisher
  31. Small Blue Kingfisher
  32. White Breasted Kingfisher
  33. Osprey 

Few more photos from the trip. My camera couldn't capture many birds :( 

Flickr link :)


With my obvious and old interest in Birds, I have always loved watching and capturing them whenever I could. In fact taking out time for them. :) I hope we create a good living place for them with our any little effort.

1 January 2012

haPpy 2012 ^_^

happY neW yeaR friends :)

Embracing the new year, I remember the old year which has been quite a good year making me learn, experience and grow in the foot steps of a photographer.

Many adventurous outdoor trips, work assignments, a group Photography Exhibition, a cool Radio Interview on 92.7 Big Fm with Rj Rajiv and an interview for a in-fashion twin city website 'Broken Scooter'.

 After a whole post dedicated to the  Radio interview here's the link for the website: :)

Hoping for more adventures and experiments this year.... \m/
Thankyou for all the love and being my audience. 

TJ :)