Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jewel In The Forest

I am sitting in wait in a tropical rainforest, hoping to find a jewel, a tiny ball of color known as the oriental dwarf kingfisher a.k.a the three toed kingfisher.
This is a small, red and yellow kingfisher, averaging 13 cm (5.1 in) in length, yellow under parts with glowing bluish-black upper parts. This is a widespread resident of lowland forest, endemic across much of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The preferred habitat is small streams in densely shaded forests. It begins to breed with the onset of the Southwest Monsoon in June. The nest is a horizontal tunnel up to a metre in length. The clutch of 4-5 eggs hatches in 17 days with both the male and female incubating. The birds fledge after 20 days and a second brood may be raised if the first fails. The young are fed with geckos, skinks, crabs, snails, frogs, crickets and dragonflies.
After which seemed like a lifetime I  spotted a ball of color in the undergrowth of a ravine, the little bird has finally arrived. I scrambled to the other side of the ravine, and clumsily positioned myself with the big lens and tripod. I managed to get a few shot through, but the angle wasn’t perfect. It lasted a few seconds and the bird flew out of sight.

Frustrated, I went back to the my original hiding spot and waited. After about an hour I heard the faint call of the kingfisher. Looking around I caught sight of it once again. This time it was out in the open, and ditching my tripod I handheld the camera, resting on the bare ground and managed to get some good images. I kept hearing the shrill call of the bird, but realized the call was not coming from the bird I was photographing at the moment, and came to the understanding that there were two birds. Then I saw both kingfishers, possibly the male and female perched on the same tree. The reason for the pair being together must be due to a nest being constructed close by.
After about an hour of observation I realized that one of the birds had something large in the mouth. Close inspection revealed that it was a large frog, which was almost the same size as the bird. The kingfisher dashed the frog on the side of the branch to kill it before swallowing it whole. I was amazed how such a small bird could swallow something so large.  The large meal proved to make the bird lethargic, as it remained in its perch without moving for over an hour.
Finally being able to photograph the bird of my dreams, I felt elated and overjoyed. The amazing colors ranging from blue, purple, black, yellow, orange and red can never be replicated by any artist. I feel mother nature reached her perfection in creating this jewel of the forest. 

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