Chamara SKG Photography

Wildlife, Nature & Travel photography

Short-Eared Owl

Sunny Saturday morning was forecasted and there were news online that about 8 Short-eared owls seen in and around RSPB Rainham Marshes. Having missed the Short-eared owl who briefly visited Tottenham Marshes last Spring I was excited to see and possibly photograph my first Short-Eared Owl.

It was cloudy and dark early in the morning so I got to Marshes around 9.30. Had a lovely pasty and a coffee from the cafe in visitor centre and started my quest for the Short-eared along the river bank.

Walked all the way down along the river scanning for the visitors however no luck until I came to the end of the path. Seeing a collection of birdwatchers together in one place aiming all their scopes and binoculars to one direction lifted my hopes up.

As I was approaching the spot birdwatchers kindly directed me to the SEO who was sitting on the grass about 35-40 meters away from us.

Yappeeeeee…. a big tick….. my first wild Short-eared Owl.

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However, it’s too far and sitting on long grass so not ideal for photography. I stayed there watching the sitting bird for about 45 minutes hoping it will go for a little fly around for lunch so that I can click a few. But no luck there.

I got bored and thought will go for a little wander around the area.

A half hour walk and no sign of any owls. Stood on the mound looking down the marshes and the river thought its good time to take some landscapes.

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Finished a panorama shoot and I felt something moving behind me. Wow…. with its graceful flight there was the bird I wanted to photograph. It dived for something so I quickly changed my lens ready for him to come up. There it was appearing from the long grass with a mouse in his mouth. Got a couple of shots but I could have taken more if I didn’t distracted myself on watching the flight and be amazed by it.

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Having the bird caught a prey is not good from my side because it will not hunt again for a while.

More waiting for me then….

My patience paid off as about 15 minutes after there he is again on the wing. This time I took full advantage of the situation and fire away some shots. The owl was flying around scanning the ground for about five minutes and disappeared in to the grass again.

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Waited for another 45 minutes waiting for it to come back but it didn’t. So I thought of heading back to the visitor centre as It’s high time for a nice cup of tea and cake.

Common Name :  Short-eared Owl

Latin Name : Asio flames

Location : Rainham Marshes

Date : October 2015

Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

It was an early start in the Yala National Park. Entered in to the park from Katagamuwa entrance.

We drove straight in to ‘Dharshana wewa’ as our guide mentioned abut sightings of two leopards, a male and a female the day before in one corner of the tank when they came to drink water. They spent a while in the open without disappearing in to the forest giving a good photography opportunities.

So, we decided to check the area out hoping that they might return to the same place. We went to the furthest corner of the bank and found a good spot to park the jeep and switched the engine off.

Waiting starts………….

Sky was very clear with no cloud at all. The August drought not just made the tank shrink but made the morning clear and beautiful. everything is in place for a great photography opportunity.

This is a major water source in the area because all the small water ponds and streams are dried up. So an abundance of wildlife coming in for water. We could see deer, buffalos, wild boar, mongoose were coming in to drink water.

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Common Name :  Indian Roller

Latin Name : Coracias benghalensis

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Common Name :  Ruddy Mongoose

Latin Name : Herpestes smithii

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Common Name :  Mugger / Marsh Crocodile

Latin Name : Crocodylus palustris

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Common Name :  Wild Boar

Latin Name : Sus scrofa cristatus

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Common Name :  Painted Stork

Latin Name : Mycteria leucocephala

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Couple of Brahmini Kites were soaring up above looking for fish trapped in little pools of water. White-bellied fish eagles were in a tall branch of a dead tree making loud calls. Looks like these raptors and occasional scavengers were having a good time while other animals are in crisis with the dry season.

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Common Name : White-bellied sea eagle

Latin Name : Haliaeetus leucogaster

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

Spotted dove came to drink some water and searched in the tree next to us and stayed there for a couple of minutes entertaining the guests in the jeep.

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Common Name :  Spotted Dove

Latin Name : Streptopelia chinensis ceylonensis

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

A group of spotted deer came out of the thicket in a line on after the other. There vigilant heads turned frequently from side to side with their ears straight up. Looks like hundreds of eyes and ears the herd has doesn’t make them feel safe out in the open. It was a view to see when they line up along the waters edge to sip in water. Even when they were drinking they had to be very careful as the crocodiles were there waiting for a moment to pluck one of them in to the water. Crocks tried to sneak in close to them few times but the vigilant deer were too quick for them.

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Common Name :  Axis Deer

Latin Name : Axis axis ceylonesis

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

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Common Name :  Mugger / Marsh Crocodile

Latin Name : Crocodylus palustris

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

Water buffaloes were leaving the water and disappearing in to the forest when we heard a loud alarm call of a spotted deer from inside the thicket. All the animals stood still for a few seconds and deer were showing all the signs of a ‘predator nearby’. Their necks went straight, Ears stiff, Thumping their hind legs on the ground and making alarm calls.

Then the moment we were waiting for…..

A beautiful male leopard appears from the cover and walked towards the water under a tree. Amazing…….

Everything went quiet. A group of lesser whistling teals flew in from somewhere and landed on the water breaking the stillness. The leopard quietly walked in close to the water and started scanning the water and the area. Looked like he wasn’t happy about the amount of crocodile heads in the shallow waters. He growled at water and sat himself down to quench his thirst.

After couple of minutes of filling up he went under the shade and spent there for about 15 minutes lying down before moving on in to the vegetation. We could hear alarm calls of deers, monkeys from a distance for about half and hour and everything went quiet and calm again.

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Common Name : Sri Lankan Leopard

Latin Name : Panthera pardus kotiya

Location : Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Date : August 2012

Kestrel

I have been visiting a family of Kestrels for about 4 weeks this summer. On and off about three times a week.
Last summer I was fortunate to photograph three kestrel chicks just fledged but it was too late to discover the nest site.  This year I visited the same place looking for the nest. Even though I saw the presence of the adult kestrels every time I visit I couldn’t see the nest.

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I was photographing Great Spotted Woodpecker when a dog walker came to me and started chatting to me and I showed him the nest of the Woodpecker. Then he mentioned about the “Hawk” in a hall of a tree. And as usual I was curious and he walked me in to the tree and pointed out the hole.
At that moment it was empty and next day evening upon further investigation I could see a head of a kestrel sitting on the hole. This was a thrilling discovery.
I managed to visit the site about three times a week to take photographs. after a few weeks I saw the appearing head of a white fluffy chick. I saw only one chick from the begining so I assumed she only laid one egg. Few days ago I saw the grown up chick coming out of the nest and jumping between branches and pumping its wings. He will be off in his wings soon.
This year I was lucky to witness a glimpse of their life. Hope they will breed there next year as well.
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Common Name :  Common Kestrel

Latin Name : Falco tinnuncukus

Location : Epping Forest, London

Date : Spring/Summer 2015

Treecreepers

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Saturday morning walk in Epping Forest proved to be very very productive and exciting for me. Saw the Treecreeper for the first time. Not just a glimpse but about 10 minutes they were jumping from one branch to the other in couple of trees. When I say ‘they’, I counted 4 of them, but there might have been more as its very difficult to keep count when they all jumping around and criss-crossing between branches. Seems like they were a family with newly fledged. So its all happy stories.

Common Name :  Treecreeper

Scientific Name : Certhia familiarise

Location : Epping Forest, London

Date : Spring 2015

Sedge Warblers

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_CHA7515Migrant birds add a new dimension to the wildlife in UK. This Sedge Warbler in Tottenham Marshes is still singing. It was singing on the top branch of a bush and occasionally flying in to the Cow Parsley plant which was nearer to the path. The bird didn’t mind me at all and kept coming in to the same plant repeatedly from the bush in the distance allowing me to take photographs in all poses…

Common Name :  Sedge Warbler

Scientific Name : Acocephalus schoenobaenus

Location : Tottenham Marshes, London

Date : Spring 2015

 

 

Parakeets are starting to dominate

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_CHA7887Ring-necked parakeets were mainly in South and South West London until few years back. Now we see flocks of up to couple of dozens birds around East London. Epping Forest did not escape the invasion of these exotic birds. Forest air is echoing with the sound of parakeet calls now.

Even though they are a beautiful sight to see, its worrying to think how the other resident and migrating birds will cope with this invasion in the coming years.

Common Name :  Ring-necked Parakeet

Scientific Name : Psittacula krameri

Location : Epping Forest, London

Date : Spring 2015

Great Spotted Woodpecker

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It was a cloudy and a dull morning but it was filled with acton from this family of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Initially it was hard to find the nest hole even though the chick can be heard constantly calling the parents. Parent woodies were working tirelessly to provide for the only chick.

I was lucky to be there to witness the chick being fed.

Common Name :  Great Spotted Woodpecker

Scientific Name : Dendrocopos major

Location : Epping Forest, London

Date : Spring 2015

King of Richmond Park

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Male Red Deer photographed in Richmond Park in Autumn couple of years back. The rut was in full swing at the time and they all were really active. Stags were showing off and trying to attract as much as females they can.

Common Name :  Red Deer

Scientific Name : Cervus elaphus

Location : Richmond Park, London

Date : Autumn 2013

Lesser white throats

_CHA5576Last Sunday morning was crisp and sunny which was ideal for photography. These relatively not so common migrants to East London area were fully active in singing and finding food. I was so fortunate to see and photograph this Lesser whitethroat come out of the bush to the perch and sing. They like to be inside the bushes most of the times and very active when finding food as well which makes it difficult to photograph.

Their more common and less shy cousins, Common White Throats would jump on to the top branch of the bush and will sing for couple of minutes and also sing in the flight.

Common Name :  Lesser Whitethroat

Scientific Name : Sylvia curruca

Location : Tottenham Marshes, London

Date : Spring 2015

 

Reed Warblers are back

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Reed Warblers are back in Tottenham Marshes from their migration and already chirping away trying to attract a partner. Exciting news indeed. Already two couples established their home patches in two different reed beds around the marshes.

Common Name :  Reed Warbler

Scientific Name : Acrocephalus scirpaceus

Location : Tottenham Marshes, London

Date : Spring 2015