Friday, December 31, 2010

BACK TO THE BHARATPUR BIRD SANCTUARY

This year, after a gap of 2 years made another visit to 'Keoladeo Ghana National Park' popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. This park has thousands of migratory birds arriving for breeding  every year from October to March. I was particularly keen to visit the park this year as there had been a very good monsoon and I expected the marshes and lakes of the park to have plenty of water for migratory water birds to land. Was therefore unpleasantly surprised to see that most of the park was dry with just some pockets of water in the many  ponds, lakes and marshes. Apparently whereas most of North India had excess rainfall, the region of Bharatpur ( which is just 150 Kms from Delhi) recd very little rain. However did manage to see a number of local as well as migratory birds. The most prominent bird at the park is the Painted Stork. This year two there were more than 2 colonies of painted storks nesting and breeding.
 A painted stork with it's catch
As usual there were a number of migratory ducks. Spotted some comb ducks, mallards, greylag goose, ruddy sheldock amongst others. Ibises, egrets, cormorants and herons are other water birds that are abundantly present.
Was fortunate to come across a pair of Sarus Cranes that were feeding in the marshy waters. Sarus cranes are always found in pairs. It is believed that in case one of partner dies, the other starves itself to death.
A pair of Sarus Cranes
Was also fortunate to spot some birds of prey at close distances - the Shikra and  Crested Serpent Eagle.
This shikra had a just hunted down a rat and was busy eating it's catch. Though not visible in this photograph, the rat is firmly held by the bird in it's claws.
Crested Serpent Eagle on the lookout.

The Keoladeo National Park is situated in Bharatpur in Rajasthan which is short 4 hours drive from Delhi. Bharatpur is also well connected by train and buses.
Bharatpur has a number of hotels to stay which cater to both the Indian and foreign tourists. I would recommend The Bagh -  an excellent property with well furnished rooms, excellent service and good food.  It also has a library which has a very good selection of books on birds of India. The hotel has a nice garden with numerous trees and many species of birds can be spotted in the trees. You would also be able to spot turkeys roaming the grounds during the day. If you are planning a visit, be sure to carry your binoculars and if you are a photo enthusiast, carry your telephoto lens.

Friday, December 10, 2010

NEPTUNE FOUNTAIN AT THE SCHONBRUNN PALACE

As we move from the main Palace to the hill, is a pool at the end of which is the Neptune Fountain. A retaining wall curving back forms the back wall of the vast basin. At the centre is a semi oval plinth from which rises the statue of the sea-god Neptune surrounded by his entourage.

Above the rocky grotto stands Neptune in a shell-shaped chariot, his trident in his hand. To his left is a nymph, while on his right kneels the sea-goddess Thetis.  Frolicking at the foot of the grotto are the Tritons, creatures who are half-man and half-fish, and belong to Neptune's entourage.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ROMAN RUINS AT SCHONBRUNN

The Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna is a huge and majestic palace. As you move from the main palace to the grand gardens and up the Schonbrunn Hill and when you descend the hill,  at the foot  stands a structure which supposedly is in ruins, These are  the Roman Ruins , orignally called the ruin of Carthage. Designed by Hohenberg who created the Roman Ruin at Schönbrunn as an entirely new structure on the model of the Ancient Roman temple of Vespasian and Titus, the remains of which had been recorded in an engraving by Giovanni Battista Piranesi dating to around 1756.The Roman Ruins consist of a rectangular pool in the front with a massive semi circular arch overlooking it and walls flanking it giving an impression of a building slowly degenerating  and crumbling into the ground,

The main Structure
 
The Gods of the rivers Danube and Enns
Built in 1978, it is completely integrated into the surrounding landscape making it a very integral part of the vast gardens.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shots from my Camera: COOT

Shots from my Camera: COOT: "Coots are common water birds found throughout the Americas and Europe. This was photographed in Switzerland swimming in the Lucerne Lake"

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