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janzin

Birding the Himalayan Foothills: Corbett, Nainital, Pangot, Sattal

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Soukous
On 5/1/2020 at 3:28 PM, janzin said:

Some of these were at fairly high ISO and those were processed with Topaz AI Clear which does an absolutely incredible job of noise reduction and sharpening in one go.

 

Cool, I'm a huge fan of Topaz. Their new AI programs are brilliant. At the moment I am only using AI DeNoise, but it is a life saver.

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Soukous
1 hour ago, Galana said:

I've got to ask!

Is 'bokeh' a typo, if so for what or am I missing something I should learn about?  Serious . Not a wind up.

 

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

 

Different lenses produce different Bokeh effects. Clearly Janet's 500mm F4 is a star performer.

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janzin
1 hour ago, Soukous said:

 

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

 

Different lenses produce different Bokeh effects. Clearly Janet's 500mm F4 is a star performer.

Thanks Soukous, you got to it before me but that's a good explanation. I would say though that it applies not only when shooting at widest aperture, although that's when bokeh will be at its best. The 2nd sentence is basically it in a nutshell!

 

1 hour ago, Soukous said:

 

Cool, I'm a huge fan of Topaz. Their new AI programs are brilliant. At the moment I am only using AI DeNoise, but it is a life saver.

 

Yes I have DeNoise AI also, for some reason I got it for free, they also gave me Sharpen AI for free. (I had purchased, a few years ago, a "set" of their programs at a discount at a photo show.)  Each has its place, I usually try with AI Clear first via Topaz Studio, but if I don't like the results I go into DeNoise AI. I know DeNoise AI now includes AI Clear but for some reason I get different results depending whether I use it in Studio or via DeNoise. 

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janzin
10 hours ago, elefromoz said:

So many beautiful birds Janet, glad you got the Lammergeier too, so exciting when one pops up amongst  the other Vultures. Mmm, "rock hard beds, freezing and terrible food" and a dose of the "belly", Im glad the birding was so good  to compensate. I'm thinking you were pretty brave with your roadside eating, we stuck to confectionary lunches on the road, chocolate and potato chips. 

 

Probably that was the smart thing to do! We did skip a number of lunches for various reasons..that will come up in the next report :)

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janzin

That night we ate a very minimal dinner in the cold dining room, it was vegetarian but honestly whatever we ate was pretty unidentifiable. At least we got bottled water. We did complain to Hari about no heat in our room, so they brought us a tiny tiny desktop space heater (about the size of a toaster oven!) but it didn't work at all and looked like it might actually start a fire, so we turned it off.

 

Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep; as I mentioned we were sleeping in all our clothes and on extremely hard beds. But I went to bed feeling fine, and excited for the new hide the next day.  I'd heard they often get Green Magpie there!

 

We had an early wake-up, maybe 5:30 and when I woke up I felt a bit queasy...but just a bit. But we went up to the dining room to get coffee and cookies and at that point I felt pretty bad. I didn't eat anything, couldn't even stomach tea.

 

We got to the hide, only about a five minute drive away, located behind the home of a local birder, Prabhu Hazara. It was already quite full (same deal, all men, all in camouflage! What's up with that in India?) But thankfully I did get a seat at the far end. It was still quite early and light was not really good for photography. But I started to shoot and knocked off a few photos.

 

White-throated%20Laughingthrush_JZ8_9175

 

White-throated%20Laughingthrush_JZ8_9167

 

slaty_headed_parakeet_JZ8_9184b.jpg

 

grey_treepie_JZ8_9193a.jpg

 

grey_headed_woodpecker_JZ8_9174a.jpg

 

grey_headed_woodpecker__JZ8_9211a.jpg.af5d5ebcfb6dade845eff1bdce9ee641.jpg

 

greater_yellownape_JZ8_9178a.jpg.e7ffd21dc26c4a0aaefb8da66d1efdef.jpg

 

chestnut_bellied_nuthatch_JZ8_9214a.jpg

 

Those were literally all I got, as I soon realized that moving my head back and forth, back and forth to follow the birds was making me really nauseous. It wasn't too long before I knew...no way was I going to be able to stay here. I ran out of the hide to ask Hari if I could use Prabhu's bathroom...well, he didn't really have a bathroom but he unlocked a door to a sort of toilet...let's not go into too many details here! 

 

(One quick aside...one thing that may have protected us from getting sick in the past in India is that we were always on doxycycline, an antibiotic, for malaria. But since the chance of malaria was nil in Corbett/Sattal at this time of year (we certainly had no mosquitos in the cold!) and very low in Ranthambhore, we opted not to take any this trip. Perhaps if I had been taking it I might not have gotten so sick.)

 

Anyway, that was the end of Prabhu's hide, we packed up our gear and headed back to Birder's Den. This was a disappointment for sure, as the set up there was actually a bit nicer than at Birder's Den in terms of perches, backgrounds, etc. Oh well. Back at Birder's Den,  after some time in front of the toilet on the bathroom floor, I felt a lot better.  Hari wanted me to rest for a few hours but I knew we had a long drive back to Delhi that afternoon, and to be honest I couldn't wait to get away from Birder's Den and back to somewhere WARM. In fact, the original plan was to leave Sattal around 1 pm which would have gotten us into Delhi around 8.  It was now around 10 and I told Hari the sooner we could leave, the better.  I took some Immodium and Pepto Bismal and hoped for the best.

 

I think Hari was a bit freaked out that I'd gotten sick. Later, I found out he'd called Abhishek to tell him. Hari asked if we needed anything for the ride and I asked for some biscuits (plain cookies); he sent off someone on a motorbike who quickly brought us back a huge bunch of bananas and two large packs of cookies. Perfect.

 

So we said goodbye to Hari, as he of course was staying in Sattal where he lived. We made great time back to Delhi, stopping only briefly for a bathroom break. Luckily I felt much much better and didn't need any additional pit stops, was able to eat some banana and cookies and diet coke (we still had one left!) In fact, we made such good time that we were at our hotel, The Claridges, by about 5 o'clock, which was fantastic.  Even more wonderful, the hotel upgraded us to a suite! I couldn't wait to get into that comfortable bed, take a hot shower in the marble bathroom (which to do first?) We had splurged a bit on The Claridges and I'm so glad we did. I would definitely stay there again while in Delhi, although its not convenient for an airport departure it was very close to the train and central city.

 

A welcoming, warm bed!

 

IMG_6963a.jpg.591fcb18aec1138628e5bfc5fc01087a.jpg

 

Fancy bathroom!

 

IMG_6962a.jpg.d68ca8282efc25a3e23399e551bd6954.jpg

 

The living room which we didn't use at all. There was also a dining area!

 

IMG_6960a.jpg.6b57ca0e789a5f20547507f3d38736ef.jpg

 

A bit different than Birder's Den :D:lol:

 

Originally, Abhishek had planned to meet us for dinner that night (he called us while we were en route to Delhi) but since I wasn't feeling well, we decided he shouldn't, as I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to eat dinner. But I felt well enough after a rest to eat something simple, and we were happy to find that the hotel had at least four restaurants, one of which was Mediterranean cuisine. No Indian for me tonight!   I had a simple fish dinner and Alan had a lobster dish, both very good.

 

The next morning, Abhishek met us early to take the train with us to Ranthambhore.  But that will be the beginning of another report...which will be awhile coming since I've just started going through the photos from Ranthambhore.

 

All in all, despite getting sick, a fabulous first half to the trip! 

 

Thanks to all who have followed along, and all the great comments;  stay tuned for Part II, Ranthambhore and Jaipur.

 

 

 

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Botswanadreams

Hi Janet, incredible beautiful pics, you show us. Thanks for sharing. Two years ago we had the same situation in Corbett. All cars were focused on tigers - terrible. But it isn't only guests from Dhikala Forest Rest House. There are a few more small accumulation in this area too. Day visitors to Dhikala normally come in with canters as I know.     

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Galana

So sorry you got sick but at least it did not ruin the trip. Great photos and thanks for explaining 'Bokeh' to this poor impoverished novice.

I have on my wall a photo of a couple of LBRs where, many years ago,  using a friends camera I got  sharp image of the birds and the dead trunk they were on with a totally 'lost' background. Now I can refer to it as 'Bokeh' although I doubt it was in vogue in 1998.

Thanks for taking me up to Sattal with you and I look forward to Ranthanbore.

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Zubbie15

Thanks for sharing Janet, looking forward to part two! 

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TonyQ

Shame about getting sick - but you seemed to feel a bit better quite quickly, which is good news.

It has been interesting to learn about Birders Den, and how crowded the hides can be.

Your photos have been stunning throughout - I always look forward to your reports because I know I will enjoy your photos so much.

We stayed at The Claridges when we went to India last year - and we really liked it.

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Atdahl

Part 1 was outstanding @janzin.  So, I am eagerly looking forward to part 2. 

 

We had a similar hide experience in Costa Rica and it was a great way to get good shots of birds.  It's too bad you weren't able to enjoy that 2nd hide but at least you got over your illness quickly.  Speaking from experience, it's certainly not enjoyable being sick on a trip.  That hotel room looked like the perfect reward at the end of it all though.

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AKR1

Janet,

Sorry you got sick and thanks very much for a superb report that even us non- birders could really enjoy.  Birders den appears to have an excellent hide, but if the hide itself is accessible without staying  there, that clearly should be the plan. Obviously in hindsight. Look forward to Ranthambore. 

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janzin

I suddenly remembered that I never posted the bird list that @xelas had requested. So here it is :)  This covers just this portion of the trip (not the 2nd half which included Ranthambhore.)

 

Species: 172 - Subspecies: 0 - Forms: 172
Total Records: 172

 

NAME                             

DUCKS, GEESE, AND WATERFOWL
Knob-billed Duck                 
Ruddy Shelduck                   
Northern Pintail                 

PHEASANTS, GROUSE, AND ALLIES
Indian Peafowl                   
Red Junglefowl                   
Kalij Pheasant                   
Koklass Pheasant                 

PIGEONS AND DOVES
Rock Pigeon                      
Oriental Turtle-Dove             
Spotted Dove                     
Asian Emerald Dove               

CUCKOOS
Greater Coucal                   
Lesser Coucal                    
Green-billed Malkoha             

SWIFTS
White-rumped Needletail          

TREESWIFTS
Crested Treeswift                

RAILS, GALLINULES, AND COOTS
White-breasted Waterhen          

CRANES
Sarus Crane                      

PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS
River Lapwing                    
Red-wattled Lapwing              

JACANAS
Bronze-winged Jacana             

SANDPIPERS AND ALLIES
Green Sandpiper                  
Spotted Redshank                 

GULLS, TERNS, AND SKIMMERS
River Tern                       

STORKS
Asian Openbill                   
Black Stork                      
White Stork                      
Black-necked Stork               

CORMORANTS AND SHAGS
Little Cormorant                 
Great Cormorant                  
Indian Cormorant                 

HERONS, EGRETS, AND BITTERNS
Great Egret                      
Intermediate Egret               
Little Egret                     
Cattle Egret                     
Indian Pond-Heron                
Black-crowned Night-Heron        

IBISES AND SPOONBILLS
Black-headed Ibis                

OSPREY
Osprey                           

HAWKS, EAGLES, AND KITES
Black-winged Kite                
Bearded Vulture                  
Himalayan Griffon                
Crested Serpent-Eagle            
Short-toed Snake-Eagle           
Changeable Hawk-Eagle            
Steppe Eagle                     
Black Kite                       
Pallas's Fish-Eagle              
Lesser Fish-Eagle                
Himalayan Buzzard                

OWLS
Brown Fish-Owl                   
Collared Owlet                   
Asian Barred Owlet               
Jungle Owlet                     
Spotted Owlet                    
Brown Wood-Owl                   

HORNBILLS
Indian Gray Hornbill             

KINGFISHERS
Common Kingfisher                
Stork-billed Kingfisher          
White-throated Kingfisher        
Crested Kingfisher               
Pied Kingfisher                  

ROLLERS
Indian Roller                    

ASIAN BARBETS
Great Barbet                     
Lineated Barbet                  
Blue-throated Barbet             

WOODPECKERS
Brown-capped Woodpecker          
Gray-capped Woodpecker           
Brown-fronted Woodpecker         
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker      
Himalayan Woodpecker             
Rufous Woodpecker                
Black-rumped Flameback           
Lesser Yellownape                
Streak-throated Woodpecker       
Gray-headed Woodpecker           
Greater Yellownape               

FALCONS AND CARACARAS
Collared Falconet                
Lesser Kestrel                   

PARROTS; PLATYCERCINAE, PSITTACELLINAE, LORIINAE, AGOAPORNITHINAE, PSITTACULINAE
Rose-ringed Parakeet             
Slaty-headed Parakeet            
Plum-headed Parakeet             
Red-breasted Parakeet            

CUCKOO-SHRIKES
Long-tailed Minivet              

OLD WORLD ORIOLES
Black-hooded Oriole              
Maroon Oriole                    

VANGAS
Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike     

FANTAILS
White-throated Fantail           
White-browed Fantail             

DRONGOS
Black Drongo                     
Crow-billed Drongo               
Hair-crested Drongo              

SHRIKES
Long-tailed Shrike               

CROWS, JAYS, AND MAGPIES
Eurasian Jay                     
Black-headed Jay                 
Red-billed Blue-Magpie           
Common Green-Magpie              
Rufous Treepie                   
Gray Treepie                     
House Crow                       
Large-billed Crow                

FAIRY FLYCATCHERS
Yellow-bellied Fairy-Fantail     
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher    

CHICKADEES AND TITS
Coal Tit                         
Gray-crested Tit                 
Green-backed Tit                 
Great Tit                        
Himalayan Black-lored Tit        

LARKS
Oriental Skylark                 

CISTICOLAS AND ALLIES
Ashy Prinia                      
Plain Prinia                     

SWALLOWS
Wire-tailed Swallow              

BULBULS
Red-vented Bulbul                
Himalayan Bulbul                 
Black Bulbul                     
Ashy Bulbul                      

LEAF-WARBLERS
Buff-barred Warbler              
Lemon-rumped Warbler             
Common Chiffchaff                
Gray-hooded Warbler              

LONG-TAILED TITS
Black-throated Tit               

OLD WORLD WARBLERS
Yellow-eyed Babbler              

YUHINAS, WHITE-EYES, AND ALLIES
Indian White-eye                 

BABBLERS
Black-chinned Babbler            
White-browed Scimitar-Babbler    
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler   

LAUGHINGTHRUSHES
Striated Laughingthrush          
Jungle Babbler                   
White-crested Laughingthrush     
White-throated Laughingthrush    
Streaked Laughingthrush          
Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush  
Rufous Sibia                     
Red-billed Leiothrix             
Blue-winged Minla                

WALLCREEPER
Wallcreeper                      

NUTHATCHES
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch        
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch          

TREECREEPERS
Bar-tailed Treecreeper           

DIPPERS
Brown Dipper                     

STARLINGS
Asian Pied Starling              
Common Myna                      
Jungle Myna                      

THRUSHES AND ALLIES
Mistle Thrush                    
Gray-winged Blackbird            
Chestnut Thrush                  
Black-throated Thrush            

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS
Small Niltava                    
Verditer Flycatcher              
Blue Whistling-Thrush            
Little Forktail                  
Spotted Forktail                 
Slaty-backed Forktail            
Himalayan Bluetail               
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher       
Blue-fronted Redstart            
Plumbeous Redstart               
White-capped Redstart            
Blue-capped Redstart             
Black Redstart                   
Siberian Stonechat               
Pied Bushchat                    
Gray Bushchat                    

SUNBIRDS AND SPIDERHUNTERS
Black-throated Sunbird           
Crimson Sunbird                  

OLD WORLD SPARROWS
House Sparrow                    
Russet Sparrow                   

WAGTAILS AND PIPITS
Gray Wagtail                     
Citrine Wagtail                  
White-browed Wagtail             
Paddyfield Pipit                 

BUNTINGS, SPARROWS AND ALLIES
Rock Bunting

                     

Birder's Diary - www.BirdersDiary.com - 5/12/2020

 

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Soukous

A terrific list of sightings @janzin

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xelas

 

8 hours ago, janzin said:

Birder's Diary - www.BirdersDiary.com

 

Total Records: 172 - Really impressive! You should join the Big Year, we are not having any birds from Indian subcontinent so far.

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TonyQ

Very impressive @janzin, and a really enjoyable report 

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janzin

 

15 hours ago, xelas said:

 

 

Total Records: 172 - Really impressive! You should join the Big Year, we are not having any birds from Indian subcontinent so far.

 

Thanks, many have tried to twist my arm but noooooo...I won't get sucked into that :D

 

 

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Soukous
On 5/14/2020 at 1:08 AM, janzin said:

Thanks, many have tried to twist my arm but noooooo...I won't get sucked into that

 

Maybe less twisting is required; perhaps some form of bribery instead.:rolleyes:

 

 

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