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"Always with Mamma"
The spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha)
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
It also known as the spotbill, is a dabbling duck which breeds in tropical and eastern Asia. It has three subspecies: the Indian spot-billed duck (A. poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha), Eastern spot-billed duck (A. poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha), and Burmese spot-billed duck (A. poecilorhyncha haringtoni).This duck is resident in the southern part of its range from Pakistan and India to southern Japan, but the northern subspecies, the eastern spot-billed duck (A. p. zonorhyncha), is migratory, wintering in Southeast Asia. It is quite gregarious outside the breeding season and forms small flocks. The northernmost populations have expanded their range northwards by more than 500 km since the early 20th century, possibly in reaction to global warming.This duck is around the same size as a mallard. It measures 55–63 cm (22–25 in) in length and 83–95 cm (33–37 in) across the wings, with a body mass of 790–1,500 g (1.74–3.31 lb).These are mainly grey ducks with a paler head and neck and a black bill tipped bright yellow. The wings are whitish with black flight feathers below, and from above show a white-bordered green speculum and white tertials. The male has a red spot on the base of the bill, which is absent or inconspicuous in the smaller but otherwise similar female. Juveniles are browner and duller than adults.The eastern spot-billed duck is darker and browner; its body plumage is more similar to the Pacific black duck. It lacks the red bill spot, and has a blue speculum.It is a bird of freshwater lakes and marshes in fairly open country and feeds by dabbling for plant food mainly in the evening or at night. It nests on the ground in vegetation near water, and lays 8-14 eggs.Both the male and female have calls similar to the mallard.The phylogenetic placement of this species is enigmatic. The eastern spotbill is often considered a distinct species by many taxonomists. (e.g. Johnson & Sorenson 1999). And while molecular analyses and biogeography indicate that most species of the mallard group in the genus Anas form two distinct clades, hybridization between all of these species is a regularly occurring phenomenon and the hybrids are usually fully fertile. The present species is known to produce fertile hybrids with the Pacific black duck and the Philippine duck in captivity,and naturally hybridizes with the mallard as their ranges now overlap in the Primorsky Krai due to the spotbill's northward expansion.The reason for this is that the mallard group evolved quite rapidly into lineages that differ in appearance and behavior, but are still compatible genetically. Thus, stray individuals of any one mallard group species tend to mate successfully with resident populations; this renders mtDNA data of spurious value to determine relationships, especially as molecular studies usually have a very low sample size.The problem with the present species lies in the fact that its position in the mallard group is ambiguous. The mallard lineages cannot be reliably separated by behavior, but only by biogeography, and it is only the Pacific radiation in which there are species with a distinct male nuptial plumage. However, although this species, judging from its distribution, seems to belong to the Asian group, it occurs close enough to the Bering Straits not to discount an originally North American origin.An initial study of mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequences, using one individual each of the Indian and the eastern spot-billed ducks, suggested that these were well distinct and that the former was a more recent divergence from the mallard's ancestors, and both being solidly nested within the Pacific clade.But another study,utilizing a good sample of eastern spot-billed duck and mallard specimens from the area of contact, and analyzing mtDNA control region and ornithine decarboxylase intron 6 sequence data, found A. (p.) zonorhyncha to be more closely related to the American clade, which contains such species as the mottled and American black ducks. It further revealed that, contrary to what was initially believed, female spot-billed ducks do not seem to prefer the brightly colored mallard drakes to their own species' males, with hybrids being more often than not between spot-billed duck drakes and mallard hens, but this might simply be due to the more strongly vagrant drakes being over-represented in the northwards-expanding population.In conclusion, it seems clear that Johnson & Sorenson's 1999 study cannot be relied upon: the perceived relationships as presented there are far more likely than not due to the small sample size. But the apparent similarities to the American species are also misleading: thorough analysis of mtDNA control region haplotypesconcluded that the similarities between the spot-billed duck and the American "mallardines" were due to convergent evolution on the molecular level. Rather than being derived from the North American clade, the spotbill seems to hold a phylogenetic position close to the point where the Pacific and American lineages separated, evolving independently from there except for occasional hybridization events with the mallard, although the relationships of zonorhyncha.
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The Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
Photographer : © Sharad Agrawal
Location : LRK, Gujrat, India
Date : 2012
English synonyms: Montague's Harrier
Bird Family : Accipitrinae - Hawks, bazas, honey-buzzards, eagles, kites, vultures, harriers & buzzards
Bird Group : CICONIIFORMES
Red Data Status : Least Concern
It is a migratory bird of prey of the harrier family. Its common name commemorates the British naturalist George Montagu.Sexual dimorphism is particularly apparent in the plumage of this species. Adult males are characterized by their overall pale grey plumage contrasting with black wingtips. Compared with other harriers this species has characteristic black bands along the secondaries, both above and below the wing and rusty streaks on belly and flanks.Adult females have a broadly similar plumage to that of Pallid and Hen Harriers. The underparts are mostly pale yellow-brown, the belly with longitudinal stripes and the wing coverts spotted. The upper parts are uniform dark brown except for the white upper tail coverts ("rump"), and the sightly paler central wing coverts.The juvenile plumage resembles that of the female, but differs by the belly and under wing coverts which are not spotted, but uniformly red brown in colour.A melanistic form occurs regularly in this species. In this form the male is much darker than usual, with a black head, brownish black above and grey underparts. The melanistic female is entirely chocolate brown except for grey flight feathers. Partially melanistic morphs can also be found.The Montagu's Harrier has a particularly graceful flight, with powerful and elegant wingbeats which give an impression of buoyancy and ease. In true harrier fashion it searches the countryside, flying low, and generally holds its wings with a marked positive dihedral.The Montagu's Harrier is a deceptively small raptor, though it appears larger because of its large wing surface compared to small body weight, which gives it a typically buoyant flight. The female is larger than the male, however this is not apparent in the field.Wingspan: 97–115 cmLength: 43–47 cm (tail: 16–18 cm)Weight (average): Male: 265 gFemale: 345 gThe Montagu's Harrier can be confused with several species that exist within the same range. The most similar are the Hen Harrier and the Pallid Harrier. The male is easily distinguished from other species as its plumage is distinctly darker and more mottled than in the males of hen or pallid harriers. However, distinguishing females and juveniles is more difficult. Usually the Montagu's Harrier appears more slender in flight than the hen harrier with a longer tail, longer and narrower wings and more pointed "hands". Also its flight is more elegant than the Hen Harrier, with more elastic, almost tern-like wingbeats. The distinction between female Pallid and Montagu's Harriers is the most delicate and can only be made in good conditions as the proportions are similar. The best recognition character is the pale collar around the neck of female and juvenile Pallid Harriers which is not present in the Montagu's.This species can be found in a middle-latitude band of predominantly temperate climates, but also in Mediterranean, and boreal zones. Although it has been found nesting up to 1500 m, it is essentially a lowland species, and nests mostly in broad river valleys, plains, and levels bordering lakes and the sea. It can breed in wetlands, though these are often smaller and dryer than those used by the Marsh Harrier. It also utilizes heaths, dunes, moors, and can be found in the steppe. It adapts to shrublands in gorse or heather and to areas planted with young conifers.When no other suitable habitat is available this harrier will nest in agricultural farmlands where it is vulnerable to early harvesting. Amongst these it chooses especially grasslands and cereal crops such as wheat, barley, oats and colza. In western Europe, up to 70 percent of the population breeds in artificial habitats.In short, for breeding the Montagu's Harrier requires a large open area, with sufficiently tall ground vegetation to afford cover without being overgrown. It favours posts on which both male and female can rest and survey the breeding area: these can be fenceposts, small trees, or rocky outcrops. When hunting, in any season, it prefers areas of low or sparse vegetation where prey is more visible. Densely settled areas are generally avoided and it is highly susceptible to disturbance.The diet consists mainly of small rodents, small birds, snakes and large insects.As this bird has a wide distribution, it will take whatever prey is available in the area where it nests; in the northern range it will mainly take ground squirrels and rabbits, whereas in southern Europe, it mostly takes small reptiles and large insects. In areas where the food supply is composed almost exclusively of rodents, the breeding success depends greatly on the cyclic fluctuations of vole populations.[Prey is caught while flying along fixed routes at low heights and constant low speeds (c. 30 km/h), as is typical of harriers. The flight is considered lighter and more dexterous than other harriers enabling it to take more agile prey. When possible it often follows the edges of various vegetation to catch its prey by surprise. This is taken after a short stoop, though fast running animals and flying birds can be chased over a short distance.During the breeding season, the male will provision the female and later the young with food. The rate of provisioning increases from 5 to 6 times per day during incubation to 7 to 10 times per day when young have hatched, though the male can be handicapped by wet, foggy or windy weather. In a manner typical of harriers, prey is passed between partners in the air: The female flies underneath the male, who drops the prey for her to catch. The male hunts over a large area up to 12 km away from the nest. The female hunts closer to the nest, up to 1 km away, and only after the young have hatched.This species can still be found throughout most of the Western Palearctic. In most European countries there is at least a small population, except in Norway where it is not present. The breeding range extends as far east as the Urals, whereas the most western population is that of Portugal. Breeding also occurs in northern Africa, mostly in Morocco. In Great Britain the species is limited to southern England. In Ireland the species is rarely seen, and mainly in the South, although there are a number of breeding records.

Despite having a wide distribution, this bird is not common in many areas and has strong populations only in France, Spain, Russia, Belarus and Poland where the greater part of the European population can be found. Breeding sites frequently change, with some sporadic nesting occurring outside known breeding areas, however clear signs of reduced range are apparent and are associated with population decline.
Status in Britain
Montagu's Harrier is a rare breeding bird in Britain. There are two breeding areas - the area surrounding The Wash, and downland areas of southern England, from Dorset and Hampshire north to Oxfordshire. Away from these areas it occurs only as a scarce migrant. One site, Estuary Farm, near North Wootton in west Norfolk, a special observation area was negotiated with local landowners, so that pressure could be taken off other nesting pairs. In 2005, a pair bred on the Holkham estate.It can be both solitary and gregarious at times, both during the breeding season and in winter quarters. A breeding pair may associate with others to form loose colonies, with as many as 30 nests in the same area, sometimes as close as 10 m apart. Semi-colonial nesting is not due to a shortage of nesting sites, but arises rather from the need to provide a better defence against predators. The actual area defended by both partners covers only 300-400m around the nest, and in case of colonial nesting the response to predators may be communal. Other species attacked and mobbed include large raptors, corvids, and foxes.Reproduction begins with the return of both partners to the nesting site, at which point both male and female will start displaying. The display consists of various sky-dances and aerobatic figures that vary according to each individual. Both sexes will display, crying loudly, though the males' displays are more frequent and spectacular.

Montagu's harriers breed for the first time when two or three years old, but occasionally one year old females may attempt to nest. Pairs form on the territory, when returning from migration. As the birds are tied to their former nesting sites, they probably mate with the same partner every year. The nest is built by the female, always in tall vegetation. It is a simple construction made of grass, used only for one season. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs which are incubated for 27–40 days. The young leave the nest after 28–42 days and are independent two weeks later.

The males may be polygamous, then having to feed two females and later two broods, either simultaneously or consecutively.
The Montagu's Harrier is a long distance migrant. Birds from Eurasia spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa, while those from the eastern part of the range migrate to the Indian subcontinent. In Europe, the first birds start to move at the beginning of August and most have left by mid-October. They travel over a broad front, crossing the Mediterranean at various points, and only a small number are observed at migration choke points. Western birds don't go further south than the gulf of Guinea, but some eastern birds travel as far as South Africa. In Africa their diet is composed mostly of insects and birds, and it is possible that they follow locust swarms.[Spring return peaks in April, and most birds have arrived by May though there is evidence that first-year juveniles spend their first summer in the winter quarters.
From Wikipedia
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Monitor Lizard
Tal Chhapar, Rajasthan
Oct 2014
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Imperial Eagle ?
ID Help please
Tal Chapar, Rajasthan
Oct 2014
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Laggar Falcon ?
Tal Chapar, Rajasthan
Oct 2014
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The rufous-tailed lark (Ammomanes phoenicura)
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India..
With +Ramachandran S +gunvinder singh +Amit gupta Thank you for being there with me :)
It also sometimes called the rufous-tailed finch-lark is a ground bird found in the drier open stony habitats of India and parts of Pakistan. Like other species in the genus it has a large finch-like bill with a slightly curved edge to the upper mandible. The dull brown colour matches the soil as it forages for grass seeds, grain and insects. Males and females are indistinguishable in the field but during the breeding season, the male has a courtship display that involves flying up steeply and then nose-diving and pulling up in a series of stepped wavy dips accompanied by calling. They forage on the ground in pairs or small groups.Like other Ammomanes larks, the species has a wide curved beak with the nostrils covered by feathers. The hindclaw is as long as the hindtoe and moderately curved. The base of the lower mandible is fleshy while the rest is horn-grey. The legs are also flesh coloured. Some taxonomists in the past included the bar-tailed ;ark as a subspecies but the two are now generally considered to be separate species. Walter Koelz designated the peninsular Indian population south of a line across India from Hubli to Bellary and to Ellore[3] as a separate subspecies testaceus (=testacea) that has brighter rufous colours. Some later workers treat the species as monotypic because specimens vary in the brightness (the reddest individuals being from Mysore and Salem).  In the field, the rufous colour, the reddish rump and a dark tail band (narrowing towards the sides to give a triangular shape) are distinctive. The throat is lightly streaked in dark brown. Young birds have less streaking on the underside.[7][8][9]The species is found mainly in low altitude dry regions in open habitats without significant tree cover. It is a resident mainly within India south of the Ganges extending west to Kutch and the Aravallis of Rajasthan. They are summer visitors to parts of Pakistan in northern Punjab and in southern Nepal. The species does not occur in Sri Lanka and reports of their occurrence on the island of Rameshwaram are not confirmed while the species is largely absent along the Western Ghats region particularly in Kerala.Usually seen on the ground, but sometimes perching on wires these birds are not secretive. The walk on the ground making quick dashes to capture insects and when disturbed crouch and stay still to flush only when approached very close. The breeding season is from February to May. The display of males involves rising high with deep beats of the wing and then descending in a series of nose dives accompanied by short burbling or chirruping notes. They also call while perched. The nest is built in a depression in the ground and two to four eggs form the typical clutch. The eggs are broad oval with some gloss. The colour is creamy or pale yellowish-white with spots all over but denser at the broad end.The incubation period has not been ascertained.
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 The Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis)
The Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis),
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India, 2013
It is a member of the roller family of birds. They are found widely across tropical Asia stretching from Iraq eastward across the Indian Subcontinent to Indochina and are best known for the aerobatic displays of the male during the breeding season. They are very commonly seen perched along roadside trees and wires and are commonly seen in open grassland and scrub forest habitats. It is not migratory, but undertakes some seasonal movements. The largest populations of the species are within India, and Several states in India have chosen it as their state bird.The Indian roller is a stocky bird about 26–27 cm long and can only be confused within its range with the migratory European roller. The breast is brownish and not blue as in the European Roller. The crown and vent are blue. The primaries are deep purplish blue with a band of pale blue. The tail is sky blue with a terminal band of Prussian blue and the central feathers are dull green. The neck and throat are purplish lilac with white shaft streaks. The bare patch around the eye is ochre in colour. The three forward toes are united at the base. Rollers have a long and compressed bill with a curved upper edge and a hooked tip. The nostril is long and exposed and there are long rictal bristles at the base of the bill.Three subspecies are usually recognized. The nominate form is found from West Asia (Iraq, Arabia) east across the Indian Subcontinent, and within India north of the Vindhyas mountain ranges. The subspecies indicus is found in peninsular India and Sri Lanka. The southern form has a darker reddish collar on the hind neck which is missing in the nominate form. The race affinis of northeastern India and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar, Indochina) is sometimes considered a full species, but within the Indian region, it is seen to intergrade with benghalensis. The form affinis is darker, larger and has a purplish brown and unstreaked face and breast. It has underwing coverts in a deeper shade of blue.
The Indian roller is distributed across Asia, from West Asia (Iraq), through the Indian Subcontinent (including Sri Lanka and the islands of Lakshadweep and Maldive Islands) into Southeast Asia.
The main habitat is cultivation, thin forest and grassland. They are often seen perched on roadside electric wires.
These birds are usually seen perched on prominent bare trees or wires. They descend to the ground to capture their prey which may include insects, arachnids, small reptiles (including Calotes versicolor and small snakes and amphibians. Fires attract them and they will also follow tractors for disturbed invertebrates. In agricultural habitats in southern India, they have been found at densities of about 50 birds per km2. They perch mainly on 3—10 metre high perches and feed mostly on ground insects. Nearly 50% of their prey are beetles and 25% made up by grasshoppers and crickets.The feeding behaviour of this roller and habitat usage are very similar to that of the black drongo. During summer, they may also feed late in the evening and make use of artificial lights and feed on insects attracted to them. They are attracted to swarms of winged termites and as many as 40 birds have been seen to perch on a 70 metre stretch of electric wires. Their habit of feeding near roadsides sometimes results in collisions with traffic. A decline in the numbers of these birds seen along roadsides in northern India has been noted.
The display of this bird is an aerobatic display, with the twists and turns that give this species its English name. The breeding season is March to June, slightly earlier in southern India. Displays when perched include bill-up displays, bowing, allopreening, wing drooping and tail fanning] Holes created by woodpeckers or wood boring insects in palms are favoured for nesting in some areas.Nest cavities may also be made by tearing open rotten tree trunks or in cavities in building.The cavity is usually unlined and is made up mainly of debris from the wood. The normal clutch consists of about 3-5 eggs. The eggs are white and broad oval or nearly spherical.[4] Both sexes incubate the eggs for about 17 to 19 days. The young fledge and leave the nest after about a month. Nearly 80% of the eggs hatch and fledge.
The call of the Indian roller is a harsh crow-like chack sound. It also makes a variety of other sounds, including metallic boink calls. It is especially vociferous during the breeding season.
The bird bathes in open water by plunge-diving into it, a behaviour often interpreted as fishing. But it may occasionally attempt fishing from water.
Blood parasites Leucocytozoon of the family Plasmodiidae have been noted in the lung tissues. Parasitic helminth worms Hadjelia truncata and Synhimantus spiralis were recorded as well.
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Could it be steppe eagle ?
+Sharad Agrawal ji. At Menar, Sep 2014
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Great Crested Grebe
Udaipur, Rajasthan
Sep 2014
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