White-browed Wagtail

A white-browed wagtail stands on a rock backlit by beautiful greens and yellows of distant foliage, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India
A white-browed wagtail stands on a rock backlit by beautiful greens and yellows of distant foliage, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

While almost every bird I saw in India was a new species for me, it always feels special to see a species you know is somewhat uncommon for the area. One such bird I saw at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary was the white-browed wagtail.

White-browed wagtails call often in the mornings and are active at this time like most other wagtails. The song is long and loud with many different notes. The usual call has a wheezy sound. They can fly fairly rapidly for long distances, and have been recorded as fast as 40 km/h. They usually perch on the ground or low rocks.

A white-browed wagtail stands on a rock backlit by beautiful greens and yellows of distant foliage, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India
A white-browed wagtail stands on a rock backlit by beautiful greens and yellows of distant foliage, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

I was lucky to not only have great views of this species, but also beautiful light. Our small boat circled the bird and I caught several shots with a background of distant green foliage, lit by speckled sunlight.

Pied Kingfisher

A pied kingfisher perches on a narrow branch above a small lake, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India
A pied kingfisher perches on a narrow branch above a small lake, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

On a recent trip to India, I managed to get photos of several new birds. The very first that I photographed in the country was this pied kingfisher, one of my target species. My friend Gaurav showed me around one of his local haunts, and within ten minutes, I had several hundred photos of this kingfisher under my belt. In fact, at one point, we got too close to the bird for my lens to focus.

Gaurav had taken me to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary just outside of Mysore. As it was off-season, there were very few people around (great for bird photography), but there were also fewer birds than normal (not great for bird photography). Even given the that there were fewer birds than during peak migration, I was in photography heaven. Everywhere I turned there were new species to photograph. In order to get out into the middle of the action, we hired a guide and a rowboat for an hour, getting us within feet of many new and exotic birds.

A pied kingfisher perches on a narrow branch above a small lake, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India
A pied kingfisher perches on a narrow branch above a small lake, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

The pied kingfisher is the world’s third most common kingfisher, widely distributed across Africa and Asia. This species typically does not migrate, which is why it was see here out of season. This particular specimen likely lived at this lake year round. In the US, I am more used to the belted kingfisher, which is usually quite shy and difficult to photograph without spooking it. By contrast, the pied kingfisher was bold and didn’t leave the tree the entire time we were photographing it, offering many great poses.

While this bird is by no means a rare find, I felt honored to spend a little time with this little one. Any time I get a chance to capture great photographs of a new species, I am more than satisfied with the day’s outing.