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When you go birding almost every day, and your style of clicking is high-speed continuous (burst shots as default), you generate a lot of data. Backing up data has been a process and sorting the right images is an extremely time-consuming exercise.

On an average, I click anywhere between 2500 and 3000 pictures in a month, out of which only about 10 percent is usable. On my backup, I store these 250 odd RAW files and an additional 250 edited jpgs for easy retrieval. So in a full year of birding, this can be roughly 3000 images that I think are worth saving.

From that lot, I have decided to keep a list of the top 50 (not necessarily always the quality of the shot, but also from a story perspective) every year. Hope this is something I can look back and track my progress.

So, here’s my first collection of the year 2020 from April to December. They are not in any order for now. If you have a favorite, do comment and let me know. Cheers!

Twenty Twenty Top 50

1

The three musketeers

When I just started birding, it was primarily a bunch of Woodpeckers and Spotted Owlets that was exciting to shoot. On a kit lens of 18-135mm, managed to get all three Black-rumped Flamebacks one day.

22 Apr 20
Malhar – Basketball court

2

One of a kind

Growing up, this was the only kite I recognized because of its distinct color. Before the ABAF cleared the space, after Patterns, close to Vrishabavathi, one could find many kites looking for food.

26 Apr 20
Malhar – ABAF ground

3

The Rocket

There’s something about this Common Myna’s exit that looks like a fighter jet. With a little bit of debris falling off, this is one of my favorite ones from the initial days.

7 May 20
Malhar – Basketball court

4

The imitator

Same day, same tree, similar exit. While the Common Myna isn’t too difficult to shoot in flight, the Black-rumped Flameback is ridiculously quick. Again, shot on 18-135mm, I was really pushing the limits of this lens.

7 May 20
Malhar – Basketball court

5

Love is in the air

A rare moment of two Spotted Owlets being cozy. The light wasn’t the best for this one but managed to get some details in post.

7 May 20
Malhar – Basketball court

6

The curious one

I’ve shot this one and two others of the same family some 100 times in two months. Spotted Owlets have the most animated facial expressions. This was shot on that famous ‘dead-living’ tree.

8 May 20
Malhar – Basketball court

7

Who gave their name?

They are green, they eat bees. What do we call them? Like, think super creative. Ever since I spotted a pair of Green bee-eaters near patterns, these became one of my favorites in no time.

9 May 20
Doddabele village

8

Four in one

On the same day, carrying that heavy lens, looking straight up, got four of them together with one of them proving why it got its name.

9 May 20
Doddabele village

9

Ah ah aaaaaaaaah ah

A young White-cheeked Barbet yelling out to a parent to get some good food.

10 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

10

The Fight Club

What is the first rule of fight club?
FIGHT UNTIL YOU GET ALL THE REAL ESTATE.
Watched an Indian Roller and a Rose-ringed Parakeet going after each other due to some personal space issues.

10 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

11

The Bee and the eater

I wasn’t even sure when I clicked one sitting in the car that I managed to get the bee also in the frame. Not a fan of birds on a wire, but thought this should make it to the list.

13 May 20
Doddabele lake

12

Let there be light

And, hopefully from behind the photographer. Getting this angle on a clear morning was very interesting. I have clicked several pictures of Ashy Prinia post this, but this one remains a favorite to date.

21 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

13

Letting go

Same bird, a slightly different angle. While I like the action on this one, I don’t particularly like the light or the background.

21 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

14

The builder

Here’s an example of how a green background can change the image completely. Shot a few days later from the previous one, this Ashy Prinia looked like it was collecting material to build a nest.

25 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

15

Splash

I’ve used this in a presentation about how important it is to get to the eye level to get the right perspective. This Paddyfield Pipit was enjoying a dip after a rainy day. At first, I took some shorts standing up. Looked absolutely terrible. Lying down flat on the ground gave this result.

25 May 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

16

Hungry kid

They say capturing birds feeding is one level up. This Black-rumped flameback had a timetable in the morning to feed the young. Once I figured that it was just a matter of good light, composition, patience, the right gear, some sweat and blood…okay you get the drift.

25 May 20
Malhar – Basketball court

17

The King and his babies

Having gone all around to get the White-throated Kingfisher, was so surprised to see not just one but a family of them right next door. Must’ve shot over 100 images of these guys that day, here’s a selection of just a couple of them.

18 Jun 20
Malhar – FP Veg garden

18

The family

I never imagined getting four KFs in one frame. That too, about 20 meters from home. This day sure was fun.

18 Jun 20
Malhar – FP Veg garden

19

Baby’s day out

I have followed this one from when it was an egg to the day it flew out of the nest for the first time. Thankfully, have a detailed blog on it as well.

30 Jun 20
Malhar – FP, H cluster

20

A Scaly situation

Having clicked a whole lot of Munias, I really like this intimate one of these Scaly-breasted munias also perhaps due to the clean creamy background.

7 Jul 20
Doddabele lake

21

Hiding

Egrets usually don’t fall in my favorites category. I enjoyed this one because of the colors. Just a dash of white in a sea of green.

8 Jul 20
Doddabele lake

22

Greed

This common myna was collecting food like there was a war coming. Or, perhaps too many hungry mouths to feed.

9 Jul 20
Behind Doddabele lake

23

Zitting nicely

This was my first with a Zitting Cisticola. Mistook it to be a plain Prinia for a while before figuring out that it was a Cisticola.

11 Jul 20
Doddabele lake

24

If looks could kill

From the very first time, till date, I never get tired of clicking this beauty. The black-winged Kite is a small raptor but has killer eyes.

12 Jul 20
Doddabele lake

25

Another killer

Shikras are another fascinating creature. Great hunters and fierce fighters. This particular one seemed well camouflaged until I got a decently close.

26 Jul 20
Behind Doddabele lake

26

Tiny and noisy

While sitting at a friend’s balcony a bunch of Common Tailorbirds and Indian White-eyes were busy eating the fig. I did get a good cover to get about 6 feet away from these tiny birds.

23 Aug 20
Malhar – FP, C Cluster

27

Fig for comparison

This one is a favorite. These are medium-sized figs and look how tiny an Indian white-eye is. On print, this looks really good. They are now regular visitors of my birdbath on my balcony. Also, have a blog with a series of shots.

23 Aug 20
Malhar – FP, C Cluster

28

Suntana?

Okay, that’s a bad title. Sunbirds do love lantanas though. This one was shot at my sister’s farmhouse. The light was sort of against me.

30 Aug 20
Solur

29

Feeding time

A rare moment of Baya Weaver feeding a young one on a wire. For some reason, there seemed to be a lot of chaos around this with a bunch of other adults trying to spoil this feeding.

1 Sep 20
Doddabele lake

30

The King of good times

Not only is this my favorite bird, but it’s also the most elusive one. Whoever named it the Common Kingfisher. Since they are skittish, getting a decent enough shot is very difficult. I had to hide and drag myself on the ground a great deal to get this one.

1 Sep 20
Doddabele lake

31

Too many mouths to feed

During the breeding season, it’s always fun to watch how different species feed their young. This Indian Silverbill was on war footing to feed these hungry ones. They are so busy doing this, sometimes are unaware of humans being around.

5 Sep 20
Doddabele lake

32

Give me red

Red Avadavats became an instant hit from the time I started noticing them somewhere since August. The way the male morphs into this bright red during mating season is just stunning. I have a series on these guys too in a separate post.

8 Sep 20
Behind Doddabele lake

33

As clean as it can get

Decided to go to Kabini for a holiday (first of the year) thinking I’d be able to get a lot more variety. Unfortunately, it rained right through and didn’t manage to get a whole lot. This Common Sandpiper obliged with a profile shot.

20 Sep 20
Kabini

34

The shy one

Blue-faced Malkohas are extremely shy. Hence, getting a clear shot of them is very challenging. They are usually hiding between leaves and don’t expose that much when people are around. This was the cleanest shot I’ve managed to date.

23 Sep 20
Doddabele lake

35

Looking for his next meal

This one was so busy looking for his next meal, that he didn’t notice how close I got to him. The colors just pop at this distance.

20 Sep 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

36

Capturing the landscape

It’s not necessary to always get very close to your subject. Especially when it is a big bird, you can always capture the landscape around from a distance. This Grey Heron in the middle of the lake seemed perfect for a shot like that.

29 Aug 20
Aagara lake

37

Hover craft

On a fading evening light, managed to capture this in the air shot of the Purple-rumped Sunbird. Half the time was spent on at what shutter speed I should click this. Because of low light, shot it at 1/800.

5 Sep 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

38

Freeze frame

This has to be one of my favorite action shots. When they toss it up to swallow the bee, this is what you get.

25 Sep 20
Aagara lake

39

In line flying

Painted Storks look absolutely beautiful in flight. These were going away from me, so not the best angle. Love the reflection in the water.

25 Sep 20
Aagara lake

40

Snake bird

The Oriental Darter is one scary-looking bird. They are also known as snake birds due to their long neck. Found this lone one fishing happily at Lalbagh.

27 Sep 20
Lalbagh

41

Best of the Red

When the light is right, everything seems alright. The cleanest shot of the Red Avadavat so far.

5 Oct 20
Behind Doddabele lake

42

The elusive one

While Hoopoes have been spotted regularly near home, it took me a while to capture one. While looking for some Francolins, this one just landed right in front of me.

8 Oct 20
Behind Doddabele lake

43

Multi-species chilling

Waterbirds are very friendly to each other. Storks, Herons, Egrets chill together looking for their food.

9 Oct 20
Aagara lake

44

Confused

The face-off between a Black-kite and a Squirrel was most fun. The rodent wanted to pass through but was utterly confused if he’d become a meal for this raptor. I have a series of these on a blog.

16 Oct 20
Doddabele lake

45

Purple haze

I repeat. Light is the key. If you have the right light, half the job is done. Capturing the many moods of this Purple Sunbird was fun. That yellow patch is just perfect.

27 Oct 20
Behind Doddabele lake

46

Honey stealer

One of the largest raptors around, the Oriental honey Buzzards are as the name suggests, love honey. Interestingly their head is relatively small, almost pigeon-like.

16 Oct 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

47

Another gorgeous raptor

The Changeable Hawk-eagle is an agile forest-dwelling predator. These guys show a wide range of variation in plumage from pale to dark, varying with moult and hence the name “changeable”.

10 Nov 20
Jaipurdoddi

48

In-Sync

Not a fan of the blue background at all, but this bunch of Black-headed Ibis looked too good to be not added to this list.

10 Nov 20
Jaipurdoddi

49

Butcher bird

Here’s a cute-looking monster of a bird.┬áLike most other shrikes, the Brown Shrike has a distinctive black bandit-mask through the eye and is found mainly in open scrub habitats, where it perches on the top of thorny bushes in search of prey and to impale them.

15 Nov 20
Malhar – Behind Resonance/ Mosaic

50

End of the year beauty

I ended this year with 152 species of birds in just 8 months of birding. The Chestnut-headed bee-eater being the last one shot on the last day of the year. With travel being limited, not a bad start to a new hobby, ey?

31 Dec 20
Wayanad, Tranquil resort

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