“My most memorable Wildlife Images 2016”
“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” (Anatoli Boukreev)
This the simplest quote I could find out there, which summarizes all that I feel for the Himalayas. Himalayas for me are the living gods, and every experience I have up here is my personal one to one meet with him. That golden sunrise and sunset, that gorgeous bird that decided to stay for me, that beautiful Moon that resolved to rise when I was at the perfect location, that cloud pattern atop that Himalayan peak, that time when the light was just perfect, that cloud which parted just at the right moment, that person who (coincidentally ?) guided me to the perfect spot and those innumerable incidents that happened just at the right time. If these are not the manifestations of god, then I don’t know what is.
So today I would like to share some of my experiences, in my one to one meet with him. Today I would like to share with you my most memorable wildlife images of the year 2016. I would be doing the same with Landscapes too.
So here are some of them in no specific order.
The Himalayan Monal
When I first visited Chandrashila in April 2015 and saw this ridge and the deep valley beyond it, I imagined what a shot it would be if a Monal came to the edge. So every-time I came to Tungnath, I would wait at this ridge for hours, mornings and evenings, hoping for it to show up. It never did so for more than a year. Until this July, when my brothers visited me and together we went to Tungnath.
The weather here was cloudy 24 hours a day, except today morning, when it cleared a bit (probably for me ?). We trekked all the way (in rains) at night, reaching Chandrashila for a beautiful sunrise. When returning, out of habit ( and not having any hopes ?) I came to this ridge and started looking for this elusive beauty. It was feeding very calmly on this slope and slowly, but surely (shocked me ?) came to this ridge. I was elated on seeing him here, took some shots and then he disappeared in the valley below. So I had an idea and it took me one year to get this shot. Adding to the beauty of the shot, was the green grass and freshly bloomed flowers.
On the same day and before I shot the above Himalayan Monal, while we were trekking down the slopes of Chandrashila, we saw a huge group of Himalayan Tahrs grazing very calmly on lush green pastures.
From previous experience I knew them to be very skittish and since we were three of us, was afraid they might disappear as soon as they see us. So asking my brothers to wait behind, I very slowly and calmly started approaching them. I did not have to work very hard this time, and they allowed me to come very close to them. So close, that I was able to fill my frame with single individuals. I spent close to 30 minutes with this group, and not for a single moment did they mind me in their space. More than the shots, the experience of being so close to them, and observing them was something that I will always cherish.
Being down with Typhoid in Jan 2016, the whole month was spent healing and recovering. I was frustrated to the core for not being able to explore and travel to places. So the day after my doctor’s prescription ended, I left for Munsiyari. I knew that Munsiyari receives lots of snowfall and was very hopeful of getting images of Birds on freshly fallen snow. I was adamant on getting that shot and decided that I will stay there until there is fresh snowfall.
For the first day and a half nothing happened, and then on the second evening it began raining. I went to sleep praying for the rains to continue (so that it may snow later ?) , and lo behold when I woke up the area was blanketed with snow. I was delighted and no sooner did I hit the road, noticed a bunch of Rock Buntings and Rose finches feeding very actively. This guy obliged and gave me the shot I had been dreaming for a long long time. One of my most wonderful memories from the year.
One of my neighbors told me that he had seen, not less than 150Cormorants( Probably Indian), together at a spot besides River Ganga twice, so I set off for that spot the next morning, hoping to get some spectacular flying shots of them in the morning light. When I did however reach the spot, there were none, and I was thoroughly disappointed. There was however this lone Egyptian Vulture feeding, and I got some pretty good shots of it.
The story however becomes interesting after I left the spot. Some overly cautious guy, reported my presence to the local police there (seeing my 400mm lens I suppose ?) . The local Police then thoroughly grilled me at the police station on my camera gear and my profession. The police later told me, they thought me to be someone doing a recce of the location to do some damage (see there was a dam some kilometers from here ?)
Rarely have I seen, things go according to plan. I plan something for a place, very excitedly I reach the place and it never happens. Nature always has plans of its own and something spectacular (sometimes disappointing too) happens. Something which you haven’t have the faintest idea of. This is exactly what I experienced when I visited this place in December. Seeing a Koklass pheasant was the last thing in my mind, and yet this guy showed up. It showed up on all mornings and evenings, and on the last evening spent close to 20 minutes with me. Knowing how skittish this bird is, it was nothing less than a miracle that this happened. To top it all, it was less than 15 feet from me.
Which allowed me to admire its beauty ever so closely.
My good friend Swayam has hooked me to Wide angle shots ?. So now I keep on looking for opportunities to shoot wildlife subjects in wide angle. This spring morning however, I was on the lookout for birds and after shooting a Plumbeous-water redstart was packing up. I suddenly saw this hill Jezebel mud puddling besides the river I was shooting. I immediately took out my ultra-wide 10-18mm and crawling on my belly approached this beauty. Have you noticed that when butterflies mud puddle they seem to care about nothing? I was able to approach this guy to the closest focusing distance of my lens. The specie, the Mountains and a hint of snow in the background made this one of my personal favorites.
So here are my 6 most memorable Wildlife Images of the year 2016. Hope that i come up with more spectacular Images and experiences in the year 2017.
I would love to hear your experiences while shooting wildlife. Would also like to challenge anyone reading this, to write a blog of their own describing their wildlife experiences of the year 2016.
Till then have a Great Day and a Wonderful, fruitful, prosperous and happy year 2017.?