The year 2015 was a year of scary changes, tremendous learning and of phenomenal personal growth for me. I am thankful to god for making me experience the divinity of Mother Nature in such beautiful ways. From the never ending beautiful treks in the forests of the Himalayas, to the million colours of pristine sunrises and sunsets over the angelic Himalayan peaks, the beauty of the birds not just in colours, but in the ways they sing, the rhythmic patterns of their flights and the pleasure they provided me for hours on end. The tranquil hush of the dark nights, with nothing but millions of stars as my only company (and an occasional call of a sambhar or barking deer and sometimes a leopard). The towering Himalayan peaks coated with layers upon layer of thousands of years of perpetual snow and ice, bathed in angelic moonlight.
Hmm…. That’s a year worth lived!!!!
Talking about experiences, today I would like to share with you some of my most memorable Wildlife Images from the year 2015. I would be doing the same with Landscape Images too.
When I say memorable, it’s not the most beautiful of the lot, but these are some images which I remember fondly because of the experiences they offered.
So here’s some of them in no specific order.
- The Himalayan Monal
Wanting to capture this beauty, I traveled for almost a month to different places in Uttarakhand, froze myself to bones at times, but this guy though always gave me a glimpse never allowed me close enough for a shot. And here I was one day not at all concerned with shooting this guy (trying to shoot some mammals) when a flock of 3 flew past me and this guy settled on this tree right in front of me, giving me enough time to come a bit close, set my tripod and shoot for a good 10 Seconds or so. And guess what, ever since, seeing a Monal has almost been a guarantee for me 🙂
2. Himalayan Tahrs
I never thought I would be seeing the Near Threatened Himalayan Tahrs in such numbers (flock of 20 or more), my village guide told me of an area where they could be found. So here I was alone, at 3000+Meters panting up and down the slopes of the Mountains, when I saw them from a distance of some 200 Meters. Since I was alone they seemed comfortable with my presence, for the next 30 minutes or so it was a game of zigzagging through the slopes, and not make my presence very obvious to them I reduced the distance to some 50 meters or so (by walking 1 Km or so!!!!) I finally got close enough for this and a lot other shots. This was my personal best of the lot. As I tried to get further close to them, one from the group gave an alarm call and to my amazement it was a Whistle, like an actual whistle and then they just disappeared, well there I was all alone laughing out loud like a mad man, happy and content.
3. The Flying Gadwalls
Asan barrage near Dehradun is a winter Heaven for Migratory birds, I had two mornings to shoot this place. Since I don’t have a car, I used to wake up at 4:30 AM in the utter cold of Jan morning, take a 30Kms ride in an public bus, then take an auto for the next 5 Kms or so and by the time I reached here all my extremities were like non-existent J . I used to sit at the edge of the water body with my shoes partly in water and after the shoot I would dry my shoes and socks and get some life back on my toes. This was the only keeper I got on the second day just before leaving. And boy was I in ecstasy!!!!
4. White-capped Redstart
When I went to Urgam, I decided that I would shoot this guy for a full morning and get a decent shot. So here I was sitting next to a big river stream, in the month of Feb at 2400 Mts+, the day was cloudy, and if you have ever sat beside a stream, you would know it’s a lot cooler than the surroundings. Here it was freezing and this guy took full 5 hours to come close enough to give me a shot. I was just a body of shivering mass for those 5 hours or so (sunlight was very occasional), until this guy came close and boy so close, I could actually hold it and spent most of my time just admiring its beauty (too close to shoot). Well a shot well worth it.
5. Sorel Sapphire
Having Completed a round trip trek to Rudranath of 50 Kms, I was resting the next day, and in our garden saw this beauty soaking in the morning sun. Putting my macro lens and an external flash, I started playing with different lighting and stuff, this was the best I got that day, best of all this got published in Nature’s best Photography magazine USA, I believe this shot was a gift to me from Lord Shiva.
6. Plum-headed Parakeets
On a birding trip to a village, I noticed this pair of Plum headed parakeets coming to this tree often. It was the same thing every day, the female would be busy building the nest and the male just sat there watching. I observed them for 3 to 4 days hoping to make this shot, the male however never came close enough to fit in the same frame with the female, except on this day it posed for a while. Some sweet benefit of being patient.
7. Altai Accentor
Can never forget this bird, or should I say the experience, there was this only temple at a height of some 3000Mts on a mountain peak. No electricity, no water, no food and in the month of Jan the wind which blew here was freezing cold, plus this jungle had a lot of Himalayan bears and here I was all alone, with some packets of biscuits, no water(my mistake J ) and a lighter with me. I collected wood, made fire, boiled a very dirty looking water, filtered it with my handkerchief, had biscuits as dinner and lunch and believe me it was the sweetest food and water I ever had. The night was spent in a cemented room, which was killing me with cold. Having put 5 blankets below me, my sleeping bag which works till 0 Degrees, and having further put some 3 to 4 blankets to cover me, sleeping with all my clothes on, a very warm full Jacket, a full sweater, an thermal Inner, my socks and my monkey cap on. I could not sleep the full night, whenever my head went out of blanket by any chance, I would spend the next 15 mins shivering trying to get my warmth back, a barking deer giving its alarm call, the Hanuman Langur doing the same in the night did not help further, and the whole night was spent shivering with cold and fear alike. I was grateful for the morning and got this guy as a Keeper. Did I do this ever again? Hell yeah!!!! Ever since it’s just a norm.
I would love to hear about some of your most memorable wildlife Images and experiences from the year 2015.
If you do have one, please do post in the comments below.