No, don’t get any ideas; the title’s intent is not what you are thinking. This is neither a crime report nor is the Brown Fish Owl being framed or accused of anything but of being extra generous :-)
On a safari into the forests of Kabini (and other similar habitats), the one sure shot sighting, if not anything else, would be the Crested Serpent Eagle (CSE). I am sure, most of you will concur with me on this. I probably have seen the CSE, more number of times, than any other inhabitant of the jungles, sparing of course, the spotted deer and a few commonly seen primates. CSE never disappoints and you know that your safari is a total washout, when you haven’t come across this guy, at least once.
However, on my most recent outing to Kabini, things turned out to be quite different. The individual that had taken over the onus of being a ‘guaranteed sighting’ was the Brown Fish Owl ! As one of my co-traveller’s opined, may be the CSE’s were a little busy with something else and the Brown Fish Owls had agreed to proxy for them :-) We saw them, on all but one, of our four safaris there.
Here are a few frames of this lovely bird. Highlight being, all of these are from that one single trip :) I collated them into this short blog post.
On our very first drive, we spotted one individual. That one was a bit skittish and it flew deep into the forest and perched on a branch, albeit an open one (without much clutter to hide the beautiful bird).
After a while, we spotted another one ( don’t know if it was the same individual ). This guy was on a relatively closer perch and we decided to stop and photograph. As we were doing so, it started to rain. It was quite a heavy drizzle and this individual decided to stay put. I was in two minds, whether to put away my camera or not :) I chose not to and tried to see if I could get some of the falling droplets of rain into an image along with the handsome bird sitting there. Not having any proper support, it was quite a bit of struggle to keep the focus going and at the same time avoiding any camera shake. Finally, managed this image.
On the next day, a few minutes into the morning safari, we saw one more Brown Fish Owl. This one flew across the jeep track and perched on a branch to our left. Just at the same time, another one flew in the opposite direction. That’s when we realised that there were two of them and they had been sitting together. We had missed a great opportunity. The one, that had settled itself on our left, was closer still, and on a lovely perch. We couldn’t help but stop, to photograph.
A few yards down the same track, we spotted the second one of the pair, sitting under the fresh, beautiful, and green canopy, watching us.
This was astounding for me ! Had never seen so many Brown Fish Owls, that too, back to back.
Second day, evening safari, our third one of the trip, we were welcomed by this handsome individual, once again on a pretty good perch. Though we had made a good number of Brown Fish Owl images by then, we, the greedy photographers, couldn’t help but take a few shots.
We weren’t going to be let out of Kabini without a one final darshan. Nearing the close of our last safari, the fourth of the trip, we saw one more. Just as our jeep slowed down, it quickly flew, far and high into the canopy, well out of reach. I took a record shot, just to complete the series :)
I don’t know if there is any particular reason for these many Brown Fish Owl sightings. There seemed to be quite a bit of movement of them. They are known to breed generally between November and April. May be it began a little earlier this time around, don’t know !
It was not just raining in Kabini, it was raining Brown Fish Owls !