We generally do not focus our birding session on a single species but this Sunday was different as we sighted the Vernal hanging parrot (Loriculus vernalis) – the only species of parrot found in India, and spent 3 hours photographing and observing a flock of 8 of these little beauties.
We had started a bit late this time, around 5:30 AM from Pune and with no pre-decided location in mind, it was along the journey when we decided to drive through & explore Kaldari as we had sighted a Shaheen Falcon couple of weeks back in the same region. Once we entered the region and drove for few KMs, we realized the bird activity wasn’t great except for the usual Laughing doves & Red-vented bulbuls. Soon i sighted couple of Red-rumped swallows collecting mud for nesting right next to the road and stopped the vehicle. It was completely overcast so we decided to just observe them for a while. This is when we noticed 4 small green birds zoom past and perched on a tree. Initial thoughts were to give it a pass thinking they are green bee-eaters but the shape & flight was totally different. The other birds that came to mind were leafbirds or Vernal hanging parrots and a quick glance through the binoculars confirmed its was indeed the later species.
Seeing this species in Pune region for the 1st time, we decided to wait and see if we can make few images. Unfortunately for us, the birds had already moved from the tree where they had perched but what we had observed through binoculars was that they were feeding on the tree. We drove next to the tree and luckily there was place to park our car. We decided to stay in the car and wait. It was almost 20 minutes later when we heard their calls but again, they were pretty far away. The calls got stronger as we realised they are coming closer & closer. Soon we sighted them, this time they were on a tree where we sighted the swallows. Another 5 minutes and they were back on the tree next to us, only a couple of them though. Other two seem to have landed on a tree which was a below our sight. This is when we made few images, although in a clutter.
There were feeding for around 2 minutes and flew again. We decided to wait in hope that they would return again and they did, one of them landing on a clear branch letting us make better images before moving into the clutter to feed on the berries.
Soon we realised they were following a particular path moving from one tree to another and feeding on each tree for few minutes. There were also couple of trees together where they spent maximum time feeding, although those trees were inaccessible from the car and had to be approached by foot. After spending over two hours in car itself, we approached those couple of trees on foot and took our places behind few small trees in a way that we could get a clear view of some of the branches where we anticipated the parrots to land. This is when it started pouring down. Around 30 minutes in rain, and there was no sign of them. The rain reduced a bit when we saw them again. As expected they came and landed on the bunch trees in-front of us, but not on the branches where we expected them to, hence we couldn’t make any clear images.
They did not spend much time and flew to the next tree and soon where out of sight. We decided to stay for some more time as the rain finally stopped and light conditions improved. They came again, this time 8 of them and all of them perched on those couple of trees in-front of us. This is when we made some clear images as a couple of them landed on the open branches and began feeding on the berries.
This time they got busy feeding on the fruits and stayed on for much longer. They were so busy feeding that they did not even realise when we got up and returned back to the car, which was quite similar to the feeding behaviour of barbets we have observed in past. Here is a video as well of their behaviour as they were busy feeding on the fruits.
As always, signing off with my favourite image of the species.
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– Rudraksha & Shraddha
eBird checklist for the outing:
We have been exploring Kaldari for a while now and it has always been more of mixed bag. If you sight something, you get it really close else you hardly sight anything. Along with the Vernal hanging parrot, some of the other notable sightings that gave excellent photographic opportunities at Kaldari in past include the Crested hawk eagle, Sirkeer Malkoha, Crested Bunting and Brown Crake. Here are our previous checklists on eBird for Kaldari region.
More information on Vernal hanging parrot (Loriculus vernalis):