Lunar Eclipse – Super Blue Blood Moon

A blue moon (a second full moon in a calendar month), The term once in a Blue Moon means that something is rare. Blue Moons happen once every two or three years. Double Blue Moons happen only about 3 to 5 times in a century. The next year that has two months with two Full Moons each will be 2037, while the last time, was in 1999. A Moon that actually looks blue, however, is a very rare sight. Eruptions like the ones on Mt. Krakatoa, in Indonesia (1883), El Chichon, Mexico (1983), on Mt. St. Helens (1980) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) are all known to have made the moon look blue. (Source:
The Moon will turn a shade of red  when Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon, casting its shadow on the Moon’s surface. The Moon does not have any light of its own—it shines because its surface reflects sunlight. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon and cuts off the Moon’s light supply. When this happens, the surface of the Moon takes on a reddish glow instead of going completely dark.The red color of a totally eclipsed Moon has prompted many people in recent years to refer to total lunar eclipses as Blood Moons. (Source:

Supermoon  happen when a full moon approximately coincides with the moon’s perigee, or a point in its orbit at which it is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual. The January 31st 2018 Super Blue Blood Moon combines three lunar elements – a supermoon, a blue moon and a blood moon.

The photos all taken from Chennai beach but I missed to carry my tripod so could not get sharp images of blood moon as the light was very low during the eclipse period.  Around 6.45 pm able to see the trace of moon, around 7.10 pm able to see the full moon orange red in colour and it lasted till 7.40 pm. Slowly moon started to become white and around 9.40 pm full white moon was visible.



Jallikattu / eru thazhuvuthal / manju virattu 2018

Jallikattu also known as eru thazhuvuthal and manju virattu is a traditional sport in which a Bos indicus bull is released from vadivasal and participants try to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Particiapnt should not hold the tail or horn. Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop is considered as winner.  Jallikattu is celebrated in Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations, which occurs annually 0n 14-16th January. These photos was taken from Avaniyapuram and Palamedu 14th & 15th January 2018. Special thanks to my friend Dhananjeyan and  kumaresan  for organizing this trip. 
How to photograph or view the event? 
It really challenging to view the event as there will be heavy crowd and getting near to the place were the participants catches the bull is very challenging as all VIP and local people will be there. Half the the gallery will be occupied by press and other half will be occupied by the VIP. To get a good location to photography is the most challenging thing and you need to get into the place 4-5 am in the morning itself as the event usually starts around 8 am.  You can also get good view from the terrace of the house but you need to know them or pay or request to get a good place for you. Maybe you should check with them one day before. The event will be usually from 8 – 4 pm and you cannot move out or take a break, if you move out you cannot get the place again. 
Rules of the Game – Jallikattu
The vadivasal is called the entry gate for the bull to the arena. I saw a long line of bulls waiting to enter the vadivasal. The bulls look quite and nice in this area.The bull tamer / contestant should try to ‘catch’ the bull by holding onto its hump only. The finish line is usually less than 50 meters and the bull tamer should only catch the bull within this area.  If the bull throws the tamer off before the line or if no-one manages to hold on to the bull, then the bull will be declared victorious. If the bull-tamer manages to hold on to the hump till it crosses the ‘finish line’, then the bull tamer is declared the winner. Only one bull tamer should hold on to the bull at one time. If more than one bull tamers hold on to the bull, then there is no winner. The bull tamer should only hold on to the hump. He should NOT hold on to the neck or horns or tails of the bull. Such tamers will be disqualified. If the bulls were not caught, the prize went to the owner. The prize went to the tamer if he held onto the hump till the finish line.
Bulls are queuing to enter vadivasal to fight the participants


A Trip to Thattekad ….. A bird watchers Paradise

Thattekad become popular after Dr. Salim Ali called it the “richest bird habitat in peninsular India”. We made a trip to Thattekad and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary during the 3rd week of December 2015.  We took 7 pm special train from Chennai to Ernakulam but it was unusually 6 hours late. We got down at Angamaly railway station and took a taxi to Thettekad. It cost us Rs 1200 .  Once you cross the Periyar river, you reach the entrance to the sanctuary and the ticket counter. Thattekad Birds Song Homestay is about 200 meters walk inside the main gate of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. We arrived Thattekad Bird Song Home stay around 11 am, bit sad as we missed the morning trek.  Birds Song has two rooms with attached bathrooms on the first floor. The ground floor is the residence of Vinod and his family. After a quick refreshment…we set to our first trek near the homestay area.

As we started our trail, we first spotted Brahminy kite as we walked little further to a small pond which was full of Lesser whistling ducks, darter and kingfishers. The other side of the pond has rubber plantation which we sighted Purple Sunbird, Green Bee-eater and Chestnut-headed bee-eater. We returned back to homestay for our lunch. We were served with pure authentic Kerala lunch. Due to low light and the distance the images quality was poor.

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)Bhrimy Kite







Crested treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata)


Malabar grey hornbill (Ocyceros griseus) is a hornbill endemic to the Western Ghats

Grey Hornbill


Verditer flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus)


Golden-fronted leafbird (Chloropsis aurifrons)















Chestnut-Headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti)Chestnut-headed

The Second day we started early to the other side of the hill. It was around 30 minutes drive and reached a small hill. You can get beautiful ariel view of the forest. We able to sight good number of birds like Minivit, Hill Myna, Parrot etc… The catch of the day was Ceylon Frogmouth. From the rocky hill we moved back to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. It was a good trik overall as lot of birds I saw was for the first time.

Ceylon frogmouth (Batrachostomus moniliger) The reddish brown colour is female and light brown is Male.


Malabar parakeet (Psittacula columboides)hanging parrotIndian pitta (Pitta brachyura)pitta

As we walked down we saw lots of Drongos, swift, parakeet, grey hornbill, barbet etc. We had a numerous sighting of various barbets, bulbul, and parakeets. The catch of the day was Grey hornbill and Indian Pitta. With the help of Vinod we able to sight the migratory Indian Pitta.

plum head parakeet
plum head

Purple Sunbird (Cinnyris asiaticus)Purple sunbird

After a small nap we got ready again at 3.30 pm to start our next trek. This time it was led by our guide Vinod Narayanan. This time we planned to go to other side of the river. We crossed the bridge which had an excellent view of Periyar river. We able to sight stock billed kingfisher and common kingfisher. We walked a little further and entered into forest area. river

Rufous treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) Rufous Treepie

Orange minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) – Male scarlet minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus)

Orange minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) – Female


Black-hooded oriole (Oriolus xanthornus) 


Stork-billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) Not able to get a good picture as it was far away…stock billed king

Indian Rock Turtleturtle

It is a place for serious birders and if your not one just skip this place. The entire day is spend to look for feathered beauties and be ready to walk the whole day. It will be sweatingBirds Song Home Stay is a good place to stay as it is just inside the sanctuary, its clean and comfortable. The verandah outside the room is cool place to see nature and relax . Vinod Narayanan is very good in identifying the birds and with his help we able see some of the rare birds. He is genuinely interested to make sure we are satisfied with the stay and trip. Airtel mobile signal was very weak, but it maybe good as u r disconnected from the outside world. It had been some incredible birding at Thattekad and we would have seen over 50 species of birds in a day. Some of the birds I saw is listed below.

Some of Birds Sighted:
Bronzed Drongo
Black Drongo
Black-hooded oriole
Black rumped flameback woodpecker
Brahminy Kite
Brown-breasted flycatcher
Chestnut-Headed Bee-eater
Common hill myna
Common Iora
Common kingfisher
Crimson-backed sunbird
Crimson-fronted barbet
Greater Coucal
Golden-fronted leafbird
Indian golden oriole
Indian Pitta
Indian pygmy woodpecker
Indian swiftlet
Malabar parakeet
Oriental magpie-robin
Plum-headed parakeet
Purple Heron
Purple Sunbird
Racket-tailed drongo
Red-whiskered bulbul
Rufous Treepie
Spotted dove
Stork-billed kingfisher
Streak-throated woodpecker
Small green barbet
Southern hill mynas
Vernal hanging parrot
Verditer flycatcher
White-bellied treepie
Whistling ducks
White Throat Kingfisher

Birding Team



Rollapadu Wildlife Sancturary

Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary is located in kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. It is located around 45 km from Kurnool town, it covers an area of over 614 sq. km. Rollapadu is primarily a grassland ecosystem with mixed forests and thorny bushes. Cotton, tobacco and sunflower are cultivated in the agricultural lands that border the sanctuary.The sanctuary was set up in 1988 to protect the endangered Great Indian Bustard and the Lesser Florican. There are just 200 great Indian bustards in India.The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently included the great Indian bustard in its ‘red list’ of endangered animal species. The Indian Bustard are believed to have completely disappeared from Haryana, Punjab, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Tamilnadu. There are only 10 Bustard in Rollapadu and its found to be difficult to site this bird. (Wiki)
We took Kacheguda express which starts from Chennai Egmore at 5pm (21.11.2014) and we reached Kurnool at 4.15 am.  We refreshed ourself in a local lodge and around 5 am we started our journey to Rollapadu to sight the great Indian Bustard and blackbucks. We hired a Jeep to Rollapadu, which was very useful as it would be difficult for other vehicles to go through this grassland. We reached Rollapadu Sanctuary around 6 am.
Rollapadu wildlife sanctuary is one of the finest grasslands present in India. Picture tall brown grass welcomed us and on the way we sighted plenty of birds. If you observe closely into the grass land you can see leaping blackbucks. 

Trying to get close to Blackbucks.(Dhanjayan and Yegnaram in action)


Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is also called as murukumaan in Tamil.  The Blackbuck is one of the five species of Antelopes found in India. These graceful animals were seen in large numbers at the beginning of the century. It is an ungulate species of antelope native to the Indian subcontinent that has been classified as near threatened by IUCN since 2003, as its range has decreased sharply during the 20th century (Wiki).  Blackbucks generally live on open plains and open woodlands in herds of 5 to 50 animals with one dominant male. They are very fast. Speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph) have been recorded.

Blackbuck are antelopes that congregate in open plains and form territories. They defend these territories against male intrusion. These animals are territorial most of the year in Rollapadu. Females form herds of their own with juveniles of both sexes. Blackbuck does visit the males in the territory only temporarily for short periods of a few hours to maybe a day or two. The male is alone a considerable part of the time in his territory. Female blackbuck herds move about and feed outside the territories. The females may not stop at the first territory, but move sequentially through one territory to another, till she grazes at the territory of her choice. Source: Menon, R. K. G. (2009)

Territorial Male


The maduvu or maan koombu or maru is a weapon typically consists of two blackbuck horns. The maru originated among the Dravidians of south India and was favoured by the Bhil people.






Female Blackbuck

Female herd running when we come near to it…

Jumping blackbuck
Blackbuck, when it is at the height of its long leap, is an amazing wildlife experience to photograph. The jumping Blackbuck images looks great but usually these images are captured by provoking and chasing the animals to get the photograph. It would be natural if the chase is done by some predators. I feel this behaviour should not be encouraged by wildlife photographers.


Male chasing another blackbuck male which has entered its territory.


Rollapadu is the birds paradise. some the birds clicked are listed below

Large grey babbler (Turdoides malcolmi)

Laughing dove (Spilopelia senegalensis)



Greater coucal (Centropus sinensis)



Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Ashy-crowned sparrow-lark (Eremopterix griseus)

Green bee-eater (Merops orientalis) catch an insect in mid-air, come back to their perch.



Common Hopoee

Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis)

Black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)

Southern grey shrike (Lanius meridionalis)

Indian bush lark

Red-wattled lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus)

Great Indian Bustard flying in the background (look like)


We spend a day in Rollapadu Sanctuary and had a great time to seeing this unique ecosystem.  Like to thank our special guide Mr.Gafoor and Jeep driver.  We missed to sight the great Indian bustard and will love to visit again to focus on Bustard, Lesser Florican, Buzzard, Kites, Owls, Eagles Night-jars etc. We enjoyed authentic Andhra meals in midtur which is around 6 km from Rollapadu. Don’t miss the mini tea (50 ml)  near Rollapadu bus stand. It is an important place to visit in South India for wildlife photographers. We took the 8.15pm train to Chennai from Kurnool. We also tried the delicious Pulla Reddy sweets of Kurnool and viewed the famous Konda Reddy Fort.


Mahabalipuram – Pallava Architecture

Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are three main attractions in Mahabalipuram. One is the shore temple, another is the pancharatha (pancha pandava) temples and third is Arjuna’s penance.

The Shore Temple
Shore temple is a complex of three temples, one large and two small, located right on the shores of the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal in Mahabalipuram. The main temple is a five-storeyed structure dedicated to Lord Shiva and is sculpted out of granite. The key attraction of the Shore Temple are the five chariots or the Pancha Pandava Rathas, four of which are named after the Padavas and the fifth one is known as the Draupadi Ratha. Each of these Rathas is huge and distinct from the others, speaking of the aesthetic excellence of the artisans of that time. 

Sunrise and sunset add to the scenic charm of the Shore temple. So it is best to visit the temple at dawn. 

A monolith sculpture of a partly carved and partly sculpted lion with a hole in its torso is erected within the compound wall of the temple complex. A female guardian with a bow is also carved on the right leg of the lion. 

Miniature shrine in shore temple

The entire compound wall surrounding the temples is sculpted with large sculptures of Nandi..

Arjuna’s Penance is a story from the Mahabharata of how Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers, performed severe austerities in order to obtain Shiva’s weapon.

standing one-legged, arms above his head.In the center of the relief, purifying river Ganges flows down the mountain, surrounded by ascetics, celestials, elephants, and other animals on the banks.

Krishna Mandapam

Varaha Cave Temple

Five Rathas (chariot)

The structures are named after the Pancha Pandavas, they are named Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishthira (“Dharmaraja”), Nakula and Sahadeva – and Draupadi.

A complete view of Pancha Ratahas in Mahabalipuram

Elephant and Nakula Ratha

Bhima Ratha
Arjuna Ratha, Draupadi Ratha and Bull
Dharmaraja Ratha
After the Tsunami of December 2004, a collapsed temple as well as several other structures and primordial rock sculptures used in the same era to decorate walls and religious shrines were exposed. It revived theories that Mahabalipuram formed part of the Seven Pagodas the first Europeans wrote about. whole Mahabalipuram itself is a mystery with constant new discoveries…..its believed that more relic to be found under the sea..we ended the trip with nice seafood in Restaurant Moonrakers at Othavadai Street.