Sunday, June 10, 2012

Praying Mantis 101

I started this blog about 5 years ago, and at that point of time, I had no idea where this blog would be headed. I wasn't sure of what to do in this blog, what to post, or anything, whatsoever. I just wanted a site where I could post my photos. I never knew that I would continue posting for 5 years! And the URL of the blog, Praying Mantis 101, was just a sudden idea that came into my mind. Well, needless to say, the Praying Mantis was my favourite insect, and it still is. I find the praying mantis very fond of humans, especially the larger ones. They don't always try to escape. They sometimes watch you, and look straight into your eyes. And I don't know why, but most of the large praying mantises I come across just love to fly onto my face.

Well now that I've been posting for 5 years, I guess it's time for a break. Not that I want this break, but because I need it. I spend quite a lot of time going out for photography, and as much time organizing and posting these photos on my blog. And I'm no freebie - I'm a student who needs to focus on studies as well. Now I'm in 11th grade, and for me these 2 years are the most vital, the most important 2 years when it comes to deciding my future. And apart from that, I stay in a boarding school now in Bangalore, and they don't let you access the Internet that often (it's India!).

So I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you, who have viewed my blog, and posted your wonderful and encouraging comments. It is only because of you guys that I feel the urge to continue posting. And now I won't be doing so for a while, but that doesn't mean its the end. I may appear again during my holidays for one or two posts. And in the meantime, you could always browse through the 500+ posts I've published on this blog.

So that's it!
Thank You all for your support! Wishing everyone the best in their future endeavours!
Cheers, Shawn

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Snake on the Tree

Rat snakes, probabaly the most common snakes here in Kerala. But I never really got to photograph one well due to their shyness and speed. But just a day before school, this little rat snake decided to give me a treat.
I was walking to my neighbour's house when I spotted the snake on a mullberry tree. I thought these snakes were poor climbers, but well, I was proven wrong. The snake was happily resting on the tree, perhaps waiting for a bird or lizard to appear so it could grab and have a snack. Or maybe it was just watching the world from a different point of view.

The snake didn't slither away when I came close to shoot it. But it was very well aware of me, as it kept sticking its tongue out whenever I moved.

A beautiful snake indeed. I'd be glad if these snakes are around as they're harmless, and useful, as they help reduce the rat/rodent population in the area.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Narrow-Mouthed Frog

I was hanging out with my neighbor at his place one rainy evening, when we hear several loud frog calls from a nearby stream. Upon taking a look, we spotted a pretty large frog in the shallow water.

As I didn't have my camera with me, my neighbor lent me his Nikon L110 to grab these few shots. We sneaked closer to the frog, till he hopped onto the gravel.

I haven't been able to precisely identify this frog, except that it is a species of Narrow Mouthed Frog. This can be seen from its small and pointed mouth. It could be a Jerdon's Narrow-Mouthed Frog, but that species is near threatened and only found in the evergreen forests of South India.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Night in Bangalore

A night shot of a rather busy street in Bangalore. I went there early this May for an admission into a school there. Yeap, that's right, I'm leaving this dreaded place (Kerala).

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I recently took a ride to see a relative at his home, about a night from mine on train. Just a minute's walk from his house is this beautiful river, surrounded by lush greenery.

I've been to many riversides but none of them actually caught my attention like this one. Not many people actually come to this particular spot, and so it was clean and unpolluted. I was excited when my cousin told me that Smooth Otters often frequent this spot. However, it's a matter of luck when it comes to spotting them. We didn't get to see any while we were there.

Close to the river is a tiny path that takes you to the main road ahead. The path is so narrow, it's just wide enough for one of us to barely fit through. The tall sides are full of burrows too, probably filled with snakes and other creatures.

Further down the river, a narrow wooden bridge has been constructed across, so that people are able to walk from one bank to the other. The bridge is extremely shaky and one will definitely have to hold on to the side railings in order to get across!

A view of the river, taken from the tiny bridge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dead Water Snakes

While walking along the mounds in the middle of the wet fields, I came across 2 dead snakes. Now I don't know how they were killed or who or what killed them. The first one, as shown below, was lying in the shallow water with its ventral side up.

I then took the snake up with a stick and placed it on the ground to try and identify it. All I can say is that it is a species of watersnake, maybe a keelback.

And after walking several minutes, I encountered another dead snake, this one too, in the water with its ventral side up.

I'm concluding that these snakes died probably due to humans or birds like herons killing and throwing them away. I did spot a live one but it immediately swam into the muddy water before I could grab a shot.

Birding in the Wet Fields

There are a number of large, wet paddy fields close to my house here. Although not 'biodiversity hotspots' in any way, a walk through these fields once in a while might yield some interesting results. During the monsoons, these fields are said to be filled with water snakes, especially in the muddy water. Anyway, I decided to head out to one of these large fields one afternoon to practice birding.

The most common birds here were these storks/herons.

Since it was sunny and bright, it was possible to shoot the birds in flight with fast shutter speeds, without worrying about shake.

Another common bird within these fields was the Purple Swamphen. I never knew of such birds in the locality, as these wet fields are so far the only places I've ever encountered them.

Look at this guy peeking from the tall grasses! He was barely visible from such a distance.

A group of birds

And one flies off!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Dragon Enlarged

This handsome little dragon allowed me to get up close and personal so I could take as many shots of him as I wanted.

Monday, May 21, 2012


A graceful butterfly fluttering over red flowers, sucking nectar from each of them. I love the blurred background!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Big Frog, Orange Frog, Forest Frog

Unlike many other wild creatures, amphibians like frogs aren't that commonly seen in my locality nowadays, perhaps due to urbanization which has depleted their population. The only amphibians you commonly do see here are Asian Toads (they are really common) and these large frogs that spend most of their time in water.

For once I caught this guy outside after a spell of rain. Usually, these big frogs spend their entire day in my outdoor pond, and only head out at night.

The distinct yellow line that runs along its back shows that it belongs to the family of fanged frogs.

A few days back I happened to come across a new species of frog in this region - one that was brightly and beautifully coloured.

I spotted this guy one night outside my neighbor's house. I love it's colours and patterns! Bright orange back with tiny black dots, and black and white legs!

The frog was extremely friendly and allowed me to take some pretty close-up shots.

Lastly, I had come across a medium-sized frog in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This fella was hiding in the buttress of a really large tree. I'm not exactly sure of what species this is, but it does look similar to the colourful one above.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oh, Snap!

As I was leaving the Periyar Tiger Reserve, I heard several loud calls from a nearby tree, and upon a closer look, realized it was a Malabar Grey Hornbill. And since I'm not the kind of guy who's so used to seeing such big and beautiful wild birds, I got really excited. It was the first time spotting this bird, and I wanted to get some good photographs. But well, you never always get what you want at the first try, so before I could even get close to it, the bird flew off. All I have is this shot, perhaps just enough for identification.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Indian Dhole

I've kept the best things for last.
The highlight of the entire trip to Periyar Tiger Reserve is without doubt the sighting of several Indian Wild Dogs, also called Dholes. These canines were feasting on a fresh wild sambar on the bank of the lake.

I wasn't expecting this during the ride. We didn't spot this group of Dholes on the way into the lake (it's a to and fro course), but only on the way back. That meant one thing- these Dholes had attacked and killed the sambar deer as we were travelling deeper into the lake.

As our boat drew closer to the scene, most of the dogs fled further up the bank. They are known to be fearful of humans.

There was, however, this particular daring individual who stood his spot, not letting go of his precious meal.

He looks up at us, and then continues feasting. As you can see, the water around the sambar had become bloody red. 

The deer is about thrice the size of the dhole, but since these dogs hunt in packs, they are bold enough to attack and overpower large and dangerous animals such as wild boars, water buffaloes and even tigers.

Dholes are classed as endangered by the IUCN, due to ongoing habitat loss, depletion of its prey base, competition from other predators and possibly diseases from domestic dogs. I could consider myself lucky to have spotted a pack in action.


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