Roseate Spoonbill -Winning Entry

Roseate spoonbills are an absolute treat to watch -gorgeous in stunning pink, these birds are mostly found in southeastern US.   They are often mistaken for flamingoes, but can be easily recognized by their signature bills which are uniquely shaped and hence the name!   I’ve photographed a few of these birds in the past, but this one turned out to be a winner!  You can see the winning entries at http://www.orangeaudubonfl.org/Audubon-Contest-Winners_2017.htm

 

Narayan.Subra_Roseate Spoonbill Splashing

Against the backdrop of Fall foliage

 

This autumn has been exceedingly pleasant despite the heated rhetoric on both sides that may lead to the winter of our discontent!  I’ve tried to capitalize on this Indian Summer and take in the beauty of the natural landscape.  As the leaves begin to transform and display their rich hues before falling off, the season offers excellent opportunities to photograph the dazzling colors of the foliage and the birds that get ready to migrate to warm weather.  Trying to spot tiny birds such as warblers high up in the branches can be quite challenging but when you do, it is indeed a fulfilling moment.  The Palm Warbler and the White-breasted Nuthatch below were photographed at the Celery Bog in West Lafayette, while the rest were taken at the Audubon Sanctuary in Bent of the River, Southbury, CT.

Palm Warbler ? Fall Plumagae

Palm Warbler

White breasted Nuthatch2

White Breasted Nuthatch

Yellow rumped warbler in CT

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow rumped warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Ruby crowned Kinglet?

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

 

Prey vs Predator

Despite its name, the Yellow-Crowned Night-heron (YCNH) forages during the day as well as night and is found mostly in the coastal regions of the Southeast.   Typically a solitary creature, it loves to feed on crustaceans, with crab delicacy an all time favorite.   I chanced upon this juvenile YCNH that appeared to catch a crab or was it the other way round!  It was hard to distinguish prey from predator as the drama unfolded, until finally…

Prey1

Prey2

Prey3

Prey4

 

Summer Reading

With summer behind us, here’s a short list of some noteworthy reads that I caught up with…….

A gripping account of expeditions along the Silk Road in Central Asia in the early 19th century to look for lost Buddhist treasures is narrated fascinatingly by Morgan & Walters.   Funded by the British Raj, an avid explorer and archaeologist, Aurel Stein sets off into the harsh deserts with a motley crew and a spirited dog called Dash.  The treasures that he is seeking are ancient Buddhist texts believed to be preserved in caves along the Silk Road and to rescue them from obscurity!   But even in his wildest imaginations, Stein could not have dreamt of what he would eventually stumble upon in the caves of the Taklamakan desert -the Diamond Sutra – which the Buddha is said to have preached to his disciples in Sarnath.   And it is absolutely fascinating to note that this is the first ever printed book in the history of mankind, circa 868 AD, a full five centuries before Guttenberg invented the printing press.   Journeys on the Silk Road is a captivating travelogue filled with adventures, history, politics.

US

 

Simon Winchester narrates a riveting account of how people from different walks of life and with different bent of mind came together to build the United States of America.  In order to do that he draws a leaf from ancient cultures that classify the world into five different elements, earth, fire, water, wood and metal.  Simon is a powerful storyteller and weaves seamlessly Thomas Jefferson’s visions, Lewis and Clark’s expeditions, the development of roads, canals, railroads, telegraph and communication networks that helped shape the US. Simon adds a nice personal touch with his own accounts of travel to several historic sites.  While this is not an encyclopedia of American History, it does a fine job of keeping the reader engaged at all times with interesting tidbits and is sure to enthrall history buffs.

 

happier 1

 

Despite a successful career as anchor of ABC’s Nightline, Dan Harris experienced bouts of mindlessness that resulted in a panic attack during a live recording.  After experimenting with self help books, medications and New Age Gurus, he discovered a simple means of meditation from Buddhist teachers.  A complete skeptic at first, Dan describes his journey in a no-holds barred approach as to how simple breathing techniques helped him refocus his thoughts time and again.  His lucid writing drives home the point that while there may be no nirvana in the near future, he is definitely ten percent happier with his life.

 

In this era of information overload, how does one differentiate signal from noise and make sense of it all, or simply put, separate the wheat from the chaff, as you are constantly bombarded with facts from newspapers, television, internet, e-mail, text, Twitter & Facebook.  If you have misplaced your keys or reading glasses, or have a hard time recalling passwords in this day and age of multitasking, leading to shorter attention spans, then this book is for you.   Dan Levitin, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience says that our minds evolved over hundreds of thousands of years and does not store memories in a neat compartmentalized fashion, in the same way that you would organize a filing cabinet.   Filled with humorous anecdotes this book looks at how our brain thinks and how leaders adapt to changes and come ahead of the endless chatter that fill our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Nanjing – An Ancient Capital City

My travels took me to Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province in eastern China, through which the Yangtze River runs. Nanjing is a nice blend of a modern city and ancient culture coupled with beautiful parks and lakes. A less known fact about Nanjing is that it was the capital of China under several dynasties, before it shifted to Beijing. Much like the Great Wall of China, Nanjing has its own unique monument called the Ming City Wall which runs about 35 km and 12 meters high that served as a fortification for the city’s defenses. Built in the 14th century by the Ming dynasty much of this majestic wall survives today and serves as an impressive landmark.

IMG_0607Xuanwu Gate architecture

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