Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shaheen Falcon

A birding trip on the Sunday of 3rd October didn't prove to be very fruitful thanks to an overcast sky. I returned with just an image of a Pied Cuckoo, ranting over how the birds weren't kind to me that day. How wrong I was!

At around 5 in the evening, I stepped out to the balcony in my residence at Arekere, Bannerghatta Road and found a bird perched amidst some pipes, five floors below. I couldn't ID the bird, so I photographed the bird right away, before it could take off. 

A quick look through the bird book and I knew it could either be a Peregrine/Shaheen Falcon or an Oriental Hobby. While the Shaheen Falcon is a breeding resident all over the country, the Oriental Hobby is a resident only in the NE and the Himalayas. The lack of streaks on the breast and belly of the bird caused some amount of confusion.

I messaged a couple of friends, desperate to confirm the ID. While I waited to hear from them, I watched the bird's behavior. It spent a lot of time just sitting still, at times its eyes were closed too and it seemed to be taking a short nap. In the interim, the bird also kept preening.

When I described the bird's colors to a friend, he said it could be a Shaheen Falcon. Though there was a stronger possibility of the bird being a Shaheen Falcon, an Oriental Hobby has been sighted here in Bangalore a decade ago, so the possibility couldn't be ruled out. I processed a couple of images and mailed them to get a better idea of the bird species.

Meanwhile, the bird continued to groom itself. I found it scratching and then fluffing its feathers. It also *pooped* a couple of times. It seemed as if the bird had fed and was taking some time off from flying. Loud and large groups of Pigeons didn't disturb it, neither did a bunch of Black Kites hovering above.

Thanks to the bad viewing angle, it became quite difficult to judge the size of the bird, but I was quite sure it was a little larger than a Shikra and an Oriental Hobby would have been smaller. A year ago, during the months of September - October, my Father had photographed a similar bird in the building, perched on a bicycle, 6 floors below. The image was from a point and shoot camera, with about 3x optical zoom. He remembers how crows tried to mob the bird and it took off, like a jet.

More discussions with friends and it was confirmed that the bird is a Shaheen Falcon (Falco peregrinus peregrinator), an Indian subspecies of the Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus). 
The bird spent more than 40 minutes on the perch and then quietly bid adieu, its a pity I missed the take-off.

And now, I wait for the Falcon to make its next visit..