Zeiss Victory Harpia 85, a brilliant spotting scope with smidgens of imperfection: Equipment Reviews

Author: Ravi Kailas (ficustours@gmail.com) Some favourable alignment in the heavens (I expect), and Zeiss India’s excellent customer service, had me in possession the Zeiss Victory Harpia 85mm, their absolute premium offering in their range of spotting scopes, for a few days recently. My expectations were high, given Zeiss’s reputation for making stellar optics for natureContinue reading “Zeiss Victory Harpia 85, a brilliant spotting scope with smidgens of imperfection: Equipment Reviews”

Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, December 27th 2020: Trip Summary

Author: Ravi Kailas Pulicat is India’s second largest brackish lagoon and a wintering and staging ground for numerous waders and waterfowl that use the Central Asian Flyway, with records of globally significant bird species like Asian Dowitcher and Crab Plover known from here.  Common Greenshank Date: 27th December 2020 Having neglected birding around Chennai overContinue reading “Pulicat Bird Sanctuary, December 27th 2020: Trip Summary”

Anamalai Tiger Reserve (Valparai area), October 2019: Trip Report

Author: Ravi Kailas (ficustours@gmail.com) Dates: 15th to 18th October 2019 The Anamalai Hills is a repository of the immense biodiversity of the Western Ghats of south India.  Somewhat surprisingly, the disturbed, plantation-rainforest landscape in the Valparai area of these hills, located as it is, surrounded on all sides by protected areas, is one of the best placesContinue reading “Anamalai Tiger Reserve (Valparai area), October 2019: Trip Report”

An appreciation of backyard biodiversity during the pandemic: Nature Video

Author: Ravi Kailas As keen naturalists we have missed the freedom to travel to natural areas over the last few months. While the aesthetic upside of visiting a wilderness area can never be replicated in an urban environment, this period did inspire us to look closer at the denizens that inhabit the modest green spaceContinue reading “An appreciation of backyard biodiversity during the pandemic: Nature Video”

Borneo, The land of dipterocarps, August 2014: A pictorial report

Author: Ravi Kailas Borneo, the Earth’s third largest island, and home to among its great rainforests, was high on my bucket list of places to visit, for its reputed natural history splendours. Happily I managed a foray in August 2014, to a tiny corner of the island, in the Sabah province of Malaysia and wasContinue reading “Borneo, The land of dipterocarps, August 2014: A pictorial report”

Spiti Valley, including Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, September 2019: A trip report

Author: Ravi Kailas Breathtaking (a touch of altitude sickness induced pun intended), the apt adjective for my visit to the high altitude, the trans-Himalayan cold desert region of Spiti, in September last year. As is typical on my trips, the focus was on the region\’s wildlife and I had great hopes for plenty of HimalayanContinue reading “Spiti Valley, including Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, September 2019: A trip report”

Backyard birding in Chennai gets a fillip at this time of the year

 Author: Ravi Kailas (ficustours@gmail.com) A couple of days ago, looking up towards the sky, around dusk, to see (mostly) flying foxes, parakeets, egrets and pigeons, from a mid-city Chennai terrace, a falcon, an unusual sight in these parts, zipped across overhead, snatched a small bird  (or bat), with its talons, (spectacularly) mid-flight, before disappearing fromContinue reading “Backyard birding in Chennai gets a fillip at this time of the year”

GSO Star Tracker Telescope, a (‘minimalist’) night-sky gazing set-up: An Overview

Author: Ravi Kailas The rather imposing size of the set-up, belies the simplicity of the Dobsonian telescope design  For observing the night sky, I primarily use a GSO Star Tracker, a 8\” Dobsonian telescope (a type of telescope, which despite its bulk, is the best value for money for light gathering ability), manufactured by GSOContinue reading “GSO Star Tracker Telescope, a (‘minimalist’) night-sky gazing set-up: An Overview”

Himalayan Serow and Brown Wood Owl at Pangot: Report

Author: Ravi Kailas Dates: 7th to 9th June 2019 Himalayan Marten, among the highlight mammals of the trip A brief summer visit to Pangot (2000m) a tiny village surrounded by temperate broad-leaved forest in the Kumaon Himalayas, was productive for a sighting of the uncommonly seen Himalayan Serow, as well Himalayan Goral and Himalayan Marten,Continue reading “Himalayan Serow and Brown Wood Owl at Pangot: Report”

Comet Neowise from a Chennai terrace part 2

Author: Ravi Kailas (ficustours@gmail.com) After making a post on my first sighting of Comet Neowise, on Thursday, 23rd July, the sky was clear enough (relatively speaking, but not before a typically dramatic (see video below), July evening cloud build-up in the western sky, threatening a black-out) for another attempt at imaging the comet, on Friday,Continue reading “Comet Neowise from a Chennai terrace part 2”