On that busy Tuesday afternoon I took a break from my patients to have a quick sip of coffee. As I was entering home, I saw a Shikra(Accipiter badius) like bird on the huge Silk Cotton (Bombax ceiba) tree with some thing in its claw. I rushed and got my Canon EOS 7D & Canon EF 300mm f/4.0 L IS USM lens. The bird was too high up on the tree and I did not have a good view because of dense irregular branches. What I saw was not Shikra but a Besra, Accipiter virgatus. It is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae with a meal of large lizard which I could not identify as its head was devoured by the bird. I was not happy with the results of 7D which was coming out all mushy and soft. The light was too contrasty and totally unfavorable.
So I went back and grabbed Canon EOS 5D mark II with Canon EF 1.4x II Extender added 300mm lens and tripod. The bird was curious about me and it stopped eating and started watching. I also became spectacle for all my patients who were least interested in my hobby. Despite all that commotion the bird was quiet and composed.
I also saw a resident Red Whiskered Bulbul family which laid eggs in my backyard started coming near the half eaten lizard so that it can get a piece for its chicks. This was unusual as Bulbuls are one of the delicacies on their menu of a Besra. After a few minutes Besra took off with Large lizard carcass to go some peaceful place. I was lucky to get few good shots.
The Besra is a widespread resident breeder in dense forests throughout south Asia from Pakistan and India to south China and Indonesia. It nests in trees, building a new nest each year. It lays 2 to 5 eggs.
This bird is a medium-sized raptor (29 to 36 cm) with short broad wings and a long tail, both adaptations to fast manoeuvring. The normal flight of this species is a characteristic “flap–flap–glide”, and the barred underwings are a distinction from the Shikra, A. badius.
This species is like a darker version of the widespread Shikra, but all plumages have a dark vertical throat stripe. The adult male Besra has dark blue-grey upperparts, and is white, barred reddish below. The larger female is browner above than the male. The juvenile is dark brown above and white, barred with brown below. It has a barred tail.
In winter, the Besra will emerge into more open woodland including savannah and cultivation. Its hunting technique is similar to other small hawks such as the Sparrowhawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk, relying on surprise as it flies from a hidden perch or flicks over a bush to catch its prey unaware.
The prey is lizards, dragonflies, and small birds and mammals.
EXIF info – Aperture : ƒ/4 | Camera : Canon EOS 7D | Taken : 19 January, 2010 | Flash fired : no | Focal length : 300mm | ISO : 400 | Location : 13° 4′ 1.7997600119994″ N 74° 59′ 44.314800313234″ E | Shutter speed : 1/180s | Images and content Copyright © Krishna Mohan. Please contact me to purchase prints or for image publication license.