In a rare bird sighting, the red-necked falcon was spotted in Visakhapatnam near the Meghadri Gedda reservoir on Saturday.
The bird was caught on camera by two members of the Vizag Bird Watchers Society (ViBS), Dwaipayan Chaudhuri and Sourav Majumdar.
According to reports, this was the first time that the rare raptor was sighted in Visakhapatnam.
Narrating how the bird sighting came about, Sourav took to Facebook, and wrote, "After getting lost in numerous bye-ways, we finally reached the spot (behind the reservoir) quite late. A harsh sunshine had already set the tone to the early winter morning. The birding activity was already on the way down. We shuffled out of the vehicle, with our heavy gear and started to walk down the dirt track to a green patch where Dwaipayan had, in an earlier visit, spied a hoopoe."
"Hoopoes are beautifully crested, sober coloured birds and after Cyclone Hudhud, Vizag has had a special attachment to it. Hudhud is the Arabic name for Hoopoe. Although a common bird, there will hardly be a birder who would not want to have a second look," he explained.
The duo then spent half an hour in the sun, spying for rare birds, but to no avail.
"The landscape around was somewhat like this. Small stunted bush, coarse grass and undergrowth, small arid semi deciduous trees and few water bodies dotted the region. We were standing on a ridge. Below us, the ground gently gave away to the remains of a recently dried up canal," Sourav writes.
This is exactly when, the duo witnessed some activity.
"Suddenly, out of nowhere, something odd was happening in the horizon to the right. A few doves were flying just above the place where tall trees met the skies...A high pitch shriek pierced through the heavy air. Because of the clear skies and the fact that the sun was shining directly into it, we could make out a battle between a predator and a soon-to-be prey. A bird of prey, was trying to catch a dove mid flight. The dove spun away, but the predator turned and twisted in mid air at amazing speeds to give it a chase. This classic movie of nature went for a couple of minutes till the predator had a change of heart and the dove vanished in full speed beyond the trees," Sourav narrates.
"Vizag has only a few raptors; a fact that all local birders lament about. But once in a while, our prayers are answered. The predator started flying towards us at full speed. The aerodynamic structure it represents in full flight makes one wonder on the perfection of nature. And then while we are simply wonderstruck at its supreme form, it decides to reward us and perches on one of the few electric poles that were the only aberrations on what looked like uninhabited lands," he adds.
One eye on the viewfinder and Sourav recognised the bird. He had seen it in pictures taken by his friends in Madurai in Tamil Nadu.
"It had beautiful red downy head, bright yellow talons and yellow socketed brown eyes. We had a very handsome member of the raptor family with us," Sourav says.
It was the Falco chicquera, commonly known as the red-necked falcon, which has only two populations – one in Africa and the other in India.
The bird, which is identified by its chestnut red cap, is a threatened species and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) checklist for avifauna.
"Our red headed falcon gave up on us in a few minutes time and flew away into the deep blue in search of other prey, leaving us thankful for a few record shots we could make after the stunned situation we both found ourselves in," Sourav concludes.